After an abrupt cancellation of a special town board meeting scheduled on Friday to vote on retiring Southampton successor, news broke on Saturday that the board has decided to cast a wider net – inviting the town’s three police lieutenants to interview for the top seat.
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst has confirmed that the board had agreed that “any lieutenant that comes forward will sit for interviews” in late April.
Lieutenants Robert Iberger and Robert Pearce have already scheduled interviews.
Also vying for the position are Captain Anthony Tenaglia and Chief William Wilson.
Despite a crowd of residents in the hallway outside the Southampton Town meeting room on Friday waiting to attend the special meeting and witness the board vote, Throne-Holst announced that the meeting had been canceled. “The board was not prepared to go ahead and make a decision at this point,” she told them.
No decision has been made yet about when the meeting will be rescheduled.
Councilmen Chris Nuzzi and Jim Malone emerged appearing tense; both refused to comment on why the meeting had been canceled, citing executive session restraints.
Throne-Holst explained that according to civil service law the town board must decide whom to consider when for police chief. When possible, promotions happen from within the department, utilizing existing talent and experience.
As the town’s police commissioners, it falls on the board to decide “just how far down the ranks to offer the chief’s exam,” Throne-Holst said.
Civil Service commissioner Allen Schneider has indicated the town should consider the ranks of captain and lieutenant for the position, she said. The town board had the choice of offering the seat to the captain only or including the town’s three police lieutenants as contenders.
The town board also has the right to open up the playing field to qualified police chiefs across the town, including village police chiefs, as long as both the sending and receiving municipalities agree.
“It is my firm personal policy that at any time when a town board has a position of this magnitude to consider to be filled, we should always follow a process of openness and transparency and consider any candidate that qualifies as part of our deliberations,” Throne-Holst said last week.