Suspended police Chief Martin Flatley will be reinstated at special town board meeting Monday

The Southold Town Board on Monday will reinstate police Chief Martin Flatley, who was suspended indefinitely without pay in August after a two-year investigation into the department’s handling of community complaints about a retirement party for one of its sergeants.

While declining to be specific, Supervisor Scott Russell confirmed a town employee — identified by his employee number in town records as Chief Flatley — will be reinstated at a special town board meeting on Monday at 7 p.m.

Chief Flatley said Saturday he has not been advised of anything being approved, but said he was “hoping for positive news.”

“I apologize I can’t talk more on the topic now, but will be reading a statement to the public at the meeting,” he said.

He joined the department in 1980 and rose through the ranks to the top job. Since the suspension, Capt. James Ginas has been the acting chief.

The Suffolk Times reported in August that the Town Board took disciplinary action against five town employees in the aftermath of the investigation and how the department handled phone calls from the public about the retirement party.

The chief faced criticism soon after the May 29, 2020, retirement party for Sgt. Steven Zuhoski when he told a reporter the following day that he was unaware the party had taken place and that the department received no complaints. The party was held at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when social gatherings of more than 10 people were prohibited.

“Our department celebrated three retirements yesterday afternoon with a traditional walkout ceremony at our headquarters,” the chief wrote in a May 30, 2020, email following up with the reporter. “I don’t have any direct knowledge of what occurred at other celebrations after ours.”

His account was contradicted by four town residents who told The Suffolk Times that same day that they had contacted police about the party. Their calls were verified through cell phone call histories. No official police report was ever generated by the department about the party.

Chief Flatley faced further criticism from the Town Board upon filing his own investigation into the department’s response in June 2020. Members of the board deemed his report insufficient. The town then hired outside counsel to conduct its own investigation.