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Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce to retire in July

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce speaks during

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce speaks during an officers' promotion ceremony at a Southampton Town Board meeting on March 24, 2015. Pearce will retire in July but remain in his post through the end of September. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce will retire in July but remain in his post through the end of September, the town supervisor said Friday.

Pearce, 59, has led the East End’s largest police force of about 100 officers since 2012.

Pearce’s retirement is effective July 24 — shortly before his 60th birthday, when Southampton Town police officers are mandated to retire — but he has agreed to continue working on a temporary contract until the busy Hamptons summer season ends Sept. 30.

“I really don’t want to bring in a new police chief at the height of the summer season,” Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said.

“I’ve enjoyed my career,” Pearce said Friday. “My days on patrol, I will miss. I’m not retiring for six months, so we still have a ways to go.”

Pearce was a captain before he took over the department in December 2012 following the resignation of his predecessor, William Wilson.

Pearce joined the department in 1981 and was paid $201,550 in 2014, including a base salary of $175,136, according to town records.

Schneiderman said Pearce was charged with restoring stability to a police force “rocked by turmoil.” At the time of his appointment, the department faced problems involving an officer who was addicted to prescription painkillers and was under investigation by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office.

“I think he’s done a good job with that,” Schneiderman said of Pearce.

Pearce said he worked to “move forward and re-establish confidence with the community we serve.” Pearce also oversaw a growth of the department from 89 to 96 officers, a major change in how officers’ shifts are scheduled, and the implementation of a new computer system in patrol cars.

Southampton Town Board members at their meeting Tuesday are to consider a bill appointing a search committee for a new chief.

Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone will lead the committee, which is to include Schneiderman, Councilwoman Christine Scalera, town attorney James Burke, town management services administrator Russell Kratoville, former Suffolk County Police Chief Joseph Monteith, and Minerva Perez, executive director of the nonprofit Organización Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island.

“I have a number of really qualified candidates, but I want to find the best person available,” Schneiderman said.

Zappone said Pearce began talks about his retirement in the fall with former Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who left office at the end of 2015. He resumed the talks after Schneiderman took office in January.

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