In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Suffolk Republican lawmakers formally requested a monitor from the Department of Justice to oversee day-to-day operations at the Suffolk Police Department, citing the criminal charges against former Chief James Burke.
The county lawmakers also asked that a federal monitor investigate what County Executive Steve Bellone knew about Burke when he appointed him as the top uniformed officer.
“Such oversight is absolutely critical in ensuring the integrity of our justice system, maintaining public safety, and restoring public confidence in law enforcement,” the lawmakers wrote.
Bellone spokesman Justin Meyers dismissed the letter as a political ploy introduced at a press conference, rather than a serious policy proposal.
“It’s a shame some people in the legislature seem hell-bent on bringing Washington-style partisan politics to Suffolk County,” he said.
Burke is charged with beating a suspect and then orchestrating a cover-up. The letter said that while those allegations might not warrant federal oversight by itself, “it appears that the alleged acts of Burke are just one component of a larger set of institutional defects.”
Nellin McIntosh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, declined comment on Thursday.
The letter, dated Dec. 21, is signed by five of the six Republican county lawmakers — Leg. Kevin McCaffrey, (R-Lindenhurst), Legis. Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), Leg. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore), Legis. Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) and Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga).
Legislative Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) has said a federal monitor is unnecessary.