continued However, an attorney general opinion states that any municipality that has a police chief as of Aug. 2, 1985, must maintain the position as long as it has a police department. (Skaneateles has had a police chief since at least 1975.) That opinion references village law as justification for the decision, but that law “makes no reference to any requirement that the position of chief must be retained” and “seems to ignore” the relevant civil service law section, Byrne wrote.
Sheingold responded that language of village law which states that a village “may” establish a police department and appoint a chief “requires” the appointment of a chief and does not merely “permit” such an appointment as Byrne suggested.
“A village need not establish a police department but if it does, it must also establish the position of chief of police,” Sheingold wrote. “Nor does civil service law compel a different conclusion. … So viewed, Opinion of the Attorney General No. 95-58 is consistent with both village law and civil service law.”
The AG’s opinion in this matter is informal, however, and therefore non-binding, so the trustees still could pursue their abolishment of the chief position and instead establish an officer in charge of the department.
The trustees’ next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 13, and this issue is on the agenda for discussion.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.