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Board dissolves police commission

A vigorous campaign waged by Rotterdam cops against the police commission ended in victory when the town board abolished the commission during last week's meeting.

Rotterdam Town Board members said the police commission was created in January to provide more oversight of the department.

Officers in the department countered that the commission had micromanaged the department and usurped the authority of Police Chief James Hamilton. They expressed intense distaste for the recent promotion of four officers, two of whom were not recommended or supported by Hamilton.

Also, the appointment of the son of a town board member prompted charges of nepotism, which turned out to be a hot-button issue that produced fireworks at more than one town meeting over the past seven months.

Democrat Diane Marco's initial attempt to introduce a resolution to abolish the commission early in the meeting was rebuffed because her colleagues objected to harsh language in her proposal.

I do not agree with the language in the resolution, said Town Supervisor Steven Tommasone.

Marco also submitted a petition that she said bore the signatures of 1,200 Rotterdam residents who supported her proposal.

Town attorney Gerard Parisi argued that the point was moot because the commission was effectively mothballed when the town received the resignation of commissioner Joe Guidarelli three hours before the beginning of last week's town board meeting.

Parisi said that town bylaws require three members for the commission to exist. Unless the town appointed someone else or modified the bylaws, then the commission was, in essence, out of business.

"If it's moot, then why not just go ahead and abolish it now?" Marco asked, to the approval of the approximately 75 police officers and supporters present.

Three hours later, following a long list of other town board agenda items, Marco asked to introduce an amended version of her resolution that was stripped of the objectionable language, but included a resolve to immediately abolish the commission.

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