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Jun 26, 2015 3:13 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Provisional Westhampton Beach Police Chief Fails Civil Service Exam

Provisional Westhampton Beach Police Chief Trevor Gonce. KYLE CAMPBELL
Jul 1, 2015 11:45 AM

Westhampton Beach Provisional Police Chief Trevor Gonce failed his Suffolk County Civil Service Police Chief exam, meaning he will have to wait at least another year before he can be promoted to a full-fledged police chief.

Mr. Gonce, who was tapped by the Village Board in December to replace former Chief Raymond Dean as the head of the Westhampton Beach Police Department, took the exam on March 14. It is not clear when the results were available but, in general, the tests take a few months to process and score, according to an official with the Suffolk County Civil Service Department.

Mr. Gonce will remain the provisional chief until he passes the chiefs’ test, Mayor Maria Moore said on Friday morning. The next test will be given in March 2016; eligible officers can take the test up to three times, the mayor added.

When asked how he scored last week, Mr. Gonce said he did not know but he expected the results to be announced by the county shortly.

On Friday afternoon, Ms. Moore clarified that she has been aware that Mr. Gonce failed the exam for nearly a month, and she acknowledged that she had previously spoken to the provisional chief about his test results. She noted, however, that she needed to reach out to Suffolk County to get the exam results.

Mr. Gonce did not return multiple calls and text messages seeking comment this week.

A posting on the Suffolk County Civil Service Department website states that only one person—William L. Ricca, who scored an 83—passed the most recent exam. The site suggests that the results were made available on June 5. The department does not release non-passing scores.

Ms. Moore expressed her continued support for Mr. Gonce moving forward.

“We’re all disappointed for him, and we’re confident he’ll pass the next time he takes the test,” she said. “He still will continue on as the provisional chief—we all think he’s doing a great job leading the department.”

Mr. Gonce was appointed provisional chief after a lengthy search by the Village Board that began after Mr. Dean’s abrupt departure in June 2014. In the immediate aftermath, Mr. Gonce, then a lieutenant, was put in charge of the department but was not named interim chief as the board interviewed several other candidates, and even offered the job to former Southampton Town and Southampton Village Police Chief William Wilson before withdrawing the offer in the face of political scrutiny.

As 2014 drew to a close, Mr. Gonce was named provisional chief, but with a catch: the board sought to hire a police commissioner to supervise him. That idea, too, was later dropped because of the backlash received by the board, though this time of a more public nature.

Mr. Gonce has been with the Westhampton Beach Police Department for his entire 20-year career in law enforcement. He was promoted to sergeant in 2003 and to lieutenant in 2007, only to be demoted later that same year for what the Village Board at the time described as a cost-cutting measure, though some believe it was done as an act of retribution against Mr. Gonce.

Earlier that year, Mr. Gonce responded to a report of shots fired at the Oak Street home of then-Deputy Mayor Jim Kametler, who told Mr. Gonce he was trying to kill a rabid opossum. Mr. Gonce did not arrest Mr. Kametler for discharging his registered weapon, but reported the incident to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office. After a lengthy investigation, that office concluded that no crime had been committed. Five months after the gun incident, Mr. Gonce was demoted.

In 2010, Mr. Gonce was promoted back to lieutenant and given the $9,000 that was taken from him in 2007, restoring his salary to $123,500. This past year, Mr. Gonce made more than $170,000 when factoring in his salary, holiday and longevity pay, educational allowance and night differential.

Mr. Gonce is not eligible for a chief’s contract until he passes the county exam.

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Trevor we are all very proud of you, and we know under much less stressful circumstances you will come through and be an outstanding Chief of Police. There will always be uninformed people who have something negative to say, but you should pride yourself on the excellent job you do and your long standing commitment to this community. (PKBM)
By mc0427 (9), Westhampton Beach on Jun 26, 15 3:44 PM
Trevor is a solid hands on police officer that has served the Village for almost 20 years. He is a leader and uniquely qualified to serve as Chief of Police for the Village. We are lucky to have him.
By Sug Tonmi (25), southampton on Jun 26, 15 4:17 PM
There is no way to put a positive spin on failing a test. Good luck next time.
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Jun 26, 15 4:24 PM
Yes there is - it could have been a DUI test.
By Funbeer (270), Southampton on Jul 1, 15 10:13 PM
it means he didn't bother to study because he didn't think it was important.
By Ukie (1), Quogue on Jul 9, 15 4:55 PM
Given the number of civil servants who do not pass their basic every level exams the first time given, I would hardly call this article newsworthy. With that being said, Chief Gonce continue the great work it has clearly not gone un-noticed being as this is the first time in likely the history of the Village that the Board has backed any employee let alone the PD. Better luck next time, this Village is lucky to finally have a great Chief.
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Jun 26, 15 6:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By realistic (466), westhampton on Jun 26, 15 8:04 PM
Realistic I have stated on numerous occasions that I am of no relation to Chief Gonce, please keep your false accusations and inappropriate comments to yourself.
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Jun 26, 15 8:07 PM
Another case of not picking the best just picking someone's friend.......What a joke
By chief1 (2770), southampton on Jun 26, 15 6:56 PM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Sug Tonmi (25), southampton on Jun 26, 15 7:12 PM
2 members liked this comment
The civil service test for the position of chief of police is not an easy
examination. There is a legitimate reason for the test being difficult. The
position of police chief carries a enormous amount of responsibility.
Hopefully, Chief Gonce will be successful on the next administered
examination by the state civil service commission. The Chief must diligently
prepare for the next test. It appears the community has embraced him, so the
Village Board is making the right ...more
By Jimion (129), Hampton Bays on Jun 26, 15 8:23 PM
Is anyone really surprised that the hand-picked candidate of a former Town Board member has failed the test. It's just politics as usual around here.
By tenn tom (251), remsenburg on Jun 27, 15 7:34 AM
You've alleged "A," now say "B." Who on the Board was the Chief's rabbi?
By Frank Wheeler (1818), Northampton on Jun 27, 15 8:54 AM
Not the Village Board, the Town Board. Follow the politics.
By tenn tom (251), remsenburg on Jun 27, 15 10:17 AM
So, who?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jun 28, 15 10:57 AM
A $200,000 a year dunce. Barney Fife. Keep the bullet out of the gun, please.
By nazznazz (276), east hampton on Jun 27, 15 9:50 AM
Trevor: I believe I can speak for all of the Chiefs and professionals you have worked with and continue to work with and say we are saddened for you, by this news, but we all know the exam is not an easy one, and not one a person can study for in such a short period of time. There are a few of us who took a time or 2 to pass the exam, and we all know you are smart, professional and an excellent police officer, and you have proven your ability during this last year to be a very well respected Chief. ...more
By EastEnder11946 (1), remsenburg on Jun 27, 15 10:07 AM
1 member liked this comment
There are plenty of people that pass the chiefs test. Here's an idea pick a chief who is qualified rather than a political hacks appointee.
By chief1 (2770), southampton on Jun 27, 15 10:17 AM
I firmly believe Chief Gonce will prevail.....he is the right person to lead the department and has an opportunity to make that department a better place. Good Luck Chief, you will pass the test the next time..no doubt in my mind. Keep doing a great job.
By rjhdad (73), southampton on Jun 27, 15 11:38 AM
chief is right-plenty of people pass the chiefs test-what he fails to mention is that more than half pass on their second or third attempt Gonce will pass and will make a good Chief
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Jun 27, 15 12:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
Obviously, we raised the bar too high for union mindset.
By 1eastquogueinusa (34), East Quogue on Jun 27, 15 12:58 PM
A civil service test does not indicate who would be best at the job.
By Woods woman (143), East hampton on Jun 27, 15 4:22 PM
How and why is this news? People fail promotional exams every single day and continue in their position until their next opportunity. Doctors retake their boards, lawyers the Bar, it's a part of life. Awful reporting, worse editing shame on Frank Costanza. You should republish your article and include statistics on how often people fail exams with the civil service, how many Chiefs on the East End failed the first time & had to retake the exam. Oh wait, that won't sell your paper. Chief Gonce keep ...more
By AdamSchindler (1), Westhampton Beach on Jun 27, 15 9:06 PM
Well golly thanks Adam Shidler for letting us know people fail exams. The issue is that when you pass the bar you become a lawyer. When a person passes the boards he or she becomes a doctor. This genius is a provisional chief even though he failed the chiefs exam. Now lets all pray he studies up for the next exam. You wouldn't want to find someone who already passed the test, and is eligible? This is another example of arrogance by politicians to do whatever they want with taxpayer money.
By chief1 (2770), southampton on Jun 28, 15 1:38 AM
1 member liked this comment
Please remember he was foisted upon the Mayor due to unscrupulous actions by a former Town Board member. This person twisted the arms of certain other Village Board members so that Chief Wilson would not be selected.
By tenn tom (251), remsenburg on Jun 28, 15 9:34 AM
any commenter with one posting is obviously completely subjective
By llimretaw (118), watermill on Jun 29, 15 1:35 AM
in the words of nelson
"ah ha"
By llimretaw (118), watermill on Jun 29, 15 1:33 AM
You have to score pretty low on a Civil Service exam to actually fail...... Nice work Trevor!
By G (338), Southampton on Jun 29, 15 2:03 PM
I don't know if there is something extra special about a police chief position, but under NY State civil service law as long as one person has passed the test and there is at least one person serving in that title provisionally (within the test jurisdiction, in this case Suffolk Co.), the person that passes the test gets the job (if they elect to take it). The whole point of the system is to ensure that qualified people get public jobs, especially high level uniformed jobs subject to civil service ...more
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Jun 29, 15 8:45 PM
Here's a prime example of why I had to get out of there...all of the ignorant people who think they know everything and who constantly have to throw in their two cents and negativity when in fact they know absolutely nothing! The people on here bashing Chief Gonce...don't you have anything better to do? What if you were in his shoes? What would you be saying then?

An exam result does NOT translate into how well or capable someone is of doing their job. Considering Trevor has been a serving ...more
By Ksun (2), East Quogue on Jun 29, 15 9:20 PM
A damn good job? In an area with no crime? Lets cut the bull%=÷×does WHB even need a police chief or police force? This is so funny how we give a 200k a year job to someone unqualified, and makes excuses why he is qualified. How can a guy like this enforce the law when he can't even follow the law??
By chief1 (2770), southampton on Jun 29, 15 10:04 PM
Why don't you leave the area if you're so unsatisfied?
By Ksun (2), East Quogue on Jun 29, 15 10:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ok chief1 sounds like you have all the answers. So let's hear them?
By GoldenBoy (346), EastEnd on Jun 30, 15 11:16 AM
On a National basis we have all read the problems having untrained and/or unqualified Police leadership and training has created for our communities. I guess I'm not surprised our unqualified Mayor is perpetuating the inexperience in this Village. Wonder what "friends" she is accommodating with this one? The lack of "qualified" leadership" has already cost this Village dearly. To bad the Mayor and Trustee don't offer up their checkbooks for their decisions. Its too easy for them to pass this onto ...more
By realistic (466), westhampton on Jun 30, 15 3:34 PM
She wanted Wilson!
By tenn tom (251), remsenburg on Jun 30, 15 10:14 PM
I think people have lost their minds. They are mad at me, because I believe taxpayers should get the best, and brightest. We are going down the tubes
By chief1 (2770), southampton on Jul 1, 15 12:53 PM
You think Wilson, who abandon the Town of Southampton during SUPERSTORM Sandy, and then resigned via email is the brightest and the best? You have lost your mind.
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Jul 1, 15 2:42 PM
2 members liked this comment
Beachbme- never a positive thing to say. really to quote you- if you don't like this Village move on! I would prefer to hear your opinion. Its America. This is how things change. Have a great 4th of July.
By realistic (466), westhampton on Jul 1, 15 3:14 PM
You do not get two bites of the apple.Open the list and start all over again.
By watchdog1 (541), Southampton on Jul 8, 15 4:25 PM
Hot Tubs,SALE, Southampton Village, SouthamptonFest weekend