Sitting at his desk on Tuesday in the East Hampton Town Police Department annex in Montauk, Lt. Christopher M. Hatch, the new precinct commander, made a statement that many Montauk residents will be happy to hear.
“My goal is to recapture Montauk, to bring it back to where it belongs. We’re going to pay a lot of attention to quality-of-life issues. We need to evolve and take a closer look at what’s going on,” he said, speaking of the hamlet’s recent influx of nightclubs and what many residents perceive as code violations and a lack of enforcement at several of them.
Lieutenant Hatch was named the Montauk precinct commander on Jan. 1. It was a position he was coveting. “My time was finally up,” he said. His wife was born and raised in the hamlet, and they spend a lot of time there with their two daughters, fishing and seeing old friends.
He joined the force in 1993 and was made sergeant in charge of the patrol squad in July 2004. From there, he was promoted to commander of the Emergency Services Unit. He now trains other enforcement units in Suffolk and Nassau Counties, New York City, and New Rochelle in Westchester County.
He coordinates training in areas such as obtaining a search warrant, knife defense, Taser use, defensive tactics, firearms, use of a breathalyzer, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, and how to handle what are called post-Columbine school situations. Officers, he said, sometimes require outside training for up to 60 hours a year.
A volunteer with the East Hampton Fire Department since 1995, he rose through the ranks to become a lieutenant in 2004 and captain in 2006. In 2005, he became a certified member of the townwide dive team, and he continues to volunteer.
As a patrolman, he spent nine years in Montauk. As a sergeant, he would often be on his way out to the hamlet only to be called back, turning around on the Napeague stretch. “I’ve missed Montauk. I love working out here,” he said.
He made it clear that he respected the work of the precinct commanders before him, but said that the nightclub problems needed a fresh look. “It’s all so new, we’re learning as we go.”
Lieutenant Hatch works on a rotating schedule and will be patrolling the area and in the annex quite often, including on weekends and some nights. “I’ll be around,” he said.
Working in a small town enables officers to get to know the community, he said, and he wants to ensure businesses and residents that they will be cared for. “It’s a matter of being treated the way you want to be treated,” he said.
Regarding stopping drivers for violations, which he did last week while he was on a run for coffee and saw a vehicle pass another on the right, subsequently discovering that the driver was unlicensed, he said officers use discretion. “You get to know who needs a break and who needs to see the judge,” he said.