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Nov 5, 2009 4:27 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Mayor suspends two Westhampton Beach Police officers after investigation of missing weapon

Editor's Note: This article appeared in The Southampton Press-Western Edition on October 29.
Nov 5, 2009 4:27 PM

Two officers with the Westhampton Beach Police Department were suspended last Wednesday, October 21, following the completion of an investigation conducted by the Suffolk County Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

The two full-time officers—who were not identified—were suspended with pay, Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller confirmed last Thursday, October 22. The mayor, who handed down the suspensions, declined to name the two officers or provide a copy of the report, saying that it was not a public document.

The suspensions were handed down following the completion of an investigation by the Suffolk County Police Internal Affairs Bureau of an incident that happened in the spring, according to Mayor Teller.

The incident involved a missing weapon in the Westhampton Beach Police Department, said Inspector David Ferrara, the commanding officer of the Suffolk County Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau. He declined to comment further or to provide a copy of the report because the investigation had to do with personnel matters.

The report, which also made recommendations, landed on Westhampton Beach Police Chief Ray Dean’s desk last week, Insp. Ferrara said.

Chief Dean declined to comment this week on the report, explaining that he does not discuss personnel matters with the press.

It was not immediately clear how long the two officers will be suspended.

A copy of the report was also sent to the village’s labor attorney and Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office. The Southampton Press has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the village seeking a copy of the report.

Westhampton Beach Village Board members passed a resolution on October 1, demanding that Chief Dean provide a copy of the report to them after it was completed.

To date, only Mayor Teller and Village Board member Jim Kametler have confirmed that they have received a copy of the report. Board members Joan Levan and Hank Tucker said they did not see the document, and board member Toni-Jo Birk did not return calls this week.

Mr. Tucker introduced the resolution to force Chief Dean to provide board members with copies of the document. Mr. Tucker said he wanted a copy because he said the board initiated the outside investigation—a fact that was publicly disputed by Chief Dean, who insisted that he initiated the investigation.

When reached this week, Mr. Tucker said he optioned not to review the report because doing so could pose a potential conflict if he was ever called to be on a hearing board down the road.

Mayor Teller previously said that he did not think it was wise for the board members to see the report because it could taint their judgement if they had were called to a hearing board if additional disciplinary action needed to be taken.

Village Board members announced during last week’s work session, before entering executive session, that they were retiring to discuss an investigation. They did not state what they would be discussing, or if it was related to the suspension of the two police officers.

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