PEMBROKE — The town of Pembroke has appointed an interim police chief following the retirement of Chief Frank Hernandez, a move that has the current assistant police chief asking why he wasn’t named.
Interim Town Manager Marie Moore said Thursday she appointed Pembroke police Detective Sebastian Veneziano to temporarily fill the position.
Veneziano, 40, has been with the department since February 1995, Moore said. She estimated it would take two to three months to advertise and hire for the position, and that the new chief could come from inside or outside of the Pembroke Police Department.
“I don’t know who will be considered. We have to go through the application process.” she said.
Veneziano assumed the chief’s duties on Sunday.
“He had his years of experience and he was, at one time before, chief for a short time,” Moore said. Moore didn’t know exactly when Veneziano acted as chief of the Pembroke, but an archived article in The Robesonian from January of 2006 referenced him as the acting chief at that time.
Veneziano could not be reached for this story.
Lt. Dwayne Hunt, 45, the assistant police chief, said he was not approached about the position . He noted that he served as interim chief from January 2009 to September 2009 while Hernandez was out on medical leave.
“Why haven’t I been called in?” Hunt said. “… Why am I not capable now? I feel like it’s a retaliation. I’m curious to know why I didn’t get the position.”
According to Moore, Hunt had stated previously that he didn’t want the job.
“Mr. Hunt has said in the past that he didn’t want the chief’s job,” she said. “When you make that statement, you don’t want to be chief.”
Hunt, who has been on the Pembroke police force for almost 24 years, would not elaborate on the alleged “retaliation” claim, but said he’s confident in Veneziano.
“Detective Veneziano is a great guy,” he said. “I’ve worked with him the past 17 years. I find him capable of running the job and look forward to working with him.”
Hunt said he plans to apply for the permanent position of police chief. He added that he hasn’t discussed the decision with Moore and doesn’t plan to.
Moore would not comment on any pay increase for Veneziano. She said that would be handled at the next Town Council meeting.
The Police Department has 13 officers on its force, including chiefs and detectives, she said.
Hernandez’s retirement was made public at a Town Council meeting on June 25. He had served as chief for six years.