Point of View: Wait a Minute

The answer, which resulted from a minimal amount of digging through our hoary files downstairs, was close at hand

Reading about the lawsuit former East Hampton Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen has brought against Mayor Paul Rickenbach, a village force retiree, and Richard Lawler, a village board member, I kept saying to myself, “Wait a minute — none of these guys ought to have been doing these things to begin with.”

You want to bang nails, mow lawns, shovel driveways, clean chimneys, or take care of pools, fine, but policemen (or elected officials) providing security, parking cars (or booting them), and roping off sections of the public beach so that well-heeled riparian owners and their guests won’t be discomfited by strollers along the public strand, that’s another.

Why, I wondered, did I think this way? The answer, which resulted from a minimal amount of digging through our hoary files downstairs, was close at hand.

In November 1967, following a grand jury investigation into the removal of Montauk Manor furniture — the then-forlorn building being watched at the time by an off-duty town police officer — to a fishing lodge in North Carolina, we wrote that the town board had adopted a set of moonlighting rules for the East Hampton Town Police Department.

Those rules said in part: “Off-duty jobs are restricted to work which is NOT [emphasis mine] related to Police Work and does not impair the reputation of the Department. . . . No Police Officer can use any police equipment on outside jobs. . . .”

“All off-duty men who have outside employment must have a work permit issued by the Chief on the recommendation of the Board’s Police Committee. The request for a permit must be in writing and state the employers’ name, type and place of business.”

I know that was a long time ago, and I know that the village is different from the town, and I know not if those moonlighting rules I’ve referred to remain in effect to this day, though they always seemed to make sense to me. 

Not to say that such transactions are corrupt per se, but you can’t help but wonder about the possible attendant ramifications, which is why the moonlighting rules were adopted in the first place.

From The East Hampton Star, September 7, 1967

The two-month-long grand jury investigation into the alleged looting of the Montauk Manor by one or more East Hampton Town policemen ended last Thursday morning. The grand jury returned a secret indictment, and a lengthy report, also secret, which reportedly makes several strong recommendations about the East Hampton Town Police Department. 

District Attorney George J. Aspland confirmed that the indictment names one defendant, but refused to comment on the grand jury report.