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Feb 24, 2010 11:30 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village asks attorney for opinion on releasing cops' secondary employment information

Feb 24, 2010 11:30 AM

Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley and Trustee Paul Robinson have asked Village Attorney Richard DePetris to research the issue of releasing information about police officers’ secondary employment and provide a recommendation for action to the Board of Trustees.

The advice is being sought in response to a request made by The Southampton Press for records pertaining to all officer requests for permission to engage in secondary employment and the approvals and denials of those requests. Village Treasurer/Clerk Stephen Funsch denied that request, and a subsequent appeal, saying that the information was protected by Civil Service law, that it is part of the officers’ personnel records and therefore exempt from the state’s Open Records Law and that the Southampton Village Patrolman’s Benevolent Association had threatened to sue the village if it is released.

Police Chief William Wilson, who has said he is adamantly opposed to releasing the records, told the Village Board at its work session on Tuesday that he would not turn the information over without a Village Board resolution or a court order. He said that the secondary employment information has always been kept confidential and that by protecting it, he is protecting the police officers from all sorts of harassment that could result, specifically from former police officer Christopher Broich, who has also requested the records.

“I’m not trying to be contrary,” he said, “I’m doing it to protect and try to prevent the people of the police department to not have to go through what I went through and the mayor went through ... people picketing in front of my house and websites and everything else.”

Chief Wilson said he was referring to what he says have been acts of harassment inflicted by Mr. Broich. whom he called a “disgruntled former employee with a vendetta.” Mr. Broich sued the village to get his job back and recently suffered a loss in that case when a judge denied his petition. Mr. Epley noted that Mr. Broich has badgered him and his family on Christmas Eve, but also noted that a FOIL request may not be denied based on what one thinks is the intention of the person filing the request.

Mr. Broich has said that he has no plans to harass police officers working second jobs, regardless of Mr. Epley and Chief Wilson’s suspicions.

According to an opinion by Robert J. Freeman, the executive director of the State Committee on Open Government, the identities of the police officers who requested permits to take secondary employment and the status of their requests should be made public, in accordance with state law.

Mayor Epley said he did not see why, according to Freeman’s opinion, the information could not be released, blacking out the places of employment, but he did not wish to make a unilateral decision.

The village regulates the kind and amount of work its police officers can do in second jobs. Officers’ second jobs can take up no more than 20 hours of their time per week and the employment cannot infringe on their duties at the police department. They are likewise prohibited from working second jobs while on medical leave or assigned administrative/disciplinary leave from the police department. Overall, the officers are forbidden from working at any job that “causes or may cause an officer to compromise their official position or duty as a police officer; may bring the employee or department into disrepute or impair the operation or effectiveness of the employee or department; the member knows, or should know, might result in a conflict of interest.”

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The Southampton Press-Eastern Edition's editorial this week regarding this matter:

The Right To Know

A spirited discussion is taking place at 27east.com, among commenters, regarding The Press’s battle with Southampton Village over a Freedom of Information Law request submitted recently, seeking the village’s records regarding secondary employment by Village Police officers. The biggest question critics are asking: Why “stir the pot” by requesting that information?

A simple ...more
By BOReilly (135), 27east Web Editor on Feb 26, 10 12:06 PM
2 members liked this comment
Thank you to the Mayor and Mr. Robinson for taking this next step.

Hopefully Mr. DePetris will give a green light to the release of the requested records, and the wasteful and misguided spending of our tax dollars (resisting the FOIL request) can be arrested now.

Time for a more open government IMO, or a change of those who govern in secrecy behind closed doors.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Feb 26, 10 12:14 PM
I would like to know what constitutes conflicted second jobs? Could it be Real Estate Sales? House Watching? Pool Cleaning?
I feel all should be considered conflicts especially when the Officer could actually be conducting both while on duty. For example can a police officer study real estate while driving around the Village in a patrol car? Maybe the Press should look into the Village of WHB also.
By bobba (39), southampton on Feb 26, 10 3:11 PM
1 member liked this comment

"Village Treasurer/Clerk Stephen Funsch denied that request, and a subsequent appeal, saying that the information was protected by Civil Service law, that it is part of the officers’ personnel records and therefore exempt from the state’s Open Records Law and that the Southampton Village Patrolman’s Benevolent Association had threatened to sue the village if it is released."

When public officials paid by taxpayer money conspire to keep critical information that could potentially involve ...more
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Feb 26, 10 3:50 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Feb 26, 10 3:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
Common Sense
Even though your post was removed I loved it. To all who have not read the comment by common sense go to his/her posts, it is worth the read.

By mousehouse1 (6), westhampton on Feb 26, 10 7:09 PM
Could it be that Southampton Village, as with Westhampton Beach now and Greenport a decade ago, should disband their Police Departments?

Both Village departmenst seem to be getting too big for their britches.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Feb 26, 10 7:17 PM
What does "too big for their britches mean?"
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Feb 26, 10 8:49 PM
Simply that the Departments operate under the authority of their Village Boards.

In Southampton Village and Westhampton Beach Village -- albeit different circumstances -- they are the tails wagging the dogs.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Feb 27, 10 11:38 AM
There seems to be substantial fervor in reference to the practice of secondary employment by the members of the PD, as well as the issue of the FOIL request.

The Village of Southampton is comprised of seven square miles. I assume the Village officers serve the Village taxpayers. I also assume that the majority of the officers are secondarily employed outside the geographical boundaries of the Village where they have no police authority. Why doesn’t the Village just order them not to work ...more
By taxraven (26), Southampton on Feb 26, 10 8:36 PM

Yes, under NYS Village Law a municipal PD may be created as well as abolished by a permissive referendum. The referendum simply needs to be placed on the ballot, hold a special election and let majority rule.

However, someone has to provide PD protection. The County PD will cost three times as much and the Town will not provide the level of personalized service that the residents of the Villages’, both full-time and seasonal, are accustomed to. They like to complain but ...more
By taxraven (26), Southampton on Feb 26, 10 8:45 PM
Although I don not live in SHV I agree that if the taxpayers of the municipality want to pay for a Village PD, that is their right. Westhmpton Beach PD problem is a different situation. It has been spiraling out of control well before the current crisis. In fact, the way SHV is handling this problem should be an example to the WHBV Trustees of how to resolve their current problem utilizing sound legal advice.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Feb 26, 10 9:09 PM
Yes, I understand that aspect of "local control," but I also recognize that times have changed and so has the economy.

If the Police Department is either Village becomes too expensive because of the foolishness, then the future of the Departments are at risk -- look to Greenport!

An enterprising reporter for The Press, which has shown that it can ramble-rouse with the best of them, were of a mind to, then a current look at that Village on the North Fork and how the residents there ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Feb 28, 10 11:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
Why doesn't someone put their money where their mouth is and challenge this in court if they feel so strongly about it?
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Feb 26, 10 8:55 PM
For the record, we were prepared to do that, but we first are required to exhaust all bureaucratic options. The appeal to the Village Board was the last step in that process.

Also, an update: The village has agreed to provide the documents we're seeking. Once we have a complete answer to our request, we will post an updated story.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Feb 27, 10 8:05 AM

Mr. Shaw: We thank you for taking your indispensable role as the Fourth Estate seriously. Communities only work for the people when sunlight is focused on the natural inclination of those in power and those who exploit the voter derived power to abusively corral advantages of power and incumbency.

Many Police Officers have used their positions to acquire lucrative second jobs that may interfere with their duties or open up thriving security related companies that benefit from their ...more
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Feb 27, 10 9:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
SHV has a video of the trustees work session from February 23 posted on their website, www.southamptonvillage.org. There is about a half-hour of discussion about the FOIL request, pretty entertaining. Starts about half way through meeting.
By taxraven (26), Southampton on Feb 26, 10 9:23 PM
Yes, everyone should see the video -- democracy in action !!!

The video URL is here I believe:


This is not a "Broich" issue, it is an issue about:


Wake up folks, the people on this video do NOT want you to have the information.

Freedom will prevail.

PS -- Check the end of the video -- Chief Wilson's Broich-related anger has no place here.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Feb 26, 10 10:48 PM
Look at Westhampton Beach and see what is going on there.
Most of these East End Police Forces are a waste of tax payers money
By oldguy (60), hamptons on Feb 27, 10 2:30 AM
Good news posted by Editor Shaw above -- the Village has agreed to release the documents requested.

Freedom prevails.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Feb 27, 10 9:50 AM
Interesting watch, PBR -- the solution was obvious: release the requested records. If they reveal nothing illegal or questionable, Brioche is revealed as a vindictive gnat, and loses all credibility. And The Press will stop taking his call.

If the records reveal improprieties (or worse), then it is Chief Wilson who takes the hit -- and The Press will be all over him and those members of the Village Board who supported his attempt as a cover-up..

By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Feb 27, 10 12:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
Glad the Press is doing this. Favors are definitely being accorded those with second businesses. A little sunshine might end that practice.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Feb 27, 10 1:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Good show Southampton Press
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Feb 28, 10 5:59 PM
New article on redacted information. See link above.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 3, 10 6:44 PM