Suffolk Republican lawmakers plan to call Tuesday for federal monitoring of the Suffolk Police Department, following the indictment of former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke.
They also will question County Executive Steve Bellone’s choice of Tim Sini as the next police commissioner.
“Our caucus is very, very concerned about what seems to be political influence in the police department, a lack of leadership in the department,” said Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore).
Burke was arrested Wednesday on charges of beating a Smithtown man, Christopher Loeb, who in 2012 stole a duffel bag from the then-chief’s department-issued SUV, which had been parked in front of Burke’s St. James home.
Federal prosecutors said he also orchestrated a cover-up within the Suffolk police department of the alleged assault.
U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler decided Friday not to grant Burke bail and to hold him in jail until his trial. “I find the corruption of an entire department by this defendant is shocking,” Wexler said.
Burke has pleaded not guilty.
At least 10 Suffolk officers are cooperating in the federal investigation, according to prosecutors.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment Monday.
Bellone, a Democrat, has proposed that Sini replace outgoing Commissioner Edward Webber. Sini, a former federal prosecutor who ran unsuccessfully for a legislative seat in November, currently serves as deputy police commissioner.
Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) called Sini a “good fit” for the department.
Gregory said calling for a federal monitor was “an overreaction,” saying Burke exerted influence over a limited group of people who reported to him.
“The Burke situation thus far is disturbing. But it’s one individual or several linked to him under his control,” Gregory said. “It’s not indicative of a department that is rampant with corruption and dysfunction that would require a federal monitor.”
But Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said Sini was Bellone’s liaison to the police department long enough to know alleged wrongdoing took place.
“The Bellone administration has been touting him as an outsider, but he’s been on the inside for the past 15 months,” Trotta said.
Minority Leader Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) said Republicans are concerned about what the administration may have known about alleged corruption of the department.
The county legislature is expected to vote on Sini’s confirmation in February. Democrats hold a 12-6 advantage over Republicans.
Justin Meyers, a spokesman for Bellone, said the county executive is always willing to listen to ideas from legislators. In a statement, he said “it is disappointing that some legislators are holding a partisan news conference to score political points.”
Republicans said Monday they were concerned about allegations by federal prosecutors that Burke had a GPS device planted on a deputy commissioner’s car. The lawmakers also said they were concerned about prosecutors’ statements that Burke instructed police union officials to identify those who attended a retirement party of a police officer Burke regarded as an enemy.