Police Plan Rally To Support Police Clarkstown Chief Michael Sullivan

NEW CITY — The town police union is organizing a show of support for Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan, who was suspended last week for undisclosed reasons by the Town Board.

The Clarkstown PBA’s rally will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in front of the the New City Firehouse.

In a statement posted on the 160-member PBA’s Facebook page, president Raymond Laschet said the union was “shocked” by Sullivan’s suspension.

“The Clarkstown PBA feels he has been a fair and dedicated leader of the largest police department in Rockland County,” Laschet’s statement reads. “Much like when any of our members face disciplinary charges we must wait for due process to prevail and let the facts come forth before rushing to judgment.”

The chief is not represented by the PBA.

Clarktown’s CSEA, which represents about 300 workers, also is planning to show its support for the chief at the rally.

Clarkstown officials have said they can’t comment on the charges, which were presented to Sullivan last week.

The chief and Supervisor George Hoehmann have been at odds over the department’s policies and decisions.

In April, the two men feuded publicly with over the hiring of an upstate firm for a cost-cutting study of the town’s $50 million police department — one of the state’s priciest town forces.

The 33-year cop said Friday in a statement that he was “surprised” and “dismayed” by the suspension, which he called “completely without merit.”

“Please be assured that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on my part or of any conduct unbecoming an officer,” he said.

Sullivan will continue to pocket his $272,000 salary until charges are drawn up and disciplinary proceedings are held, which could take months.

The suspension comes at a time when law enforcement officials are said to be looking into a $96,053 donation to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s Reform Party that paid for advertising and other campaign costs for Hoehmann’s successful campaign for supervisor.

The same donor — “Institute for Municipal Safety Research LLC,” which is not registered with New York state — provided another $109,000 to the Rockland Republican Committee through the Reform Party. Hoehmann has declined to discuss the name of the donor.

1 reply
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    The controversial suspension of Clarkstown police Chief Michael Sullivan stemmed from his failure to immediately reassign a sergeant as Supervisor George Hoehmann demanded, and his social media commentary about litigation involving a former town cop, according to disciplinary charges accusing the chief of misconduct and incompetence.

    The town had refused to comment on the charges following Sullivan’s July 20 suspension. His lawyer, Richard Glickel, released them Thursday along with Sullivan’s denial to all seven charges. Glickel called the charges “meritless” and suggested that they would not stand up to legal scrutiny.

    On July 1, Hoehmann directed Sullivan to reassign Sgt. Stephen Cole-Hatchard from his role as director of the Rockland County Strategic Intelligence Unit to the town detective division.Sullivan indicated in his response to the charges that this was because the Town Board had obtained an email exchange between the sergeant and a Journal News reporter involving a recent incident involving another member of the police department.

    But according to Cole-Hatchard’s recent federal lawsuit against the town, Hoehmann was targeting him over an email exchange relating to $218,000 in political donations that a former town sergeant had arranged to give the state Reform Party and the Rockland Republican Committee — much of which was used on Hoehmann’s behalf.

    The lawsuit referred to the source of the money as “Officer T” but The Journal News has identified the former sergeant as Michael Garvey. The money – half to the Reform Party and half to the county GOP – was donated by the Institute for Municipal Safety Research LLC but nobody involved has ever explained publicly what the LLC did or who had registered it.

    Hoehmann’s chief of staff, Vincent Balascio, said Thursday that the lawsuit was a smokescreen to cover up Cole-Hatchard’s actions.

    “When Cole-Hatchard got caught leaking information about a current officer, he made up a fantastical story about political retribution to cover himself,” Balascio said.

    Cole-Hatchard denied in his lawsuit that he ever shared information about any disciplinary matter with a reporter.

    Sullivan said he had started his own investigation into the email correspondence on June 29 and that Hoehmann’s directive was that the reassignment needed to be “irrespective of the outcome of your investigation and whether disciplinary action is taken as a result of that investigation.”

    The chief said Cole-Hatchard was going out of town for the holiday weekend and that he reached out to Town Board members on July 3 to see if they concurred with Hoehmann’s directive.

    On July 4 he told Cole-Hatchard that he would be reassigned the following day to the detective division.

    Based on that, Hoehmann accused Sullivan of insubordination and disobeying an order.

    Sullivan said he had never been directed not to speak with the Town Board before.

    “Throughout my own tenure as chief of police, I have always dealt with the Town Board on all ‘police problems’ and since I am the Chief of Police, contacting the Town Board is in, fact, the regular (and proper) channel,” Sullivan wrote in his response.

    Sullivan posted comments on social media related to a June 16 article about former police Officer Robert Lynn, who was engaged in a longstanding legal battle with the town over his disability pay. Hoehmann charged Sullivan with several counts of misconduct related to that, because litigation was involved and the comments could have discredited the department or hampered its negotiating position.

    But Sullivan insisted he responded because comments by Balascio had suggested that the prior administration had engaged in petty politics at the expense of town taxpayers. Sullivan said Balascio’s statements were “inflammatory, untrue and prejudicial to the town’s interests.”

    He said his posting did not include privileged information or details from any police records.

    “My statement was necessitated to correct published misstatements and intended to enhance the public image of the Town of Clarkstown and the Department,” Sullivan wrote. “I was not incompetent in this regard nor did I bring discredit upon the Police Department.”

    While Hoehmann said he was acting on behalf of the Board of Police Commissioners, Sullivan said the board was abolished in 2004. Balascio denied that and said the current Town Board members comprise the Police Commission.

    William Harrington, who has been appointed by the town as a special prosecutor in the case, issued a brief statement Thursday in response to Sullivan’s denials.

    “From police chiefs to patrolmen, the rules of conduct that govern a transparent police department apply to everyone. It’s unfortunate Mr. Sullivan believes he is above the law and lives by his own rules.”

    The town had 35 days from the date of Sullivan’s suspension to appoint a hearing officer to take evidence and render a recommendation to the Town Board. If the hearing officer determines a punishment is called for, the recommendation can range from suspension to dismissal. Sullivan will continue to receive his salary and benefits during the process. His annual salary is $278,161.

    Hoehmann and Sullivan have feuded over the hiring of an upstate firm for a cost-cutting study of the town’s $50 million Police Department — one of the state’s highest-paid town forces. The study has been delayed because the police administration has been slow to turn over data, Balascio said.

    The chief’s suspension brought out a throng of supporters to a rally Tuesday — the same day Hoehmann revealed he had received a death threat resulting from his decision.

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