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Amityville eliminates civilian police commissioner position

Amityville Police Chief Glenn Slack speaks during a

Amityville Police Chief Glenn Slack speaks during a village board meeting on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The Amityville Village board of trustees has approved eliminating the police commissioner position that was never filled.

The law creating the position was eliminated Monday night in a 3-2 vote after a brief public hearing.

The commissioner job was created in September 2015 when the board approved it in a 3-2 vote. Mayor Dennis Siry, then a trustee, and trustee Kevin Smith were the dissenting votes, saying the position wasn’t needed.

“I wasn’t in favor of it then and I’m not in favor of it now,” Siry said Monday.

Trustee Nick LaLota, who had proposed creating the new post, said that at the time the village “had just lost 70 years in police experience” with the retirement of the police chief and lieutenant, and the creation of the position was in preparation for a similar situation.

Glenn Slack, who has been with the police department since 1984, was at the same time promoted to Chief and has been running the 22-member department since then with the help of an administrator. The commissioner position — a civilian job — was never filled.

Only five villages on Long Island have police commissioners and three of those have police departments more than twice the size of Amityville’s department, according to John Aresta, first vice president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police.

Amityville trustee Thomas Whalen last month proposed removing the position from the books, saying it undermined Slack.

LaLota said during Monday’s hearing that he didn’t think keeping the law on the books “costs anything,” a sentiment echoed by trustee Jessica Bernius. Both voted against removing the post.

“I look at it as another tool in the toolbox,” she said. “Hopefully we don’t need it, but I don’t think we need to take it off either.”

After LaLota voiced his disapproval, Whalen asked him whether he thought “it would be better” to hire a lieutenant. The post, which has traditionally handled much of the administrative tasks of running the department, has not been filled for two years.

“We should look at all personnel and all costs of those personnel,” LaLota said.

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