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Mar 9, 2011 11:57 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Police Chief James P. Overton To Retire In April

Mar 9, 2011 11:57 AM

After more than four decades of service, Southampton Town Police Chief James P. Overton will retire from his post on April 16, according to statements released by town officials this week.

Southampton Town Board members said the chief’s replacement will be hired from within the department, although they said they have yet to name a successor.

At the same time, Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said on Tuesday that Chief Overton has pushed for Captain Anthony Tenaglia to take the top spot. The captain is second in command after Chief Overton. “I think that the chief has envisioned a succession plan there,” Ms. Throne-Holst said on Tuesday.

Neither Chief Overton nor Capt. Tenaglia returned multiple calls seeking comment this week.

Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski said that Capt. Tenaglia has often served as the police department’s spokesman. She said he is a familiar face who has shown up at Town Board meetings recently. “He certainly is a very solid candidate,” Ms. Graboski said.

The supervisor said the Town Board must promote from within, according to civil service law. The county offers a test for police chief only when a position becomes vacant, as will be the case in Southampton next month.

The Town Board, she said, must decide whether the test will be offered to just Capt. Tenaglia, or whether it will be opened up to a broader pool of police officials, including lieutenants and sergeants. The board is expected to discuss the matter on Friday during an executive session meeting.

If the position was just open to the captain, it would be a clear indication that the board wanted to hire him as chief. He would have to pass the test, however.

Ms. Throne-Holst said she expected to meet the captain this week to discuss his long-term plans and “how that might inform the decision,” she said.

Capt. Tenaglia authored a press release announcing the chief’s retirement this week, in which he lauded the chief’s service to the town. The statement was distributed to reporters at police headquarters on Monday morning.

“Chief James P. Overton will be missed,” Capt. Tenaglia said in the release. “He has been an inspirational, dynamic, honest and sincere leader and a true friend to many of us.”

Chief Overton, who started his career as an officer with the town’s police force on January 1, 1968, announced his retirement first to the Southampton Town Board in an executive session last month and then to the employees at police headquarters last Sunday afternoon, according to the press release.

He climbed the ranks of the police force over the last four decades, starting his career as a patrol officer. He moved on to serve as a detective, then detective sergeant, followed by lieutenant, then captain. He became chief on January 6, 1990, according to the release.

“It has been a great run of 43 years and a great town to work for,” the chief said in the release.

The chief earns an annual salary of $166,661, according to a salary chart in the town’s 2011 adopted budget. The chief, who is 66 years old, is under a New York State retirement plan that mandates he retire by the age of 70. The chief’s retirement was a subject of controversy 11 years ago when then-Town Supervisor Vincent Cannuscio targeted his position by trying to force him to retire at age 55 under the terms of his pension plan. The chief contended that he should be allowed to transfer to another plan, which permitted him to work until the age of 70. Chief Overton challenged the town’s decision in court. Eventually the State Supreme Court Appellate Division upheld Chief Overton’s position and he was allowed to stay on.

Town officials could not confirm by Wednesday morning the amount of overtime, sick days and vacation that the chief has earned or accrued in the last three years.

It is unclear how much the chief will receive in pension payments. Town Services Management Administrator Russell Kratoville said in an e-mail that the town was not the authority on how the chief’s pension was calculated. Human Resources Director Sandra Cirincione referred specific questions about the chief’s pension to the New York State and Local Retirement System. An official with the state agency said that the department does not precalculate someone’s pension before the actual date of their retirement, so they did not have a figure available for the chief.

Although officials did not have information on how the chief’s pension would be calculated, Mr. Kratoville said that generally, someone in the chief’s position would max out at about three-quarters of their annual salary. He said the chief reached that maximum in 2000.

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Town Board tried to dump him a number of years ago, forcing retirement before he was ready to retire.

Now he leaves on his own terms. Congratulations, Chief!

Tony Tenaglia should be a worthy successor.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 7, 11 12:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thank you Chief.
By danrudan (40), Southampton on Mar 7, 11 1:09 PM
Good luck Jim. I always enjoyed working with you -- even when we were on opposite sides of the issue -- because I could always trust you to tell the truth..
By Doug Penny (64), Lexington, Virginia on Mar 7, 11 3:20 PM
Jim, enjoy your $7 billion retirement package.
By scottj (3), Southampton on Mar 7, 11 5:22 PM

You were the best. Hampton West is a safer drug free place because of your and your departments efforts. God Bless - you will be missed.
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Mar 7, 11 7:56 PM
I assume that Supervisor ATH will recuse herself from any role in choosing the new police chief. The poster girl of the STPD PBA shouldn't hire the guy who gives orders to her buds.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 7, 11 8:08 PM
3 members liked this comment
Jim , Glad to see you will be able to play all those golf courses that are waiting for you. Was great working for you. Good luck...
By unclemilt (57), southampton on Mar 8, 11 12:28 AM
Happy Retirement Chief,
By Etians rd (543), Southampton on Mar 8, 11 9:03 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By jim (48), hampton bays on Mar 8, 11 9:29 AM

Hey Scottj... FYI... Sound a little bitter do you? Now now...So let's see..1968 flashback..two precints, east-west..no BP vests, no walkie-talkies, no mace, no glocks, no tasers, no computers, just a black-jack, and a revolver... little or NO back-up units on midnights...anarchy in Watts, Detroit, Newark, Viet Nam {lovers of cops} rarely called "Cops" rather "PIGS" 6 day a week work weeks, $3400.00 salary,
And, by the way...what prevented YOU from choosing this now enviable career?
So, ...more
By kahuna (70), Tampa on Mar 8, 11 10:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
Best of Luck, Jim. We'll miss you.
By GlassHouses (64), anywhere on Mar 9, 11 1:31 PM
Congratulations, Chief....enjoy your retirement! Thank you for your service to our Town.
By Robert I Ross (250), Hampton Bays on Mar 9, 11 5:18 PM
Will this bring a change in culture at the department? I sure hope so. I hate feeling like I am driving around under marshall law. I think that I speak for quite a few Southamptoners that we are not comforted when we see the presence of the Southampton cops; we feel threatend. The residents are not the enemy. I hope the new chief brings a different tone.
By SHPredatorDept (72), Southampton on Mar 9, 11 7:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Enjoy retirement Jim-you earned every dime your retirement package pays.
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Mar 14, 11 5:34 PM
Hi Jim, I want to wish you the very best in the next phase of your life. I have tried to retire three times and fail, all three times, BUT am enjoying life as I hope you will in retirement. I will also remember the good time we had in high school!!
Look forward to see you at our 50th HS reunion.

Your "old" friend, Jim Markowsky.
By Ahab (1), North Falmouth on Apr 7, 11 11:16 AM