NEW CITY, N.Y. -- The suspended Clarkstown police chief said last night at a rally held in support of him at the New City Fire House that he was given a choice between retirement and suspension for alleged misconduct by town officials.
Chief Michael Sullivan was greeted with loud cheers from hundreds of supporters, who stood on Maple Avenue between the fire house and town hall, when he stepped to the podium following comments from past town police chiefs Peter Noonan, Kevin Kilduff, and Bill Collins.
During his remarks Sullivan described a recent meeting before his suspension with Town Supervisor George Hoehmann, the town attorney, and other officials. On the table, he said, were two pieces of paper: one with alleged misconduct charges on it that included a suspension, and the other with what he described as a “very attractive” settlement package and the chance to leave with his “dignity intact.”
“So I left the offer on the table and picked up the charges and I will leave with my dignity intact, and my honor,” Sullivan said.
Town officials have not discussed the nature of the suspension since it was first reported last week. The latest twist in the plot was the filing of a federal civil rights lawsuit by Det. Sgt. Stephen Cole-Hatchard , alleging Sullivan did not want to reinstate a former Clarkstown officer who made donations to Hoehmann's campaign last November, which was reported by lohud.com.
On Tuesday night hundreds of residents and community members rallied on Maple Avenue in front of the fire house in front of a banner that read “New City Firefighters Support Chief Sullivan.” Barriers were set up to allow people to walk/picket around town hall just across the street.
Donna and Anthony Carlone were two of the residents there in support of the chief. Anthony wore one of the navy blue “We Support Chief Sullivan” T-shirts that were given out by the Clarkstown PBA and hundreds of others donned, and Donna held a sign in support.
“This is a time where police departments need community support,” Anthony said. “This is really nice to see that a lot of people came out.”
“Things like this happen in town, somebody’s out of line,” Clarkstown resident Bob Treacy said.
Ray Laschet, president of the Clarkstown PBA, said the group’s 164 members organized the rally and have still received no word from town officials about why Sullivan was suspended. The PBA does not have any other rallies or protests planned, according to Laschet.
Other local law enforcement members were in attendance to support Sullivan, as they have done since his suspension , including County Sheriff Louis Falco, Suffern Police Chief Clarke Osborn, and Stony Point Police Chief Brian Moore to name a few.
Chris Kiernan, president of the Rockland County PBA and a Clarkstown police officer described the town board’s action of bringing charges against the leader of their police department as “deplorable.”
“We feel what’s being done to chief Sullivan is unjust and not right. You shouldn’t play political games with not only a man’s life but with such an important department like the Clarkstown Police Department,” said Charlie Lowther, president of the Rockland County Sheriff’s Deputies Association.
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