Friday was the final day on the job for Clarkstown Police Chief Peter Noonan, who is retiring after having served as a town police officer since 1978.
While Noonan had expected his last few days as chief to be fairly quiet ones, focusing on cleaning out his office and getting necessary papers together for the new chief, that did not happen. Noonan and the rest of the police force had two tense days with two back-to-back armed standoffs in less than 12 hours.
Noonan and incoming police chief Michael Sullivan, a captain in the Clarkstown Police Department, oversaw the operations of a standoff on Ludvigh Road in Bardonia on Thursday night and a standoff in downtown Nanuet on Friday morning. Although a shot was fired at police in the Bardonia incident, that five-hour standoff ended peacefully with the surrender of a 26-year-old Bardonia man. The 7 1/2-hour Nanuet standoff ended with the discovery of a 52-year-old Nanuet man dead in his second-floor appartment from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Noonan, 58, a resident of Nanuet, has been chief of the 160-officer police department since 2004. During the day Friday, Noonan visited with town police officers as they gathered for the start of their shifts to say his farewells. And, yes, he did get to finish cleaning out his office.
Noonan announced in October 2010 that he planned on retiring in the first quarter of 2011, giving the Clarkstown Town Board time to select a new police chief. Noonan said his goal in giving the town advance notice was to provide a smooth transition period in the administraiton of the police department.
In Clarkstown and other local police departments in Rockland County, there have been many instances in which police chiefs left office immediately upon announcing their retirement — forcing the appointment of a temporary chief until a permanent selection could be made.
Noonan said that was the case when he took office and he did not want to put the town in that position when he retired.
After reviewing several candidates from within the department, the Town Board selected Sullivan in November as Noonan's successor and the two have been working together on the transition since then. Sullivan is a second-generation Clarkstown police officer and is also a former New York City police officer.
Lt. Anthony Ovchinnikoff has been selected by the Town Board and Sullivan to replace Sullivan as captain.
A ceremonial swearing-in for Sullivan is set for the March 15 Town Board meeting at Clarkstown Town Hall in New City.
Sullivan takes office as Clarkstown continues a clean up effort at the town's police and courts building at 20 Maple Ave., New City, to remove lead contamination in the building that came from the police firing range in the lower level of the facility. Additionally, one of the Town Board's mandates for Sullivan is to look for additional was of cutting costs in the police department.
One of the cost-cutting measures taken since Sullivan was named as Noonan's successor was the decision to leave vacant Ovchinnikoff's post as lieutenant as he becomes the department's new administrative captain.