Last week, The Southampton Press published an article regarding the findings of the Southampton Village Police Task Force [“Consultant, Task Force Report Waste and Mismanagement In Southampton Village Police Department,” 27east.com, May 12]. Unfortunately, this article was inaccurate in many respects and offered only a one-sided response by the SVPD and the PBA.
In particular, the findings of the task force either directly quoted the underlying Hartnett report or excerpted portions of it. Importantly, the recommendations and conclusions reached by the task force findings were entirely consistent with the recommendations and conclusions reached by Hartnett.
It appears that reporter Kitty Merrill did not take the time to read the Hartnett report in its entirety and instead relied on statements from the SVPD and the PBA that were patently untrue. To wit, the PBA official was the officer who submitted over $80,000 in overtime that was unchecked and not properly accounted for. His statements regarding arrests made by the East End Drug Task Force may very well be true but do not address whether he was involved in any of those cases.
The Hartnett report had access to the SVPD blotter and other internal documents and found that the SVPD’s involvement in the drug task force did not involve any arrests.
Furthermore, Chief Thomas Cummings’s suggestion that Mayor Jesse Warren prohibited him from seeing an early draft of the report is a complete fabrication. The SVPD had every opportunity to collaborate with and provide information to Mr. Hartnett and his associates. Mr. Hartnett actually thanked them for their cooperation on the very first page of his report.
The objective of the task force was to present an unbiased summary of the operations and cost of the SVPD. This was never a “defund the police” exercise, nor should it be. To the contrary, the task force went into the assignment with no preconceived ideas regarding the SVPD, other than we all held favorable opinions as village residents.
Based on the Hartnett report, we found that the department was not being well-managed with respect to overtime, sick leave, scope of operations and scheduling, which was costing the village millions of dollars without benefit. Furthermore, Ms. Merrill neglected to mention that the village had an unfunded retirement liability of $100 million that would continue to grow if personnel costs were not better managed now.
In summary, the one-sided reporting is a disservice to both the taxpaying village residents and to the men and women of the SVPD who serve with pride and work hard to protect us. Cutting waste and mismanagement actually would improve our police force.
The statements made by the PBA leadership are simply a distraction meant to maintain the status quo.
Police Task Force Review Board
One fine body…