Sini to stay on as police commissioner during DA campaign

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BRENTWOOD -

Suffolk Police Commissioner Tim Sini last week announced his candidacy for county District Attorney, and he will also stay on in his current role with the police department during the campaign.

But some Long Islanders have expressed concerns about the demands of his current job while juggling a political campaign.

Sini announced his candidacy for district attorney Friday, just minutes after outgoing DA Thomas Spota announced he's not seeking re-election to a fifth term. Sini had initially told legislators he wasn't going to run during his confirmation hearing last year, but says he had a change of heart because he says the DA's office needs to be reformed.

Sini ran against Suffolk County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) two years ago. McCaffrey says he thinks Sini should step down as police commissioner during the campaign, and some Long Island residents who spoke with News 12 in the Brentwood area Sunday agreed.

"Between the opiate epidemic and with the MS-13 crisis that we have going on right now, we need a full-time police commissioner," McCaffrey says.

Municipal law expert Paul Sabatino says full-time county employees have to be careful not to engage in private or political activity while on the clock.

"When you are a police commissioner, it's a 24/7 job... You are really on call all day long, all night long," Sabatino says. "It's going to be a juggling act that I don't think anybody can physically, humanly or legally pull off."  

Election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder is representing Sini. He says, "After reviewing opinions issued by the New York state Attorney General's Office, the state Board of Elections and various court cases, there's no question that a police commissioner can be a candidate for office."

Former U.S. Attorney and lifelong Suffolk County resident David Kelley is serving as Sini's campaign chairman. Speaking to News 12, Kelley said he will be doing all of the "legwork" for Sini.

"I'm going to try to make sure that the engines of the campaign are running smoothly and forcefully so that little of his time can be taken from the police commissioner role, and that there won't be a distraction," Kelley says. "I will focus on the fundraising for him, so he's not involved in that."

In a statement, Sini says he will not be engaging in any activities that would impede his ability to stay focused on the police department and public safety.

"Public safety is of the upmost importance, which is why I'm running for district attorney," Sini said. "The police department is doing a terrific job, and we now need to bring the DA's Office into the mission -- the mission to protect and to serve the residents of Suffolk County. To assure the public, let me be clear: I will not be running a traditional campaign. I will not be personally engaging in any fundraising or any activities that would impede my ability to keep me from devoting all of my focus on the police department and the public safety of Suffolk County residents."

His statement continues, "David Kelley will be chairing an aggressive campaign on my behalf which will highlight what the campaign is all about -- crime fighting, transparency and integrity. In November, the people will be able to go to the polls and decide if my track record of successful reform, my integrity, and my commitment to public safety is what they want in their next DA."

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