Share this article

print logo

Board tables police appointments

The appointment of an acting police chief and acting assistant chief was on the agenda for the Hamburg Town Board on Monday night.

It didn't happen.

The board tabled the appointment of Carmen Kesner, the current assistant, as acting chief along with the appointment of Capt. Michael Williams as acting assistant.

Councilmen Thomas Quatroche and Richard Smith said the board had not had an opportunity to interview the candidates and that they weren't ready to make an appointment. They said they had been notified by phone call not long before the meeting that the appointment would be on the agenda.

"My issue is communication," Quatroche said. "When we've had a chance to sit down and do a proper interview, then we'll be ready to vote."

Both jobs are temporary until permanent appointments are made.

The decision wasn't a popular one, drawing boos and catcalls from the crowd when Quatroche and Smith voted for it.

Williams' father, Robert Williams, was Hamburg's police chief from 1951 to 1982. He stood up during public comment and said he was disgusted, calling the situation political. Michael Williams' mother did the same.

Kesner said he was simply attending the meeting in the role of chief -- the position he's filled as assistant chief since Joseph Coggins retired June 30.

The vote was 2-1, with Quatroche and Smith outvoting Supervisor Steven Walters. Councilwoman Joan Kesner abstained because she's married to the assistant chief.

When Coggins left, Councilman D. Mark Cavalcoli said Kesner would fill the role of chief by virtue of his assistant chief position, with his expected appointment as acting chief simply serving as a symbolic indication of support from the board.

Cavalcoli missed Monday night's meeting, however.

The only thing both sides agreed on was they didn't want to denigrate Carmen Kesner and Michael Williams.

"I've never heard so many good things said about myself," Kesner said after the meeting.

But both Walters and Ann Billittier, one of the speakers during public comment, hinted at darker issues within the police department.

Walters said in his 1 1/2 years in office, he has "never seen the morale so high in the department" as in the past two weeks and that he was looking forward to working with Kesner. The rest of the board had voted to remove Walters as the board's liaison to the police department in January over what Quatroche said were "communication" issues.

Billittier, meanwhile, called for restoring harmony in the department by appointing Kesner and Williams, saying many people in Hamburg are aware "how miserable these officers have been made" in recent years. Billittier's son was a Hamburg police officer.

Quatroche apologized to the officers and the public, calling Monday's meeting "not a proper way to do business" but stood by his vote.

"If you were hiring somebody, wouldn't you want to talk to them first?" he asked several speakers.


There are no comments - be the first to comment