Suffolk cop suspended over e-mail to Newsday


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8:21 PM EST, February 7, 2008

A veteran Suffolk police lieutenant has been suspended without pay on charges that he improperly used his department e-mail account to send messages to a Newsday reporter, police sources said.

Lt. Raymond Smith, 50, who supervises patrol officers in the Sixth Precinct in Coram, was notified last week of his 30-day suspension for violating departmental policies that address conduct unbecoming of an officer and the improper release of information to the media, Smith confirmed this week.

The charges involve a specific e-mail he sent to a Newsday reporter, although he expects further charges are forthcoming, said Smith, of Stony Brook.

Smith, who has been with the department for 27 years, otherwise declined to comment on the matter.

A police source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the suspension came after department officials discovered that Smith had been using his police account to send numerous personal e-mails, including to members of the media.

They included e-mails in which Smith criticized Suffolk's investigation and prosecution of Martin Tankleff in his parents' 1988 murders and proclaimed Tankleff's innocence, the police source said.

"He's allowed to believe that," the police source said. "He's not allowed to put those opinions forward as a lieutenant with the Suffolk County Police Department, outside the department."

The police source said Smith has argued that his e-mails were protected by the First Amendment.

Smith, who is also a licensed attorney, applied for retirement at the time of his suspension. At a departmental hearing, he will face a range of disciplinary measures, including demotion.