Is anyone paying attention?
Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren has been talking for two years about fiscal responsibility and diversity among village employees and the police and dispatch departments.
Fiscally, Jesse Warren has cut necessary expenditures in various departments, then gives raises to newly hired employees for little to no reason. He had his administration spend upward of $40,000 for an additional review of the police department after having completed the governorâ€™s mandated police reform. He cited a need for fiscal accountability and diversity.
Recently, in a rushed and non-transparent weekend, the mayor chose to promote an officer to sergeant. Fiscally irresponsible â€” a position not vacated by another officer, creating a shift to accommodate an eighth sergeant. Currently, the department has two midnight sergeants, three day/evening shift sergeants, a crew unit sergeant and a detective sergeant. What exactly was the need for this rushed promotion (aside from the fact that the new promotional list was expected in November), when the department currently has a void in the captain and chief positions?
Secondly, where is the diversity? Jesse Warren, unbeknown to at least one board member, chose to promote a white male who sat No. 3 on the Suffolk County civil service promotional exam, behind a Hispanic male and a female officer. (That officer now sits No. 5 on the new list; was this why Warren rushed?)
Now there is a select committee to interview police chief candidates for the Village Police Department since the seemingly forced retirement of former Police Chief Thomas Cummings. It has been common practice that a municipality make a promotional exam available to current eligible officers along with the ability for outside candidates to apply. (Westhampton Beach recently made a promotional exam available for its vacant chief position.) Not only has Jesse Warren not requested an exam, he has excluded previously eligible officers based on being the rank of sergeant. Regarding diversity, this specifically excludes the former police chief candidate, an African American detective sergeant and officer for over 34 years.
In addition to the diversity conversation, regarding the chief position, Lieutenant Sue Hurteau is a Southampton High School graduate, LGBT member, 20-plus-year officer, the acting police chief, and is managing the department accordingly. Jesse Warren seems to be rushing the hiring/promotion of a chief, which will very likely exclude Lt. Hurteau from the position and likely will bring in an outside candidate with little to no knowledge of the village. In past practice, an officer has remained the provisional chief while waiting for the promotional exam to be made available.
Diversity does not appear to be what Jesse Warren truly cares about. This contradicts the very recommendations from the Hartnett report.
Nordt is a retired detective with 36 years of service with the Southampton Village Police Department â€” Ed.
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