CHATHAM—Part-time Chatham Village Police Chief Peter Volkmann was put on paid administrative leave for 30 days following an emergency executive session of the Village Board Friday, September 18.
According to a statement from Village Mayor John Howe, “This action is related to the status of an ongoing investigation of certain matters by the New York Office of the State Comptroller, the New York State Police and the District Attorney’s Office, in connection with which the Village of Chatham was served with a search warrant on September 17, that encompassed police department computers.”
The statement also says that investigators retrieved information but did not seize village or police department equipment or property.
“The placement of Chief Volkmann on temporary paid leave is an administrative action while an inquiry proceeds and should not be construed as an accusation of wrongdoing or as a disciplinary measure. The village is constrained from further comment at this time,” Mayor Howe said in the statement.
In January 2019 State Police and agents of the state Department of Taxation and Finance and the state Comptroller’s Office seized documents and village computers from the clerk’s office. They also searched and seized equipment from the home of a former village treasurer. A statement from county District Attorney Paul Czajka at that time said, “This search warrant continues the preliminary investigation undertaken by the New York State Police, State Comptroller DiNapoli, and the Columbia County District Attorney into possible irregularities with village finances. Investigators seized a large volume of paper records and computers.”
The Village Board had discovered that the village owed $47,561.90 in back state payroll taxes at that time, though the funds were in village accounts. There has been no announcement about the outcome of that investigation.
Chief Volkmann resigned on September 19 as Hudson City Police Commissioner. He was appointed to that post in January of this year.
In a prepared statement last week Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson said, “I have received and accepted the resignation of Police Commissioner Pete Volkmann. I’m thankful for the work that was accomplished during his nine months as commissioner. Moving forward, we will continue our work to improve public safety as well as police-community relations. I will continue to work closely with the Hudson Police Department, the Police Reconciliation & Advisory Commission, and Transitions to Treatment. As the great John Lewis would say: always forward never back.”
Mr. Volkmann was appointed to head the Village of Chatham part-time police force in the fall of 2013. During his time in the village, he started the Chatham Cares 4U (CC4U) program that helped people with addiction issues find treatment beds and transported them to treatment centers.
He ran for county sheriff in 2017 but lost to incumbent Sheriff David Bartlett.
Chief Volkmann was the guest of Congressman Antonio Delgado (D-19th) at the State of Union address this year. According to a release from the congressman’s office, Mr. Volkmann graduated with a bachelor of science in Criminal Justice from Mercy College and received his master’s degree in social work from Fordham University.
‘This action is related to the status of an ongoing investigation of certain matters.’
Mayor John Howe
Village of Chatham
“Because of his vast experience in the different rescue fields and the social work profession, Peter is utilized as a crisis interventionist and trainer for rescue departments, government municipalities, schools, and corporate organizations around the United States who have experienced traumatic events,” according to the release.
Mr. Volkmann received the 2018 Police Assisted and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) Leadership Award for his work with CC4U. Also in 2018 Chief Volkmann and the CC4U program were part of a Working Strategies meeting on the national opioid crisis at the White House.
At a Village Board meeting September 17, Deputy Chief Joe Alessi reported that the Police Department was still conducting an inventory in the property/evidence room. The village also set up a committee on Police Reform due to an executive order from the governor. Deputy Chief Alessi said he and another police officer serve on that committee.