The Town of Babylon has hired the Suffolk County Police Department’s chief of detectives to evaluate the town’s public safety program as Long Island police departments review their policies and procedures.
Gerard Gigante will perform a monthslong assessment of the town’s public safety division. Babylon has signed a contract with Safe Line Consulting — the company Gigante formed for the work — for $85 per hour up to a maximum of $50,000.
Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said a decision was made to take action "in light of all the national discussions and the local discussions on reassessing and reviewing how governments provide police services."
The reviews follow Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive order requiring all police departments to come up with a reform plan by April 1 or risk losing state funding.
Although the town has no police department, Schaffer said he wanted to "bring in an outside person who could take a look at all of our public safety functions."
The town's public safety division has 112 employees — 73 peace officers and 39 non-peace officers. The peace officers, who carry weapons, consist of fire marshals, bay constables and park rangers. The non-peace officers are public safety guards.
Schaffer said he wanted an assessment of not only these employees but of the town’s quality-of-life task force, ordinance enforcement and emergency preparedness departments.
Gigante is required to give the town board a report on his findings by the end of July. Because the town begins preparing its budget in August, Schaffer said, this timeline will allow it to budget for any recommended changes. After the report is completed, the town will seek public input, spokesman Dan Schaefer said. He said the town did not keep a database of public complaints against officers, but that it was something Gigante would review.
Schaffer chose Gigante because he has "a great deal of respect for him and he knows the town well," the supervisor said, noting that Gigante was head of the First Precinct for five years and lives in the town.
"We’re getting this cheap for someone of his caliber and he doesn’t have to spend a ton of time coming up to speed," Schaffer said.
Gigante, who has been in the police department 35 years, said he received permission to do the outside work after a county attorney consulted with the county’s board of ethics. He said he would be evaluating procedures, training, hiring and interviewing town employees and also looking at best practices in other towns and police departments.
"It’s going to be a far-reaching review of how they’re doing business now and if there is a way to do it better," Gigante said.