The Town of Plattekill is investigating Police Chief Joseph Ryan’s recent accident in his patrol car while tending to personal matters in Toms River, N.J.
Supervisor Jennifer Salemo told the Southern Ulster Times following the Sept. 21 Town Board meeting that the board has decided to investigate the Sept. 1 accident involving Ryan.
“The Town Board is investigating it because it was a town car,” Salemo said. “There is a police report filed by the Toms River Police Department and from their end everything was clear. There was no foul play or anything like that.”
Though Ryan was found not to be at fault in the accident, Salemo said the town is looking into the circumstances surrounding Ryan’s trip to New Jersey.
“The usage of the car and the location is what we’re looking into,” Salemo said.
Ryan attended the Sept. 21 meeting to gain the board’s approval to hire a new police officer and approve a staff promotion. After the board approved the hiring of Elizabeth Leonardi and the promotion of John Raftery, Ryan agreed to answer some questions from the Southern Ulster Times about the accident.
Ryan said he was in Toms River to visit an in-law who was having a difficult time on the anniversary of the passing of Ryan’s father.
Ryan said he swerved to avoid hitting a car in an intersection and suffered “cosmetic” damage to his police car when it went up on a curb. He said the Toms Rivers police report “exonerated me.”
Ryan defended his trip, saying that as police chief he routinely travels out of the area.
“I’ve been down to Atlantic City to police expos, training conferences,” he said. “To Connecticut, upstate all the way to Buffalo. All over.”
Ryan started his law enforcement career as a patrolman for the New York City Police Department in 1986. He joined the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in 1987 and joined the Plattekill Police Department in 1996. He was promoted to the rank of Police Chief in 2007.
Salemo admitted that Ryan drove the car to New Jersey on personal business, but she said the board has yet to determine if the action was improper.
“There’s a gray area there because he’s on call 24-7,” Salemo said. “He happens to be down there to visit family due to the anniversary of his father’s death. So, that’s part of the investigation.”
At 8:04 p.m., the board voted to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters. The board came out of the executive session more than an hour later, then voted to adjourn the meeting without taking any other action.
In other news, the board appointed a Towing Policy Appointment Committee to review applicants for towing vehicles in the town. Ryan was appointed to the committee, along with board members Dean DePew Sr. and Darryl Matthews.
Town Recreation Director Kim Way reported that Plattekill Day “went as smoothly as I could have hoped for (in) my first year taking over.”
Way reported that over $2,200 was raised for veterans at the event.
Way said some tickets are still available for Plattekill residents for Rocking Horse Ranch Day on Oct. 16. More information is available by calling Way at the Town Hall.
“Trunk or Treat” day is scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 22, Way announced.
“All trunk volunteers are welcomed with open arms,” she said.
The townwide emergency burn ban was lifted due to the recent rain the day after the issue was discussed at the board meeting.
“I don’t think we’re in too much jeopardy,” Town Highway Superintendent Robert Wager replied when asked by Salemo about the need for the burn ban to continue.
No action was taken on the proposed social media policy as it continues to be reviewed by the town’s labor lawyers.
The board said it would schedule meetings to start working on the 2023 budget after checking board members’ calendars.