Top Stories 2022: Police chief reinstated following suspension

In the aftermath of a two-year investigation into the Southold police department’s handling of community complaints about a retirement party for one of its sergeants, the Town Board took disciplinary action against five town employees in August.

Police Chief Martin Flatley, who joined the department as a full-time officer in 1980 before rising through the ranks to lead it for more than a decade, was suspended indefinitely without pay pending a disciplinary hearing. Capt. James Ginas served as acting chief until Mr. Flatley was reinstated in late October.

At a special meeting Oct. 24, the chief apologized to residents for the department’s response to complaints about a 2020 retirement party held in clear violation of an executive order from former Gov. Andrew Cuomo limiting gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The breakdown in training, communication and failure to follow policy and procedure amongst department members is inexcusable and understandably has eroded the public’s trust in the police department,” the chief said. “I as the chief of police for the Town of Southold assume the ultimate responsibility for my actions, lack thereof and the actions of the 70-plus members of our department regarding this matter. I apologize to the Town of Southold and fully accept the responsibility. Going forward, I will ensure that this type of activity will never occur again under my leadership. I will work to restore the trust and relationship that all Southold Town residents deserve to have with their police department.”

As part of a settlement agreement, a reprimand letter will be permanently placed in the chief’s personnel file and he was required to release a letter of apology to the public. The terms of the agreement also require the chief to retire on June 24, 2024.

Three officers and a civilian are still subject to disciplinary proceedings and the results of the investigation are not publicly available.