NORFOLK Scott R. Bennett, police officer in charge, retired as of Monday.
The Town Council unanimously accepted Mr. Bennetts retirement letter at its regular monthly meeting Monday night. Town Supervisor Charles A. Pernice said he had received the letter when he arrived at the town offices on Monday.
I have over 30 years of service with the New York State Retirement System and as of my birthdate on (Sept. 22) I will turn the golden 55, Mr. Bennett wrote in his letter. I want to thank the public, town board and especially the officers of the Norfolk Town Police Department. I have completed many goals in life and now it is time to move on.
Mr. Bennett, who was absent from Mondays meeting, was placed on paid administrative leave as of Aug. 3. Mr. Pernice continued to decline to comment Monday night on whether the leave was a suspension from the department, and said the issue was a sensitive personnel matter. He also declined to comment on why Mr. Bennett was on leave, as did town attorney Eric J. Gustafson.
It is behind us, Mr. Pernice said after the meeting. The citizens of Norfolk can rest assured that the town board takes care of problems as they develop. We are always on top of anything thats going on.
If were going to have a Police Department, were going to have one as good as it can be, he added.
Councilman Robert J. Harvey echoed a similar sentiment, but also declined to provide details.
Its done with, Mr. Harvey said. Im doing whats right, accepting that retirement.
During the meeting, Mr. Harvey made a motion to accept Mr. Bennetts resignation. Mr. Pernice then clarified that Mr. Bennett was retiring, not resigning.
Councilman Kevin M. Enslow said the board did not pressure Mr. Bennett into retiring.
It was his own decision, Mr. Enslow said.
Mr. Bennett has worked in the department for about nine years, Mr. Pernice said. The Town Council appointed him officer in charge in March 2008 after John E. Jones resigned to take a position with the St. Lawrence County Sheriffs Department.
Before that, Mr. Bennett had worked as a dispatcher for the Canton Fire Department, worked part-time for the New York State Park Police and also completed a stint with New York Power Authority security, Mr. Pernice said.
Mr. Pernice said Mr. Bennetts retirement had been in the works for some time, but declined to comment on whether Mr. Bennetts decision to submit it Monday was related to his recent administrative leave.
The town board wishes Scott well, he said. He worked for us for a long time. He did a lot of good work, and we wish him the best.
The board then unanimously appointed Carla Trimm, who has worked for the department for three years, as the new officer in charge Monday night. She had been second in command behind Mr. Bennett.
A Norfolk patrolman makes $13.79 an hour, while the officer in charge earns $15.78. Ms. Trimm declined the boards offer to appoint a second in command below her, saying she would prefer to wait another month.
Ms. Trimm said the department has 10 part-time officers and declined to comment further on her appointment and Mr. Bennetts retirement.
The meeting was well-attended by Norfolk residents, with only a few open seats, but no one spoke about the Police Department during the public comment session.
Before Ms. Trimms appointment, officials adjourned into an executive session to discuss matters leading to the appointment of a particular person; Mr. Pernice said afterward that it was Ms. Trimm. The board approved Mr. Bennetts retirement and Ms. Trimms appointment with minimal discussion.
Mr. Bennett led the department during at least three unsuccessful efforts by town residents to petition for a vote to abolish it: one in 2009, another in 2010 and again last year.
Mr. Bennetts involvement in a June 18, 2011, high-speed pursuit that ended in the death of a 47-year-old Norfolk man caused an uproar among the victims relatives and other town residents and prompted one of the petitions.