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Hempstead Village Board to vote on continuing officer’s leave

Police officer Randy Stith has been on administrative leave since his arrest last month on charges of falsifying a document and stealing from the fire department.

Hempstead school district trustee Randy Stith at a

Hempstead school district trustee Randy Stith at a budget presentation May 8. Credit: Danielle Silverman

The Hempstead Village board of trustees is to vote again Tuesday on whether to keep Police Officer Randy Stith on paid administrative leave after his arrest last month, according to the meeting’s agenda.

Stith, 27, is charged with falsifying a document to become a police officer and stealing more than $6,500 from the fire department’s Southside Hose 2 in his capacity as treasurer between 2015 and 2018. He was sworn in as a village police officer in June 2017 and is considered a probationary officer until his first anniversary on the force.

The board voted last week — without issuing a public notice of the meeting — to continue Stith’s administrative leave, acting against Police Chief Michael McGowan’s recommendation to terminate him.

Mayor Don Ryan, who has called Stith his “godson,” declined last week to discuss the specifics of the meeting.

Stith, who also is a Hempstead School Board member, was arrested April 25 on 13 charges and has pleaded not guilty. He was also arrested in 2010, when he was 19, and served 5 days in jail after pleading guilty to a noncriminal harassment violation, court records show.

The village board, according to the meeting’s agenda, is also to vote on promoting Steve Horowitz from police sergeant to detective sergeant and officers Matthew Murphy and Juan Miranda to detectives. State law requires that officers receive the designation after working 18 months in the department’s investigative units. They would receive a small pay raise that depends on their rank.

Both votes come as the police department’s leaders submitted retirement papers last week. McGowan, Assistant Chief Joseph Sortino and Deputy Chief Mark Matthews are to retire at the end of the month, when their contracts expire.

The promotions could affect the rest of the department as sergeants would need to be promoted to fill the spots of the three lieutenants who become chiefs and officers would be promoted to backfill the sergeants’ roles.

In February, the department faced allegations of racism by Det. Steven Wilson Jr., who filed a state and federal complaint stating he and another black officer, Raquel Spry-Dacres, were passed over for promotion to sergeant. The Civil Service list on which Wilson and Spry-Dacres had risen to the top expired in November; the new test’s top five scorers are white male officers.

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