Southampton Village Police Chief Thomas Cummings (left) will receive a payout of $774,193 for 686 unused vacation and sick days
An outgoing police chief for a village with a population of around 3,200 in New York’s Hamptons is set to receive a nearly $775,000 payout for unused sick leave upon his retirement.
The Southampton village board voted 5 to 0 to approve an agreement that ends the contract of Chief Thomas Cummings on Sept. 10, and allows him to collect $774,193 for 686 unused vacation and sick days at $1,095 per day as well as $23,000 in retroactive per diem pay.
Additionally, Cummings will receive free dental and medical benefits for both himself and his spouse and their dependents for the rest of their lives, unless his wife dies or remarries.
The retirement deal comes on top of his annual salary, which was $248,342 in 2020, according to SeeThroughNY, a public salary database.
For comparison, Demot Shea, the police chief for New York City, 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 Newsday.
Southampton Mayor Jesse Warren criticized the retirement deal, which was made by a previous administration when it approved Cummings’ current contract in 2016.
‘Moving 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 (pictured) blasted the pricy retirement deal, which he said was made under a previous administration.
Cummings oversees a department for a village with a population of 3,200 and made more in his annual salary last year than the chief of the New York City Police Department
The vote to end Cummings’ contract came after disputes between Warren, who won reelection in June, and local law enforcement agencies.
In August, 2020, the Southampton 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 Commissioner Warren be immediately replaced with someone that provides leadership and a willingness to work and communicate with the Department and the PBA,’ read a letter signed by police union president Michael Horstman, Newsday reported.
Cummings’ contract expired on May 31, but contained language that allowed him to extend it indefinitely unless the village board held a formal vote to not renew it.
On April 8, Warren and trustee Gina Arresta tried to terminate Cummings’ contract, but were unsuccessful 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 and said it was being mischaracterized
Parah and Pilaro, who were backed by the Southhampton PBA lost their reelection bids last month, clearing the way for the board to end Cummings’ contract in a vote on June 20, Newsday also reported.
Cummings had been with the department since 1987, and became chief in 2011, according to his Linkedin.
He did not immediately return a request for comment.
Mark Epley, who was mayor when Cummings’ contract was approved criticized the current administration for its discussions around Cummings’ pay deal.
‘The mayor and that board should be ashamed of themselves for treating Chief Cummings the way they have,’ he told Newsday. ‘For his contract, his benefit program to be misrepresented the way they have done, it is a travesty.’
Other recent high-dollar retirement payouts 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 got a more than $1million payout upon his retirement from the Westbury Police Department in 2015, according to Newsday.
‘The full cost of public employees’ pay and benefits is largely hidden from public view, including items such as unpaid leave,’ Peter Warren, director of research for the Empire Center for Public Policy, which operates SeeThrough New York, told Newsday.
He noted that Cummings’ retirement package was likely one of the largest in the area. ‘We often see large, mysterious lump-sum payments within the public employee payroll data we FOIL and post on our SeeThrough New York website,’ he said. ‘A three-quarter of a million [dollar] payout would certainly be among the largest such lumps we’ve encountered.’