A day after the Plattekill Town Board accepted Police Chief Joseph Ryan’s resignation, Supervisor Jennifer Salemo received a text from Ryan saying that he had changed his mind and wanted to rescind his letter of resignation.
But by a 4-0 vote following an executive session at a special meeting on the morning of March 8, the board declined to take up Ryan on his offer to stay.
The Town Board accepted Ryan’s letter of resignation at its March 1 meeting and Salemo said his last day on the job would be March 17.
Ryan’s resignation came after the Town Board suspended him one month without pay effective November 30 after he crashed his police car into a light pole on September 1 while visiting relatives on a personal matter in Toms River (NJ), more than 130 miles from the Plattekill Police Department.
The cost to repair Ryan’s 2021 Ford Explorer was originally estimated to be $12,500.26. Salemo released a new estimate that brought the cost to repair the vehicle to $22,288.34.
Ryan maintained prior to the Town Board’s investigation of the New Jersey crash that he was entitled to drive outside of the town as part of his contract. He also said the damage to the car was minimal.
Salemo subsequently said town officials disagreed with Ryan’s position that he could drive anywhere with his police vehicle and suspended him one month without pay after a lengthy probe.
In a phone interview with the Southern Ulster Times after town officials declined to accept his officer to stay on, Ryan said he changed his mind about leaving the post for several reasons.
“I was retiring because of some health conditions I had,” Ryan said. “Then I got some good news lately. I also have a couple of projects I was working on I wanted to finish up. So basically, I asked for a couple more months and they decided not to. It’s fine.”
The 58-year-old Ryan has spent the last 16 years as head of the town’s part-time police force. He has been a member of the force since 1996.
Ryan said he hoped to work as an “unofficial consultant” with Plattekill Lieutenant William Smith to finish up the unspecified projects.
Ryan said he was heartened that most of his officers asked him to reconsider.
“Every cop in my department - except for maybe two – asked me to rescind that (letter of resignation),” he said. “They wanted me back. I’m good with my decision. I actually planned this a year ago. I’ve got a lot of things on my plate right now. My health is my biggest concern. I have to take care of myself now. I’ve been working two or three jobs the last 25 years.”
Town Councilman Dean DePew Sr. said he understood why Ryan might have had a change of heart about resigning from the force.
“I think there’s always second thoughts,” DePew said. “I wish him all the best as he moves forward in his new journeys. He brought a lot to the department.”
Councilman Darryl Matthews said the board felt accepting Ryan’s resignation and moving on to find a replacement was the right choice.
“At this point, all we can do is accept it (his resignation) and move forward,” he said. “We can’t go back and forth. We have to do what’s right for the town and he seems to be doing what’s right for him.”
“He’s put in a lot of years and has been very dedicated to the department,” Salemo said. “It’s difficult to walk away after many years of service. He’s put in a lot of years in service to our community, so I think it’s a good time for him. It’s not a bad idea for someone new to get in there.”
Salemo said after Ryan leaves the board will appoint an officer to head the department on an interim basis. Then the town will post the opening and conduct interviews for the position.