UPDATED 1:18 p.m.
After just 18 months on the job, Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson tendered his resignation on Tuesday.
Wilson told Patch the he decided to retire because he has been blocked at every turn from making the kind of changes and improvements to the police department that he had hoped to when he was appointed. He said that a majority of the Town Board — either because they are financially hog tied or because of internal board disputes — have not allowed him to accomplish what he set out to do.
"I can't get any progressive action taken by the board for staffing, funding, technology; I can’t get anything done,” he said.
He said it is no secret that a majority of the Town Board does not want to see him continue in the post. "That is not the reason I'm retiring," he added.
Wilson said he contemplated the decision for a while, and now another opportunity has arisen that he wishes to pursue. He would not reveal what that opportunity is, though he said it will begin Jan. 1, 2013.
He will not be accepting any retirement incentives from the town, he said.
In an email to Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst indicating his intent to retire, Wilson wrote, "I would like to thank you, and the Board, for the opportunity to serve with the men and women of the Town PD, they are a talented group of law enforcement professionals. The people of the Town of Southampton are fortunate to have police officers of their calibre."
He continued, "I urge the Board to reconsider its position regarding funding of the police department. Lack of staff, technology infrastructure and equipment are making it increasingly difficult to provide effective services to the community. For the good of the Town and future of the STPD, please provide them the resources necessary to fulfill their critical mission."
Wilson said his resignation takes effect Dec. 1, but he is currently on vacation and will close out November with vacation days.
He said that for him to continue in the post would be a waste of the townspeople's time, the police department's time, and his time. “So I'm going to step away."
“If this gives somebody else an opportunity that can do some good for this police department, then that’s what I want,” Wilson said.
In a statement released to the press Tuesday afternoon, Throne-Holst said she respect's Wilson's decision and thanked him for his service to the town.
"I also share Chief Wilson’s concern with regard to proper staffing levels and the need for the implementation of modern police technologies which have been and remain a priority for me," Throne-Holst said.
Throne-Holst said the Town Board will confer over the next few days to development a transition plan to new leadership for the police department.
Wilson was the chief of the Southampton Village Police Department when he interviewed to be the top cop on the town level, after James Overton retired.
Anthony Tenaglia, then the department's caption, interviewed for the job too. After the Town Board chose Wilson over him and lieutenants who applied, Tenaglia retired.
“It’s a vote of no confidence for the command staff of the Southampton Town Police Department that have worked and been here during every major catastrophe, sacrificing their time," Tenaglia said at the time. He said he had the community's support, and called Wilson's appointment a political decision.
Then-Councilwoman Nancy Graboski was in Tenaglia's corner, calling him "the most qualified and experienced candidate for the position."
At the time, Throne-Holst beat back accusations that political backroom deals were made, and said the decision was based solely on its merits. She said that hiring Wilson was a monumental decision for the future of the department and “it was the right one.”
Throne-Holst said the board voted for change, rather than status quo.
Though the Town Board picked Wilson in a 4-1 vote, with Graboski as the sole dissenter, Wilson ran into obstacles soon after assuming his new post.
While the headcount of the police department was reduced as a cost saving measure, Wilson's requests for technology upgrades to make the now-smaller department work more effectively and efficiently were repeatedly rejected by a board majority.
In March, the board voted 3-2 to promote Robert Pearce from lieutenant to captain, even though Pearce was not Wilson's pick for his second-in-command.
And Wilson reported receiving more than one surreptitious offer to retire, soon after being appointed.
There were accusations of police files being shredded in the days before Wilson assumed his post, and then boxes of documents related to controversial personnel investigations were seized by the district attorney's office.
Wilson disbanded the department's Street Crimes Unit soon after his appointment. The commanding officer of the unit, James Kiernan, was suspended at Wilson's recommendation, but a recent settlement allowed him to return to work. Another member of the unit, Eric Sickles, remains on suspension, and the district attorney's released two convicts who were arrested by the Street Crimes Unit after Sickles' credibility was called into question.