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Rockville Centre will not renew police commissioner’s contract

Rockville Centre Police Commissioner Charles Gennario, seen on

Rockville Centre Police Commissioner Charles Gennario, seen on March 27, 2017, says he will retire from the department. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Rockville Centre will not renew a contract for Charles Gennario, the village’s police commissioner for eight years, after it expires on March 31, officials said.

The move comes after a tumultuous month for the department. On Feb. 6, a Nassau judge acquitted Officer Anthony Federico of police brutality and other charges following a trial. Four days later, Officer Christopher Stafford was arrested by Nassau County police after he allegedly secretly recorded a sexual encounter in his bedroom. He was later suspended from the force.

Gennario said in an email that he was given “the option of returning to my former civil service rank of lieutenant,” but plans to retire instead after 32 years with the department. The posting is a two-year appointment, and Gennario’s salary is $213,660.

He said he is an adjunct professor at LIU Post and plans to continue that work while looking for another policing job.

“After 32 years, I leave with a heavy heart, but I wish only the best to my successor and the members of this agency,” he said in the email, declining further comment.

An advertisement seeking a new commissioner ran online from Jan. 19 to Sunday and interviews have begun, officials said. The ad states that duties include “planning, organizing, supervising and directing the activities of all personnel” for a department with 55 officers and more than 35 civilian employees, and law enforcement experience is required.

Mayor Francis X. Murray declined an interview through a spokeswoman, but said in a statement that Gennario and the village “are looking at all options.”

“The commissioner has indicated in the past that he was contemplating retirement,” Murray said in the statement. “This administration is looking at its options to appoint a highly-qualified candidate that wants to lead the men and women of our police department, bring a fresh approach to law enforcement and serve the law-abiding residents and businesses in our village. It would be premature to discuss our deliberations with the media until a final decision is made.”

James Carty, president of the Rockville Centre Police Benevolent Association, said in an email that while Gennario and the PBA had clashed over working conditions and line-of-duty injury benefits in the past, the association is “saddened” to see him retire.

Carty said the PBA does not play a role in the selection of a commissioner, though he wishes it could.

“The PBA would like to see a true leader at the helm,” Carty wrote. “Someone who is reasonable and honest. A person that knows business is business. That it’s not personal.”

Carty also said that he believed Gennario’s non-renewal has “absolutely nothing to do with” Federico’s acquittal and Stafford’s arrest, adding that the PBA “as a whole believes” Stafford will be “completely vindicated.”

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