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Southampton OKs longer suspension for cop

Southampton Town Police Department in Hampton Bays. (May

Southampton Town Police Department in Hampton Bays. (May 17, 2012) Credit: Randee Daddona

The Southampton Town Board voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the unpaid suspension of a police lieutenant for 65 more days after disciplinary charges were filed against him, a spokeswoman said.

Lt. James Kiernan was suspended for 38 days last month after town police Chief William Wilson Jr. reported he intended to file the unspecified disciplinary charges. The town board voted 5-0 Tuesday to approve a resolution extending the suspension.

Kiernan's lawyer, Raymond Perini, who represents the Superior Officers Association, said, "I think it's wise that the town takes its time and does this properly," referring to the pending charges, which he called "unfounded." Perini, of Hauppauge, added that Kiernan has a "15-year record that is unblemished. This is going to be litigated and I'm sure he'll be exonerated."

When Kiernan was suspended last month following a hastily called town board meeting, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said the action was necessary because Wilson led board members to believe "public safety and integrity of town business" had been compromised. Neither official would elaborate.

Days later, investigators for the Suffolk County district attorney's office seized seven boxes of internal police documents from Southampton Town Hall as part of a probe into custodial record-keeping and other practices by town police.

Since then, two convicted drug dealers whose arrests were handled by the department's former Street Crimes Unit have been released from upstate prisons and have had charges against them dismissed, at the request of Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, whose office prosecuted the cases.

Kiernan, who previously led the now-disbanded Street Crimes Unit, has been with the department since 1997, and was recently promoted to lieutenant from sergeant.

Tuesday's resolution said Kiernan can use vacation and personal days, in addition to comp time, during the 65-day suspension while he awaits a hearing on the charges.

The resolution directs Wilson to report to the board about the charges on or before Aug. 17.

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