Capt. Jeff Erickson, who has been with the East Hampton Village police since he graduated from the police academy in 1991, was named acting chief of the department at Friday’s village board meeting.
“It’s been a long career, and to be at this pinnacle . . . and for the board to put their trust in me, is really very humbling,” he said at the meeting.
“Jeff’s been a personal friend of mine for years,” Mayor Jerry Larsen said in a phone call. “I met him in the Police Department. I watched him his whole career, and I think he’s very qualified to lead. He was president of the Police Benevolent Association for a long time. He’s honest, fair, and I think he’ll be very good for morale in the department.”
“Jeff’s fingerprints are all over this entire Police Department,” Marcos Baladron, the village administrator, said at the meeting. He noted that Mr. Erickson was closely involved with all the latest hirings, promotions, and even with the creation of the Department of Emergency Services.
Michael Tracey, the outgoing chief, officially retires on March 1. After that, Mr. Erickson will have to pass the Civil Service police chief test, offered in March.
“When he passes the test, and we get the results sometime around July, it’ll be official,” Mr. Baladron said.
In comments to the board, Mr. Erickson said the quality of the police force wasn’t just about the chief, but about those doing the daily police work, interacting with the public. “All I ever get is positive feedback . . . it makes me happy that we picked the right people and put the right people in place.”
Lt. Jack Bartelme was elevated to become the department’s executive officer; he’ll be Mr. Erickson’s second in command.
“Jack Bartelme has been a loyal soldier in the Police Department and has always been there when needed,” Mr. Erickson said. “You need a right-hand man in this position. I can’t do it alone and he is the right choice for that.”
“You hear across the country, ‘defund the police,’ and that’s the farthest thing from the truth. This board . . . has properly funded this department, has put their trust in this department, which reflects on our equipment, our response time, our technology.”
Mr. Erickson also thanked his wife, a physical education teacher in the East Hampton School District, noting that with the job “there are commitments that take away from the family.”