East Hampton Town Police Captain Michael Sarlo, a law enforcement veteran of nearly 19 years, will lead the department as its next chief starting in late December.
In a 5-0 vote on Thursday, October 3, the East Hampton Town Board appointed Capt. Sarlo, 43, of Springs, currently the second-in-command, to the top post upon outgoing Chief Ed Ecker Jr’s retirement on December 28.
The appointment, following just weeks after Chief Ecker announced his intent to retire following three years at the helm of the department and 32 years on the force, will provide what Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson calls a “seamless transition.”
It is also likely to be one of the final major appointments of Mr. Wilkinson’s administration, as he prepares to leave office at the end of the year, following two terms.
Capt. Sarlo’s salary and contract are to be negotiated under the new town administration that takes office in January 2014, the supervisor said, and his promotion will be provisional based on his passing the Suffolk County Civil Service police chief exam next year.
The resolution approved by the Town Board lauds the captain’s “highest commitment to effective, fair, honest and equal enforcement of the law required in an excellent chief of police.”
Capt. Sarlo has served as the department’s executive officer for the past three years, assisting the chief, overseeing 51 sworn officers in uniform patrol division operations and overseeing scheduling and staffing, among other responsibilities. For nearly two years prior, also as captain, he was the Montauk Precinct commander, overseeing daily police operations, serving as a liaison with the Town Board regarding safety issues in the hamlet and managing mass gatherings and special events, such as the hamlet’s big annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The new chief joined the department in 1995 as an officer in the patrol division, made sergeant in 2002, served as the East Hampton Precinct commander from 2004 to 2005, and was promoted to lieutenant in 2005, followed by captain in 2009.
His brother Kevin served on the force from 1985 to 2008, retiring at the rank of captain.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Capt. Sarlo said of being named chief. “Obviously, there’s a lot of work to do. I’m looking forward to working very closely with Chief Ecker over these next couple of months to make sure we have a smooth transition. I feel he’s leaving us in very good stature as a department. He’s really ensured we have a top-notch, professional agency, and I’m honored to be able to lead it.”
Some initial goals Capt. Sarlo mentioned this week involve using about $80,000 to $100,000 in recently secured capital funding to install dashboard cameras in the department’s cars next year, phasing them in over two years. The cameras, he said, will help with evidence collection for prosecution in court, as well as protect officers, document street contacts, and shed light on situations involving civilian complaints.
The department is also researching a new crime scene and command van, a mobile operations center that can be used to run special events and have officers on scene at major accident reconstruction scenes, for example. Such a command post would replace the roughly 30-year-old service van now in use, he said.
Chief Ecker this week praised his executive officer of the past three years. “Mike is going to be a great fit for the police department,” he said. “He’s young, he’s got some great ideas, he’s got a lot of energy, and I think that will translate to the rest of the men and women in the police department.”
Detective Lieutenant Chris Anderson, the senior-most officer behind Capt. Sarlo, was the second finalist for the position.
Town Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said he was thrilled that Capt. Sarlo will be the next chief and that he was impressed with the other finalist, as well. He also commended Chief Ecker’s long span of public service.
“Now I’m going to get a bumper sticker that says, ‘I know Mike Sarlo,’” he joked, referring to the popular “I know Eddie Ecker” bumper stickers that can be seen around town.
Chief Ecker, meanwhile, is set to receive a payout of $157,000 upon his retirement, according to Budget Officer Len Bernard. This figure corresponds to 180 unused sick days, 58 unused vacation days and eight unused personal days, he said.