The Southampton Town Board voted unanimously Tuesday to suspend without pay a police officer widely reported to have compromised narcotics investigations because of his own drug addiction.
Officer Eric Sickles became addicted to drugs while working in the ’s now-defunct Street Crimes Unit, according to a confidential source and corroborated by many published reports.
Tuesday's suspension is indefinite, “pending the disposition of disciplinary charges.” According to the Town Board resolution, the suspension came at the recommendation of Police Chief William Wilson, who served the charges, which were not specified.
Sickles will be able to use accumulated sick and vacation time to keep receiving paychecks.
The resolution does not state when exactly the board will revisit the matter, but it does direct Wilson to report on the status of the case to the board on a regular basis.
According to past Town Board resolutions, Sickles was appointed a part-time police officer in September 1998, though he did not officially begin until completing the Suffolk County Police Academy. In September 2000, he was appointed a full-time officer.
In April, Lt. James Kiernan, who was the supervisor of the Street Crimes Unit, was , then in early May.
The reasons for his suspension were also never publicly stated, as town and police officials cited confidentiality of personnel matters. But Wilson began an internal review of two years of Street Crimes Unit cases, and he told Newsday that the unit, which conducted narcotics investigations, lacked oversight.
And on May 9, the Government Corruption Bureau of Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office " from Town Hall. Then at the end of May, Spota announced that two convicted drug dealers who had been arrested by the Street Crimes Unit would be and their charges were vacated. Their releases were the result of an ongoing review of more than 100 of the unit’s cases, according to Spota, who said that his office has gathered information that affects the credibility of a police officer.
Defense attorney Sue Menu said the cases were tossed out because the men's constitutional rights had been violated.
Spota said his office is still reviewing both pending and closed cases, which will likely end in more cases being dismissed.