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Southampton investigating cop who worked at same time on another force, officials say

Police chief and town supervisor said internal inquiry is part of a broader review of the department's policy on outside employment and will focus on possible conflicts of interest.

The Southampton Town Police Department is undertaking an

The Southampton Town Police Department is undertaking an overall review of the department's off-duty employment policy, officials said. Photo Credit: James Carbone

The Southampton Town Police Department is reviewing its off-duty employment policy while also investigating an officer on the force who worked part time for another law enforcement agency, officials said.

Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki, former chief of department for the Nassau County police , said he has been evaluating Southampton’s outside employment policy since taking on his current role in spring 2017. He said he has made the Southampton Town Patrolman's Benevolent Association aware of his review and is consulting with legal counsel as to what changes he is authorized to make.

"My plan is to develop a new policy at the turn of the year," he said.

Skrynecki said he is examining whether he can restrict or prohibit employees from working for another law enforcement agency or for a private security firm within Southampton Town.

An employee may work up to 20 hours of outside employment, according to the Southampton Town PBA 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.

Nassau’s policy prohibits officers from working for another law enforcement agency or taking on armed private security work, said Nassau police spokesman Lt. Richard LeBrun. In Riverhead Town, the police chief decides on a case-by-case basis whether or not an officer is allowed to carry a firearm for his or her secondary employment, according to that town's PBA contract. Suffolk County police did not provide a copy of the department's policy.

Skrynecki declined to discuss the specifics of the internal affairs investigation.

“I can confirm that we have an internal investigation ongoing,” Skrynecki said. “I am not going to name the officer involved.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the investigation will examine “potential conflicts that affect the officer’s ability to respond to police matters.”

“I think it’s important that we look at the policy to make sure outside employment doesn’t create a conflict of interest or interfere with the officer’s ability to protect public safety,” Schneiderman said.

The chief's statements followed a Newsday inquiry regarding a detective who works undercover while assigned to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s East End Drug Task Force but also worked for a North Shore police department. Working for two departments is allowed in Southampton Town if the shifts are not worked simultaneously. Skrynecki said in an email that he was aware of the detective's outside employment prior to Newsday's inquiry.

Representatives from the other police department and the Southampton Town PBA did not return calls seeking comment.

According to Newsday payroll data, timesheets and information obtained through FOIL requests,  the detective, whom Newsday is not identifying because he works undercover,  was among the top town overtime earners in 2017 and had a base salary that year of $127,278, plus tens of thousands of dollars in overtime. He was paid more than $24,000 by the other police department from April 2017 through August 2018, payroll records obtained by Newsday show. 

The detective generally worked one eight-hour shift per week, according to time records provided by the department on the North Shore.

Joseph Giacalone, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan and a retired NYPD sergeant, said that although it may be legal to hold two jobs in different departments, it raises safety issues if one position is an undercover role.

“As long as he is performing and earning the money and they can justify the kind of overtime, I don’t see anything wrong with it,” Giacalone said. “But [by working a second job in uniform], you could blow a long-term investigation like that,” he added, referring to the possibility that an undercover officer could be recognized when out on the beat as a uniformed officer.

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