New sheriff in town: A talk with Steven Tompkins

Howard Manly | 2/7/2013, 12:30 p.m.

Clearly, there is a political aspect to this job, given that I have to campaign and win an election in 2014 to keep the position; however, this is also a public safety and public affairs job.

As for the criticism of my appointment, I believe the Governor felt the continuity of service to the lives that we have jurisdiction over, to the employees of the Department and to the roughly 730,000 citizens in Suffolk County who we are charged with keeping safe was an important factor in his decision, and I am grateful that he feels the agency will continue to operate efficiently under my leadership. Former Sheriff, now [Public Safety and Homeland Security] Secretary [Andrea] Cabral, assembled stellar administrative teams on both the custody and management sides of the Department, and all of that talent has remained in place after her departure. We are good at what we do and I am pleased that we are able to continue our work without missing a beat.

Are you concerned that you have been described as a public relations specialist and spokesman for the Department with limited to no law enforcement experience?

Think about that for a second: This Department is a public agency and the Sheriff has to answer to the registered voters of the County who are now my bosses. As the Director of Communications for three years and Chief of External Affairs for the last seven, I have worked with every division of the Department and have had to explain on many occasions how each of those divisions operates to the public or the media.

If you look at my professional background you’ll discover that I have excelled in several industries including the media, finance, health care, emergency management and now law enforcement.

The common denominator in all of those professions is people. I know how to serve, manage and motivate people; beyond that, I am blessed to have a consummate team of professionals by my side that knows how to do their jobs.