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Feb 24, 2010 11:45 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Mayor refuses to return two previously suspended officers back to active duty

Feb 24, 2010 11:45 AM

It appears unlikely that two previously suspended Westhampton Beach Village Police officers will return to active duty anytime soon.

In December, the Westhampton Beach Village Board ordered that Officers Michael Bruetsch and Joseph Pesapane be reinstated after declining to hold disciplinary hearings. The board’s majority then ordered Westhampton Beach Village Police Chief Ray Dean to drop the charges filed against the officers and reinstate them.

But Mayor Conrad Teller, who suspended the officers in October after learning that they had lied to superior officers and outside investigators, has ordered that they remain on restrictive duty, and off street patrols, until disciplinary hearings are held.

“I’m responsible for the conduct of the police department by law. I want them on restrictive duty,” Mayor Teller said of the two officers. “The charges are of such a nature that, in the interest of the officers and in the interest of the public, they stay on restrictive duty until the matter is adjudicated.”

Bill Keahon, the lawyer representing Officers Bruetsch and Pesapane, did not return calls seeking comment over the past two weeks.

The two officers were suspended with pay by Mayor Teller after a Suffolk County Internal Affairs Bureau investigation concluded that they lied to their superior officers and outside investigators about the circumstances surrounding a fellow officer’s missing handgun, which was later recovered. Against the mayor’s wishes, the charges were later dropped by the Village Board, and board members said the officers should return to full active duty.

Mayor Teller previously stated that he will continue to introduce resolutions that seek to resuspend the two officers and hold the disciplinary hearings. He has not made a decision about whether to reintroduce them during the next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, March 4. Earlier this month, split 3-2, the board rejected the mayor’s attempt to reinstate the charges and hold the hearings.

In October, Suffolk County Internal Affairs Bureau officials concluded that “the allegations of three counts of conduct unbecoming [of an officer] and five counts of lying/false statement” against Officer Bruetsch are “substantiated,” according to the final report, a copy of which was given to The Press by a source. The same report recommended that the allegation of lying/false statement filed against Officer Pesapane “be classified as substantiated.”

Chief Dean said he agrees with Mayor Teller’s decision to keep the officers on restricted duty, and out of their squad cars.

“Quite frankly, what is the harm of having the hearing?” Chief Dean said. “It is the normal course of actions, and, honestly, it’s unprecedented,” he said. “I’m kind of perplexed as to why we didn’t have one. But then I’m just the police chief.”

Chief Dean explained that Officers Bruetsch and Pesapane have been assisting with administrative tasks, such as answering phones and processing paperwork, because they are not allowed out on patrol. Chief Dean, whose department employs 16 full-time officers and detectives, said his department has not had to accrue a lot of overtime to make up for the two officers. He did note that a few of his detectives have assumed some of the patrol duties in the absence of Officers Bruetsch and Pesapane.

“The backbone of the police department is patrol,” Chief Dean said. “I have to answer calls for service. I have to allocate manpower accordingly.”

The resolution that instructed Chief Dean to drop the charges and to return the officers to work passed 3-1 in December. Board members Jim Kametler, Joan Levan and Hank Tucker voted in favor of it, while Mayor Teller voted against it. Board member Toni-Jo Birk was absent.

When reached this week, Mr. Kametler, a former Westhampton Beach Village Police officer, declined to comment on the mayor’s decision to keep the two officers on restrictive duty. Ms. Levan said the resolution to drop the charges and order the officers back to work had been written by a labor attorney. She then declined to speculate about the reason for the mayor’s decision.

Mr. Tucker, meanwhile, said that Mayor Teller and Chief Dean are not following the wishes of the board. “The mayor and police chief should honor a resolution the majority of the board passes,” he said. “That’s how government works.”

The two officers filed separate grievances with the village earlier this month, according to Chief Dean.

Chief Dean denied those grievances, which argue that the village has violated the rights of the two officers to earn overtime following their reinstatement, according to the village’s labor attorney, Richard Zuckerman, a lawyer with Lamb & Barnosky LLP in Melville. The officers have appealed that decision, and the Village Board will eventually be asked to make a decision on the grievances. It is not clear when that will happen, according to Mr. Zuckerman. He did note that such a decision would typically be made in executive session, though the board can choose to do it in public.

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Village Trustee Hank Tucker said: “The mayor and police chief should honor a resolution the majority of the board passes. That’s how government works.”

Guess he's a little young to remember Watergate.

By Frank Wheeler (1796), Northampton on Feb 23, 10 6:16 PM
So let the alleged liars go back to work protecting? the public. Good show WHB. If the Trustees say it is ok for the police to lie than people should stay away from this nutty village with its' rogue police force.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Feb 23, 10 6:59 PM
What's Bo Bishop's take on this? Can the Mayor and the Chief of Police refuse to follow a directive of a majority of the Village Trustees?
By highhatsize (3597), East Quogue on Feb 23, 10 7:29 PM
HHS,

If a majority vote of the Trustees said to kill some ethnic minority en masse, should the Mayor and Chief get out their guns and start shooting?

You are joking right?
By PBR (4868), Southampton on Feb 23, 10 7:33 PM
Thank you to the Mayor and Chief for obeying the law, in all its permutations.

Trustee Tucker et al. might wish to re-think the wisdom of their obstinate, immature and ludicrous position on this IMO.

When is the next WHB election?
By PBR (4868), Southampton on Feb 23, 10 7:30 PM
I'm simply asking the question. Bishop is the Village attorney. He ought to have an opinion on whether or not the Mayor and/or the Chief of Police have the legal authority to defy an order from a majority of the Village trustees.
By highhatsize (3597), East Quogue on Feb 23, 10 8:13 PM
2 members liked this comment
This whole mess shows that Westhampton Beach Police departmant and the Board are a discrace.The poice are over paid and do nothing but hid,sleep and lie. The Board does not show up for meeting and they both do NOTHING for Westhampton Beach but collect a check
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 23, 10 11:02 PM
2 members liked this comment
After months of your monosyllabic rants about your police and your Village Board and the overpaid Police Chief who was asleep when a robbery happened and someone named JIM THE GUN who shot a possum, what else do you have to say?

What else are you ABLE to say?

Do you vote in your Village?

Are you even REGISTERED to vote?

Have you ever been to a Village Hall meeting?

In short, SJD, what do you have to say for yourself after having so much to say, over ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1796), Northampton on Feb 24, 10 12:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
Perhaps you should consider running for Village Trustee, you seem to have lots of great ideas on how things should work!
By barnbabe (64), westhampton beach on Feb 24, 10 2:43 PM
sjd,if you are a village resident,go to meetings and express your concerns,if you're not a resident,worry about your own village.regardless, enough of your comments,we all are tired of your constant one tract of mind against the pd and the village,find a new topic,you're like a broken record,whining isn't going to solve anything,go to the meetings and ask questions,we are tired of you!!!!!
By curious (77), westhampton beach on Feb 24, 10 12:10 PM
"Frank Wheeler"
"barnbabe"
"curious"
Seems like the three of you want to just look away from all these problems that have gone on for over a year.
To Frank Wheeler
Yes I am a resident and I do vote NOT LIKE YOU.
To barnbabe
I do not think this town need the PD force or this boad
To curious
Seems like you do not want to hear about what has gone on
Does the truth really hurt that much???
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 24, 10 3:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
sjd,are you for real??????how do you know if frank votes????as for the the truth hurting me.....what truth are you referi ng to, all i hear you saying is the pd and board have to go? that is your opinion,not truth! since you say you are a resident,i expect to hear you voice your concerns at the next village meeting in march.perhaps when you do this you will get the answers you need to actually get the truth.see you there!
By curious (77), westhampton beach on Feb 24, 10 6:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
"curious" Are you the one that said that the police chief salary was in line??? and justified that he makes more that the chief of police of NYC and has less than 3 square miles of area.
All so for you info tonight at about 6:45 while I was walking on main street a Westhampton Police officer in a maked truck went east on main street at about 45 mph and he was leaning on his consol talking on his cell phone.
So yes I am for real ARE YOU???
Do you forget about all they DO NOT DO and how ...more
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 24, 10 7:53 PM
2 members liked this comment
Not only do they do that on main street sjd, they do it all over town. I have seen numerous incidents where one particular car #114 has run the red light crossing Montauk Highway on Oneck Lane with no lights flashing as if responding to a call, as well as turning right on red without coming to a complete stop or even attempting to stop at the same intersection and then crossing the double yellow line on Montauk highway heading east, again with no flashing lights on as if responding to a call. This ...more
By sayitaintsojoe (100), Westhampton on Feb 25, 10 11:28 AM
2 members liked this comment
Finally, some critical thinking by SJD!

You're correct - as a resident of the Town and not Westhampton Beach, I don't even try to vote there -- unlike some other non-residents. (My polling place is actually in Riverhead.)

And as for the speeding "marked truck," wouldn't that be a Patrol Supervisor's vehicle?

But then the question would be raised: "What sort of training have you had in the area of estimating vehicular speeds?" (I was on a jury once where this was a key ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1796), Northampton on Feb 25, 10 4:10 PM
Well finally Frank you tell us were you are from.
Why don't you tell us what you mean that you do not try and vote here-- unlike other non-residents and maybe tell us who they are.
Are you so involved in the problems in Riverhead as you are in Westhampton Beach?
I have no idea if the vehical was the patrol supervisors or not and it really does not matter speeding and being on his cell phone was the point
All so I will keep writing about what has gone on here for 2 years and what ...more
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 25, 10 11:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thank you for the support. Now maybe Frank form Riverhead will get the point.
If you look abck at my other comments you will see why I am so sick of this OVER PAID police departmant and this DO NOTHING town board.When you hear that over 28% of your taxes go for this police force you have to get sick and than you see them do what we both have stated and it seems they feel they can do what ever they want when ever they want and they get away with all this crap.
Thanks Again
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 25, 10 11:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
Maybe you should read the comment by "sayitaintsojoe" from Westhampton Beach since you think I am so wrong.
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 25, 10 11:35 PM
Everyone's known where I'm from all along, SJD, you goofball! Northampton, overlooking bucolic Wildwood Lake. Never made any secret of that. And it's part of Southampton Town, not Riverhead -- get a map!

And if you don't understand about people not from Westhampton Beach trying to vote in Westhampton Beach, then you can't be from Westhampton Beach. so you don't know what's been going on there for the past 2 (or 3) years. so you have nothing valid to write about.

Give your tired ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1796), Northampton on Feb 26, 10 12:41 AM
"Frank Wheeler"
So now name calling!!! GROW UP. For years the police force and board have done NOTHING but get paid
You stated that you know people that are not resisents of Westhampton Beach that vote here so all I asked was WHO?? You have posted alot of comments but when your asked to back them up,you turn to name calling
You like others just want to forget all that has gone on here and hope it will just go away.
UNLIKE YOU YES I DO LIVE HERE
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 26, 10 5:52 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Frank Wheeler (1796), Northampton on Feb 26, 10 7:38 PM
Frank
First of all YOU are the one that stated YOU knew people that voted here and did not live here.
I am sure that all of your 529 statement are as IDIOTIC as the ones you have posted about Westhampton Beack.
Like other you do not want to be reminded of what has gone on here not only with the police force but the Board.
As for as any exchanges with you I could beat you in my sleep since you brain would not fit in a shot glass
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 26, 10 9:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
Frank,
How do you have the nerve to call someone else names when he has concrens of what goes on in his town.A town you do not even live in. If you took the time to read other comments from people that all so live in Westhampton Beach it seems that SJD's and others concerns are correct. But you have now started name calling.You than bring up that you were on a jury and all that shows is they will let anyone sit on a jury no matter how much they do not know and how full of hot air they are like ...more
By oldguy (60), hamptons on Feb 26, 10 9:26 PM
Im going to guess that the village board will also be the disciplinary hearing board. That is when the board, as a whole, will decide what to do. Pehaps their mind is made up already but they never had this hearing. If these 2 cops were fired they would demand a hearing first. So why not have a hearing and decide your not going to do anything?
By Ebby (75), Sag Harbor on Feb 24, 10 6:46 PM
They do not want a hearing because they lied to the Suffolk investagators and got caught
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 24, 10 7:54 PM
"Look away from the problems?" I'll leave that up to some of the Trustees, it seems to be their specialty. I would much prefer to see these things resolved quickly and honestly!
By barnbabe (64), westhampton beach on Feb 24, 10 8:55 PM
look away from the problems. Your right. It is costing WHB so much to have these guys sidelined. sjd is correct also by saying they are caught in a lie, a big lie. This is a way of getting the Trustees belly up to the bar and seeing their true poker face. All in?
By Ebby (75), Sag Harbor on Feb 24, 10 9:09 PM
sjd,yes i am the one that defends the chief and his salary,which is line with all the chiefs as was reported in the newspapers after it became front page news.as far as speeding cops,sleeping cops etc. that you speak of, these are the problem that the chief has tried to correct.as you can see when his authority is over ruled by the board,and these bad apples in the dept. know they can run to tucker and get away with it,the chiefs job becomes hard,however,your mind is made up,far be it for me to ...more
By curious (77), westhampton beach on Feb 24, 10 9:21 PM
How can you defend someone that gets this salary?? Westhmpton Beach in under 3 square miles and you tell me that he should be paid the same money as the chief of police of NYC!!! When he had "Jim the Gun" as a cop under him you go as Dean why he did nothing about his miss use of his power and you can all so ask him if "Jim the Gun" was under any type of inversagation for breaking into a fellow officers locker. Instead of getting rid of him he gave him the option to retire.The 2 cops in question ...more
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Feb 24, 10 11:54 PM
Now while I have some concerns with WHB Police Officers not abiding by the same traffic rules and regulations that they enforce on the driving public, I do believe the Mayor and Chief Dean are correct in not letting these two officers that are restricted to desk duty back on patrol in the public. This needs to be resolved with a disciplinary hearing, so I guess these officers remain at their desk getting paid until these "LOSERS" on the board Tucker and Jim the Mighty Yard Hunter" can get evicted ...more
By sayitaintsojoe (100), Westhampton on Feb 25, 10 11:39 AM
2 members liked this comment
To WHB Villagers upset about the Village trustees....boycott "Holey Moses " cheesecake until this is resolved. Hit "em where it hurts.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Feb 27, 10 6:38 PM
Well by what some people have told me it seems "Holey Moses" is like the police department and board "over priced"
By oldguy (60), hamptons on Feb 28, 10 1:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
Who's responsible for the headline here? "Return...back..."? Please!
By VOS (1104), WHB on Feb 28, 10 1:14 AM
SJD, you may be on to something here. How about the guy who got arrested above Simons Bakery for fondling a minor? Whatever happened to that.
By heeeere's johnny (11), westhampton beach on Mar 2, 10 12:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
Nothing is ever done or solved by the "overpaid" Westhampton Beach PD
What about :
The armed robbery at the Post Stop
All the other crime that happened that fall.
Who was ever arrested??? NO ONE
The cop owned bar busted for drugs by the Suffolk PD
Now we have cops lieing to Suffolk investagators and these bum's still get paid.
The Board and chief of police do nothing but play games and who pay's for all of this....we do with our taxes
All you have to do is look at ...more
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Mar 2, 10 2:08 PM
You sound like a broken record sjd. Do you have anything else to add to the discussion? Because your comnents are getting old.
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Mar 2, 10 2:46 PM
They may be getting old but we who live here are still not getting any answers. Since you do not live here why are you so concerned??
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Mar 2, 10 4:15 PM
I am not so concerened
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Mar 2, 10 5:50 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By oldguy (60), hamptons on Mar 2, 10 7:39 PM
Bayman
How can you and others here complain about someones comments about a problem in their town when they do not get any answers.
By oldguy (60), hamptons on Mar 2, 10 8:20 PM
Unless sjd expects that the trustees will respond to him via a post on this site, he is wasting his time. Maybe he should go to a village board meeting and express his views instead of posting the same thing over and over and over......
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Mar 4, 10 7:29 AM
Again you make comment's and than say you are not concerned.
You do not get the point.
The people get no answeres here.
All we do is pay these people for nothing
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Mar 4, 10 7:17 PM
Bayman
Looks like you are the one wasting your time.You keep knocking someone for his concerns in his own town.
By oldguy (60), hamptons on Mar 4, 10 11:00 PM
I missed something-I always thought sjd was a women.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Mar 4, 10 2:49 PM