Chaires chosen as new Schenectady police chief

September 18, 2008
Updated 12:38 p.m.
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Dorothy Chaires pins the Schenectady police chief's badge on her son, Mark, during a Thursday morning ceremony in City Hall.
Dorothy Chaires pins the Schenectady police chief's badge on her son, Mark, during a Thursday morning ceremony in City Hall.

— Mark R. Chaires, the son of the city’s first black police officer, took the oath of office this morning as the city’s first black police chief.

Chaires, 52, was sworn in by Mayor Brian U. Stratton. Chaires’ new chief’s badge was pinned on him by his mother, Dorothy.

Stratton, in appointing Chaires, said the 20-year-veteran clearly emerged as the strongest candidate for the post out of five who were interviewed.

“He is an individual of considerable character and integrity with a proven record of leadership and accomplishment within the department,” Stratton said. “Chief Chaires is the no-nonsense leader who has earned respect of rank and file officers ... and the public he serves.”

This morning’s announcement was attended by city leaders, law enforcement and many members of Chaires’ family.

In his first remarks as chief, Chaires thanked God and his family. He also thanked the city and the officers of the police department, but said a lot of work must be done to restore the department’s image in the eyes of the public.

He noted that customer service must be improved, including response times. He will also work on crime prevention and proactive policing.

“We have the makings of an outstanding police department, trust me, I will never lie to you,” Chaires said. “However, that’s not where we are now, so we have a lot of work to do.”

Chaires, one of three assistant chiefs, becomes the city’s 18th police chief. He also becomes the first black man to head a 160-member force that has made a concerted effort to recruit minorities. Chaires’ father, Arthur, became the city’s first black police officer in 1952, serving 27 years with the department.

Chaires now reports directly to Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett. Bennett called Chaires the right person for the job. He cited a list of positives, from his upbringing to his knowledge of the department and its issues.

“Look at what you got here today,” Bennett said. “You have somebody who grew up in the city. ... You have an honest individual who brings military discipline to the job.”

Chaires topped four other candidates in a search that lasted nearly a year and stirred debate over whether the department needed homegrown leadership or an outsider.

The debate had been fueled by a department that has been troubled for much of this decade. One investigation by the FBI sent four officers to prison for drug-related offenses. Drug evidence has been stolen, resulting in prison time for another officer.

Just two weeks ago, three officers were indicted on misdemeanor counts of official misconduct for allegedly failing to follow procedures in a controversial arrest last December. A grand jury declined to indict on more serious allegations.

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September 18, 2008
12:10 p.m.
resident says...

Congraudulation are in order the this assignment, Hopefuly with his knowledge of the community he can be more effective that past chiefs.. I would expect his priorities to include more minority representation on the police force to reflect the community, but the real problem is getting minorities interested, motivated and more importantily test preperation for all candidates to improve the scores required to become police officers. Hopefuly his detailed information on the police department will reflect in not only an improved immage, but also improved results. After all what Schenectady needs is improvement in many areas but especially in the Police Department. Good Luck

September 18, 2008
12:30 p.m.
capregiongirl says...

Sorry folks but nothing will change. This man (along with the two other assistant chiefs) has been here through every single scandal with this department and done nothing to correct it.

In corporate america the buck stops with the head of the company and his managers. They are the ones RESPONSIBLE for the results of their workers. The city's administration should have remembered basic business principles and looked for a strong outside candidate to take over. Instead, don't be surprised to see officers leaving for other departments, a further depletion of manpower and a rise in the crime problems that will continue to drive the HONEST TAXPAYING VOTERS out of the city.

September 18, 2008
1:31 p.m.
cjane says...

I guess all the talk about change and reform was just that. Everyone in that administration knows the community; the problem is that nobody wants to take responsiblity for it.

It would be interesting, for example, to find out who was in charge the night 5 officers were suspended without any investigation and why that judgment was made.

I am interested to see what his priorities are and how he plans to achieve the goals of this "new" administration.

September 18, 2008
2:51 p.m.
bosoxfan says...

Unbelievable, Stratton and the other city 'leaders' all talk about reform and change and what do they do, they put someone who has been a part of the problem in charge.

I think the citizens of Schenectady need to hold their leaders accountable and find out why this decision was made.

Everyone is too quick to blame the cops on the street when all they are trying to do is retun home to their families at the end of the night. Now with a commander in charge that is a part of the 'crooked' regime, their hands will be more tied and lives will continue to be in jeopardy - both the officers and the citizens.

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