Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini has demoted Lt. Paul Memay after completion of an internal affairs investigation into whether he improperly gave the stepson of a subordinate an extra chance to pass the physical agility test for hiring, according to county and union sources.
The order demoting Memay to sergeant was issued Tuesday in a police teletype, sources said. Sini said the internal affairs investigation was complete, but declined to identify individuals involved because of restrictions under the state civil rights act.
“This is a very serious matter and it is taken very seriously here,” Sini said in an interview. “I’ve made personnel decisions and charging decisions and also identified certain reforms that will ensure the integrity of the hiring process moving forward.”
County sources say two police academy officials also have been transferred. Lt. Robert Sweeney, who had been head of recruit training, was moved to the Second Precinct in Huntington, and police officer Michael Santarpia has been reassigned to the Third Precinct in Islip. Memay has been moved from the First Precinct to the Fourth Precinct in Smithtown.
Sini said he reviewed the internal affairs report and listened to taped interviews of officers involved. He said he also gave police unions “an opportunity to be heard,” in the probe, but their views did not change his position.
The controversy arose late last year when an anonymous letter said that Christopher McAdam, the stepson of Richard Roth, who still works in applicant investigations, unfairly got a third chance to pass the situp portion of the physical agility test, even though the long-standing procedure is to allow one retest.
Memay’s demotion from the $167,666-a-year lieutenant’s post comes after Sini had promoted Memay from a $151,174 a year sergeant, in charge of applicant investigations, even as the internal affairs probe underway.
While Sini said he had made decisions about departmental charges, the probe disclosed no criminal wrongdoing and he declined to identify who may be charged.
“We expect departmental charges, but we will challenge everything,” said Timothy Morris, Superior Officers Association president, through the union’s law firm, Certillman Balin. Morris called Sini’s actions against Memay “completely inappropriate,” adding, “There is absolutely no need based on what happened for either the transfer or demotion.”
Morris said Sweeney and Memay declined to comment. Suffolk PBA officials and their attorney, David Davis, did not return calls for comment and Santarpia could not be reached.
Under the PBA contract, departmental charges against an officer are subject to binding arbitration. SOA members are entitled to a hearing on charges and arbitration, if the proposed discipline is termination.
Sini said reforms being put in place include a joint policy between the civil service and police departments that “clearly delineates” the police role in the administration of the police agility test. The policy also would call for setting up formal procedures for when tests are delayed for unusual circumstances, and calls for the presence of a civil service staffer during the agility tests.
McAdam claimed Memay ordered a third test because the second test was a “nullity,” since the order of exercises — which also included push-ups and a mile run — were changed.
Civil service officials say McAdam not only got an extra test, but extra time to prepare, giving him an unfair advantage over 75 applicants who failed the single retest.
McAdam’s firing was upheld in State Supreme Court in March when Justice Arthur Pitts found that McAdam failed the test twice, and that the decision to fire him “was neither ... unfair or any abuse of discretion.”