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Municipal Home Rule Permits Creation of Position of Police Commissioner

The Appellate Division Second Department held in the case Overton v. Town of Southampton that a town board is authorized to create the position of police commissioner as chief administrative officer of the police department by local law. The court determined that the local law creating the position of police commissioner was not barred by the Civil Service Law provision requiring that a town maintain the position of chief of police. Here the chief of police kept his position but the local law requires the chief to report to a single police commissioner.

The court noted it had previously held that nothing in the Civil Service Law prevents a local government from requiring that the chief report to other local officials. Further, Town Law section 150(2) authorizes a town board to delegate supervision over the police department to a board of police commissioners. The court found that the Town properly invoked its authority under Municipal Home Rule Law section 22 to supersede the provision of Town Law permitting a board of commissioners and instead create the position of police commissioner by local law.

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