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Feb 10, 2010 11:16 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Village Board rejects all seven resolutions pertaining to two police officers

Feb 10, 2010 11:16 AM

Seven resolutions that seek to reinstate charges and hold disciplinary hearings for two previously suspended Westhampton Beach Village Police officers were all rejected last week by the Village Board, all by identical 3-2 margins.

The controversial measures—which were introduced by Mayor Conrad Teller at last month’s meeting, prompting three board members to walk out and forcing its cancelation—were rejected as they only received the support of the mayor and fellow board member Toni-Jo Birk.

Board members Hank Tucker, Joan Levan and Jim Kametler—the three trustees who previously voted to dismiss the complaints filed against the two officers, and who walked out of the January meeting in protest of the mayor’s first attempt to add the seven resolutions to the agenda—opposed all of the measures during their meeting last Thursday, February 4.

Mayor Teller, who previously stated that he would keep introducing all seven measures until they passed or “until someone tells me I’m wrong,” said after the meeting that he has to do more research before deciding what his next step would be. The board’s next meeting is set for Thursday, March 4.

An eighth resolution that Mayor Teller first put on the agenda only hours before last month’s meeting passed by a 3-2 margin last week. Mayor Teller, Ms. Birk and Mr. Kametler voted in favor of the legislation, which had nothing to do with the two police officers. The resolution reversed an earlier vote that restricted Mayor Teller’s interactions with the village’s labor attorney, Richard Zuckerman.

Several village residents attending last week’s meeting encouraged the board to go forward with disciplinary hearings for Officers Michael Bruetsch and Joseph Pesapane. They were suspended with pay in October by the mayor after a Suffolk County Internal Affairs Bureau report concluded that they lied to superior officers over the circumstances about a colleague’s missing handgun. They were ordered back to work on restrictive duty in December at the direction of the Village Board.

Chris Bean, a Westhampton Beach resident and chairman of the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals, said it is time for the Village Board to order the disciplinary hearings because the officers lack credibility in the eyes of many.

“Their name is mud,” Mr. Bean said. “Have a hearing, give these men a fair hearing.”

Mark Raynor, former Village Board member, criticized the board majority for allowing the two officers to be reinstated. He said that he doesn’t understand why the officers are getting paid their full salaries even though they are not allowed back on full duty. Officer Bruetsch makes about $97,800 a year, though his total compensation climbs to more than $115,000 when benefits are included. Officer Pesapane’s base salary is around $71,000, but with benefits, his compensation is about $92,000 a year.

“Why are you waiting?” Mr. Raynor asked, referring to the disciplinary hearings. “It makes no sense.”

Carol Matthews, another Westhampton Beach resident, agreed that it made little sense for the board to continue to avoid holding the hearings. “We want our village to run correctly,” she said.

The seven resolutions pertaining to Officers Bruetsch and Pesapane were all read by Mayor Teller and seconded by Ms. Birk. Two of the resolutions would have reversed the previous board decision to drop disciplinary charges against the officers as well as a separate vote that reinstated them. A third resolution would have authorized a hearing based on the charges, while another sought to resuspend the officers. One resolution would have appointed an officer to conduct a disciplinary hearing and while another would have approved the hiring of a stenographer for a disciplinary hearing.

Before those were voted on, Mr. Tucker attempted to strike the items from the agenda, saying that since they were personnel matters, the board shouldn’t be discussing them in public.

But Village Attorney Bo Bishop immediately fired back, stating that he had no problem with the resolutions being voted on since they are a matter of public record.

“[There is] nothing that prohibits you from reconsidering prior resolutions,” Mr. Bishop said.

Mr. Tucker, Ms. Levan and Mr. Kametler indicated that they were not ready to vote since they still have not sat down to discuss the resolutions. The three trustees have known about the resolutions since early January, when the mayor first tried to add them to the agenda and failed.

“What’s wrong with tabling it so we can be better prepared?” Mr. Tucker said. He said board members haven’t been able to meet for “various reasons.” There was a meeting scheduled with Mr. Zuckerman, the village’s labor attorney, last month, but it was canceled at the request of board members.

Ms. Levan said board members need to keep in mind how much it costs to meet with Mr. Zuckerman, and that they should figure out what they want to accomplish before they sit down with him. Mr. Zuckerman is an attorney with Lamb & Barnosky LLP in Melville and earns about $250 an hour from the village.

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Has the report of the SCPD IAD been released to the press? (I believe that its substance was "leaked", but was it subsequently published?) It would be interesting to read its findings. As reported in the Southampton Press, the misconduct could be interpreted as malicious or simply a stupid prank that got out of hand.

I would assume that if Mayor Teller continues to move to reinstate the charges at Trustee Meetings, Toni-Jo Birk will eventually decline to second the motion in the interest ...more
By highhatsize (4176), East Quogue on Feb 9, 10 7:36 PM
From the outside looking in, (without diatribe), something is really wrong here.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Feb 9, 10 9:17 PM
Martin "forgot" Kametler was given permission by Levan to vote with The Mayor and Birk on one of the honest and right, NOT controversial resolutions, and that the three "Trustees" deserted their posts rather than face an increasingly irate public. Don't sugar coat horse manure, Ms.Martin.
BTW, this is an edited post---see the original with 35 comments.
By Jean (79), whb on Feb 10, 10 12:50 AM
2 members liked this comment
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENED, DON'T MISS THE VIDEO RECORDING OF THIS THREE RING CIRCUS. WE ARE APPALLED WITH THE ACTIONS OF THESE
THREE TRUSTEES:
LEVAN/TUCKER/KAMETLER- obstructionists with hidden agendas.
THEY HAVE NEGLECTED THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES, AND HURT THIS VILLAGE.
By Jean (79), whb on Feb 10, 10 12:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
do you have a link to the video? post the video on youtube and then post the link here
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Feb 10, 10 4:37 AM
Why YouTube? It's on the Westhampton Beach website:

http://www.westhamptonbeach.org/archives/2010/trustees-meeting-videos/village-meeting-video-2-4-10.php

By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Feb 11, 10 10:41 AM
The authority rests with the Board of Trustees to hear, or not hear, the charges. If in their discretion the allegations as presented do not merit a hearing, then it is the Board's right to dismiss the charges outright.

It makes no sense to say a Board must hear charges that it deems facially unworthy of consideration so that, in the end, it would dismiss the charges. By analogy, courts can dismiss charges, as insufficient on their face, or dismiss them in the interests of justice.

Highhat ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 10, 10 6:43 AM
To Publius:

Assuming that the report's confidentiality is protected by statute, could all the parties involved, (WB Board of Trustees, SCPD, and the accused WBPD patrolmen), waive confidentiality so as to make it publicly available?

I doubt if there is a legal process to compel the Trustees discipline the cops. Without full disclosure to the WB voters, the matter will fester; the accused cops remaining on restricted duty, until the seats of the Trustees in the majority come up ...more
By highhatsize (4176), East Quogue on Feb 10, 10 3:08 PM
The privacy right under NY Civil Right's Law belongs to the officers and can be waived by them. It would certainly shed light on this for the public, but perhaps they were acting foolishly, in a manner that doesn't warrant action, but embarrassing, nonetheless. That would be a strong course of action if the officers chose to do that.
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 10, 10 4:10 PM
Hey HiHatSize,
How about YOU have a gun "prankishly" stolen that you thought you had secured in the safest facility possible, A POLICE LOCKER, and when it appears, it is miraculously unsecured, where any little kid could get it-- in your family car. Responsible firearm owners NEVER do this. Never.
That's not a prank, it's a crime.
Stupidity is no excuse.
By Jean (79), whb on Feb 11, 10 10:56 AM
2 members liked this comment
Jean, you have assumed that the lost weapon was a prank, and not just a lost weapon. The report from Suffolk County did not reach any conclusions on whether that officer negligently lost his weapon, or whether he was the victim of a theft.

If theft, charge the officers with the theft. Mr. Spota would prosecute a petit larceny, if there was such proof.

You have agreed in the past that the report should be released, lets insist on the release of the report before we draw any ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 11, 10 1:22 PM
1) No Pub, I do not see it as a prank- I see it as a crime. See- the "quotes."
2) No Pub, the victim of this incident is a decorated, honorable PO. NO WAY he would "negligently" "lose" his weapon.
3)Yes, he likely WAS a victim of a theft; allegedly by fellow PO's.
4) You said: "The report from Suffolk County did not reach any conclusions"
How do YOU know that if the report hasn't been released?

By Jean (79), whb on Feb 11, 10 2:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
If there was a theft of a Firearm, it would constitute a Grand Larceny 4th Degree. A Felony in NYS...
By JackC574 (21), Southampton on Feb 11, 10 4:53 PM
To Jean:

Your reply assumes facts that no member of the public knows since no information has been released. The "leaked" information has no more substance than a rumor.

Having no connection to the Trustees, I am trying to discern WHY a majority would risk ridicule and the loss of their seats by refusing to go forward with a disciplinary procedure that has already reached a conclusion.

The argument that it would cost the Village too much is unpersuasive. There must be ...more
By highhatsize (4176), East Quogue on Feb 11, 10 5:27 PM
Jean:
You have twice mentioned the crime which occurred in this instance. What is the appropriate statute?
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Feb 12, 10 5:46 AM
Highhatsize:
I agree with much of what you say, but disciplinary matters for public employees are confidential in nature. They really should not release any details about the incident. You, I or anyone else does not need to know the facts that relate to this incident. Any reference to anyone other than the trustees needing to know any more about this case really holds very little weight. I think the bigger question here is; why did the chief let this case get to the point that it has? This could ...more
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Feb 12, 10 6:18 AM
As reported in the press, there was no resolution of the manner in which the gun came to be lost.

As reported in the press, the report stated that the 2 officers lied to those who made the report, then those who wrote the report that their own allegations of lying were substantiated by their own report. THAT is what I say should be unsatisfactory. The report claims to be self-proving.

I have repeatedly requested that the report be released so that this community can judge for ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 12, 10 8:03 AM
pub says:

I have repeatedly requested that the report be released so that this community can judge for ... more itself whether the report mandates further inquiry which the Board of Trustees has declined to do.

What was the process you followed to have it released?
By Terry (380), Southampton on Feb 12, 10 12:00 PM
According to JackC574 above: If there was a theft of a Firearm, it would constitute a Grand Larceny 4th Degree. A Felony in NYS...


By Jean (79), whb on Feb 12, 10 12:16 PM
To Bayman1:

I seem to recall that early reports of this incident stated that the Westhampton Beach PD does not have an Internal Affairs Bureau and that is why the chief asked the SCPD IAB to conduct the investigation.

Many posts have implied that there is a strong political and personal antagonism between the police chief and some members of the Village Board. If true, this would explain the chief's request for an investigation from an impartial party. Had he disciplined the ...more
By highhatsize (4176), East Quogue on Feb 12, 10 2:30 PM
Highhatsize:
I see your point (s). But we have a procees outlined in NY Civil Service Law that says who gets to hear and decide these matters, fortunately or unfortunately it is not the general public. So to be dair to the process, it is really not our business.
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Feb 12, 10 8:50 PM
The Press says it receive a copy.
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 12, 10 9:26 PM
If there was such a crime committed, the officers would be looking for bail on an indictment. If there was proof of any crime, then the allegations would have made it out of the privacy of the Civil Rights Law.

No criminal charges, including no charge of perjury should give people pause.
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 12, 10 9:28 PM
The mayor needs to stop bringing up the resolutions and move on to other important issues
By LUVSH (28), Southampton on Feb 10, 10 8:33 AM
Oh, great plan, Einstein: maybe it will all go away if nobody pays attention to it?
By barnbabe (64), westhampton beach on Feb 10, 10 1:36 PM
3 members liked this comment
Does anyone know how many registered voters there are in Westhampton Beach.

It only takes a petition with 10% of the voters to get a referendum on the ballot to dissolve the WHB-PD and the Town, for that matter
By TIRED (13), whb on Feb 10, 10 9:39 PM
THAT WOULD BE GREAT FOR THIS TOWN
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 12, 10 10:21 PM
Let me know how to contact you and maybe we can get this started
I AM SO TIRED OF ALL THIS
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 12, 10 10:51 PM

The video? It's here: http://www.whbqt.info/template_permalink.asp?id=1046
and should be aired on cable. It's 1 1/2 hours long, and worth it. The cameraman had to change the tape.
See if you can catch how cub reporter Ms.Martin's head was BURIED in her little laptop, typing furiously, seeing nothing, creating this piece of bird cage liner! Has she ever heard of a tape recorder? Or is this current report revision a nod to her/27E's editorial lack of impartiality in these proceedings? ...more
By Jean (79), whb on Feb 11, 10 10:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
What is the Press' position on releasing the report to the public. With print limitations of the past, the decision not to publish the document was understandable.

Will the old standard for reporting persist in the internet age when a website such as this has, in effect, unlimited space ?

Why not post the full report as a link for this story as a pdf ?

The Press reported on Parts of the report, and it even editorialized on what to do about the report ?

Has that ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 11, 10 12:57 PM
Discipline and Adherence to constituted authority, Obeyance of Rules and Procedures Set forth by a Police Department.....Pride, Honor and Integrity are all what should make up a Police Officer. Unfortunately, this administration is not taking these Officers to task for Lying!! A most egregious offense for any Police Officer. Shame on this Political body for not doing what they should be doing to keep the Integrity of the Department they have the responsibility to oversee. Mayor Teller knows ...more
By JackC574 (21), Southampton on Feb 11, 10 5:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
The introduction of this matter into the public when it is legally privileged has created a quandary.

1. If the Trustees were to have a hearing (whether by themselves or a hearing officer) the final determination remains the Trustees. A Trustee determination rejecting the charges would carry no weight now.

2. If the Trustees were to find the officers guilty some or all of the charges, then any punishment less than dismissal would be privileged and the public would never know ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 12, 10 9:24 AM
Thanks Publius for your informed posts on this and many other matters.

Would it be possible (without violating the statutory secrecy provisions) for the Trustees to vote publically to hold a disciplinary hearing, and to state at the same time ("whereas, . . . . . ") all of the secrecy limitations you post above?

Perhaps the Village Attorney could make these limitations part of the public debate about holding the disciplinary hearing?

It is my understanding that the secrecy ...more
By PBR (4951), Southampton on Feb 12, 10 10:58 AM
The Trustees could, but they have apparently decided that the charges that were preferred by the Chief of Police, do not merit further prosecution.

Can it be that when the IAB report is read, it just does not support action ?

Can it be that there was clear in-fighting in the Department and while 2 officers may have been guilty of some infraction, that the Trustees see that charges are being preferred against some select few, while others get a complete pass ?

We have ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 12, 10 3:59 PM
PBR: The Trustees are people who are supposed to work for us. Three have made an error they are publically adverse to admitting and moving on with the village matters. Ms.Levan is relying on her back-room steamrolling style to force a coup. I've got news for her: we support the Mayor, his transparency, sense of governance, and for doing the right thing in this standard administrative "boilerplate" proceeding-- a fair hearing on a disciplinary matter. No favorites-just do your bloody job. Thousands ...more
By Jean (79), whb on Feb 12, 10 12:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
From NY State Village Law:

§ 8-804. Discipline and charges

1. Except as otherwise provided by law, a member of such police force or department shall continue in office unless suspended or dismissed.

***
The BOARD OF TRUSTEES or municipal board shall have power and is authorized to adopt and make rules and regulations for the examination, hearing, investigation and determination of charges, made or preferred against any member or members of such police force or ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 12, 10 4:07 PM
To Publish:

"Ask the Mayor where he gets the right to order desk duty for the officers when the Trustees ordered that the officers be restored to full duty."

Is that what happened? I thought that the Trustees ordered the cops restored to full duty and the Chief of Police assigned them to restricted duty on his own initiative.
By highhatsize (4176), East Quogue on Feb 13, 10 8:35 AM
Next to last paragraph in the print edition on this story, indicates Mayor made this decision.

If the Chief did it, he could be charged himself with insubordination. As it stands, it is the Mayor causing a stand off.
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 14, 10 8:33 PM
To Publius:

Thanks.

Is the mayor empowered to order the police department to do ANYTHING, sua sponte, without the accordance of the Trustees?

I address this question to you because you seem to be the poster most able to find relevant statutes.

If he is not, and that power is held only by a majority of the trustees, then the cops could be restored to full duty by a simple motion.

However, I wonder if either the mayor or even the mayor and the trustees ...more
By highhatsize (4176), East Quogue on Feb 16, 10 8:55 PM
Publius:
Well said. You have made some very good points in regard to this issue.
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Feb 12, 10 6:44 PM
If you were a professional conducting an investigation wouldn't the first thing you do when speaking to Police Officers is first put them under oath ?

If that were the case, the lying would be perjury, and it would be off to the DA.

This all seems it may be a little loosey-goosey as the basis for punishment.

Of course that remains hard to discern when the Press has not published the report which it said it possesses.

Come on Press guys/gals, you read the comments ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 12, 10 10:16 PM
2 members liked this comment
Lets ask "JIM THE GUN" if he was ever under investigation for tampering with a fellow officers locker. IF he would tell the truth (which we all know he will NOT),the answer is YES. Why should we have this OVER PAID DO NOTHING poice department and this DO NOTHING board???? Look at the local police reports.Maybe than we can ask the HIDDING chief of the joke police department DEAN about why he did nothing against "JIM THE GUN" but asked him to retire.Look back over the past 2 years with the crime that ...more
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 12, 10 10:48 PM
1 member liked this comment
It appears the common denominator in all of this is the chief inability to manage his own organization. It seems he was either unwilling, unable, or directly advised to turn this over SCPD. No matter what the answer is I think the question is, why? From previous posts it seems other, now retired, officers had major conflicts with him as well. Maybe it is time Chief Dean started answering some questions? Our goodfriend Highhatsize has been advocating severing service for those officers with 20 ...more
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Feb 13, 10 10:50 AM
This is an interesting debate; a lot more interesting than the underlying story; what is remarkable is how residents/commenters will take the time to try to apply rational thought and intelligent thinking to nepotism, greed, patronage and graft; that's all this is; and no, it won't get shut down; too many connected people putting too much money in their pockets, and they'll fight to the death to keep it going, your requests for files from the press and arm wrestling over disciplinary procedure will ...more
By realdeal (23), Southampton on Feb 13, 10 10:51 AM
Whoa, realdeal. Change begins within, buddy. One person at a time, one board at a time, one village at a time. Let's just see if THIS time the rule of law applies, and a fair hearing is held. Mayor Teller and Trustee Birk have done their homework; Tucker,Levan, and Kametler have not.
Despite employees' behavior requiring investigation, despite the Trustees who tried to shut it down, we, the snotty (but never "tony") residents of WHB have been paying a GREAT deal of attention to Trustees Levan, ...more
By Jean (79), whb on Feb 13, 10 2:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
It is not just the tree that are wating our money,it is the WHOLE police force that is a WAST of out money over 28% of out tax dollars for these OVER PAID,DO NOTHING,SLEEPING, LIEING CREEPS. The police depatment STINKS FROM THE HEAD DOWN. So were is DEAN???? Does he even defend his force.....NO he just KEEPS HIDDING AND COLLECTS HIS CHECK, WHAT A BUM. The board and police force should be done away with.
WAKE UP
WESTHAMPTON BEACH
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 13, 10 8:26 PM
All so all "JIM THE GUN" worries about is new fee's for the boat ramp.
GIVE ME A BREAK.
By the way anyone know the name of "JIM THE GUN'S" boat???
How about "SIX PACK"
Does that tell anyone ANYTHING???
HE IS A SPINLESS BUM
abd should be the 1ST to be investigated and the 1ST TO GO!!!!!
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 13, 10 8:31 PM
A third party (DA or NYS Attorney General) investigation of this matter is warranted. Something is VERY wrong.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Feb 13, 10 8:44 PM
Nellie, a third party was already appropriately engaged by the Chief of police; Suffolk County Internal Affairs,. Then, the Mayor performed the appropriate action; kept personnel information confidential, and has tried to finish the
administrative process. LEVAN/KAMETLER/and TUCKER are holding the legal proceedings HOSTAGE.
The Chief and Mayor have demonstrably followed the rule of law.
I hope the DA DOES get involved.
Hang tough, Mayor and Trustee Birk, Chief Dean, and the victim ...more
By Jean (79), whb on Feb 14, 10 10:47 AM
You need a third party to break open this deadlock and investigate what all this hidden agenda stuff is with these three Trustees. The SCPD Internal Affairs have completed their work but it is useless unless the law is obeyed and a hearing is held. People of the village have got to call upon the NYS AG or Suffolk DA to help asap.. After watching the video of the last meeting I feel so sorry for Mayor Teller and Trustee Birk who are only trying to do the right thing. Village residents it is time ...more
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Feb 14, 10 6:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
Okay, I've read the reports here, the Beach Blogger's always critical observations, and managed to listen to and watch the video report hosted on the municipal website, and all I can conclude is that Westhampton Beach is in crisis.

The Mayor, who has considerable law enforcement command experience, has said that he cannot allow the two police officers, because of liability considerations, to return to active duty. This seems like a legitimate concern.

The Trustees, first four, ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Feb 14, 10 1:41 PM
2 members liked this comment
"What is most interesting is that after initial actions had been undertaken -- mostly by the majority Trustees -- that everyone has NOW researched the applicable laws and the Mayor and his private counsel have concluded that earlier actions were illegal, a conclusion the majority faction aren't debating so much as they are taking a hard line in resisting."

The Village Attorney was appointed by the Mayor. He has never failed to do everything within his ability to serve his master. Yet, ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 15, 10 10:20 AM
"Frank Wheeler"
YES I keep screaming the same old thing(AND MORE) and it has not gotten any better in the past NINE MONTHS now has it!!!! I will keep the CAPS LOCK ON till this town wakes up. Sorry if you do not like it but with the OVER PAID police force caught SLEEPING,HIDING AND LIEING WHO NEEDS THEM??? All so a board THAT WALKS OUT OF MEETINGS and WILL DO NOTHING TO HELP THIS TOWN is JOKE OF THE HAMPTONS you tell me why Weshampton Beach needs them.
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 15, 10 7:51 PM
Still, no report published, and numerous people here have concluded that a particular action must be taken on a report they have not seen.

Note to Mr. Wheeler, Ms. Birk said "I want these guys cleared." It is evident she thinks the report is junk, and only wants a hearing for political cover to reach that conclusion..
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 14, 10 8:34 PM
Pubes -- you quote Trustee Birk, yet I do not find that quote in this article.

Assuming that this is not whole cloth on your part, it must have been uttered, and reported on, at an earlier time.

I gather from watching the video, and the change in voting from 4-1 to 3-2, that Trustee Birk has reconsidered her position. This is supported by her recent statement to that effect following further consultation with the special Labor Counsel.

I also submit that the characterization ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Feb 14, 10 8:59 PM
3 members liked this comment
Mr. Wheeler, my repeated comments on the unpublished report are both to call for its publication, and to

Remind those who post here that conclusions about the Trustees' actions, made in the absence of the publication of that report, are conclusions without foundation.

I don't claim to know whether the Trustees acted with great judiciousness or otherwise. Many post here act as if they know.
Feb 14, 10 9:26 PM appended by Publius
From the minutes of the Jan. 12th meeting: "Deputy Mayor Birk said she did not wish to discuss them right now. I have a report like you do, Jim and with a hearing, there is eight against one, one against another and with a hearing there may be five, six, two, one or nothing against one and nothing against the other, but until it goes to that process…..I want the guys cleared."
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 14, 10 9:26 PM
To Publius et al:

I've seen the calls for a comment on our position, and while I'm wary of getting into a back-and-forth on the subject, I think you do deserve at least a brief reply.

We've decided not to post the copy of the report by the Suffolk County Internal Affairs Bureau online.

The primary reason: The document is, by its nature, confidential. Granted, we've published a news story in the past that quotes extensively from it, but that's because we concluded that ...more
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Feb 15, 10 1:00 PM
Thank you Mr. Shaw for posting the Press' position on this issue.

I will not get into a back-and-forth on the subject; I only encourage you to be robust in your reporting and take every advantage of the internet resources at your command. It is a remarkable new age for reporters and citizens alike and we are all trying to figure it out.


For those interested in this topic the following is New York State's shield law, which protects both confidential information and confidential ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 15, 10 2:00 PM
New York's Shield Law is one of the strongest in the United States, and for that we're grateful.

P.S. What is needed now is a federal Shield Law--it's remarkable that the majority of states have one, but journalists covering the federal government do not enjoy any protections.

Call your representatives and senators. :)
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Feb 15, 10 2:36 PM
Thank you for the update, Mr. Shaw. The balance you have struck between informing the public and protecting confidentiality seems appropriate IMO.

I hope, however, that your quotes ("extensively") from the report do not constitute a waiver of your Constitutional rights to protect your source(s)!

Now, will some "higher-up" please look into this dysfunctional Village government?

State Attorney General? Suffolk County?

By PBR (4951), Southampton on Feb 15, 10 1:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
Maybe Ms Martin can check to see whether the Trustees ever changed their December resolution from restore to full duty to return to restricted duty. The story seems to be in error on this point. If order to restricted duty came from Mayor, as it appears from the print article, it is important to know if this will continue indefinitely until the Trustees capitulate and order a hearing, and know what this is costing the Village
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 16, 10 7:18 PM
Indeed. See my response above to your post.

Who is preventing the cops from going on FULL duty?

If the Trustees ordered their reinstitution, I would think that that would be it. If they did, who countermanded them, the mayor or the chief?

Does the mayor have the authority to do so?

It would make sense for the chief to have ordered restricted duty if he lacked confidence in the cops' suitability. But if that is the case, shouldn't they be restored to full duty ...more
By highhatsize (4176), East Quogue on Feb 16, 10 9:12 PM
Disciplinary charges were preferred by the Chief of Police already. The Trustees directed him to withdraw them, I think they really meant they were dismissed and it is a matter of semantics.

By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 16, 10 10:13 PM
Highhatsize:
Good point(s), but why did the chief bring in an outside party? Clearly the chief cannot do his job effectively if he has to call in a third party to conduct a departmental investigation. It seems the chief abilities and/or performance should be called into question. Could the chief be the root of the problem?
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Feb 18, 10 8:24 AM
HHS: "Who is preventing the cops from going on FULL duty?"

The way I read it was that the Mayor refused to permit the two officers named in the Suffolk County Internal Affairs report to return to normal duty.

And for all the New York State citations provided by that excellent resource that Publius has become, Westhampton Beach Village Law appears to place that authority in his and the Police Chief's hands.

And THAT, I believe, is at the root of the disagreement between ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Feb 17, 10 11:28 AM
Mr. Wheeler, your reference to "Westhampton Beach Village Law" as a font of authority for the Chief of Police is mistaken.

My citations have been to New York State Village Law which vests authority to suspend an officer pending a hearing, to hold disciplinary hearings, and to punish after a disciplinary hearing in the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees serves as a Board of Police Commissioners, and the Mayor is but one of the Commissioners.

The Mayor has cited section 30 ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Feb 17, 10 1:25 PM
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