North Shore lawmakers are calling on the federal government to keep a closer watch on the county police department.
At a press conference last week, Suffolk County Legislators Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) and Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) stood beside Republican minority leader Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) at the William Rogers Legislature Building in Hauppauge to call for heightened oversight of the Suffolk County Police Department via a federal monitor. Their pleas came in light of a recent investigation and indictment of former county Police Chief James Burke, who was accused of beating a handcuffed suspect and attempting to cover up the crime.
During the press conference, numerous members of the Republican Caucus made it clear that both Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and Tim Sini needed to speak up about what they know — if anything — regarding the alleged malfeasance of the department, given that their positions were so intimately tied to its internal mechanisms.
Trotta said that as more facts related to Burke roll out, it has become more apparent that the problem needs to be addressed by a federal monitor. He and his colleagues argued that federal involvement would allot the best resources available to the investigation and also instill an element of objectivity.
“I want the monitor to come in to make sure that everything in the internal affairs department is running correctly,” Trotta said at the press conference. “I want the monitor to come in and say that the person appointed to be police commissioner is qualified.”
Bellone ensured that a monitor will be established as soon as possible.
Bellone tapped Tim Sini to become Suffolk County police commissioner after serving as Bellone’s chief criminal justice advisor since August 2014.
Before his tenure as Suffolk’s assistant deputy county executive for public safety, Sini served as an assistant U.S. attorney from 2010 to 2014, specializing in violent crimes, gang prosecutions and large-scale narcotics cases.
“When looking for a police commissioner, I am seeking someone with character, experience and vision, and Tim Sini has all three,” Bellone said. “Tim is a man of real integrity with a strong sense of justice. Tim Sini has a unique blend of law enforcement experience as a federal prosecutor combined with a keen understanding of Suffolk County’s law enforcement community by serving as my top law enforcement advisor.”
But McCaffrey argued at the press conference that there was no time for “on-the-job training” when one is elevated to the level of commissioner of the county police department. McCaffrey argued that Sini is inexperienced, making it that much more essential that federal investigators seek out accountability.
“This is not a political issue, it is one of public safety and the integrity of our government,” McCaffrey said. “The State of New York, and now Suffolk County, is just roiling with corruption and mismanagement. The people of Suffolk County deserve much better than this, and anything less than full federal involvement will not be acceptable.”