Chief: Cop 'stealing time'

Johnson, tops in pay, out of car during shift

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
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Police car No. 10 is seen parked at 4:45 a.m. on Feb. 3 on Sir Benjamin Way in Schenectady (photo provided). Dwayne Johnson is pictured the day he joined the Schenectady Police Department on Jan. 25, 2001.
Police car No. 10 is seen parked at 4:45 a.m. on Feb. 3 on Sir Benjamin Way in Schenectady (photo provided). Dwayne Johnson is pictured the day he joined the Schenectady Police Department on Jan. 25, 2001.

— The police officer who nearly tripled his pay through overtime work last year has been in an apartment instead of working for part of his shifts each week, an investigation by The Daily Gazette determined.

Dwayne Johnson, who was the city’s highest paid officer last year with earnings of $168,921, spends most Tuesday early mornings in an apartment at the corner of Queen Philomena Boulevard and Sir Benjamin Way, near Kings Road. Although Johnson is typically scheduled to patrol the city until 8 a.m., he parks his marked police car on Sir Benjamin Way just before 4 a.m. and remains indoors for several hours.

The eight-year veteran of the department was observed by a Daily Gazette reporter and other witnesses as he entered and stayed in the apartment on five Tuesdays in a row this year. The Daily Gazette a week ago reported the matter to the Police Department, which confirmed Johnson’s absence from patrols through the city’s new GPS units. Chief Mark Chaires said Johnson’s Tuesday absences from duty have been recorded by the new units nearly every week since they were installed in November.

Chaires was disgusted to learn of yet another case of an officer not working during his shift.

“Here we go again,” Chaires said. “How dumb can you be? You know you have a GPS in your car. Why would anybody do that?”

The department is investigating Johnson and plans to ask him why he leaves his job on Tuesdays and what he’s doing during that time.

“I’d like to know what is so interesting for three hours on Tuesdays, though we’re not necessarily going to believe what he tells us,” Chaires said. He declined to state whether that is Johnson’s home address.

He added that no excuse will get Johnson out of trouble.

“With a city with our crime problems and our issues, there’s no reason to spend your evening socializing or whatever,” Chaires said. “If you’re not on a call, you need to be out there looking for something or at least just showing the car as a deterrence. We’re not paying you to park it.”

Johnson could not be reached for comment.

The GPS units, which cost $22,000, were installed in every car shortly after another patrol officer, Thomas Disbrow, was caught bowling with his son every Saturday during his work shift. Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett said then that the new units would keep such embarrassing incidents from happening again, since supervisors now know exactly where their officers are at all times.

But no one noticed that Johnson parked his car for three hours or more each Tuesday until it was pointed out by The Gazette.

Now supervisors will be required to run printed reports each day and check them to make sure their officers were working, Chaires said.

Chief angry

“Beginning today we’ll do that,” Chaires said on Tuesday. “You hate to treat people like 5-year-olds but basically we’re going to have to do this. It’s a minority of a few that act like 5-year-olds and ruin it so we have to treat them all like that.”

It’s not clear what Johnson does in the apartment on Tuesdays, but the officer logged 75 hours every week last year and had logged 70 hours a week so far this year, according to payroll records.

Other officers who worked similar schedules in previous years say it’s not possible to get through the work week without napping during slow periods.

Chaires seemed to think it likely that Johnson was sleeping. Asked about possible punishments for the officer, he explained that sleeping is viewed as a serious infraction.

“When you’re caught sleeping, we consider that stealing time,” Chaires said. “If you’re going to steal time, we’re going to take it back. It’s a significant sanction.”

Officers are supposed to refuse overtime when they are too tired to work. But Johnson has been leaving his beat during his scheduled overnight shift, possibly exhausted after days of working the morning or afternoon shift on overtime.

City officials, including the mayor and Chaires, have raised a series of concerns about officers who work extreme overtime. They are particularly concerned about patrol officers like Johnson, who are asked to drive for hours past their normal shift and then must make split-second decisions in tense situations. Mayor Brian U. Stratton has repeatedly said that overworked officers are a danger to themselves and others, although command staffers insist they evaluate officers on long shifts and send them home when they can’t function well.

Chaires said he was pleased by one facet of the Johnson incident: Unlike previous scenarios, the GPS devices provide three months’ of evidence to support a disciplinary case.

Internal Affairs Lt. Stephen LaVare said evidence will make the crucial difference between a gentle reprimand and a serious punishment.

“If I’ve got one instance, I’ve got a slap on the wrist,” he said.

He asked The Daily Gazette to hold the story for a week so he could catch Johnson in the act. He set up a sting, planning to watch Johnson and then knock on his door just before his shift ended this morning.

But for the first time in at least six weeks, Johnson did not stop working during his shift, raising questions about whether he was warned of the sting. LaVare had expressed serious concerns about that possibility.

Chaires acknowledged those concerns but emphasized the positive: At least the GPS units provided evidence from the past three months.

“It did work, in that there is definite evidence,” Chaires said.

Johnson has a wife and four daughters. He’s also made notable arrests during his overtime work — last year he apprehended an armed fugitive from New Jersey just after leaving a long shift. He also played a key role last year in calming a man who had climbed a tree and threatened to kill himself.

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February 18, 2009
3:50 a.m.
schdy says...

First like to thank you for posting the entire article.

This is a serious issue for our community. Lives are at stake when there are not enough patrol officers on the streets. This includes the lives of the officers too. My observations of the first posted article brief to this one is completely changed. Thank you again.

I am curious why is it the dispatchers don't notice a patrol is missing? Same thing happened with the Scotia incident. You would think they would know first hand if someone is logged in but never available for a call.

I don't care if he talked a man from a tree, others on the force are capable of doing the same thing.

In regards to the NJ fugitive arrest after working a long shift he was just lucky he didn't get hurt. It is a proven fact folks don't function well working long hours at a stressful job. They are not 100% and his judgement could have been faulty.

With the evidence shown by the GPS system I believe he should be fired if it indeed shows him absent.

Now let's hope the records don't mysteriously disappear.

February 18, 2009
7:21 a.m.

What is Johnson doing for 3 hours every Tuesday in an apartment? He's hooking up with his girlfriend. Hello!

February 18, 2009
7:55 a.m.
wmarincic says...

I have and will always be a proponent of the hard working men and women on the Sch'dy Police Force. With all that is going on in Sch'dy with crime and the public opinion, what Officer Johnson did is plain stupid and insulting to his fellow officers. I do not believe he should be fired but I think a 90 day suspension without pay and him paying back the money erned for the time not worked is fair.

What I do have a problem with is the Gazette following our Police Officer's and hoping to find any dirt, real or imagined that they can gleefully rub in the faces of the SPD. Since the Gazette has such great investigators, maybe they can follow some criminals and build a case, or stop the welfare fraud and save us some tax money, and if that is not on par with their abillities maybe they can just save the world...

February 18, 2009
8:01 a.m.
shez4prez says...

The Top 5 on the overtime list all do this lol, I have checked go out to there suburban houses there are schdy police cars parked outside I have witnessed this!!!!!! Finally the tax payer is paying attention, its sad it takes a recession for people to figure out where there tax dollars are going.

February 18, 2009
8:24 a.m.

I have no problem at all with the Gazette investigating a PUBLIC SERVICE EMPOLYEE,did the previous poster think perhaps a tip was provided by an upset taxpayer.

It would be wonderful to not have to wonder if the judges and police are not criminals.

Examine the evidence a few years ago Drago's husband was charged with touching a minor, did the former police Chief help the Judge with that affair. Could it be that is why he & his wife where slapped on the wrist?
The wiretap clearly had them nailed, both dealing and laughing, insanely together their sentences did not equal a quarter of the time they should have recieved.

How many police from Schenectady are in jail? Why was Seber not given a breath test, instead a ride home, INDEED !!! These very people are elected or appointed to serve the people instead they serve their own arrogant desires while hiding under the veil of public service.

This is the tip of the iceberg, keep investigating PLEASE! Someone need to Police the police and the judicial arena as well. The corruption runs deep, it has infested the fiber of the city.

February 18, 2009
8:31 a.m.

Why not review all GPS data, make it available to the public or at least an outside agency.

We are being robbed by those chosen to protect us!

If you see a marked car sitting for more then a few minutes outside a private residence, REPORT IT.

February 18, 2009
8:36 a.m.
fyrefly65 says...

Why blame the Gazette for doing it's job. People have a right to know who is scamming the system. I have read about many Schenectady cops doing stupid things. If they didn't do anything wrong than I guess the Gazette would not have a story. I would rather know what police are doing than about welfare fraud. These are the people your supposed to count on. Wouldn't this being put to a stop be saving tax payers money?

February 18, 2009
8:38 a.m.
Johnny says...

Schenectady, a city of 50,000 people, a relatively small city. How can a city this small have so much corruption in their relatively small police force. This is a 50,000 person city, not 250,000. Why not eliminate the Sch'dy Police Force and just let the Sch'dy County Sheriff serve this "small" city.

The drug dealers, the disgraced former chief and now this. How sad.

February 18, 2009
8:44 a.m.
Johnny says...

This is good work for the Gazette, a paper on the decline and likely on the verge of folding. It's stories like these that might save The Daily Gazette. This is good work and more of this type of story is needed to give the newspaper credibility.

February 18, 2009
8:44 a.m.
Warm says...

You work for the city and not be in a union and see how quick they arrest you for theft. If he signed a time sheet or log saying he was working, isn't that a felony?

You know if they try and discipline him he will just claim a back injury and take the next year off with pay. Want to hurt him? Ban him from overtime. Make him have to earn his money like the rest of the force by selling drugs and shaking down hookers!

February 18, 2009
9:17 a.m.
fyrefly65 says...

Funny, if it was a common joe who did that, you would see grand larceny and fraud charges. Alas, it is a Schenectady cop, and we all know how corrupt schenectady is. So don't count on anything folks, if you want to break the law and get away with it, become a Judge or policeman!

February 18, 2009
9:19 a.m.
fyrefly65 says...

I forgot, Judge or Policeman in Schenectady, that is.

February 18, 2009
9:26 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Everyone is so quick to blame the entire Police force for a few that are not playing by the rules.

Why was the Gazette not at the many Vale Neighborhood Committe meetings although they were invited? Is it because they would have seen Community Police Officers Slingerland and Zelezniak giving out their personel phone numbers to neighborhood residence that are having problems?

How come the Gazette was not at the State St. Church a couple years ago, although they were invited. Is it because they would have seen Officer Remmilard and Slingerland handing out gifts to the inner city kids, because otherwise some would not have any Christmas, some of the very nice gifts were donated by the Police. Did they watch these two fine officers sitting down at tables with these kids to eat and tell them jokes. No there is no story there.

Where is the Gazette when School resource officer Ken Figeroa talks to kids daily about drugs and gangs or Sherri Barnes talks to the girls about the dangers of sex and the internet. These are just a few of the stories I can tell you and I have many more and I'm sure there are hundreds of people that can tell you many more stories just like them. Everyone need's to stop painting the entire Sch'dy Police Department with such a broad stroke. These are just a very few stories of the great men and women that serve the the citizens of Sch'dy.

February 18, 2009
9:37 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Warm, I'm sure you think your comments are funny, intelligent and ironic but in reality they are just stupid comments from an ever more stupid person. Have a wonderful day.

February 18, 2009
9:42 a.m.
laxman says...

Having only been in this area for a short time I can tell you that these officers seem to get attacked by everyone, that being said they do seem to find more and more ways to get in trouble. Don't blame the Gazette for for following this guy this is great reporting. I believe that I read this guy makes 3 times his salary on overtime and he spends 3 hours every Tuesday at someone else'e apartment?
I read a couple weeks ago that Schenectady has "dozens" of officers making over 100 grand and I also read that they have a very low rate of solving crime so is it the Gazette's fault - I don't think so.

This guy should be fired based on the last 5 weeks, who cares what the last 3 months show. The entire dept needs to be revamped. How can people in this city support this group? I know there are good people working here but it just seems it never ends.

February 18, 2009
10:26 a.m.
jack1680 says...

You people try to work the graveyard shift and drive around for 8 hrs. a night. I will tell u that why u are in your cozy bed, these cops are half awake trying to handle the most savage of people and crime scenes. When there is a break for these officers at 4am by all means park your car and rest your eyes until a call for service goes out. If Johnson doesn't show up then there is a problem. I also believe that officer Johnson was in his patrol zone where the apartment was located.
This is a case where you have some Gazette GEEK trying to become the city desk writer. Little known fact people, the Schenectady fireman sleep during their shifts and i mean every shift, until a call for service goes out. Hopefully this wannabe writer breaks the story on the firemen too. This paper won't though because firemen don't sell papers.
Finally, people like Chaires and Lavare disgust me because you know that they have done these kinds of things but now would never admit it. It's simple Chaires and Lavare could not work the streets of Schenectady with todays criminal climate, they would get eaten alive.

February 18, 2009
10:46 a.m.
laxman says...

Please jack do not compare the firemen to the police there is a huge difference-the police are being paid to patrol the streets when as you say the most savage criminals out there. They are paid to prevent crime, keep us safe, be seen on patrols the fireman are paid to put out fires. I agree it may be difficult to patrol all night into the morning but hey these guys sleep other times. The reason this is a big deal to me is because he made 170000 last year 2/3 of it overtime so earn the pay!!!

February 18, 2009
11:16 a.m.
shs2361 says...

This is not just anonther blow to the police Department, but also to the City of Schenectady. For years now they have been finding a way to make the headlines negitivley. Officer Johnson being on the force for 18 years should have known better, but hey...lets look at it this way...we just payed for his 30,000 Dodge Charger while he was doing ....????

February 18, 2009
11:51 a.m.
Craig_Johnson says...

Hey Jack1680 are you crazy or something?!?!? In case you hadn't realized YOU ARE PAYING FOR THIS GUY TO CATCH SOME ZZZZZ's. Both me and my wife DO WORK THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT and let me tell you, we are not getting paid to take naps. Not to mention Schenectady with all of it's shootings, graffiti, rapes in parking garages, theft and the list goes on, can't afford not even one officer be MIA. He's milking the city for thousands of dollars. You are either a criminal (thankful there is one less officer on the beat) or a cop/sheriff doing the same GD thing in the hopes that someone doesn't expose you. WAKE UP.

February 18, 2009
11:52 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Thw other day when there was an article about how Bobby Hamilton and the PBA was helping a disabled lady that just lost her husband there was only one comment, a positive one. Now that there is a negative article in the gazette all of the do nothing finger pointers come out to cast their opinions about the Schenectady Police. Maybe you all need to re-read my above comment on the Police.

February 18, 2009
12:15 p.m.
resident says...

Boy, did this newsarticle generate the most amount of messages that I have ever seen, I wonder why???
Could it possibily be that we see sometype of pattern developing with the Police??? Where in the world is out Public Safety Director when these events happen?????? You must ask the Mayor, Police Chief and Public Safety Director what they are doing to run this Organization..... It's not a hard task to have radio checks with police, or to monitor the GPS randomaly, In fact the GPS were put in the Police Cars to stop these abuses, Now this is the first case and it took the newspaper to uncover this event. Where is the Police Supervision???????? Who is runnning this Department???? Where is the checks and balances on the Police?????? Just another example..... How many do the citizens of Schenectady deserve??????? Time to clean house....

February 18, 2009
12:38 p.m.
tpk2211 says...

Like any allegation of misconduct, there are always two sides of the story. Before anyone begins tearing down a person, especially a person who has risked his life protecting others, I believe he/she should be afforded the protection guaranteed in our country’s constitution.

Unfortunately, many times our police officers and/or anyone who wears a badge is involved in allegations of misconduct there are those who feel they should not receive the same protections as we all deserve as U.S. citizens.

I have been a city resident most of my life and I am sickened every time I hear people degrade our Police and Fire Departments as a whole whenever an individual officer’s misconduct is alleged. We expect these men and women to lay down their lives to protect our families and property, it is only right that we extend the same rights to protection that the criminal element in our society demands when they are charged with breaking the law.

February 18, 2009
12:41 p.m.
socalbob says...

tuesdays, for several hours, early morning hours, a GPS and no calls to investigate.
very interesting.

February 18, 2009
1:18 p.m.
wmarincic says...

The reason SPD is ready to topple over is because it is TOP HEAVY with Commissioners, Chief's Asst. Chiefs and Captains.
Just for the record SPD handles 95% of ALL CRIME in Sch'dy County.
Usually there are 8 officers on the graveyard and it is very dangerous for them especially when they have a situation like the Tip Toe Inn where there were 8 cops and 100 civillians and some I guarentee with concealed weapons.
And for the brain surgeon that spoke of the SPD"s intellegence, I will have you know that most have Bachelors Degree's and many have Mastors Degree's.
Remember the old addage " A fish stinks from the head".

February 18, 2009
1:43 p.m.

"I do not believe he should be fired but I think a 90 day suspension without pay and him paying back the money erned for the time not worked is fair."

I respectfully disagree. What Johnson did amounts to derilection of duty and theft of public property (unearned overtime pay).

As to the question of whether dispatchers knew of the vehicle being out of the assigned patrol area, I would hope for the safety of both the public and the police officers that the location of patrol units is monitored. Otherwise, how can calls be correctly dispatched? And, what would happen if an officer was "down" and the patrol car was taken?

February 18, 2009
2:17 p.m.
laughingoutloud says...

what i would like to include is why would the SPD ask the gazette to hold posting the article? why do you feel it necessary to find out information and then post-pone the citizens a right to know where there tax dollars are going? it's a shame that law enforcement do not take there jobs serious enough to actually work. While i get pulled over for tinted windows by sheriffs, normal officers are home sleeping on there shifts, meanwhile the umeployment rate is through the roof because people like you or me are unable to find jobs that pay decent amounts. while i sit and wait on the dss line all day long, schdy's finest is home sleeping and collecting a check. go figure! thanks mayor, what are you doing while your on the clock? obviously not overseeing our safety. fire his ass!

February 18, 2009
3:03 p.m.
schdygrl says...

You guys are so's great to see! Most of the SPD are awesome guys who got into this field for all the right reasons. I don't personally know Johnson so I cannot speak of his character. However I cannot really judge him because I am at work right now typing in a blog rather than doing something productive. I am sure not to many people can say they are 100% productive all the time (yeah yeah, I know tax payer dollars).
The only punishment I want to see for this officer is to be tied to a chair and left alone in a room with his wife and a wide variety of torture tools. I would love to see this televised on channel 16. The money they make from the sponsors can pay back the money to the city, the public can find out what Johnson was really doing (since Tuesday was apparently the only day he got "tired") and the police can close the investigation rather than pay investigators over time to investigate the overtime paid officer. This can also act as a deterrent for other officers not wanting to suffer extreme pain and public humiliation. Everyone wins! In hard times we need to get creative, not angry!

February 18, 2009
4:46 p.m.
wmarincic says...

schdygrl, Both common sense and humor, I like it.

February 18, 2009
4:56 p.m.
schdy says...

If found guilty he should be fired and charged with a crime.

I truly believe the Commissioner and Chief are trying to clean up the department. Remember they have inherited "decades" of the lack of accountability. Officer Johnson has been there 18 years he learned from others what was okay to get away with.

My concern is it took the Gazette to out this officer on the abuse of work duties and responsibilities. I also want to know why there was spent 22K (not sure if this is a grant) on a system that they didn't even use until now. Well at least they will have evidence they can use from it but I bet the PBA will try to say the GPS system wasn't certified or inaccurate.

I think the Gazette and Ms Moore did a find job of investigation.

More needs to be changed yes, but after decades of abuse it will take time and more vigilance from those in command of the various departments Sargents, Lieutenants Captains and Assistant Chiefs.

February 18, 2009
5:08 p.m.
Johnny says...

Jack1860---what are you talking about. You work the graveyard shift. That's an 8 hour shift, just like the 6 to 2 shift is. I worked graveyard at a plant many years ago. You sleep until 9:30 PM, get up, eat, go to work. When work ends at 7 AM, you go home, do your after work activities and then go to bed at say, 1 PM and get ready for another shift.

For any cop to get over $150,000 in salary is absurd, plain and simple. There's no defending that. In what other occupation----sorry, it's not a profession---can you triple your salary.

February 18, 2009
5:24 p.m.
daknight says...

This story does present a problem in my eyes, is the Gazette just looking to discover more problems they think exist with the Schenectady Police, or actually reporting the news. Officer Johnson, whom I have met when I dailed 911, was prompt, and professional. If he parked his car for whatever reason as long as its his patrol area, and he still answers if and when they called him, I dont see an issue. I work in the private sector, and I get a lunch break where I can leave work go home or go out, there are days I am tired and I even nap, now my lunch is not three hours but I can tell you I have been late coming back my boss yells, might dock me the time I was beyond my lunch. So in this case lets not fire a trained cop who does his job, instead dock his pay for the time he did not answer calls, or what have you durring that time. If he had no calls and was in his patrol area, are we sure he can't park his car? I have seen many town and state cops sitting before in their cars reading papers, doing paperwork, some doing I am sure things that are not 100 percent police work and I dont see a problem with it, because heck who doesnt at work go on the net, or read emails, answer a cell phone, visit with coworkers or friends etc.... Lets slow down and take a look in the mirror, I know I was upset at first after reading this then realized that I think we all arent being fair.

Just a thought.

February 18, 2009
5:25 p.m.
NoSenseAtAll says...

fire Bennett....he is NOT doing his job....saving $$$$....

February 18, 2009
6:02 p.m.
JM says...

Oldest operative scam in the department, next to retirement benefits - Overtime. GOT TAXES?

February 18, 2009
6:50 p.m.
cg6391 says...


February 19, 2009
5:36 a.m.
schdy says...

(February 18, 2009 5:06 p.m.
Retired says...
Schdy, you are simply quoting Miss Moore's inaccurate reporting in saying Johnson has 18 years. He has more like 8 years which the other news outlets are accurately reporting.)

I misquoted Ms Moore's information. She reported..."The eight-year veteran of the department was observed by a Daily Gazette reporter and other witnesses as he entered and stayed in the apartment on five Tuesdays in a row this year."

She did not make the error I did. Being posts are permanent there is no way for me to correct the misinformation. Sometimes one step in it. Thank you for pointing out my error.

February 19, 2009
6:10 a.m.
schdy says...

2/19 e-edition(Correction
Officer Dwayne Johnson is an eight-year member of the Schenectady Police Department. His years of service were incorrect in a Wednesday story in the Gazette.)

I take back my thoughts that I was in error. Just read on my paid version 2/19 of the paper that Ms Moore did make an error in the 2/18 edition of the paper saying 18 years.

I knew I read it somewhere. So I have to agree with you "Retired" she made a error but I have no reason to believe the other info is indeed less than accurate after reading Bennett's and Chaires' responses to the articles.

February 19, 2009
8:34 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Let's not give Moore a Pulitzer yet as I'm pretty sure she was given a tip after the story on overtime and just checked it out ans saw the car there.

February 19, 2009
9:39 p.m.
schdy says...

It is concerning that the number of times Johnson was seen doing this has gone down now. Does bring about a doubt on everything else reported.

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