CATSKILL — The county sheriff plans to deputize his son, who recently graduated from the police academy, against county employment policy.
Matthew Seeley, son of Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley, graduated last week from the Zone 14 Police Academy.
The sheriff’s office congratulated Seeley and two other graduates, Joseph Caputo and Megan Downey, on its Facebook page, referring to each of them as “deputy.”
Matthew Seeley will not officially become a deputy until after he takes a civil service exam Sept. 14, and pending those results, being hired by the sheriff, Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said.
“It will take 15 to 90 days to get the test results back,” Groden said. “If his dad is still sheriff, he has to pass on any job offering. Until his dad is retired, he cannot be hired.”
The Greene County Sheriff’s Office is not a state accredited law enforcement agency.
Benefits of the accreditation program include a set of professional standards, assurance of fair selection, recruitment and promotion processes, diminished vulnerability to civil lawsuits, enhanced personnel understanding of the department’s policies, greater administrative effectiveness and public confidence in the agency, according to criminaljustice.ny.gov.
Seeley is retiring in December after 12 years as sheriff.
Asked about the apparent policy discrepancy, Seeley said he paid for Matthew’s training himself, while the other two deputies attended at the county’s expense.
Matthew Seeley is slated to be a per-diem deputy, the sheriff said.
Seeley’s intention to hire his son goes against the county’s hiring policies.
Greene County’s policy is to avoid the practice of favoritism during the hiring process and employees who are directly related should not be placed within the same chain of command, Groden said Monday.
“It is easy to be related to another employee,” Groden said, alluding to the small size of the community. “We have spouses that are married to each other but work in different departments.”
Seeley said he is angry because his son may lose an employment opportunity.
“I’m furious my kid has to get penalized over this,” he said. “That policy is absolutely wrong.”
Matthew Seeley put in the time and training to become a deputy and deserves the position, the sheriff said.
“I’m not disputing the policy exists,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t know if I ever looked at the manual.”
Seeley said he felt he and his son are being treated unfairly.
“This is the thanks I get after 34 years with this county?” Seeley said. “Are you serious?”
Republican sheriff candidate Pete Kusminsky and Diana Benoit, his opponent in the June 25 primary, came out in favor of making the sheriff’s office an accredited agency.
Kusminsky will run on the Republican party line and Benoit on the state Independence line in November, as Seeley prepares to step down for retirement.
Kusminsky defeated Benoit in the Republican primary with almost 89% of the vote.
Benoit disagreed with this type of hiring.
“It should be about what you know, not who you know,” Benoit said. “There has to be standards for hiring, more than just what civil service has. You have to be careful with nepotism and hiring families.”
The decision to hire Matthew Seeley was made prior to his graduation, Benoit said, because the sheriff’s office typically sponsors deputies’ training at the police academy.
The cost of SUNY Ulster’s program, which Seeley attended, is $4,750 for Ulster County residents, with an additional $300 for supplies. The college’s website does not list tuition for out-of-county students.
Kusminsky declined to comment on the matter.