New York City Police Chief Receives $774K Retirement Payment

Southampton Village Police Chief Thomas Cummings (left) receives $774,193 payout for 686 unused vacation and sick days

A outgoing police chief of a town of about 3,200 in New York’s Hamptons will receive nearly $775,000 in unused sick leave upon retirement.

The Southampton village council voted 5 to 0 to approve an agreement ending Chief Thomas Cummings’ contract on Sept. 10, allowing him to collect $774,193 for 686 unused vacation and sick days at $1,095 per day, as well as paying $23,000 per day retroactively.

In addition, Cummings will receive free dental and medical benefits for both himself and his husband and their dependents for the rest of their lives, unless his wife dies or remarries.

The retirement agreement comes in addition to his annual salary, which was $248,342 in 2020, according to SeeThroughNY, a public payroll database.

In comparison, Demot Shea, the New York City police chief, with a population of 18.8 million, made $243,171 in 2020.

Details of Cumming’s retirement package were made public through a Freedom of Information Law request by: news day.

Southampton Mayor Jesse Warren criticized the pension deal, which was made by a previous government when it approved Cummings’ current contract in 2016.

“Going forward, our board will work to reduce long-term debt and liabilities as we diligently search for the next chief of police,” Warren told the outlet in a statement. “I wish Chief Cummings nothing but the best and thank him for his service.”

Southampton Mayor Jesse Warren rejected the expensive pension deal, which he said had been negotiated under a previous government.

Southampton Mayor Jesse Warren (pictured) rejected the expensive pension deal, which he says had been negotiated under a previous administration.

Cummings oversees a department for a town of 3,200 and made more on his annual salary last year than the New York City chief of police

Cummings oversees a department for a town of 3,200 and made more on his annual salary last year than the New York City chief of police

The vote to terminate Cummings’ contract came after disputes between Warren, who won re-election in June, and local law enforcement agencies.

In August 2020, Southampton’s police union held a vote of no confidence calling for Warren’s removal after his public support for the Black Lives Matter movement last summer.

“The PBA respectfully requests that Commissioner Warren be replaced immediately with someone who is in charge and willing to work and interact with the Department and the PBA,” said a letter signed by Police Union Chairman Michael Horstman, Newsday reported.

Cummings’ contract expired on May 31, but included language that allowed him to renew it indefinitely unless the village council held a formal vote not to renew it.

On April 8, Warren and trustee Gina Arresta attempted to terminate Cummings’ contract, but failed after former trustees Mark Parash and Andrew Pilaro voted against the measure and trustee Joesph McLouhglin abstained.

Mark Epley, who served as mayor when Cummings' current contract was negotiated, defended the deal, saying it was mischaracterized

Mark Epley, who served as mayor when Cummings’ current contract was negotiated, defended the deal, saying it was mischaracterized

Parah and Pilaro, who were backed by the Southhampton PBA, lost their reelection bids last month, paving the way for the board to terminate Cummings’ contract in a vote on June 20, Newsday also reported.

Cummings had been with the department since 1987 and, according to his Linkedin, became chief in 2011.

He did not immediately answer a request for comment.

Mark Epley, who was mayor when Cummings’ contract was approved, criticized the current administration for its discussions over Cummings’ wage agreement.

“The mayor and that board should be ashamed of themselves for treating Chief Cummings the way they have,” he told Newsday. “It’s a mockery to misrepresent his contract, his benefits program as they have done.”

Other recent high retirement benefits for village police chiefs on Long Island include Michael McGowan, who received $646,393 upon his retirement as Hempstead Police Chief in 2018, and Daniel Duggan, who received a payout of more than $1 million upon his retirement from Westbury Police. Department in 2015, according to Newsday.

“The full cost of public employees’ wages and benefits is largely hidden from the public, including items such as unpaid leave,” Peter Warren, research director for the Empire Center for Public Policy, which operates SeeThrough New York, told Newsday.

He noted that Cummings’ retirement package was probably one of the largest in the area. “We often see large, mysterious lump sum payments in public employee payroll records that we FOIL and post on our SeeThrough New York website,” he said. ‘A three quarters of a million’ [dollar] payout would certainly be one of the largest such chunks we’ve encountered.”

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