Union’s Lawsuit Blocks Appointment Of Police Chief

The Rockland County Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), which represents police officers in the Town of Clarkston, New York, brought a lawsuit against the Town alleging that the appointment of William Sherwood to the position of Police Chief violated the “Merit and Fitness” clause of the New York state constitution.

A New York Appeals Court upheld the PBA’s challenge to the appointment. The Court found that the appointment was based upon an expired eligibility list, and was done in a non-competitive manner. The Court observed that the “Merit and Fitness” clause in the New York state constitution provides that employment and promotions “shall be made according to merit and fitness.” The Court concluded that competitive testing has “become a key mechanism for fulfilling the merit and fitness mandate.” The absence of a competitive examination, and the appointment from an expired list led the Court to conclude that the appointment was illegal.

Rockland Co. Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Inc. v. Prentergast, 2006 WL 141729 (N.Y.A.D. 2006).

This article appears in the March 2006 issue