A new head detective has been named by the Town Board following this summer’s police command promotions.
Sgt. Gina Cocchiara, the police department’s only female officer, was promoted to head detective last week, following a recommendation from Police Chief Louis Corsi. The measure was approved by the Town Board on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
“She is a highly qualified candidate and has been dedicated to the Bethlehem Police force for 17 years,” said Supervisor John Clarkson. “She’s well deserving.”
Cocchiara began her law enforcement career in 1994 as a deputy sheriff with the Greene County Sheriff’s Department and the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Department. She joined the Town of Bethlehem Police Department in 1998 as a patrol officer and was promoted to sergeant in 2008. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration, and is a member of the New York Women in Law Enforcement Association, New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
“I am both humbled and honored to have been selected as the next Detective Sergeant within the Bethlehem Police Department,” said Cocchiara. “Working within the Special Services Division has always been a long standing goal of mine. Although I will certainly miss working on the road side-by-side with the many fine patrol sergeants and patrol officers, I am now looking forward to the next chapter of my career.”
The new detective said she believes her training and years of experience will complement the already established team of “very dedicated, knowledgeable and professional detectives.”
“As always, I will work to the best of my abilities to fulfill my commitment in serving the residents of the Town of Bethlehem,” said Cocchiara.
In July, former Lt. Thomas Heffernan Jr. was promoted to the position of deputy police chief, which was left vacant by Timothy Beebe nearly two years ago. Former Det. Sgt. Adam Hornick was promoted into the newly created position of Police Commander.
Clarkson said interviews for Hornick’s former position began in September, with four people interviewing from within the department. Police command staff, the town’s Human Resources Director Mary Trembly-Glassman and Clarkson were present for the interviews.
Bethlehem Police Supervisor’s Association President Steve Kraz said Cocchiara is qualified for the position, but the timing of the promotion is “suspect” considering the recent lawsuit filed against the town.
Last month, the town was put on notice that former police officer Caitlin Dole intended to sue for sexual discrimination. Charges were filed through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“I’m grateful the position is replaced. But how long will it take to fill Gina’s spot?” Asked Kraz. “The supervisor has a history of taking a significant period of time to replace people. This position plays a vital role in our agency and the fact it was vacant so long was bad. And we’re still left with a hole at the bottom. I feel the town is doing a poor job to combat the overtime problem and we need more people.”
Clarkson said he did not feel it took long to fill the position considering when interviews were done, and this was no different than other positions. He agreed the town does need to move forward in filling the vacant positions and in January the town will be looking to hire some new recruits.
“Recruitment will be a major activity in the coming months,” said Clarkson. “We’ll also be promoting qualified people from within and striving to have a diverse workforce is always important. There’s no time in which it is not appropriate to do so.”
Police Chief Louis Corsi could not be reached for comment.