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May 18, 2011 10:29 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Throne-Holst Explains Her Decision To Go With Wilson

May 18, 2011 11:41 AM

As Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson Jr. started his new job on Monday, and the dust around his high-profile appointment finally began to settle, Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst offered some insight as to why she backed the former Southampton Village Police chief to replace longtime Town Police Chief James P. Overton following his retirement earlier this spring.

The supervisor also shared stories of what she said were the difficult dealings she has had over the years with Town Police Captain Anthony Tenaglia—the second-in-command at Town Police headquarters, and the man who many viewed as the obvious choice to replace Mr. Overton.

The process of appointing the new Town Police chief was marked by many twists and turns, starting when Mr. Overton announced his retirement in March. The board was poised to appoint Capt. Tenaglia shortly after interviewing him, according to Town Hall sources, before Ms. Throne-Holst, Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming and Town Councilman Jim Malone reportedly changed their minds and sought to interview Chief Wilson for the position. The move prompted allegations that the three were driven by political motivations—and being influenced by the Southampton Town Patrolman’s Benevolence Association—to give the job to Chief Wilson.

But Ms. Throne-Holst vehemently rejected those claims during interviews this week, and instead pointed to significant policy and management style differences between the two candidates that led her to chose Chief Wilson over Capt. Tenaglia. She also documented a complex history with Capt. Tenaglia that also influenced her decision.

One thing that did not influence the decision, four of the five Town Board members said this week—Mr. Malone was the only one who did not return calls seeking comment—was an ethics complaint filed against Capt. Tenaglia on March 27, shortly after Chief Overton had announced his plans to retire. Capt. Tenaglia is the president of the Superior Officers Association union, which represents the town’s police sergeants and lieutenants. The complaint filed by PBA President Timothy O’Flaherty references a phone conversation between the two men in which Officer O’Flaherty accuses the captain of being intimidating and improper, and threatening to “start a war with the SOA” if the PBA supported Chief Wilson over him.

Another document, submitted by PBA Vice President Kevin Gwinn on April 13, claims that Officer O’Flaherty’s complaint was unlawfully disseminated to all supervisors in the police department by Capt. Tenaglia—an effort, he said, to influence his subordinates in hopes of intimidating Officer O’Flaherty.

Capt. Tenaglia said this week that he believes that Officer O’Flaherty’s complaint was aimed at jeopardizing his chances of becoming chief, and that their conversation that day was a personal one, “one union president to another union president.” He said that exchange should not fall under the purview of the town’s Ethics Board.

“It’s an embellished complaint,” Capt. Tenaglia said. “It’s his word against my word. And it’s just extremely coincidental that it just happened to come up right when I was being considered.”

Officer O’Flaherty is on vacation until May 24 and could not be reached for comment, according to a police dispatcher this week.

Ms. Throne-Holst said previous encounters with Capt. Tenaglia influenced her decision not to support his appointment. Shortly after being sworn into office, the supervisor said she convened a committee to hone in on repairing relationships within the police department, in which the superiors and the rank-and-file officers were frequently butting heads. At the heart of the issue was whether or not the department’s officers should switch to a steady tour schedule. The group examined the idea of instituting steady tours, or steady working shifts for police officers who currently work erratic hours that prevent them from staying on normal sleeping patterns.

It was during these interactions that Ms. Throne-Holst said Capt. Tenaglia labeled the discussions a sham, and accused her of having her mind made up on the issue. She said his comments were inappropriate and offensive, and that he refused to keep an open mind about the steady tour issue. Chief Wilson, on the other hand, she said, demonstrated a willingness to explore the issue during his interview.

“It was made very clear early on from the top brass [that] this was not a welcome process, that they felt that this was stacked against them, that I had preconceived notions and conclusions—and that was conveyed to me in a less than professional and, I felt, courteous, way,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “That was not at all the case. There was no reason why anyone thought that.”

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Its all about the 12 hour tours. The PBA wants them, the department under Chief Overton didn't; and Anna owes the PBA. You will see 12 hour tours here, a bad idea and don't be fooled the union "numbers" showing this is a windfall for the Town. Its not.
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on May 19, 11 8:27 AM
Wrong, North. In the 27east piece of 5/18, "New Southampton Town Police Chief . . . ." Wilson says he's against 12-hour tours.
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on May 19, 11 4:16 PM
Thanks for the correction and you're right fidelis - not sure if his comment was for public consumption, I guess time will tell.
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on May 20, 11 10:12 AM
North of Highway, why would he say he was against 12 hour tours and then later support them? That implication makes no sense. And furthermore, who cares?
By shaka zulu (3), Southampton on May 21, 11 12:32 PM
So we have a clarification. ATH did not select Tenaglia because he would not play along with her to promote policies that the PBA wants. He dissed her and she gave him the change. It was only a matter of political payback. She deserves kudos for confirming what everyone suspected.
By V.Tomanoku (788), southampton on May 23, 11 7:28 PM
....That Tenaglia is arrogant, condescending and would make a poor chief?
By shaka zulu (3), Southampton on May 23, 11 8:08 PM
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