Sag Harbor Detective’s Suspension Lingers On
By Stephen J. Kotz
Shortly after taking the reins of the Sag Harbor Village Police Department, Chief Austin McGuire on March 23, 2016, suspended the department’s sole detective, Jeff Proctor, for a month without pay for an undisclosed disciplinary matter.
When Det. Proctor’s month-long suspension ended that April, the village board placed him on paid administrative leave, while both sides waited for John G. Callahan, a White Plains attorney, who is serving as the hearing officer, to make his ruling in the case.
Everyone is still waiting.
Village officials, citing the confidentiality of personnel matters, declined to comment on the case this week, including what penalty Det. Procter could face if Mr. Callahan rules in the village’s favor.
“I don’t have a crystal ball,” said Mayor Sandra Schroeder when asked if she had any idea of when the matter would be settled.
“I’d like nothing more than to come back and finish my career working for the village I have loved working for,” said Det. Procter, who has been honored four times as the department’s “officer of the year.” He referred all other comment to his attorney, Christopher Rothemich, with the Islandia law firm of Davis and Ferber, which represents a number of police unions in their dealing with the municipalities they serve. The firm did not return a call for comment.
Det. Proctor, 47, who has been a member of the village force since 2001, and a detective since 2008, is drawing his $125,175 base salary while he is on leave.
Chief McGuire this week said it was anyone’s guess when the case would be resolved. In the meantime, he said other officers on the staff have picked up Det. Proctor’s investigative duties in his absence. “A lot of the stuff we can handle ourselves,” he said, “but anything on the grander scale, we send out to the state police.”
Such was the case this week, when it was discovered that thieves had made off with thousands of dollars in electronic gear from 19 bots in storage at Ship-Ashore Marina in the village. State police do not charge the village for the work its investigators do on its behalf, he said.
Last week, Chief McGuire requested the village board include funding to hire a new police officer when it adopts its budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year. He said the timing of the request was a coincidence and that the department needed 12 officers to be able to create an efficient schedule. Before Det. Proctor’s suspension, the department had 11 officers, including the detective. It has been functioning with 10 officers since then and supplementing its ranks with part-time officers.
Vincent Toomey, the Lake Success attorney, who represents the village in labor matters, said he could not comment on the case specifically, but said generally suspending an employee without pay “is used for more serious charges, not just technical violations” in workplace policy.
“The process has been slower than I would have expected,” he said of the Proctor case. He said it was possible the slow pace was because Mr. Callahan was juggling several different cases. He also noted this particular case required several days of testimony.
Mr. Callahan will bring his recommendation to the village board, which will then make a determination in the case. If it rules against Det. Proctor, he will be given the opportunity to file suit in State Supreme Court to overturn that decision, Mr. Toomey said.