The Village of Lynbrook's longtime police chief has been suspended more than two weeks after a heated exchange with his girlfriend brought officers in his command to her home, according to village officials.
The mayor's suspension of Chief Joseph Neve Tuesday stems from an early-morning argument at the home of Neve's girlfriend, Denise Papania, who called police after he ordered her to leave the house he recently bought from her.
Lynbrook Mayor Brian Curran said Wednesday that Neve, who has been chief since 1991, showed "poor judgment," particularly by "not removing himself" from the March 13 argument. The no-pay suspension is in effect March 30 through April 13.
Curran said Wednesday that the suspension was not based on any specific rule lapse but said the chief "should be held to a higher standard." Nassau DA spokeswoman Carole Trottere said Thursday that the suspension was based on Neve's alleged violation of an administrative police procedure.
Messages left Thursday for Curran were not returned. Neve told Newsday on Wednesday that Papania "got impulsive" during the argument and called 911 because "she was scared that she had no where to go."
He declined to say what the argument was about.
"It was an argument just like you'd have with your wife. There was no violence of any kind," Neve said. Two officers arrived and spoke with her inside the home while he waited in his car, he said. "I told them 'Do what you have to do' and I waited outside. I didn't interfere in any way."
Neve said officers then left the house and asked him if he wanted Papania escorted from the home. Neve said he replied 'No,' and the officers left. There were no tickets issued or arrests. Curran said: "As the police chief of the Village of Lynbrook, I didn't believe [Neve] should have found himself in that situation, and if that situation should arise, he should have removed himself completely from that situation, and in both of these instances he used poor judgment."
Trottere said Nassau County police forwarded them an anonymous complaint on March 13 about a disturbance at the house. The DA handles internal police investigations for Nassau village police departments that do not have internal affairs officers.
"After receiving the complaint, our investigators did a preliminary review and determined there was no criminality," she said in a statement.
The Lynbrook police report taken at 2:44 a.m. contains little about the nature of the incident or what the two officers learned. It describes the incident only as an "eviction problem" and states that Papania was referred to court. It does not name Neve.
Curran said he met with Neve two days after the incident and inquired with a police sergeant about paperwork, the actions of the officers at the scene, and Neve's involvement. "I'm confident it was handled properly," he said, adding that he believed the paperwork was "adequate."
With Laura Rivera