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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Will Steve Bellone’s third search for police chief be the charm?

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, seen on Nov.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, seen on Nov. 20, 2017, is looking for a new police commissioner for a third time. Credit: James Carbone

County Executive Steve Bellone is looking for Suffolk’s next police commissioner.


The first time around, after his election in 2012, Bellone pulled together a committee, which was said to have vetted 75 applicants.

But the search came with a catch: Bellone wanted to build his police department around James Burke, who had been brought over from the Suffolk district attorney’s office to become chief of department, the highest uniformed rank.

As it turned out, the search committee’s top choice for commissioner was 40-year Suffolk police veteran Edward Webber, who held the post on an acting basis.

Bellone took the committee’s recommendation, and Webber became chief.

But in November 2015, Webber retired. A year later, Burke was sentenced to federal prison for violating the civil rights of a prisoner, Christopher Loeb, and trying to orchestrate a cover-up of his beating.

In 2016, after Burke was indicted, Bellone named one of his deputy county executives, Tim Sini, as police commissioner.

“I know there were some who wanted a nationwide search but I didn’t care,” Bellone said Monday in an interview. “I know that I wanted Tim, who is a former federal prosecutor, and I knew I wanted a prosecutor.”

Sini promised county legislators — some of whom had pushed for a wider search — that he would clean up the department.

Now Bellone is back at square one, as Sini prepares to assume the district attorney’s job he won earlier this month in the election.

Will the third time be the charm?

“I think the second time was the charm,” Bellone said, referring to Sini’s appointment. “The job now is to build on the progress the department has made over the past two years.”

Bellone said he’s looking for a commissioner with leadership ability, and who’s tech savvy and knowledgeable about and committed to a community-policing model of law enforcement.

He said he will consider local and internal department candidates, even as the search — via advertising in general and law- enforcement-related media — stretches nationwide.

“With what we’re doing,” he said, “everybody’s going to know that there’s a commissioner’s job in Suffolk County.”

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