Hearing set for suspended officer

The fate of a Granville police officer on administrative leave because of a residency issue will be determined at a disciplinary hearing scheduled at the end of the month.

Officer Joe Castle is facing firing for failing to provide documentation showing he has a New York state residency.

The meeting is not open to the public as it pertains to a personnel action of a particular employee, village attorney Mike Martin said.

Martin reiterated this was not a performance-related issue and Castle had performed well as an officer, “But we’re left with no choice (residency) us just an essential prerequisite for the job.”

Village officials met recently and set the date for the hearing as well as appointing a hearing officer. Hudson Falls lawyer Michael Mercure will hear the case made by Martin on behalf of the village and representatives from the police department union on behalf of Castle.

“We’re going to do everything we can to keep Officer Castle in Granville,” PBA union President David Williams said. Williams said he is hopeful an agreement can be reached that will allow Castle to remain on the job and satisfy legal requirements recently brought to light.

Castle and Officer Mark Morrill found out at the beginning of March they could not reside outside of New York State and continue to work as a police officer due to an obscure portion of civil service law that requires residency for those who hold public office, including police officers.

Officials told both men they must provide proof of New York state residency to remain on the job and both men were placed on administrative leave.

Morrill who had only recently moved across the border into Poultney, Vt. showed his driver’s license and other documentation which had not been switched over to Vermont and was taken off administrative leave and was able to stay of the job.

Morrill immediately began the process of moving back into New York State.

Castle has not provided the village with any proof of residency. When he failed to comply with deadlines issued by the village the matter changed from administrative to disciplinary and the hearing date was set.

An officer with approximately five years on the Granville police force, Castle asked for, and was given permission to reside outside of the state when he was hired.

Police Chief Ernie Bassett Jr. and Williams each confirmed inquiries were made with civil service at the county level asking if living in Vermont was permitted.

Bassett received confirmation the move was permitted and Castle accepted the job; one he told the police chief he did not plan to take unless he could reside in Vermont.  

Former Mayor Jay Niles said at the time a resident brought the previously unknown issue to his attention during a one on one meeting.

Martin looked into the matter at Niles’ request and found that was the case as a number of corrections officers were facing the same issue across the state.    

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