Tag Archive | "southampton town police department"

Southampton Town Trustees, Police Request More Funding in the Town Budget

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By Mara Certic

Three weeks before the Southampton Town Board is slated to adopt its 2015 budget, representatives of two departments came before the board to ask for additional funding.

“We offer all of our departments and department heads the opportunity to come before the town board as part of the budget crafting process to discuss any thoughts they have, suggestions, complaints et cetera, et cetera,” Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said at the beginning of a work session on Thursday, October 30.

The Southampton Town Trustees and the town’s police department were two such entities that asked for a larger share of the town’s preliminary budget.

“When you took office for the first time the town’s finances were not in the greatest of shape, and the Trustees have always operated on a very, very lean budget all through the years,” Eric Shultz, president of the Trustees, told the supervisor on Thursday.

“I just wanted to start discussing bringing the Trustees’ budget back up to pretty much what it was before this financial crisis started,” he said. “The Trustees have contributed the lion’s share of that budget and feel that we really have helped the town weather this storm.”

Mr. Shultz said there were certain line items that were no longer budgeted for, including overtime pay for bay constables, upkeep of vehicles, legal fees, salaries for office staff and so on.

“In this budget we were told it was basically going to be the same as last year and we need to start coming out of the hole a little bit,” Mr. Shultz said, adding that some of the Trustees’ employees had been driving a vehicle until a spark plug blew out of the engine.

“We’ve not had to ask the town board for any vehicles or any boats or any motors or any repairs to our buildings in the last four or five years because of our sand sales, and that’s coming to an end. There has been zero dollars realized from the sale of sand this year,” he said.

The Trustees made $1.2 million in sand sales in the year following Super Storm Sandy, which they used for upkeep of their fleet and their properties. The current state of Southampton beaches, however, suggests sand sales won’t be on the rise any time soon.

Ms. Throne-Holst said the conversation was one that should have taken place as a part of the requested budget process, where departments lay out what money they need for what projects, so the town can budget accordingly. She added the Trustees are an enterprise fund, meaning they have a revenue source of their own.

The Trustees suggested they brought in the most money to the town, and that as those charged with protecting the waterways, they “control the economic engine of this town.”

Ms. Throne-Holst acknowledged their contributions, but added both the town’s Building Department and Justice Court bring in hefty sums in permit fees and fines as well.

“So what we need to do now is set back the clock and pretend we’re back in September when the budget came out,” she said. “But we need to follow timelines here like everyone else,” she reminded the Trustees. “We’re so understaffed in our office, its hard to get things done,” responded Mr. Shultz.

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce came before the board to address portions of his department’s budget that concerned him. Chief Pearce had put in a request for six new police officers in order, primarily, to increase police presence in Flanders as well as a request for more money for severance pay and vehicle upkeep.

“That is the reason I am asking for six,” he said, “It is my understanding I’m getting three with a possibility of a fourth in 2016.” In the current budget, there will be three new names added to the police payroll, filling two new positions and one vacancy.

The town has budgeted to add another lieutenant and sergeant to the department—both will be internal promotions—and then to fill those positions and an existing vacancy with department officers.

If Suffolk County adopts its preliminary budget, Ms. Throne-Holst explained there would be a new agreement to provide the town with a greater share of sales tax revenue to use for public safety.

The supervisor suggested some of that money be allocated to pay for one officer immediately, with a commitment to double the amount in the next calendar year.

“It won’t get you there immediately, but it will get you there roughly in a year or so,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. Chief Pearce said back when he had 102 officers he ran a lean department. As the budget stands, his department will have 90 officers in 2015.

“We were running lean then, we’re running emaciated now,” Chief Pearce said. The supervisor said the seasonal nature of the town makes budgeting for the police particularly difficult.

“We try to do the best we can in a way that achieves a balance between the season and the off-season,” she said.

East Hampton Budget

In East Hampton Town, Budget Officer Len Bernard presented another review of the tentative operating budget for 2015. Since it was first presented to the public in September, the town has added $29,124 in net expenditures to the budget. More money for human services, town cemeteries, the East End Arts Council and the fisheries committee, among others, account for the increases, Mr. Bernard explained.

Mr. Bernard said more money had found its way into the revenue fund. This is in part due to expected lease payments from solar companies. According to Mr. Bernard the contracts have been drawn and will be signed shortly. “This is going to happen real soon,” he said.

The overall net to the tax levy, he said, is $152,400 in revenue, which will very slightly lower the projected tax increase. Also, it will put the town $329,569 under the tax cap, which it can carry forward to the next year.

In a work session meeting on October 21, Councilwoman Kathee Burke Gonzalez asked that an additional $36,000 be put into the airport budget in order to install cameras to record flight activity.

Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc requested the town also budget for a part-time skilled carpenter to conduct small repairs on town buildings. “I think Peter’s proposal is acceptable, as far as I’m concerned, and encouraged,” said Councilman Fred Overton.

Mr. Bernard said he would add both of those items to the budget. Both towns are scheduled to adopt their operating budgets by November 20, as stipulated by state law.

17-Year-Old Girl Injured in Boating Accident off North Haven

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By Tessa Raebeck

On Sunday, July 27, at around 5:50 p.m., Southampton Town Bay Constables were called to the scene of a boating accident that occurred in the waters off of North Haven.

Upon arrival at the Forrest Road location, the bay constables found 17-year-old Penelope Heller being assisted on shore by members of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the Southampton Town Police Department. Ms. Heller was airlifted in a medivac to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where she was admitted for treatment of her injuries. According to Sag Harbor Village Police, Ms. Heller sustained a neck injury.

Senior Bay Constable Albert Tuzzolo said Monday afternoon that he was awaiting a return call from the hospital to determine the extent of Ms. Heller’s injuries.

Major Delays Expected on County Road 39 Tuesday

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By Tessa Raebeck

County Road 39 was closed by Southampton Town Police on Tuesday at 4:26 a.m. due to a telephone pole and wires on the roadway. The road is closed in both directions between North Sea Road and Dale Road. Major delays should be expected. For more information, call the Southampton Town Police Department at (631) 728-5000.

Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike Closed After Two Car Accidents

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A three vehicle accident took place Tuesday morning near the intersection of the Bridgehampton Turnpike and Scuttlehole Road. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

A three vehicle accident took place Tuesday morning near the intersection of the Bridgehampton Turnpike and Scuttlehole Road. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Tessa Raebeck

The Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike is shut down, with the road blocked off from Huntington Crossway to Scuttle Hole Road, after two accidents occurred during the morning of Tuesday, May 20.

A single car accident on the turnpike sent the driver to the hospital with a broken leg. Photo by Steven Kotz.

A single car accident on the turnpike sent the driver to the hospital with a broken leg. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

Sometime around 8 a.m. a southbound construction truck towing a small cement mixer struck a northbound SUV in its driver side door. Another northbound car was pushed off the road to be parallel to the SUV on its passenger side. An ambulance was called, but an EMT at the scene said injuries did not appear to be serious.

Sergeant Howard Kalb with the Southampton Town Police Department said a tow truck was called for “some kind of trouble” with the cement  mixer, but confirmed there were no serious injuries.

A second accident also occurred on the turnpike earlier Tuesday at 5:52 a.m. when a northbound vehicle struck a pole just north of Hampton Court. The collision caused the telephone wires to become low hanging wires, but they were not knocked into the street. The driver, who had to be removed from the vehicle, suffered a broken leg, Sergeant Kalb said Tuesday.

For more information, call the Southampton Town Police Department at 631-728-3400.

 

 

Captain Robert Pearce Named Southampton Town Police Chief

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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.

Southampton: Top Cop Aims To Trim Operations

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By Claire Walla


Southampton Town Police Chief Bill Wilson admitted last Friday, November 4 that his department has, in fact, spent $225,000 more than its allotted overtime funds due primarily to changes in the department that he implemented when he took office last May.

However, he said, those costs don’t represent the full story.

Though the overtime budget is currently in the red, Chief Wilson said he has a vision for the department that will not only solve the overtime dilemma, but will bring more financial stability for the police department for the years to come.

“I think we can agree that the Southampton Town Police Department, operationally, has been on an austerity budget for quite some time,” Wilson began. “In looking at the long-term health and longevity of the police department over the next 20 years, I was tasked with finding significant savings [when appointed as police chief ].”

For fiscal year 2012, that total is $1.5 million, which is currently built into the supervisor’s Preliminary Budget. That cost savings is laid-out in a plan to trim the police department by eight members, using a stipulation in all officers’ contracts with the town that allows town officials to force officers who have reached 20 years of service into retirement. (Under Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s plan, officers who have 25 years of service or more will be affected.)

While Southampton Town Comptroller Tamara Wright recently said this formula has been complicated by the fact that fire service has now been thrown into the mix of what constitutes an officers’ employment with the town — the number of officers now eligible for retirement has risen to 12 — the chief maintains that trimming his staff in this way is the most effective for the department.

“There has been some concern with the department’s ability to operate with a certain amount of ‘brain drain,’” he said, referring to the fact that those forced into retirement would be the town’s senior officers with the most experience.

“We have talented people in those positions,” he continued, “But we have talented people waiting to fill those positions. So, at no time would public safety be jeopardized.”

He went on to explain that part of his reorganization would be removing superior officers from positions that he said could easily be “civilianized.” Wilson said that the lieutenant currently responsible for the office of emergency management — “an expert in the field” — has agreed to come back to the department after his retirement next August on a part-time or consultant basis in order to train a “civilian” to do the job.

Similarly, the chief said that a current sergeant interested in taking the town’s retirement incentive has agreed to come back to the department to work in an administrative, civilian position.

“In doing so, that would allow me to be able to flatten out the current command structure,” Wilson commented.

His goal, as he has explained it, is to get more uniformed officers out of the office and onto the streets.

In speaking to the longevity of the department, Wilson also told town board members that he hopes to make better use of technology to streamline procedures within the department that, as of now, are “archaic.” After adding that he has been asked to trim current staffing levels down to 90 (he said there were 96 when he first took command), operations will have to be streamlined.

That cannot be done “without the automization of a substantial amount of the services we perform — filling out paperwork, records management, processing evidence,” he added.

In one sense, Wilson continued, overtime numbers increase “because of the amount of uncommitted officer time — there is a report generated for every single thing that we do.”

But cutting back on those reports is not an option.

“One of the primary purposes of law enforcement is documentation,” Wilson said. “It’s just the way that the documentation is done that takes up time.”

The board went into executive session to discuss the finer details of Wilson’s plan regarding which specific staff members he proposes moving to higher positions to fill the spots of those expected to take retirement or be forced into retirement. However, though the board discussed Wilson’s plan for reorganizing his staff, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst noted that she would be continuing discussion with the department’s two main unions: the Superior Officers’ Association (SOA) and the Police (PBA).

Should an agreement be reached or should the board decide not to force officers into retirement, Wilson noted that it would affect his carefully mapped out plan for a reorganization that would result in $1.5 million in savings.

Pointing to the fact that the new measurement for retirement eligibility at 25 years now includes 12 officers instead of eight, Councilman Jim Malone said that decreasing the department by 12 officers “is not sustainable,” adding that that would mark a drop-off of nearly 50 percent.

As discussions continue about the future of the town’s police department, Malone said he wanted to see more options than the what’s currently laid-out in the Preliminary Budget (retiring those who have accumulated 25 years of service).

“While it’s a viable choice, the choice of one is not really a choice in my mind,” he said. “There’s got to be a contingency plan.”