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Suffolk Police commissioner denies lawmaker's allegations

Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer Wednesday said he never told Legis. Jon Cooper that the department needs more police officers, contradicting Cooper's argument to have Dormer fired.

Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor) introduced a resolution to remove Dormer at Tuesday night's legislature meeting during a debate over a bill to require the police department to secure legislative approval before making major decisions. He said Dormer told him two weeks ago that he needs more officers, but can't say so publicly on orders from County Executive Steve Levy.

Dormer, in a statement through his press office, denied saying anything of the sort.

"I never told Legislator Cooper, either privately or publicly, that I needed more officers," Dormer said in his statement. "I have consistently stated that any commander would want more troops. But in the current fiscal climate, that may not be feasible."

Cooper, who said his anger with Dormer stems from the removal of Suffolk Police officers from schools in his district as well as his private discussions with Dormer, said the commissioner is not telling the truth.

"I'll take a lie-detector test if Commissioner Dormer is willing to take a lie-detector test," Cooper said.

Dormer did not immediately respond to Cooper's challenge.

Cooper's resolution drew mixed reactions Wednesday. Legis. Jack Eddington (I-Medford), the chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said he won't support the firing resolution because it won't solve any systemic problems. Eddington is pushing legislation to install a four-year term for the police commissioner.

"I'm not into pointing fingers and scapegoating," Eddington said. "I want to solve problems."

And Legis. Tom Barraga (R-West Islip) called the measure to fire him "rather extreme."

Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) said he will support firing Dormer, but isn't sure it has enough votes.

"It's probably close," he said. "The police commissioner is a nice man, but he's lost the confidence of the legislature."

County Executive Steve Levy said the move to fire Dormer is evidence legislators are in the pocket of the Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents police officers.

"It's another example of the PBA-legislative cabal to help the union regain control of what has become an efficient and effective police department," Levy said in a statement released from his office.

Cooper said Levy should engage legislators to discuss the proposal.

"What's Levy afraid of?" Cooper said. "He should man up. We'll have an open discussion on this, at least let's move this forward."

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