The Bethlehem Town Board approved the hiring of two sergeants in the police department to the dismay of a nine-year veteran of the force who applied for the job.
Gina Cocchiara accused Bethlehem police Lt. Thomas Heffernan and Chief Lou Corsi of discriminating against her after she was passed over for the position even though she placed in the top three on the recent civil service test.
Cocchiara said Officer Francis Muller, who she said placed first in the exam, was asked by Heffernan to remove his name from consideration because he would not be selected. Cocchiara said she believes Muller was removed from the list so department administration could approve the fourth- and fifth-place finishers on the civil service test, Officers James Rexford and Christopher Shunk.
Heffernan referred questions to Corsi, who declined to comment on the matter, saying only that it's a personnel issue.
It has become apparent through some very deep reflection and discussions with my peers that I have been unfairly discriminated against in this process, wrote Coccchiara to the town board.
Cocchiara said with 13 years of experience in patrol law enforcement, nine of those with the Bethlehem force, she has proven herself worthy to fill the position.
"I now have been passed over for promotion a total of four times at the Bethlehem Police Department," she wrote.
The "rule of three," according to the state Department of Civil Service, means candidates with lower exam scores can be considered for a position only when there are fewer than three candidates at higher scores. With Muller removed from consideration for the sergeant position, only two names remained under consideration, allowing the department to go further down the list of exam-takers.
Civil service said that the No. 2 person moved off the list.
"It is our understanding that the No. 2 ranking candidate on the list declined and then recanted," said Erin Barlow, of the state Civil Service Department. "We are uncertain of the time frame in which this happened, but if a candidate declines, other candidates down the list become reachable."