Beating back accusations that political backroom deals were made, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said that last week’s to helm the was based solely on its merits.
During an interview at her office last Tuesday, the day after the town board , Throne-Holst said that to suggest there was something nefarious behind the decision is “nothing but sour grapes.”
Town Police Captain Anthony Tenaglia, Wilson’s main competition for the post, had told Patch, “I believe it was more of a political decision than anything else,” and prior to the vote to appoint Wilson, many speakers voiced the same sentiment to the town board. Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, a Republican, cast the dissenting vote.
Throne-Holst, an Independent, said that hiring Wilson was a monumental decision for the future of the department — and “it was the right one.”
“It was a matter of, did we want to go in a direction of change, or did we want to pursue a course of status quo,” she said.
After interviewing Wilson, who is currently the chief of the , as well as Tenaglia and , “One individual stood out as the real catalyst for change and for a new vision for the future,” Throne-Holst said.
The supervisor said she weighed the candidates’ ideas on task forces, cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, shared services, addressing budget issues and schedules, and forfeiture programs to raise revenue.
Even before former Chief James Overton in April, she and Wilson were on the same page regarding exploring consolidation of local police departments, Throne-Holst said.
She said that in making her decision she consulted well more than 100 people, including local police officers, job candidates’ references and members of other police agencies, and she heard, overwhelmingly, that the police department needed change.
Throne-Holst said, coming from the private sector, she believes that it is important to frequently bring new blood and new ideas into an organization, and she felt the town police department was no exception.
To examine police department issues, she had formed a labor management committee with representatives from the public and leaders in the department and the police union, with Councilman Jim Malone, a Conservative, serving as the town board liaison, she noted.
“There was certainly a sense that the top brass there felt that things were just fine the way they were, that there was no real need for change,” Throne-Holst said. “The collective sense amongst the rest of us was that there was in fact quite a bit of room for change.”
Whatever decision the board made was going to make one group of people happy and leave another unhappy, she said. She rebuffed the insinuation that she had something to gain politically: “If I was counting votes here, if I was counting political capital here, there was no way that I was going gain going in one direction or another.”