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Apr 7, 2016 1:22 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce To Retire

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce.
Apr 13, 2016 11:12 AM

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce will retire from his post, effective July 24, after more than three decades of service.

His retirement was announced at a Town Board work session last Thursday, April 7. If a replacement is not found before his official retirement date, Chief Pearce can stay on until September 30 without it affecting his pension.

A Remsenburg resident, Chief Pearce, 59, climbed the ranks on the Town Police force over 35 years. He started as a Nassau County corrections officer in 1978, and in 1981 joined the Southampton Town Police force as a patrol officer.

Chief Pearce worked in the department’s Street Crime Unit beginning in 1986, until he was promoted to sergeant, also working in patrol, in 1987. In 1993, he was promoted to lieutenant and patrol commander, a role in which he was in charge of the department’s patrol division.

In 2007, he was promoted to commander of the detective division. Another promotion, to captain, followed in March 2012. And then he was appointed chief in December 2012 after Chief William Wilson retired earlier that year.

“My years in patrol were the most fulfilling … when you are out there with the troops actually enforcing the law,” Chief Pearce said last week. “Being the chief of police, it is an administrative job and concerns with the budget and working together with elected officials to get the job done. It’s a different kind of job and task.”

Chief Pearce said there have been drastic changes within Southampton Town during his 35-year tenure. “When I came out here in 1981, it was amazing that many of the homes didn’t have street numbers,” he said. “The amount of growth in the township over the past 35 years had demands on the Police Department to do more with less.”

The chief said he has been pleased to see a gradual increase in the number of officers on the force over the last few years. When he became chief, there were 89 officers, and now there are 96, which he said is closer to a proper staffing level of 100 officers.

Initially, Chief Pearce had intended to retire this month, but Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman asked him to stay. “He wanted some time to get used to the administration,” the chief said of the supervisor, adding that he did not mind because he can work until the end of September.

Mr. Schneiderman noted that the department would like to find a new chief by that time because, under the terms of Chief Pearce’s contract, he can only earn no more than $30,000 after he retires on July 24. “He is right up to the limit there at the end of September,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

According to Town Management Services Administrator Russell A. Kratoville, as of April 10, Chief Pearce, who makes an base annual salary of $182,212, had more than 320 days of unused sick time, but is entitled to a buyout of only 280 days, which will be paid at the rate of his average salary over the last three years. He is also entitled to 43 vacation days and four personal days.“I think he has done an excellent job,” Mr. Schneiderman said of Chief Pearce. “He did come into the department at a turbulent time. He seems to have calmed the waters, and the law enforcement is performing its function and performing its function well.”

Southampton Town officials have established an advisory committee, called the Police Chief Search Steering Committee, to help and search for and vet a new chief. Members will include town elected officials and staff, as well as local law enforcement officials. They include Mr. Schneiderman, Councilwoman Christine Scalera, Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone, Southampton Town Attorney James Burke and Mr. Kratoville, law enforcement community member Joseph Monteith and Executive Director of Organización Latino-Americana Minerva Perez.

Any candidate would need to pass the state Civil Service chief’s test, which is usually administered in March. Until then, the candidate would be considered a provisional chief. Mr. Schneiderman said that the town has not yet decided on the minimum rank for a candidate who applies from within the Town Police Department to be eligible, but it is likely that it would not accept a rank lower than a lieutenant. Mr. Schneiderman said the town is still working out what the qualifications for applicants from outside the department would be, but said that chiefs from competitive departments are permitted to apply.

East Hampton Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen said Wednesday that he is interested in the position, and Mr. Schneiderman confirmed that the East Hampton Village chief has “definitely expressed an interest.”

“People from within certainly have familiarity with the town and with the department,” Mr. Schneiderman said. However, he added, “Going outside, we can maybe get somebody with broader experience.”

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Get ready for the fun and games! Thanks for your service Chief Pearce.
By farmlocal (83), Southampton on Apr 7, 16 1:39 PM
Congratulation Chief its great to a Chief retiring with dignity.....Hope there is a wide search get some fresh blood and fresh ideas on this police force away with the old boys network,Will there be members of the public on committee?
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Apr 7, 16 1:43 PM
Unfortunately, the Town Board will hamstring any Chief who comes in and tries to modernize this out of date force!
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Apr 7, 16 2:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Great job chief, happy retirement. Tough years dealing with a dysfunctional supervisor and board.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Apr 7, 16 3:27 PM
Is Ms. Perez's job to make sure they choose someone who won't enforce laws and continue our "sanctuary" town policies?
By jams (129), hampton bays on Apr 7, 16 4:58 PM
Is Ms. Perez's job to make sure they choose someone who won't enforce laws and continue our "sanctuary" town policies?
By jams (129), hampton bays on Apr 7, 16 4:58 PM
Another alleged over paid public servant is put out to pasture to spend the rest of his life sucking off the teet of the over burdened citizen.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 7, 16 5:31 PM
2 members liked this comment
Predictably uninformed and sour from chief1... hates police and has nothing to contribute to anything but grouchy ignorance.

I think Bob Pierce is a dedicated public servant and a solid administrator - Southampton Town will miss him.


By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Apr 7, 16 8:34 PM
Whatever you may think of the pension benefit accruing to public service personnel - and I think it's pretty distorted and out of touch with reality - 35 years is a long time. He's earned his retirement. As I recall from years ago police officers don't accrue any additional benefits after 25 years of service. He stayed 10 years longer for something other than pension benefits.
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Apr 7, 16 11:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mtkfish (59), montauk on Apr 14, 16 11:29 AM

Hey Chiefy...
Why not lay your past 35 year resume beside the Chief's and let's see how the rest of the non lobotomies world evaluates it...
Besides his record of management( which you chose not to find fault with) his years in sector patrol, Seargant supervisory roles, Lt. Department over singing, and overall Spotless record of criticism might be taken into consideration.
Pucker up Chief.. Cause you are sucking on some mighty sour grapes !!!!
Put on a bullet proof vest...
Leave ...more
By kahuna (70), Tampa on Apr 7, 16 6:09 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By epgirl, eastport on Apr 7, 16 7:01 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By turkeyloser (22), east quogue on Apr 8, 16 6:22 AM
1 member liked this comment
Enjoy retirement Chief.
By lawnman (21), easthampton on Apr 8, 16 11:49 AM
1 member liked this comment
Congratulations to Chief Pearce on a long and successful career. Enjoy a well deserved retirement!
By BostonStrong (8), Sag Harbor on Apr 8, 16 2:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yeah you idiots making the 50k a year and complaining you can't afford NY can thank the police union. Making 250k a year working 180 days a year than being supported for life is outrageous. Not to mention on the backs of taxpayers who for the most part have no retirement beside SS. Really being on the SHPD is a hard dangerous job? Lmao.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 11, 16 6:23 PM
Please show any shred of evidence that SHPD get to work 180 days a year while earning 250k.

Also, saying their work isn't hard or dangerous? So how would you classify the young man who pointed a gun at them a week ago?

Has it ever occurred to someone like you that maybe the reason crime is relatively low out here is IN PART because of the efforts of our police department?
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Apr 12, 16 9:07 AM
Chief I own three business and pay union/prevailing wage. Sound like you don't make much money that's your problem. I make a lot if money I own houses in southampton, Charleston SC and a condo in vermont. I work very hard for my money and so do my union employees who all make over 100.000.00 per year with the overtime they get plus profit sharing. And a matching 401k. So stop bitching about the money that cops get you are so jealous. Look at the local tradesman in the area who pay their employees ...more
By lawnman (21), easthampton on Apr 11, 16 7:05 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mtkfish (59), montauk on Apr 14, 16 11:32 AM
Yes all the locals working for contractors, and local businesses are set for life. Lmao. Im not jealous I'm worried who is going to pay for this nonsense? Really you have a union lawn cutting business in East Hampton? You are a joker!
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 12, 16 7:53 AM
Yes I do own a landscaping business in eh where my employees cut and maintain many lawns from Westhampton to Amagansett. I also pay them very well the foreman lives in East Patchogue and he gets a co truck to commute, he is retired from the city of NY where he worked for sanitation for 29 years. Other businesses is road building, paving, drainage, site work and a proud union employer with three yards in western suffolk. Chief1 you were in NYS tier 1 weren't you. Also many employers pay their employees ...more
By lawnman (21), easthampton on Apr 12, 16 9:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
are u hiring?!
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Apr 13, 16 7:33 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By unclemilt (57), southampton on Apr 12, 16 10:04 AM
That's a great story, but you are a guy who risked, and managed on your own. If you're a union contractor you have local 138, and local 1298 employees none of which have any type of benefits like cops. Not to mention construction is way more dangerous than being a cop. Construction unions are horrible, because constant employment is very tough. Cops can't be fired, and are rarely layed off. As far as local employer's go few give benefits let alone pay any type of union scale. So thank you for your ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 12, 16 4:23 PM
Chief1 They would not let you read my first post. To bad because it was not in your favor. I was a police officer for the town for 23 years until I "burned out". During that time I looked down the barrel of a shotgun, twice. Suffered a couple of broken bones, a back injury among others. Pulled a dead baby from a burned car. Notified parents that a loved one was not coming home again. Witnessed things that no person should see. Way to many accident victims bloody and broken. These are just ...more
By unclemilt (57), southampton on Apr 13, 16 10:26 PM
Chief1 They would not let you read my first post. To bad because it was not in your favor. I was a police officer for the town for 23 years until I "burned out". During that time I looked down the barrel of a shotgun, twice. Suffered a couple of broken bones, a back injury among others. Pulled a dead baby from a burned car. Notified parents that a loved one was not coming home again. Witnessed things that no person should see. Way to many accident victims bloody and broken. These are just ...more
By unclemilt (57), southampton on Apr 13, 16 10:26 PM
1 member liked this comment