Joye Brown has been a columnist for Newsday since 2006. She joined the newspaper in 1983 and has Show More
The last time the Lloyd Harbor police department was thrust into the harsh spotlight was back in 1997 — after an audit by then-state Comptroller H. Carl McCall’s office found that some officers were being paid overtime while on vacation, and some were logging time in the department while they were working somewhere else.
In addition, auditors found, the village had a poor system for tracking comp time.
The disclosures roiled the village, with many residents supporting the then-police commissioner and others demanding investigation of McCall’s findings — a push that ended up going nowhere.
Instead, officials told the comptroller’s office that they would tighten up management practices to stop further mistakes, which village officials said had been unintentional.
Now comes news that the Suffolk district attorney’s office has issued subpoenas for a host of the village’s police records, some dating back to a decade BEFORE the 1997 comptroller’s report.
One subpoena, according to a report from Newsday’s Nicole Fuller, seeks time sheets, sign-in/sign-out sheets, payroll records, an employment contract and other work-related documents dating back to 2007 for former Police Chief Charles Flynn, a 34-year department veteran who retired in November.
But the subpoenas go beyond compensation matters involving Flynn, who has declined to comment.
Prosecutors also are seeking records, dating to 1987, relating to the department itself — specifically requests for destroying narcotics, the surrender and disposition of weapons and the handling of evidence log books.
It remains to be seen where the DA’s investigation — which, unlike McCall’s audit, deals with potential criminal matters — ends up. As of yet, it bears noting, no one in the village has been charged in connection with any crime.
Even so, prosecutors’ intent to examine department procedures seems clear. How did the department handle and log evidence? How did it decide to destroy drugs or dispose of weapons?
That covers many of the nuts and bolts of police work and prosecutors want to examine how the department operated over three decades, which covers a period before and after Flynn became police chief.
The long reach backward, to the year “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles, “Bad” by Michael Jackson, and “I Want to Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston topped the charts, is remarkable.
So too, according to an expert, is the contract Flynn had with the village, a six-year dream of a document that allowed him to earn not just overtime, but guaranteed overtime — which is virtually unheard of in law enforcement. He was paid $311,961 in 2015-16.
“If the taxpayers of that town don’t give a hoot, then I guess nobody gives a hoot,” Ron DeLord, a Texas-based attorney who specializes in law enforcement union contract negotiations, told Newsday.
“But is it normal?” he said. “No, it’s not normal. It’s a heck of a deal.”