The Southampton Town Police Department is bringing in two new full-time officers after initially planning to hire only one.
Katie White and Erika Moncada were approved for the roles by the town board Tuesday night.
Chief Steven Skrynecki said the department initially had planned to hire just one person to replace an officer who retired on disability in February.
“When looking at a pool of candidates, both of these women appeared to have independent exceptional skills, and taking that into consideration, the town board — on my request — agreed to hire both and increase the number on the police force by one,” Skrynecki said.
White, an Iraq War veteran who served in the National Guard, and Moncada, a fluent Spanish speaker, both graduated from the Suffolk County Police Academy this year. They already work for the department as among about 20 seasonal officers employed during the busy summer season.
Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the “great hires” help diversify the police force and “improve community policing practices.”
White and Moncada, who each will earn an annual starting salary of $57,398.70, declined interviews through a department representative. Their full-time start date has not yet been set.
Their hiring comes as the department is facing two federal gender discrimination lawsuits filed by Detective Sgt. Lisa Costa and Lt. Susan Ralph. Both suits are pending.
Costa, who sued in April 2014, and Ralph, who filed a suit in February 2015, alleged they were passed over for promotions and assignments. Schneiderman said the hirings had nothing to do with that litigation. “There is no connection to those suits, but there is a connection in the town board’s desire to have the department more reflective of the community,” he said. Schneiderman added the two were hired because they were the most qualified candidates, and not because of their gender.
Of 94 current full-time officers, eight are female, according to the police department.