ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The Elmira City Council voted unanimously Monday to officially appoint Kristen Thorne as Interim Police Chief, while questions remain over the still unexplained departure of former Police Chief Anthony Alvernaz three weeks ago. All council members present also voted to advance a “personnel action” stating Mr. Alvernaz is no longer employed by the city of Elmira as of January 9, 2023.

The vote to officially appoint Mr. Thorne as Interim Chief comes after the same resolution led to a 3-3 tie at the last city council meeting on Jan. 16. At that meeting, 1st District Council Member Nick Grasso was joined by 4th District Council Member Mark Franchi and 5th District Council Member Tory Kitching in a vote to table, or postpone the resolution. Mr. Grasso stated his reasoning had nothing to do with any objections to Interim Chief Thorne. He said it was based solely on the fact he had still not received an explanation about why former Chief Alvernaz was forced out of his job. Monday, Mr. Grasso voted to allow the resolution appointing Interim Chief Thorne to proceed. Outside the council chamber, Mr. Grasso told 18 News reporter Nick Dubina why he changed his vote.

“Just to be clear, originally I didn’t table it for any sort of concern out of the Interim Chief. I fully supported that part of the resolution.” said Grasso.

“The reason I voted to table it two weeks ago was so as elected officials we could receive more information from the City Manager and fortunately that opportunity was able to take place.” he added. “So you received more information about the departure of former Chief Alvernaz? asked Dubina. “That’s correct.”

“Meaning you know the reason he is no longer employed by the city of Elmira?”

“Correct” answered Grasso.

“Can you tell me what that reason is?”

“Unfortunately I would be doing a disservice to my constituents, so I will still say no comment.”

“Are all council members aware of the reason for his departure? asked Dubina.

“I can’t speak for the rest of them.” replied Grasso.

“So the City Manager explained it to you personally, one on one?”


“When do you expect your constituents to know what happened?

“I would revert that timeline to the City Manager. Ultimately it’s his responsibility to do that.” Grasso concluded.

Council Member Mark Franchi also changed his vote from two weeks ago to allow the resolution appointing Interim Chief Thorne to proceed. Council Member Tory Kitching was not present at Monday’s meeting. The new 2nd District Council Member, Corey Cooke, was sworn and took his first votes. Mr. Cooke, who is also a Pastor at the Monumental Baptist Church, voted to allow the resolution to move forward. Mr. Cooke spoke with 18 News reporter Nick Dubina after taking his first votes inside the Council Chamber.

“Are you aware what happened to former Chief Alvernaz and why he no longer holds a job?” asked Dubina.

“That hasn’t been clarified. I’ve actually been doing research to get the type of clarification that I need to move forward, and it’s not crystal clear right now.” said Cooke.

“Like I said, I’m new and I’m still doing research into the matter and I think that’s the best way to approach it, because if you do it emotionally, it can end up quite messy. I believe in getting the hardcore facts and moving after you know what exactly has transpired and what is taking place”.

“So despite these votes, you’re going to still try to find out what happened to Mr. Alvernaz?” asked Dubina.

“Definitely, I believe it’s in the community’s best interest to know exactly what happened. I think that’s the best way to approach it.” said Cooke.

On Jan. 11, two days after his departure, former Chief Alvernaz released a statement. It remains his only public comment to date.

I want to thank the many members of the community who have contacted me and my family with words of encouragement and support over these last 24 hours.

On January 9, 2023 I was advised that my position as Chief of Police of the Elmira Police Department was ending and I was given the option to resign or be terminated.

Throughout my 27 years as an Elmira Police Officer, my oath of office was very important to me. I am unable to comment on the specifics at this time, but the community should know that I was not willing to compromise my principles or ethics. Ultimately, my beliefs cost me my job.

My saddest regret is that I will be unable to continue to strengthen the developing close partnerships between the department and members of our community. I am confident the new generation of officers will continue to foster this sensitive and important relationship.

As I move to the next chapter of my life, I would like to thank the department and its members, both past and present for their service and sacrifice. I’d especially like to thank the community for supporting me in my career and providing me a lifetime of rewarding experiences and memories.

I wish everyone all the best and a happy and peaceful future.

Anthony Alvernaz, Former Elmira Police Chief