The East Hampton Village Board appointed an independent officer last Thursday to weigh disciplinary charges against Julio Galeano, a village police officer who was suspended without pay on Feb. 21 after an alleged romantic encounter in December with another member of the department at a house in which neither had permission to be.
On Dec. 30, Officer Galeano was allegedly discovered at a house on Talmage Lane with a traffic control officer, Jennifer Rosa, who was reported to have a key to the house because she had worked there as a cleaner. The house’s owner was not there, but guests that were authorized to enter and stay at the house discovered the pair and called the police.
Ms. Rosa was fired from her job with the Village Police Department in January. Officer Galeano’s gun and badge had already been confiscated when Chief Gerard Larsen brought disciplinary charged against him on Feb. 11. Officer Galeano has denied the charges, and was at first dismissed with pay.
The board’s Feb. 21 action followed its hasty approval of new legislation on police discipline that bypasses the previous process, which had been negotiated with the East Hampton Village Police Benevolent Association. The new legislation does away with the arbitration procedures previously required and provides for dismissal as an option.
According to Vincent Toomey, the village’s special counsel for labor and employment law matters, the East Hampton Village Police Benevolent Association had filed a petition in Suffolk County Supreme Court seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the new local law from going into effect. He said that the petition was denied on Monday.
David Davis, an attorney for the P.B.A., had previously said that changing the law was a breach of contract. Asked about the P.B.A.’s position yesterday, Kevin Duchemin, a village police sergeant and president of the P.B.A., referred questions to Jennifer Hein, an associate with the law firm Davis and Ferber’s Labor Relations and Employment Law Group, who did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
“Ultimately, the court will decide the legality of the statute and whether the contract provision is enforceable,” Mr. Toomey said Tuesday. “It may be the first battle, but there will be several more.”
Following the newly set out procedure, the hearing officer in the Galeano matter, John G. Callahan, an attorney, is to consider comments and testimony from both sides and then issue a recommendation to the village for the appropriate disciplinary action. A date and location for the proceedings has not yet been determined.
With reporting by Taylor K. Vecsey