Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson has resigned from his job, according to a brief email sent out Tuesday by Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.
The abrupt announcement, made while Town Hall was closed for Election Day, surprised some town police officers. Wilson was not at police department headquarters in Hampton Bays Tuesday night, and Capt. Robert Pearce -- the officer in charge -- was unavailable because he was planning for the impact of the nor'easter expected to hit Long Island Wednesday.
Throne-Holst, in her statement, said she planned to confer with the town board in the next few days to develop a transition plan "and a proactive course leading to the next phase of leadership for the police department."
The supervisor said she expected the police department's leadership to work with the town board and their fellow officers "toward an effective transition."
Throne-Holst said Tuesday night that Wilson submitted his resignation Tuesday, but she declined to discuss the matter further or provide a reason for his quitting. She said the town board would privately discuss how to replace him when they meet in an executive session Thursday. "I'm not going to comment any more," she said.
Wilson, the former chief of the Southampton Village Police Department, was appointed to the town job in May 2011. The move was considered controversial because the town had not followed the traditional policy of promoting from within the department.
Former Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, whose term on the board ended Dec. 31, voted against his appointment, saying Capt. Anthony Tenaglia -- a 30-year veteran of the force -- was best qualified for the job.
The board had considered five people for the job, and when Wilson was appointed, Throne-Holst praised him as a "catalyst for change." He replaced Fred Overton, who was paid $166,661 a year.
One of Wilson's first major changes was to eliminate the elite town police street crimes unit, which is under investigation by the Suffolk County district attorney's office.