Garden City Park Fire Department ex-assistant chief, commissioners face off

Garden City Park Fire Department ex-assistant chief, commissioners face off
Matthew Flood, first assistant chief at the Garden City Park Fire Department is looking to take legal action against the three commissioners that Flood said don't enforce their policies evenly across the board. (Photo courtesy of the Garden City Park Fire Department)

Matthew Flood, elected to be fire chief of the Garden City Park Fire Department, said he was not sworn in on Monday along with the rest of the newly elected chiefs.

Flood, the former first assistant chief, said the three Garden City Park Fire and Water District commissioners are planning to hold a hearing that could result in his removal from the department.

The commissioners are holding a disciplinary hearing based on Flood’s violation of a policy that limits how far out of the district members can take department vehicles, Flood said.

The hearing was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but has been moved to an undecided date, Flood said.

First Assistant Salju Thomas was appointed acting chief for the time being, Flood said.

Flood was elected to be first assistant chief in December 2016 for the 2017 year. He was elected this past December to be sworn in as chief in January for 2018.

Flood said he admits that he drove the vehicle to Ohio to pick up his pet, and came right back. 

He said it was a “poor judgment call” on his part.

The district has three commissioners, Kenneth Borchers, Christian Engel and Peter Chimenti. Efforts to reach them were unavailing.

Flood was arrested in August for threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend, Angela Alday, according to court documents.

He also faced criminal charges from an incident in April, in which he yelled at Alday and her teenage daughter, broke Alday’s cellphone and punched her television, according to separate criminal complaints.

Flood pleaded not guilty to a second-degree harassment charge, along with two counts of third-degree criminal mischief and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

Judge Norman St. George released Flood without bail and issued a do-not-harass order forbidding him from threatening Alday or her daughter. 

Flood said he cannot comment on the details of the case, but said it is ongoing and the parties are close to settling.

Flood said the commissioners told him “numerous times they wouldn’t get involved in domestic issues.”

Flood said the commissioners knew he took the vehicle outside district lines in June when his ex-girlfriend posted on Facebook, but he said they waited about six months until a meeting in December to hand him a letter saying he had violated the policy and there would be a hearing.

“Why didn’t you call and ask me?” Flood said he told the commissioners.

Flood said the commissioners do not enforce policies evenly across the board, adding that other department members have violated the policy without facing removal.

Flood, of Puerto Rican descent, said there seems to be a discrepancy between how the commissioners treat minorities and how they treat their “white friends.”

Based on the commissioners’ actions, Flood said he is in the process of filing for an Article 36 hearing, which can remove an elected official by a court ruling.

Flood said he is resigned to the fact that the commissioners are not going to let him be chief, but said he is not going to let the commissioners continue to “abuse their power.”

“The time of these guys trying to run rampant is gone,” Flood said.

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