The voters in the Village of Mamaroneck have an important referendum on November 3rd that will decide how the Village Police Department will be administered in the future. Referendum #3 on this year’s ballot deals exclusively with how police disciplinary hearings are handled in the Village of Mamaroneck. This past spring, the Village of Mamaroneck Board of Trustees passed a law that allowed police disciplinary hearings to be heard by an independent hearing officer. This change requires approval from the voters of the Village of Mamaroneck in a permissive referendum.
Police disciplinary hearings are complicated quasi-judicial proceedings that require an understanding of administrative law and evidentiary rules that are beyond the scope and the talents of most municipal boards. These proceedings have been known to last many weeks. It is not feasible to ask five board members to clear dozens of days of their schedules to sit as a board of police commissioners. These cases also tend to paralyze village governments because they monopolize a village board’s attention for months at a time.
It is also unfair to the police officer who is being disciplined to have to wait for five board members and attorneys for both sides to clear their schedules. Often the police officer who is being disciplined is suspended without pay while awaiting the disposition of his case. It seems cruel to let an officer twist in the wind like that when there is an easier way available. Most civil service disciplinary hearings are conducted by independent hearing officers with very fair and efficient results. There is no reason we can’t use these same procedures to benefit future boards and our police officers.
The hearing officer would make a report and a recommendation to the Board of Trustees after the hearing is over. The ultimate determination of the case would still be in the hands of the Board of Trustees. I believe that this change would ultimately benefit the Police Department and the Board of Trustees and save the taxpayers money by having these cases heard in a competent fashion.
Please join me in voting YES on Referendum#3 on the Village of Mamaroneck ballot this year.