East Hampton Town Police Chief Ed Ecker Jr. is set to retire at the end of the year, capping a nearly 32-year career.
“I just felt it was time,” the chief and lifelong Montauk resident, 59, who has led his department since 2010, said this week. “I sort of had a three-year plan in mind.”
The chief’s departure, on December 28, will coincide with the conclusion of Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson’s term. Although the pair had a close professional relationship, they chalked up the timing of their departures to coincidence.
Talk of Chief Ecker’s pending retirement surfaced this summer in police circles, but the chief said at the time that the discussion was premature. Now, however, he has officially notified the Town Board of his intent to retire, which he did in a recent executive session.
“His entire term was a highlight to me. I knew Eddie as a child and so to see him and the service he performed over the years is something special to me,” said Mr. Wilkinson, who stressed that he refers to the chief serving “with” him, not “for” him. “He is a shining example of leadership in the Town of East Hampton.”
The supervisor also praised the chief’s long, local lineage. His father, the late Edward Ecker Sr., was a past town supervisor and councilman. His mother, Frances Ecker, started the food pantry in Montauk. His uncle, Jack Ecker, is a former judge in town, and his son-in-law, Dennis Shea, is a police officer for the town, following a 13-year career with the U.S. Navy SEALs.
“The Ecker name is a good name to have on the East End,” Mr. Wilkinson said.
The Town Board expects to select Chief Ecker’s successor in about two weeks, the supervisor said. The next chief is likely to be an internal promotion, Mr. Wilkinson said, but he and Chief Ecker both declined to discuss possibilities. “I have some ideas, but I’m not at liberty to speak about it at this point,” Mr. Wilkinson said.
Chief Ecker started his police career with the town in June 1982, when he was hired as a patrolman. He became a detective in 1986, was promoted to detective sergeant in 1989 and to detective lieutenant in 1996.
In 1999, he left the detectives division, to head out to Montauk to help formalize the precinct there in the growing easternmost hamlet. In 2003, he rose to the rank of captain and became the department’s executive officer in 2005. Five years later, upon the retirement of Chief Todd Sarris, he took command of the department, which is currently 64-sworn officers strong.
The outgoing chief said he would like to do some traveling in his retirement, to see family in San Diego and Seattle, for example, but that he intends to stay in Montauk, where he has many relatives. His wife, Roxanne, will continue working as treasurer for the Amagansett School District, he said.
Chief Ecker, who turns 60 in March, said his retirement plan would have allowed him to stay on board until age 62.
Asked about the highlight of his career, he said he really enjoyed being in the detectives division for 14 years. “I don’t want to pinpoint cases, but that was very interesting work and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
He said he also felt heartened that he and his department helped contribute to the town’s financial turnaround by implementing innovative ideas, such as scheduling changes to provide more coverage in the summer.
The chief, whose name appears on “I know Eddie Ecker” bumper stickers around town, explained with a laugh about how his friend, local attorney Gordon Ryan, came up with the idea and how he was shocked at first. “You see some stickers that say, ‘Gordan Ryan, Esq. He’ll get you off,’” he added, with a laugh. “I came up with those.”
The East Hampton Town Board will hold a pair of public hearings next month on two related, proposed laws aimed at regulating the parking of commercial vehicles on residential properties.
The hearings will take place on Thursday, October 17, during a regularly scheduled board meeting set to start at 7 p.m. at Town Hall on Pantigo Road.
One proposed law seeks to change the Town Code to prohibit the parking of more than two commercially registered vehicles, each weighing 14,000, or less on residential lots. The limit refers to vehicles that are used by occupants of the home on which they are parked, but exclude vehicles that transport fuel products or other combustible compounds, which are prohibited from parking on residential lots.
The other draft law, intended to try to maintain the residential character of the town’s residential areas, would prohibit the overnight (midnight to 6 a.m.) parking of commercial vehicles on streets in residentially zoned parts of town. According to the proposal, the board has determined that the parking of commercial vehicles on residential streets disrupts property owners’ quiet enjoyment of their property, creates an undesirable change in the residential character of the neighborhood and causes traffic hazards, particularly at night, with limited visibility.
Board members last Thursday set the hearings following a summer of discussion on the matter, which was sparked by complaints over trucks parking at homes in Springs.
The board had originally set a hearing geared toward limiting such parking for August, but it had to be yanked once an error in wording came to light. The proposed changes follow a summer of discussion on the issue of such parking. Around the same time, Mr. Wilkinson told the board that a resident brought to his attention that the town did not limit the parking of such vehicles on streets, thereby necessitating the other draft law.
David Buda, one of the organizers of the group Springs Concerned Citizens, said he agrees with the street-parking law, but strongly opposes the one regulating the number and size of the vehicles.
“I wholeheartedly endorse the closing of a long-standing loophole to prevent commercial vehicles from parking in the street anywhere in residential zones throughout the town,” he said.
“The second one, I strenuously object to,” he continued, calling the vehicle number and weight restrictions “excessive, burdensome and quite inappropriate in a residential zone.”