A new Southampton Town police chief is expected to be named within the next three weeks, town officials have said.
A seven-member search committee is considering four finalists to replace Chief Robert Pearce, officials said. Pearce joined the department in 1981, and began serving as police chief in December 2012 after former chief William Wilson Jr. resigned. Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said about nine candidates applied for the position.
A decision is expected in mid-September, members said, ahead of their original self-imposed target date of Sept. 30, when Pearce is scheduled to retire. Town records show Pearce was paid $201,550 in 2014, which included a base salary of $175,136. The department employed about 100 officers as of April.
Deputy Town Supervisor Frank Zappone, who heads the committee, said the list was narrowed down according to each candidate’s ranking in their departments. Those within Southampton Town must be a lieutenant or higher, and candidates outside Southampton must be a captain or higher.
Though committee members declined to identify the finalists, Zappone said the remaining candidates are all qualified, have several years of experience and that some had performed well as police chiefs in other departments.
“It’s going to be a tough decision,” Zappone said. “No one based on qualifications or experience is head and shoulders above everyone else at this point. But it’s almost a good problem to have.”
Schneiderman said the ideal candidate will work well within the department, understands modern police tactics and community policing and can build trust between police and minority residents.
“It’s definitely a culturally diverse area, so we’ve had issues in the past regarding building trust within minority communities toward policing,” Schneiderman said. “It has to be someone who really is experienced, a team player, someone who is going to unite the department on the administrative side as well as regular police officers.”