With all the challenges the Suffolk County Police Department has with public trust, promoting to lieutenant a sergeant who is under an internal affairs investigation was unwise.
Richard Memay has the right to be considered innocent of what he’s accused of — improperly allowing the son of a subordinate officer to have another chance at a hiring test for agility after failing it twice, which is against rules — until or unless he is proven guilty.
But the department has had a reputation for allowing favored friends and relatives of cops to join the force while minorities and the unconnected miss out. That’s one reason the department doesn’t have as high a percentage of minorities as the county. Letting favored candidates slide on rules while others are disqualified is part of how that happens.
New Police Commissioner Tim Sini says Memay has a clean record, he was next on the civil service list and he’s earned the promotion. Sini also says he’s asked that the investigation of Memay be expedited and has six months to retract the promotion if wrongdoing is found.
But Sini must change a department where former chief James Burke was charged with assaulting a man who robbed his car and conspiring to cover it up. It’s also a department in which officers have been accused of treating minorities poorly, and one was convicted of robbing them.
The county hiring test procedures are part of an agreement with the federal government to give all applicants a fair shot. Promoting someone under investigation for breaking those rules sends the wrong message. — The editorial board