Harriet CornellBy: Legislator Harriet D. Cornell (D-West Nyack)

We were all shocked and taken aback when we first learned that Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan was suspended from duty and was facing disciplinary charges. How, we wondered, could a decorated Police Chief with almost 30 years of service to Clarkstown alone, suddenly be removed from his position?

Over the following few days, more information began to emerge about the circumstances surrounding the charges and Chief Sullivan’s suspension. Links to an investigation into campaign contributions, and allegations of e-mail spying began to emerge, putting a dark cloud over Clarkstown Town Hall and raising new questions on a daily basis about the true motivations behind the actions taken against Chief Sullivan.


Amid the political frenzy, a tremendous unity within our community began to emerge. Hundreds of residents rallied at Town Hall calling for the reinstatement of Chief Sullivan. T-shirts were made, and signs are still going up every day on the lawns of residents demanding that politics take a back seat to public safety and that Chief Sullivan be reinstated. Given the anger, suspicion and hostility that has affected relationships between police and communities elsewhere in the United States, this community support is noteworthy—and deserved.


“I Support Chief Sullivan” became the unifying mantra of residents and law enforcement officials from across Rockland. I, too, am proud to declare that “I Support Chief Sullivan,” a law enforcement professional of integrity and high ethical standards. I believe he should be reinstated as the Chief of Police immediately.


That is why I co-sponsored a resolution in the Legislature and authored a statement, co-signed by other county legislators, calling on the Clarkstown Town Board to reinstate Chief Sullivan.


Some have questioned why County Legislators would speak out on this issue. Our County Legislature is comprised of 17 individuals who represent different areas of our County, including seven whose legislative districts include parts of Clarkstown. When an issue such as this affects so many people we represent, we will speak out, just as we have on the important issue of East Ramapo.


All police departments in our County work together and in conjunction with the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department and the Rockland County District Attorney’s office. That cooperation helps keep everyone – in all five towns of Rockland – more secure.


We all need every police department to be running smoothly and free from political interference – including the Clarkstown Police Department. There is no greater reason than that for Michael Sullivan to be restored to his position as Clarkstown Police Chief right away.


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