Niagara Gazette

December 11, 2013

Niagara Town Board discusses police commissioner post

by Mia Summerson
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — TOWN OF NIAGARA — The town board held a public hearing on Tuesday evening to discuss the appointment of the town’s police commissioner.

The amendment, Local Law 1-2013, would require the majority of the town board to be in agreement when selecting an individual to fill the role of police commissioner.

Supervisor Steven Richards also informed those in attendance that the board, which has been paying its police commissioner, was violating a town statute that says that the police commissioner shall serve without compensation.

“(The law) was filed, like any local law, with the secretary of state,” said Town Attorney Michael Risman. “It was accepted, so I would say that law was presumptively valid. I can’t say whether the secretary of state was ignoring it, didn’t research it or didn’t think about it.”

The board took issue with the fact that they had been paying the police commissioner for several years without being aware that they weren’t supposed to. There was also concern that those who have served as police commissioner since the passing of this law may be held financially liable.

“The present police commissioner, and those from the past several years, shouldn’t have to pay anything back if it was a board action that approved the stipend,” said Councilman Robert Clark.

Richards voted against the rest of the board by refusing to approve the amendment unless there could be a guarantee that those who have served as police commissioner will not have to pay back any money.

In certain circumstances, municipal bodies are able to pass laws specific only to their town. On the surface it says you can appoint either one or three, then it says who shall serve without compensation.

Just before closing up the meeting, Richards noted the town had made contact with the DEC in regards to the development issue facing residents of Effie Drive and Ziblut Court. He added that the town would be made aware when more information is available.