Southampton to seek outside review of police

Southampton Town Police Department in Hampton Bays. (May Southampton Town Police Department in Hampton Bays. (May 17, 2012) Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

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Town of Southampton officials called Thursday for an outside review of the Southampton Police Department, saying the public needs to have confidence in the town's police force.

The Southampton Town board will discuss at a meeting later this month the hiring of an outside consulting company to review the troubled department, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said.

Councilman Jim Malone said, "We are determined to find answers to questions that continue to circulate around the police department."

He declined to be more specific. The department is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Suffolk County district attorney's office concerning the department's now disbanded drug unit and the oversight by top brass of one of that unit's officers, who was addicted to prescription painkillers for a time.

That review of more than 100 cases has resulted in the dismissal of drug convictions against five men so far.

Throne-Holst said Thursday morning in a radio interview that she expected the hiring of the outside company to be considered at Tuesday's regular board meeting. But after a closed town board executive session in the afternoon, she said a contract with a company would be considered later this month as officials determine the scope of the review and credentials of possible applicants.

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"This would be looking at the inner workings of the police department, the policies and procedures, [and] some of the happenings in the recent history," she said. "Given all of the news swirling around, it's timely to look to an outside entity that has the appropriate experience and background to come in as a neutral third party."

The review would be available to the public once it's complete, she said.

"I don't believe it's in the best interest of anyone to try to hide anything," she said.

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, a former New York City prosecutor, said the department had made progress, including shutting down the Street Crimes unit and using new technology to handle evidence.

"We've made some positive changes in the police department. It was a closed system for a long time," she said. "To the extent that anything improper happened in the past, yes, we're focused on getting to the bottom of it."

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