James Kiernan appointed chief of Southampton Town Police Department

Captain James Kiernan was unanimously appointed chief of the Southampton Town Police Department Thursday in a packed ceremony attended by town police officers and officials from other East End departments. 

Chief Kiernan takes the place of the late Chief Steven Skrynecki, who died of cancer in October at the age of 69. Mr. Kiernan had been interim chief since then.

When it came time to vote on the new chief, town supervisor Jay Schneiderman said, “There’s not going to be a debate. I can tell you that right now. The board didn’t even hold interviews. We knew exactly who we wanted to be our police chief, because he’s done a phenomenal job.”

While Chief Skrynecki had previously been chief of the Nassau County Police Department, Chief Kiernan, 56, worked his way up through the department ranks in Southampton Town. 

He started as a police officer in 1997 and was promoted to the rank of detective in 2004 before being promoted to sergeant in the Street Crimes Unit, according to Mr. Schneiderman. 

He then was promoted to lieutenant in 2011, detective lieutenant in 2018 and captain in 2020, the supervisor said. 

“I know this is a moment you’ve been waiting for a very long time,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “You’ve earned it and you’ve had a distinguished career.”

Mr. Schneiderman said Mr. Kiernan had been running the department since Chief Skrynecki took ill last August. 

“Things have been running smoothly — challenging, but smoothly under your leadership,” the supervisor said. 

“I thank you very much for your confidence in me and I will do the very best for you,” Chief Kiernan told the board. “I have worked with many different Town Boards over the past 25 years and I can tell you that these five people all agree on their number one priority, and that’s that public safety.”

The Town Board resolution appointing Mr. Kiernan as chief read: “The Town Board has determined that it is in the best interest of the Southampton Town Police Department and the town to promote Captain James Kiernan to the vacant chief’s position.”

Chief Kiernan’s annual salary is $230,000 and went into effect on Aug. 1, 2022, according to the resolution.