Horoscopes
Columnists
Like Us On Facebook

UPDATE: CLARKSTOWN CHIEF SULLIVAN SUSPENSION, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

UPDATE: CLARKSTOWN CHIEF SULLIVAN SUSPENSION, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

michael sullivan 3

BY CAROL MCILMURRAY

On Wednesday Clarkstown Town Council had no official vote on Chief Michael Sullivan’s suspension, but the Town Council did decide swiftly and unanimously to suspend the police chief that same day.

Vincent Balascio, director of finance and chief of staff for Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann cited “personnel matters” and will not release the reason behind the removal of Chief Sullivan from active duty. According to Balascio, it is standard procedure for the Council not to have an official vote on in-house matters.

“Out of respect for any of our employees we would not release disciplinary matters to the public,” stated Balascio in a telephone interview.

Balascio went on to state that the Town Council has 35 days to appoint a disciplinary hearing officer to oversee the matter. There are no residency requirements for the hearing officer.

Until the matter is resolved, Clarkstown will have an acting police chief in Chief Sullivan’s place. On Wednesday, Clarkstown Council appointed Captain Robert Mahon to fill police chief duties.

Chief Sullivan is the first Clarkstown police chief to be suspended according to Balascio.

Sullivan will remain on the payroll until charges are officially put forward and a disciplinary hearing is held.

Supervisor George Hoehmann and Chief Sullivan had been at odds over the hiring of the Bonadio Group, a upstate New York company set to review finances of the police department for a 90-day study. The police department accounts for an astounding 34 percent of the Clarkstown budget.

Chief Sullivan said he was not apart of the vetting process and questioned the company’s ability to review the police department.

The Clarkstown police department employs 162 officers and 24 civilians, and is the largest police department in the County. The average pay is $166, 719 a year -includes salary and overtime- for a uniformed officer in 2015 according to Empire Center for New York State policy.

Chief Sullivan’s yearly salary was $272,037 according to seethroughny.net, a website maintained by Empire Center. Sullivan joined the police in 1987, and was made police chief in 2011.

When George Hoehmann was elected Supervisor, he said there were two areas where he saw a significant savings to the taxpayer, the town attorney’s office and the police department.

Earlier this year Balascio spoke out against the prior administration’s handling of retired police officer Robert Lynn disability claim. Robert Lynn claims he was injured twice while in uniform, having surgery on his right arm within weeks of each incident. Lynn’s court papers contest that Sullivan told him the department would not pay his disability because Lynn was “not forth coming about either accident.”

According to the legal action, Sullivan wrote a letter dated Aug. 14, 2012, Sullivan denied Lynn disability benefits because he found the officer was walking back to his patrol car after going to the bathroom. It was stated Sullivan felt walking back to the patrol car was not part of performing the duties of a police officer and ordered Lynn back on the job.

Balascio told local paper, The Journal News, “This case should have never gotten this far and the actions of the prior administration and their appointees have brought us to this point,” Balascio continued, “They knew the case was a loser, but kept engaging in petty personality politics and lost. Now the taxpayers are on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements and legal fees.”

43 percent of retired Clarkstown officers have gone out on disability retirement from 1999 until 2014. The New York State average for police departments is about 15 percent. Disability retirement entitles a worker with a job related injury to 50-75 percent of their retirement tax-free.

Clarkstown police department has declined to comment and directed all questions about Chief Sullivan’s suspension to Supervisor George Hoehmann’s office.

People in the community question whether this is political in-fighting or apart of the looming FBI investigation said to be focused on prior Supervisor Alex Gromack.

 

Comments