SMITHTOWN - A Suffolk legislator’s plan to crack down on government corruption and waste following a series of high-profile cases faces some resistance in the county.
Recently, four-star Police Chief James Burke pleaded guilty to assaulting a prisoner and perpetrating a cover-up, while Sheriff's Department Lt. Ed Walsh was convicted of falsifying time sheet records.
Legislator Kara Hahn has authored a bill to establish an independent office that would seek to ensure integrity of all county departments and investigate with subpoena power. She says it has the blessing of several Republicans and Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory.
“We have to do something,” says Gregory. “So we're coming together as a bipartisan group of legislators to come up with a solution and show the public that we're on the job and we're listening."
Early critics of the proposed legislation include the Suffolk PBA and the county executive's office.
County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk PBA President Noel DiGerolamo issued statements to News 12 saying there are already offices in Suffolk to deal with ethics cases.
Jack Franqui, of Rocky Point, says a public accountability office could have helped with the investigation into the death of his son, who died in police custody in 2013.
“There’s a little bit too much corruption going on that needs to be cleaned,” says Franqui. “The house needs to be cleaned out."
Hahn believes her bill could be voted on and approved later this year.
"The Legislature is very concerned,” says Hahn. “We have to take significant measures to make sure that what happened to Jim Burke and Ed Walsh never happens again."