HIGHLAND, NY — The Town of Highland first suspended its constables on April 12. Four months later, beyond appointing two new court officers, the only resolution so far has been the resignation …
HIGHLAND, NY — The Town of Highland first suspended its constables on April 12. Four months later, beyond appointing two new court officers, the only resolution so far has been the resignation of two of the suspended constables—chief constable Mike Walton and patrol constable Stephen Milisauskas.
The Highland Town Board accepted their resignations at a regular meeting on August 9. While Walton had previously indicated a desire to have his letter read into the public record, the board did not do so at that meeting, and Highland denied a follow-up FOIL request from the River Reporter for these letters, claiming that disclosing the documents would “constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
In response to that denial, Walton instructed his friend and Highland resident Paula Campbell to release the letters. In sending the letters, Campbell wrote, “Attached to this email are copies of the Town of Highland’s Chief Constable Mike Walton who served the Town of Highland for 21 years and from Stephen Milisauskas who served for six years as a patrol constable for the town. In a recent conversation with Mike Walton, he told me that both he and Stephen went over to the Yulan Service Center and personally turned in their resignations to Jeff Haas. After your newspaper, the River Reporter, filed a FOIL request to the Town of Highland for copies of the letters, which was denied, both Mike Walton and Stephen Milisauskas agreed to have their letters made public to your newspaper so the residents of Highland would have an explanation of their resignations while they both were under suspension for unknown reasons.”
Both Walton and Milisauskas took fault with the town for suspending the constable force as a whole and placed the issues with the force solely on one individual.
“I have spent 21 years working for the Town of Highland and took great pride in protecting the Town of Highland residents and surrounding neighbors but due to one individual’s refusal to follow town policy and procedures, the board with the town attorney decided to suspend operations of the constables as a whole rather than pursue actions against the individual who refused to follow proper procedures,” wrote Walton.
Milisauskas wrote, “As far as the policy issues, policies were in place but just needed to be updated and there was no reason to suspend all operations. Every department updates their policies frequently and not suspend entire work force while doing so. The personnel issues should have been directed at the individual not the force as a whole.”
Neither letter names the individual in question, though Walton in his letter thanks constables Milisauskas, John Arias and Scott VanTuyl for their service and excludes constable Marc Anthony.
The Sullivan County Democrat recently received and published an unredacted Highland’s constable committee report. (Click here for the Democrat's article on the report.) According to the Democrat’s reporting, the report names Anthony as the constable responsible for the misconduct substantiated in the report.
Walton and Milisauskas each indicated that they were resigning due to the length of time the force had been suspended, without separation between the constables at fault and the constables who (in their view) had done nothing wrong. Milisauskas indicated that coworkers at his job at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility had been calling him asking about the suspension, to his embarrassment.
“I don’t think the board realize[s] how important the constables are to the town,” wrote Milisauskas. “On the weekends, we are usually the first ones on scene for all ‘EMS’ and other dispatched calls. While on duty, every minute matters… But like other things in life, if it doesn’t directly effect you, it’s not so important.”
Both constables closed their letters with thanks to the town for the opportunity to work for the constable department.
Click through the slideshow below to read the constables' letters.
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