December 06, 2006

Village Cops Under Fire

The heat is on.

As this publication went to press, The Independent obtained a copy of a letter allegedly written by Southampton Village Police Officer Christopher Broich, currently suspended without pay from his position. Broich was expected to appear before the Southampton Village Board last night and express his views to police committee members regarding a fellow officer who he feels should face the music.

Detective Sergeant Herman Lamison, currently owns Prime Time Security, a private security firm that is apparently operating with an expired license.

Southampton Village Police Officer William Wilson issued Lamison a "cease and desist order," but Broich said he should have been charged with a misdemeanor. In addition, Lamison is still operating illegally in the face of the desist order, according to the letter.

The document states Lamison has "a documented financial connection with George Benedict," who is Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley's father-in-law, and suggested the relationship would "certainly explain the apprehension" to serve Lamison with further disciplinary procedures. And, because Wilson was a former employee of Prime Time Security, it made him "ineffectual as Lamison's disciplinarian."

Lamison was allegedly seen and photographed in Sagaponack, at the front gate of the Ira Rennert estate, in violation of the order.

Lamison is scheduled to appear on January 9, 2007 in New York City to answer the charge of operating a security company without a license. But Broich believes the SVPD need not wait for the outcome of the New York State Department of State Division of Licensing hearing to "suspend Lamison without pay, like I was."

The author of the letter, which has Broich's name at its end, contends there is an "enormous disparity in treatment of department residents," and went on to list other police officers who were arrested and immediately served with "charges and specifications."

After obtaining a copy of the letter, Mayor Epley said, "Many of the comments he makes in there are false, especially in reference to my father-in-law."

Epley said Lamison has already been investigated by the New York State Commission of Investigation concerning allegations regarding the SVPD. During that investigation, it was alleged that the SVPD officers were improperly disposing of traffic summonses issued to favored residents. The commission concluded that there was "insufficient evidence" to substantiate many of the allegations, including those regarding traffic summonses, though the commission found thousands of tickets had been mishandled and chided the police department for sloppiness.

It was during this investigation that the commission found Lamison had been operating an unlicensed security business.

Epley said Lamison has not been charged by either the state attorney general or Suffolk County, and pointed out that Wilson has issued a cease-and-desist order. "I have never seen that proof, even though I've asked him to show it to me," he said of the alleged violation at the Rennert compound.

Epley said after Broich called him at home saying he had proof, the mayor asked that he forward it to Wilson and himself. "Right now, I don't have that information," said Epley.

As for Lamison, said Epley, "He hasn't been charged with anything." Epley said Broich was suspended on 18 departmental charges including not providing support for a female officer who called out for assistance and would be facing hearing judge as per village code, in the next few weeks – the sergeant has said he's being punished for being a whistle blower. He went public with his charge that Lamison was promoted to detective even though Broich and other officers were more qualified. He cites the relationship between Wilson and Lamison's security business as proof.

Rosemarie Arnold, certified civil trial attorney for Broich, said, "there is no doubt in my mind" that her client would be vindicated and would be seeking unspecified financial damages.

Lamison declined to comment when reached on his cell phone Monday evening.

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