Sag Harbor Mayor, Police Chief At Odds Over Police Staffing

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A special meeting of the Sag Harbor Village Board, called Thursday afternoon to hash out the final details of the upcoming HarborFest, quickly devolved into an argument over the village police force so old and layered that one trustee characterized it as a war.

At the meeting, a request was made before the board by Village Police Chief Thomas Fabiano to authorize the potential hiring of Garret P. Lake as a part-time police officer for $23 an hour.

The town currently has three part-time officers, and Mr. Lake would be a fourth part-timer who could be called on duty if any full-time officers cannot make their shift. The board discussion indicated that these part timers are used to save money on overtime costs that would be incurred if full-time officers were used to cover missed shifts.

While Village Mayor Brian Gilbride, the village’s police commissioner and liaison between the police force and the board, supported the measure, Trustee Kevin Duchemin, who is also the president of the East Hampton PBA, opposed the measure. Mr. Duchemin was against the move on the grounds that part-time workers cannot properly fill in for full-time workers and said the answer, instead, is to be more lenient with overtime.

“We had a part-time guy working alone this past weekend; he knew none of the roads,” said Mr. Duchemin.

“You’ve got to decide, Kevin, if you’re talking as PBA president or as a trustee with the village’s interests in mind,” replied Mr. Gilbride.

“You’re acting like a PBA president, it’s bull,” he went on to say, adding that he thinks if this other part-time officer was available, having only one part-time officer working by himself wouldn’t happen.

“This could’ve been someone else to call to alleviate the [issues of] the other day. You have to realize that overtime pay is $90 an hour,” Mr. Gilbride said. “This falls under my purview as police commissioner. My job is to keep the costs down in my position as police liaison, but apparently I’m not the person [making the calls]. I’d never interfere with anyone else’s liaison.”

Trustee Ed Deyermond later broke in on the argument, saying that the issues surrounding the police force are extensive and that the board should wait until after Labor Day to act on the proposal.

Chief Fabiano agreed, saying he didn’t need the extra officer until after October or November, but reiterated his stance that the department does in fact need more full-time officers.

Chief Fabiano tried to diffuse the situation, saying, “Before we get into a major war here …,” at which point Mr. Deyermond cut him off and said, “Well, we’re already there.”

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