North Castle Police Chief Geoffrey Harisch submitted his letter of resignation to town officials Thursday and asked for reinstatement to his prior lieutenant’s position to help shield him from alleged harassment by Town Administrator Joan Goldberg.
In a letter sent to the town board, Town Clerk Anne Curran and Town Attorney Roland Baroni, Harisch, a 27-year department veteran, noted that he will be stepping down on May 31. He wants to return to his prior union-protected post “to find refuge from the ongoing, systemic and retaliatory harassment and deception” at the hands of Goldberg.
“I am quite confident that Joan Goldberg’s retaliatory harassment and deception will continue in various ways after I resume my position as Lieutenant,” Harisch’s letter read. “However, at least now I will have the PBA to protect me against Joan Goldberg’s conduct and the Town Board’s apathy. It is the only refuge I have left.”
He also called for an independent auditor to be selected by a committee of residents to scrutinize the compensatory time records dating back to 2000. That would help ensure the public of the integrity of the department’s members, he said.
Harish, who was appointed to lead the force last August, filed a notice of claim against the town and Goldberg in January, accusing the town administrator of trying to destroy his career after he claimed that recently retired Lt. William Fisher padded overtime pay for members of the department.
Harisch is one of three current or former town employees to threaten a lawsuit or file a discrimination claim as a result of accusations leveled at Goldberg. She was rehired in January less than a month after the previous town board terminated her in a controversial split vote for alleged misconduct.
Reached late Thursday to comment on Harisch’s decision, North Castle Supervisor Michael Schiliro issued a brief statement without addressing Harisch’s specific allegations against Goldberg and the board.
“We thank Geoffrey for his past and continued service to our town and exceptional police department,” Schiliro said.
Schiliro said he believed that Harisch could return to his lieutenant’s position. The town board will review the situation and discuss how to fill the chief’s vacancy, he said.
In Thursday’s correspondence, Harisch said since he filed his notice of claim he has continued to be hampered by Goldberg and members of the current town board, including their failure to act on his claims of overtime abuses and their refusal to promote officers to vacant positions in this year’s budget that would likely reduce the department’s overtime expenses further.
“These actions are being taking (sic) against me despite the fact that I have rooted out corruption within the Police Department, boosted the morale of the officers under my command, and saved taxpayers thousands of dollars in overtime expense by implementing necessary changes in staff and scheduling,” Harisch wrote.
He had also urged the new town board against rehiring Goldberg because that would “embolden” her to continue her harassment against him and others at town hall, his letter stated.
Harisch concluded that he had hoped to stay with the department until he reaches the retirement age of 62 in about 10 years.
The attorney representing Harisch, Jason Berland, said that he would likely file the lawsuit on behalf of the outgoing chief within the next few weeks.
Berland’s wife, Faith Berland, the town’s former comptroller also has detailed alleged harassment by Goldberg and filed a notice of claim. Additionally, court clerk Nancy Hall and her husband, who are black, filed a racial discrimination complaint against Goldberg and the town with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last December. Hall charged that she was harassed by Goldberg and that she refused to hire her husband when he applied for a seasonal parks job because of his race.
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