Expected to take same position in Newburgh
By Jeff Simms
Beacon Police Chief Doug Solomon is poised to become the new chief of the Newburgh police department, succeeding Dan Cameron, who retired in March after two years as acting chief.
Solomon, who came to Beacon in 2012 after a 24-year career in law enforcement in Monticello in Sullivan County (including 10 years as chief), said on Dec. 12 that his appointment has not been finalized, although “it certainly looks that way.” Newburgh’s city manager, Michael Ciaravino, has recommended Solomon for the job.
“What I like about Chief Solomon is that he was there for a significant part of the renaissance, or the rebirth, in the City of Beacon,” Ciaravino told the Newburgh City Council on Dec. 11. He said Solomon spoke “in the very first conversation about how the building department and police department can work together in a way that establishes the linkage between code enforcement and crime fighting.”
The Newburgh Civil Service Commission must approve the transfer. Solomon is also the mayor of Monticello and would need to resign that post to take the job in Newburgh, which has a residency requirement.
Solomon, 51, said he plans to give at least a month’s notice in Beacon and take a few weeks off, which would have him starting, at the earliest, in February.
Because Solomon retired from the Monticello force, he was required to defer the majority of his village pension while collecting a full-time salary in Beacon. In Newburgh, where he will earn between $104,138 and $116,076 according to a job listing for the post, the city has agreed to a waiver allowing him to collect his pension and salary at the same time. Cameron earned $124,000; Solomon makes $117,000.
City Administrator Anthony Ruggiero said that Capt. Kevin Junjulas, a 25-year veteran of the Beacon police and resident of Cold Spring, will lead the department as interim chief after Solomon departs. Mayor Randy Casale will ultimately recommend a candidate, whom the City Council must approve.
Newburgh is about twice the size of Beacon, with a population of just over 28,000, but its rate of violent crime (murder, rape, robbery and assault) is nearly 10 times higher than Beacon’s. (Newburgh had 403 reported violent crimes in 2016, while Beacon had 44.) Violent crime has fallen at least 25 percent in both cities since 2012, however, according to statistics collected by New York State.
Solomon said he will bring experience with drug- and gang-related issues from his time in Monticello to the Newburgh position. Cameron, who was promoted from lieutenant to acting chief after Mike Ferrara retired in January 2015, “got things going in the right direction,” Solomon said.
“It’s a big ship that turns slowly,” he said.
In Beacon, Solomon inherited a department under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice due to earlier allegations of police brutality. The federal oversight was lifted in 2016 after the department demonstrated “substantial compliance” with recommendations regarding the use of force, the type and quantity of ammunition carried by officers, the city’s system for handing public complaints and officer training methods, among other issues.
“He did a good job while he was here and we wish him the best of luck,” Casale said.
Reflecting on his time in Beacon, Solomon said he’ll leave the department in good shape and in good hands with Junjulas.
“There were a lot of things internally that were changed here,” he said. “We really built something here, to turn the police department into what it is now. I’m very proud of where things are.”