Warm Welcome for New Southampton Police Chief

The audience, including dozens of police officers and chiefs from other departments on the East End, applauded Steven E. Skrynecki’s appointment last Thursday as Southampton Town’s new police chief. Taylor K. Vecsey

Before government and police officials from across the East End met at Southampton Town Hall last Thursday, the town board voted to make Steven E. Skrynecki the town’s next police chief just one day ahead of Chief Robert Pearce’s retirement.

“I want to assure you that I will bring everything I have to the table here and try to follow in the great example that Chief Pearce has set and the level of performance he has set in the past years in this department,” Chief Skrynecki told the board.

Supervisor Jay Schneiderman pointed to Chief Skrynecki’s “decorated history in law enforcement” and his experience over a 40-year period with the Nassau County Police Department as the reasons for the selection. “You might say Nassau County isn’t Southampton Town,” Mr. Schneiderman said. The other finalists in the three-month search to replace Chief Pearce were from surrounding departments or from within the Southampton Town police. “Chief Skrynecki has a long history of being a part-time resident of this area, and he will bring that familiarity, plus the many, many years in service as a law enforcement officer, to our town.”

Chief Pearce retired after nearly 35 years with the department. He became chief in 2012. “I don’t know how to say thank you enough to this individual who has served our town so well,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “He’s one of the good guys. He’s brought the department to another level. He’s brought everybody together.” After presenting him with a proclamation, the supervisor said, “For us it’s a great loss.”

Mr. Schneiderman announced two weeks ago that Mr. Skrynecki had accepted an offer. Last Thursday’s resolution was for the board to make the selection official. It was met with a unanimous vote.

The board also voted to authorize the supervisor to execute the chief’s contract. Mr. Schneiderman’s proposed 2017 budget shows a salary of $185,856, about what Chief Pearce was making. With benefits, the total compensation is $253,603. Chief Skrynecki's actual salary has not yet been released because the contract has not yet been fully executed, according to Russell Kratoville, the town's management services administrator. 

Chief Skrynecki will not be officially appointed nor will he take command until next year, as he wraps up his duties as second in command in Nassau, behind the county police commissioner. His expected start date is Jan. 16.

In the meantime, Capt. Lawrence Schurek of the town police will lead the department.

“I have an interest in this community,” Chief Skrynecki said. He and Marianne Hassan, his longtime partner, who attended the meeting with him, plan on splitting their time between their house in Southampton Town and Dix Hills, where their elderly parents live.

He said the timing was right for him to seek a new position. His first order of business, he said, was to get to know the men and women in the department and the neighboring departments’ chiefs, most of whom were in attendance. He said he was “humbled by the turnout of law enforcement” and remains “very, very impressed with the department and the level of dedication and commitment” within it.

Kevin Gwinn pledged the support of the Southampton Town Patrolman’s Benevolent Association. Mr. Gwinn, the group’s president, said the selection of Chief Skrynecki was “consistent with the level of professionalism and character our department reflects” and likened him to the retiring chief.

“After 30 years, it’s hard to get excited about things, but I’m very excited for the young people on this job to have the experience to work with Chief Skrynecki the time he will be here,” Mr. Gwinn said. “We give him 100 percent of our support.”

Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, left, and Steven E. Skrynecki, who will become the chief of the Southampton Town Police Department in January.