Southampton Town has promoted several members within its police department ranks, including a new second-in-command of the department and the first man of color in a supervisory role.
James Kiernan, a 23-year veteran, has been appointed captain of the police department following the retirement of former Capt. Lawrence Schurek Jr.
The promotion comes at Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki’s recommendation, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said shortly before the town board voted 5-0 in favor of Kiernan’s promotion during its Nov. 24 meeting.
"Jim scored number one on the captain’s test of all those eligible from the department," Skrynecki said Tuesday. "Since my time here he has shown himself to be extremely dedicated, very reliable, very capable and very forward thinking."
Kiernan, 56, and most recently a detective lieutenant, will earn a base salary of $178,618.71 in his new role, according to a town board resolution.
"I am looking forward to helping guide the department through the progressive changes that we have started several years ago and continue today with a focus on superior training, transparency, and community partnership," he said in an email.
Kiernan’s promotion follows a celebrated career where he has received awards and accolades, but one that has not been without controversy.
He sued the police department in 2014, alleging he was subjected to retaliation for refusing to use his perceived political influence to help his then-boss, Police Chief William Wilson, and settled the case for $185,000 as well as a promotion to detective lieutenant in 2018.
Kiernan had supervised Eric Sickles, a former officer with the Street Crimes Unit who admitted he was addicted to prescription painkillers. Wilson had brought 32 internal departmental charges against Kiernan for allegedly misleading internal affairs investigators and other offenses. Kiernan pleaded guilty to four "minor charges" because he could not afford to pay for a formal departmental hearing, according to his lawsuit.
He could not be reached for comment.
Schurek, who retired after 35 years with the department, will be paid about $207,000 for unused time upon his departure, according to the town. He turned 60 last month, which is the mandatory retirement age for police officers in the town.
Skrynecki called him an "exceptionally dedicated captain" who managed large events in the town, most recently the U.S. Open golf tournament in 2018.
The town has also promoted Sherekhan Parker to the role of sergeant at a base salary of $146,612.62, making him the first member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation and the first man of color to serve in a supervisory role in the department, Skrynecki said.
"I hope that what I have accomplished thus far will inspire young men and women within those communities to always strive for excellence and perhaps pursue a career in service as well," Parker, 44, said in a statement.
The town also promoted Howard Kalb to lieutenant at a salary of $161.419.27 and hired police officers Madeline Sgange and Shannon Merker at a starting salary of $61,296.22.