By Kathryn G. Menu
The Southampton Town Board voted to promote Captain Robert Pearce into the position of Chief of Police of the Southampton Town Police Department at its Tuesday night meeting.
Captain Pearce will be officially sworn into the position on Thursday, December 6.
Captain Pearce was named interim police chief earlier this month in the wake of the resignation of Chief William Wilson, Jr.
Chief Wilson submitted his letter of resignation to the Southampton Town Board after just 18 months in command of the East End’s largest law enforcement agency. He replaced long-time police chief, James Overton, in May of 2011. Wilson had previously served in the Southampton Village Police Department, where he was named chief in 2006.
Wilson’s tenure as chief of the department will come to an official end this Saturday, December 1, although the chief has not been on the job since before Hurricane Sandy hit in late October, impacting much of Long Island including Southampton Town. Wilson was on vacation leave during the “super storm” and after submitting his resignation in early November, the town board announced Wilson would use the remainder of his vacation and sick time between then and December 1.
Captain Pearce led the town’s emergency response in dealing with the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, as well as the storm’s aftermath.
Board support for the promotion of Captain Pearce was decidedly different from when the officer was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain. Despite Wilson’s protest, in March the Republican and Conservative majority of the Southampton Town Board – Chris Nuzzi, Christine Scalera and Jim Malone – backed Pearce’s promotion. This time, the promotion to police chief was adopted unanimously.
According to the resolution affirming Captain Pearce’s promotion, there are fewer than three candidates willing to accept the position who have reached the rank of captain or higher in the whole of Southampton Town, including departments outside of the Southampton Town Police Department.
Following Wilson’s resignation, Councilman Nuzzi said he believed the majority of the board would want to see the promotion from within the department, rather than an outside appointment similar to Wilson, who came to the Southampton Town Police Department after serving as Chief of the Southampton Village Police Department.
The provisional appointment to police chief will include an annual salary of $166,669 for Captain Pearce effective December 1, according to the town board’s resolution.