The local police union has taken a vote of no confidence in East Hampton Police Matt Reimondo and has asked for the Chief’s voluntary resignation.
The 11-3 vote by the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 524, was taken Sunday night and delivered to Reimondo on Monday afternoon.
The union said that the basis for the vote “was the egregious and indefensible practices that [Reimondo has] employed over the course of many months.” It goes on to say that Reimondo’s continued lack of effective leadership has discredited himself and the police department and damaged the department’s reputation.
“The officers of the department are very proud to be East Hampton Police officers and they take a lot of pride in working here and want to make sure the community is properly protected,” International Brotherhood of Police Officers representative Concezio DiNino said. “This came about as a result of what appeared to be an overall lack of leadership and in some situations a lack of credibility that ended up hurting the morale of the department.”
All union members were present for the vote.
“That 80 percent voted in favor of this, that tells you something is going on,” DiNino said.
The no confidence vote is the latest in a series of charges levied against Reimondo questioning his handling of the department and his overall leadership.
The recent allegations began at the town council on Sept. 27, when local union president Mike Salafia said the department was being run by fear and threats. Also at that meeting, questions were raised by the council about the length of time it was taking to conclude the Internal Affairs investigations into Sgt. Michael Green. Green had been on paid administrative leave since July 27. Salafia also presented the council with a petition in support of Sgt. Green and asking for his reinstatement.
On Oct. 28, the union filed a against Reimondo, charging, among other things, of intimidating and retaliating against bargaining unit members for exercising their rights to grieve issues.
Earlier this month, then-Acting Interim Town Manager Anne McKinney told Reimondo in a meeting that since the Green investigations were completed, she wanted his recommended discipline no later than Nov. 4. McKinney followed that request up in a memo. She also raised concerns within the police department in a separate memo, which she also wanted the Chief to address.
Reimondo, however, did not get to respond by the deadlines because he left on medical leave.
The town, specifically Reimondo, also were served with a by Michael Olzacki dated Oct. 19. Olzacki alleges that his personal information was disclosed by Reimondo in a series of emails and attachments to people with “no right or privilege to view or have knowledge of private personal data of Town employees or applicants.”
The complaint further alleges that at a town meeting on Oct. 5, 2010, Reimondo made statements disclosing certain personal data about Olzacki.
Despite the cumulative effect of these issues on the department, taking the no confidence route was not an easy choice to make.
“This was not a decision they took lightly,” DiNino said of the union. “It’s something they thought long and hard about before doing it. No officer wants to take that step because it’s a serious move to make, but that shows how bad things are and how it’s affecting them."
DiNino said this is not a case of the union trying to run the department but rather, they are trying "to save the department" and this is a means to get things back to the way they once were.
“They just want to get back to being law enforcement officers,” he said, adding that the issues within the department have been a distraction for officers.
“You can’t work in that environment because you have to have the job on your mind,” he said.
Council member Kyle Dostaler deferred to Interim Town Manager John Weichsel, saying, "It is the town manager's job and he will handle it."
Fellow council member Ted Hintz agreed, saying it is the town manager's responsibility and he will have to take care of it. Hintz went on to say he will support the police department "all the way" and expressed hope the issue does come to a head and "hopefully we can move this town forward."
"When you have 11 out of 14, obviously there is a problem," Hintz said.
Asked if he supported the Chief's resignation, Hintz said he did.
"I don't see at this point how he could do anything to turn it around to gain back the trust in his officers," Hintz said. "Once you lose faith and trust in someone, I think it's very difficult to get back. I don't know at this point if he could regain it."
DiNino said the department wants to work with town leaders to resolve the issues outlined in the letter to Reimondo, so that "People can get on with the business of doing business. [The department can] get back to protecting people and serving the public and leaders get back to doing what they have to do with running the whole town."
The complaints against Reimondo alleged in the letter to him:
- Blatant, unnecessary, and unjust disparity in discipline
- Obvious favoritism that benefits certain officers
- Immature and inexcusable retaliation for lawful union activity
- Gross mismanagement of departmental resources and taxpayers dollars
- Threats, intimidation, and retaliation directed toward certain officers
- Failure to instate needed policies and refusal to identify and abandon ineffective policies
- Untruthfulness during recent public comments
- Other instances of unacceptable actions on [Reimondo's] part that have recently been made public
"[The officers] don't want the stress of dreading coming into the building or dreading or being concerned you might be targeted for something there might not even be a policy for and defending yourself for it," DiNino said. "The officers, they want things to go back to normal. They want to be able to go to work, live to the end of your shift ... and come back to work the next day."
Reimondo survived an attempt to remove him and abolish the Police Chief position altogether in June 2010 by then-Town Manager Jeffrey O'Keefe. Reimondo was placed on administrative leave while the issue played out over the summer and fall. He was eventualy reinstated by an overwhelming margin when the matter went to referendum in November of last year.