Highland suspends constable operations

Sheriff and state police to patrol

By LAURIE STUART
Posted 4/14/22

ELDRED, NY — The business of the Town of Highland town board was routine until the board came out of its end-of-meeting executive session and suspended its constables “as a whole.” …

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Highland suspends constable operations

Sheriff and state police to patrol

Posted

ELDRED, NY — The business of the Town of Highland Town Board on April 12 was routine until the board came out of its end-of-meeting executive session and suspended its constable operations. The executive session was announced for personnel issues and “possible litigation.”

Upon emerging from the executive session, the board passed a resolution to temporarily suspend the activities of the constables and to engage the services of the county sheriff’s department, said councilmember Fred Bosch in an interview on Wednesday, April 13. “We’re not going to have the constables do what they normally do while we do some investigations,” he said. “So they are still Town of Highland Constables; they just won’t be working a shift until we get the investigations finished. They are not fired, they are suspended.”

Councilman Chris Tambini concurred. “We were conferenced in with Sullivan County Sheriff Mike Schiff and undersheriff Eric Chaboty, whose deputies are going to provide additional coverage,” he said on Wednesday afternoon. “The sheriff’s department is also reaching out to the state police out of Narrowsburg, to provide additional coverage.” Tambini said that the town had been in conversation with the sheriff’s department before Tuesday’s executive session.

“There are personal claims that have to be looked into,” he said. “We are going to be brushing up, making sure all the training is up to date and going through the whole thing,” he said.

The resolution and being relieved of hours was a surprise to Highland's chief constable Michael Walton, who said he was unaware of any complaints. The department suspension affects Marc Anthony, John Arias, Steven Milisauksis and Scott VanTuyl. “I’m as much in the dark as everyone,” Walton said. The constables are paid for hours worked, Walton said, indicating that the officers will, therefore, not be paid beyond April 12. 

The action was taken under the advisement of the attorney to the town, Michael Davidoff.

“With what we have been talking through,” Tambini said, “the suspension was the best way to do it right now. Constable Chief Mike Walton will be staying on to do some of the legwork in the investigation as well as some of the revamp. The other guys would not be.”

Tambini, who will be taking the lead with councilwoman Kaitlin Haas on the investigation and revamp, said that the process could take four to six weeks. He is filling in councilman James Gutekunst, who is out on medical leave, on the board's personnel and the constable committee.

In a press release issued on Thursday morning, the town reiterated that the constables had been temporarily suspended as a whole, that the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department and the New York State Police have agreed to temporarily provide law enforcement coverage for the town to replace prior coverage carried out by the constables, and that the town is continuing to conduct its investigation and is exploring the provision of police protection for the town by various other methods.

Clarification from the Town of Highland

In an effort to provide clarification to the information regarding the current status of the Town of Highland Constables, please find the below:

The Constable personnel were not suspended as individuals or as a group; there was no termination of employment of any individual or of the group. The operations of the Constabulary were suspended, and the Town remains dedicated to providing appropriate law enforcement services. Chief Administrative Constable remains in service to complete administrative duties during this time. 

At the conclusion of the Town’s work regarding the constabulary, any recommendations will be shared with the public. 

For a story from the April 5 town board workshop meeting, click here. https://riverreporter.com/stories/connect-four,54059

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