Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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August 23rd, 2012

Timing Right for Jenkins to Step Down as Police Commissioner

Unfortunately, because of their desire to mix politics with law enforcement, the majority of the Village of Monticello Trustees made it impossible to promote within when selecting a new police chief, instead they hired from outside.

Former Village of Liberty Police Chief Robert Mir took over the position this past Monday. Mir has the temperament along with professional police expertise to excel and bring much needed calm and unity to the police force.

I am certain Mir will take no part in any potential muzzling coming from the politically charged police commission formed by the Village and headed by Mayor Gordon Jenkins. There appears to be nothing worthy about this police commission except for a power grab.

A Police Commission when used properly sets broad policy and does not micro manage. Administration must be left to law enforcement professionals. Having elected officials on a police commission sends the wrong message to law enforcement while telling criminals with political connections someone has their back.

Now is the appropriate time for Jenkins to step down from the Police Commission.

Supreme Court Judge Christopher Cahill recently sided with The Monticello PBA, PBA President John Reigler, and District Attorney Jim Farrell in their Lawsuit challenging the creation of the police commission and the broad powers granted to it including allowing Jenkins to be paid as police commissioner.

Jenkins was recently charged with Obstructing Governmental Administration and Disorderly Conduct for allegedly punching a uniformed Monticello police officer (an officer he is in charge of as police commissioner) who had responded to a disturbance at his store on Broadway. The charges are pending in the Town of Liberty Justice Court.

While Jenkins is presumed innocent, he was not suspended or otherwise subjected to disciplinary charges in his position as police commissioner. All members of the commission were appointed by Jenkins.

The PBA lawsuit in part has alleged the law creating the commission usurps the power and responsibilities of the Police Chief under New York Civil Service Law, and allows civilian commission members access to confidential police criminal investigation files. The village also failed to put the law up for a required referendum vote.

The Village sought to have the lawsuit tossed, but Judge Cahill rejected that and has ruled that the lawsuit may proceed forward and has ordered the village respond to the PBA’s claims.

A final ruling will determine the fate of the law creating the controversial commission. The Village now must respond to the complaint, and Judge Cahill may decide to have a fact finding hearing with witnesses.

The PBA has claimed the police commission has engaged in the hiring and promoting of police officers, and reassigning the duties of other officers, all without consulting the former police chief. It is also alleged the commission has instructed former chiefs to notify it prior to conducting any overtime activities, including highly confidential police raids or the service of warrants.

Village Attorney Dennis Lynch, whose law partner Donald Feerick, represented Jenkins in his criminal trademark counterfeiting case last year, drafted the law for the village.

I am told during the ten months Lynch has provided legal representation to the village his firm billed the village over $100,000.

While Jenkins’ intent of the police commission may be worthy, the results so far in the public eye are not. The hostile working environment between the Police force and Village must cease. Perhaps Jenkins will send us a good faith message by stepping down from the Police Commission.

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