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Southampton's top cop mandates written notification from officers with side gigs

Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki said the

Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki said the employment notification is meant to ensure that an officer's secondary work does not pose any conflict of interest for the department.   Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

The Southampton Town Police chief is increasing oversight of officers’ off-duty employment to ensure that it does not interfere with the department’s work, although officers still do not need his permission to have second jobs.

Earlier this month, Chief Steven Skrynecki directed department officers to formally notify him in writing of secondary off-duty employment — as is required under the current union contract  — to make certain their work does not pose any conflict of interest. Skrynecki said he was reviewing the department’s off-duty employment policy in October after Newsday inquired about an undercover detective who also worked part time in uniform for a North Shore police department. 

“Clearly that episode pushed this to the forefront,” Skrynecki said.

The detective is still employed in the North Shore department, according to an official with that muncipality, as well as for Southampton Town. He no longer works undercover, Skrynecki said, and has notified the chief of his plans to continue his off-duty employment. Skrynecki said the request is under review.

Skrynecki said the directive does not change Southampton’s off-duty employment policy but is “standardizing” the way officers notify the department of their second jobs. He noted the previous records were sometimes outdated and incomplete.

An employee may work up to 20 hours of outside employment, according to the Southampton Town Patrolman’s  Benevolent Association contract. Permission slips are not required, but an employee must notify the chief before accepting outside employment.

Police officers are prohibited under state law from working in establishments licensed to sell alcohol.

Officers were asked to provide the address, contact number and job function with their secondary employment. Skrynecki said he has received 30 responses, about a quarter of the department, and reviewed them for compliance with state and federal law or anything that “conflicts with the mission of the department.”

“In reviewing all of those, I find the vast majority are of no consequence,” he said Tuesday.

Skrynecki said the department has concluded its administrative review of the detective but declined to disclose the outcome.  

Skrynecki in October said he was reviewing whether he could restrict officers from working for another law enforcement agency, which is prohibited in Nassau County where he was former Chief of Department.

“That is something I am still exploring,” he said.

Southampton Town PBA president Erik Breitwieser said the union does not oppose the chief’s request and noted Skrynecki is asking for notice, not permission, for outside work.

“The chief is aware of the limitations in the contract, but he’s just looking to standardize it [the policy],” Breitwieser said. “It makes it easier for him and the PBA as well.”

Charles McArdle, a retired Southampton Town detective and current president of the Eastern Long Island Police Conference, also did not see an issue with the chief's request. He noted officers have long held second jobs, frequently in private security.

“Some of the younger police officers make very low salaries,” said McArdle, who owns CM Security Consulting, a private secutiry firm. “A lot of them do side work.”

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