On Saturday, after being sworn in at Town Hall, Capt. Michael D. Sarlo of the East Hampton Town Police Department will officially become Chief Sarlo, succeeding Edward Ecker, the current chief, who has held that position since 2010.
The captain, who joined the force in 1995, was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2002, lieutenant in 2006, and captain in 2010, at the same time Chief Ecker assumed command.
By all accounts, the transition has been a smooth one. “We feel fortunate that the town board allowed us two months to work through the process,” Captain Sarlo said on Friday. His first step in putting together a new management team was to fill his own newly vacant job.
To fill the executive ranks on the town police force, the two men at the top followed an established process. First, they needed approval from the town board. Then they checked the Civil Service list to find out who was certified to take the position.
“We have an interview committee made up of senior staff members,” Captain Sarlo explained. In the case of the open captaincy, top of the list to be filled, the members of the committee were Chief Ecker and himself, the current and future chiefs. “After the interviews, we make recommendations to the town board, and upon approval, a resolution is presented and voted on at a board meeting.”
For the rank of captain, Detective Lt. Christopher Anderson was chosen. Mr. Anderson was said by a source familiar with the process to have been a finalist in consideration for the role of chief. He will now take on expanded duties. Besides being the chief’s right-hand man, he will remain in charge of the force’s detective bureau and will continue on as town police spokesman.
“He is taking on a lot of responsibility. We are both very comfortable with the distribution of duties down the line. He has assisted me closely in the planning stages,” said soon-to-be-Chief Sarlo.
Detective Sgt. Anderson has been with the force since 1989. Assigned to the detective bureau in 1998, he was promoted to the rank of detective sergeant in 2001 and to lieutenant in 2010.
To fill the role of lieutenant, Detective Sgt. Robert Gurney is being promoted, and will move back to patrol. Mr. Gurney has been with the force since 1997, and was assigned to the detective bureau in 2005. When he was promoted to sergeant in 2007, he returned to patrol, until assuming his current post in the detective bureau in 2010.
The sergeant “brings a lot of investigative experience to the street,” said Captain Sarlo. “He has investigated felony crimes, he has testified in court. To bring that experience back into the patrol division is invaluable.”
The final promotion is that of Detective Greg Schaefer, who is taking on Lieutenant-in-waiting Gurney’s old job. Mr. Schaefer has been with the force since 1994 and was assigned to the detective bureau in 2006.
All the promotions, except for that of chief, will take effect on Jan. 12. “It’s an exciting time, walking through the interview process, putting together an extremely talented team,” said Captain Sarlo.
The incoming chief has opened his door to rank-and-file officers, hoping to have sat down individually with each member of the force by Saturday. “I’ve been trying to listen to the rank-and-file officers, as much as possible, to understand what their needs are and what they need to help them do their job,” he said. “I was given numerous opportunities throughout my career. I want to make sure that our officers know that they are being heard, and that their ideas and input are integral in our putting a plan together.”
The captain said it was important that the Police Department expand its public outreach. He is particularly focused on reaching out to the Latino community.
One problem he will have to deal with is the net loss of one officer, due to budget constraints. Besides Chief Ecker, Officer Matt Rodriguez, who is currently the town police liaison with the schools, and Detective. Tina Giles are retiring. The department will be able to hire only two officers to replace the three that are leaving.
The loss of Officer Rodriguez and Detective Giles will be a big one for the force, said Captain Sarlo. The detective, who was named East End Top Cop this year for her work in breaking a serial rape case in 2012, will be particularly hard to replace. “She is tremendously talented, an excellent investigator. Her ability with juveniles and female victims has been unparalleled in our department. Her tremendous Spanish-speaking abilities will be missed,” the captain said. While others on the force have similar language skills, “her ability to communicate will be sorely missed.”
Throughout the hiring process, the captain has relied on Chief Ecker as his sounding board. Mr. Ecker has mentored many current members of the department.
“It’s an exciting time. There is a lot of participation in the process, here. There are a lot of ideas that have been brought up. We are ready to go,” Captain Sarlo said.