Editorial: In Sch'dy, Car 10, where are you?

Thursday, February 19, 2009
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“Catch Me If You Can,” was the title of a 2002 movie based on the true story of a con artist who for a long time managed to stay one step ahead of the cops. In Schenectady, sadly, it could apply to the cops themselves, who seem to think they can make their own rules and do what they want with impunity, or close to it.

And they’re mostly right. For they know that their brethren won’t try too hard to catch them, or will cover up for them; and even if they are caught, the consequences won’t be very severe. Thus we have Exhibit 50 or so in recent years: the case of Dwayne Johnson, the cop who was off duty even when he was on. Thanks to some detective work by Gazette reporter Kathleen Moore, residents of Schenectady now know that for at least the first five weeks of this year, Johnson spent several hours each Tuesday morning inside a private residence, with his marked patrol car outside.

And despite $22,000 GPS units installed in each patrol car in November to keep better track of officers and prevent this very type of thing from happening, nobody noticed or, if they did, cared — not the dispatchers, who sit next to a board showing the location of each car on a shift; not the sergeant and lieutenant, who are also close by and responsible for the patrolmen. In the extremely unlikely event that they didn’t know, these people were incompetent and should be demoted; if they knew and were all covering up for Johnson, that’s more like a criminal conspiracy and they should be prosecuted.

And what about Johnson? Fire him. Isn’t that what would happen to nearly any other employee in similar circumstances? He wasn’t doing his job, the one he is sworn and paid to do. If he signed time sheets saying he worked those hours, he was knowingly filing false instruments. He deserves to be fired, and anybody but a union officer or lawyer, or perhaps arbitrator, would agree.

The only reason for not doing so is the inevitable grievance or lawsuit by the union, which — state labor law being so protective of public safety officers — the city might lose. But that didn’t stop former Schenectady County Sheriff Harry Buffardi from firing his underlings when he believed it was warranted, and he won some. Even if the city lost, Johnson would be out for a good long time and the message would have been sent that the city and Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett — who has claimed the right of discipline for himself, not an arbitrator — are serious about getting control of a still-dysfunctional department.

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February 19, 2009
5:51 a.m.
schdy says...

(Quote: "nobody noticed or, if they did, cared — not the dispatchers, who sit next to a board showing the location of each car on a shift; not the sergeant and lieutenant, who are also close by and responsible for the patrolmen.")

I also question why the dispatchers appeared to do nothing about the absence but what if they did report it and those in command ignored them. They might have had their hands tied. Just a thought.

February 19, 2009
5:52 a.m.
keliegh1225 says...

Shame on the department. If I were to do the same thing on my job I would be fired. Different set of rules for the Schenectady PD. How sad that us tax payers are paying there salary and get to do what they want. The Mayor needs to step up.

February 19, 2009
8:27 a.m.
wmarincic says...

First of all, let's not give Ms. Moore too much credit as I'm quite sure someone called the Gazette and made a complaint about the car being there after the story on the overtime. The Gazette is hardly known for it's investgative journalism, but it is known for rehashing the same old crap about the Sch'dy Police. Secondly, the writer of the above post should go back to Junior High and finish their education as they stated his car was parked for several hours. Several hours woyld be 6,7 or 8 hours, when in fact it was reported by multiple sources that the car was parked for 3 hours which in general terms would be considered a few not several.
Let's give the benefit to the officer that he had a lunch hour comming to him, now the car is parked for 2 hours which is considered a couple hours, not several hours.
That concludes todays language and math lesson's and one final thought, I would not be planning on an acceptance speach for that Pullitzer.

February 19, 2009
8:32 a.m.
fyrefly65 says...

Yet they still get suspension with pay or if they are "punished", they get a year or two in the jail that takes care of their special needs. What a way to send a message. If you want to break the law and get away with it, get in the police union, go to schenectady and voila, you are untouchable. I'm starting to wonder, are there any decent cops in schenectady? I have heard a lot of them are crooked. I know I have read about "normal" people doing what this guy did and they were arrested for grand larceny and fraud. What makes this guy so special? Oh, I forgot...he's a schenectady cop. Enough said.

February 19, 2009
8:42 a.m.
fyrefly65 says...


Are you a cop? Because if this was a regular joe, it would be rehashed. These cops took an oath to be honest,and have integrity on the job. If they can't do what they were hired to do, they have NO right wearing a badge. I don't want a less than respective role model representing the law. I'm tired of hearing people whine about the police getting picked on. If they would stop breaking the laws, there would be nothing to report. These people chose their job, it did not choose them. I didn't know lunch hours were 2-3 hours at a time every week. Unbelievable how many excuses you make for them. You have to be one of them, ya gotta be.

February 19, 2009
9:27 a.m.
davidgiacalone says...

Only Officer Johnson's own lawyer (and the union's) would argue that he shouldn't be fired (unless this was some secret "under-cover" operation). Count me in the group of lawyers who believes such deception and fraud by a public servant warrants termination. And, see the "Simple Justice" weblog post of NYC criminal defense lawyer Scott Greenfield, "Even cops need some sleep," who also has no tolerance for such conduct, or for lax supervisors.

February 19, 2009
9:52 a.m.
Skipjack says...

I work for the private sector and would be fired on the spot for this type of conduct (and would probably loose my pension). I expect the most that will happen to officer Johnson will be a slap on the wrist and repayment of the hours in question. Sad, sad day for Schenectady and its taxpayers.

February 19, 2009
10:50 a.m.
souscolline says...

To wmarincic: You cannot even admit that officer Johnson committed an illegal act. As fyrefly65 surmises, you must be a policeman, former policeman or a relative of one. You never cease to enumerate all the trials and tribulations a police officer endures in his job. No one disputes the fact that law enforcement is a very dangerous job and we should thank those who sincerely go into the profession to do good and not just to look out for "number one". However, it is crystal clear that Schenectady has had a over the past 20 years or so enough bad apples that it has to affect the morale and conduct of those who try to do their jobs. As far as the supervisors go, it looks like one of Murphy's laws that states that one rises to his own level of incompetence. Many of the guys that I went to school with were members of the Schenectady Police Department. They are all retired now and not one was ever implicated in any improper behavior. There was a lot more transparency in those days. Now is as if there exist a legal coverup. I am pro-union but in the past 20 years or so, the city, along with the State has given away the store to the police union. Forgive two clichés but : "The pigeons have come home to roost" and "As ye sow, ye shall reap". Now, let's withhold our comments and see how it all plays out.

February 19, 2009
12:19 p.m.
wmarincic says...

fyrefly65 and souscolline, No I'm not a cop nor have I ever been a cop and no I'm not related to a cop but my niece dates the brother of a cop, does that count? Unlike most people posting here I'm pragmatic, I look at all sides of the issue. I know a few Sch'dy Cops and I know them to be hardworking honest and loyal, I know them to want to make Sch'dy a better place to live. I know them to be frustrated with the way the city leaders and some administrators who run the department. I know that there are 166 cops on the job in Sch'dy and I know that it has only been a small percent of them accused of anything. I know that three of the officers raked across the coals returned to the job last week after being falsely accused by a career criminal and accused rapist. I know that state law says you are entitled to two fifteen minute breaks and at least a half hour lunch per shift. I know that Sch'dy Police give a one hour lunch. I know that during a sixteen hour shift Johnson was entitled to three hour's off if he DID NOT take a lunch or break.
Now with that being said if he is guilty then he should be forced to repay the money and he should be prohibited from working O/T for six months and he should have at least a two week suspension without pay. It makes me mad and it makes the GOOD HARDWORKING Police Officers in Sch'dy mad when this crap happens, because everyone is ready to bash and accuse the whole department.
I'm very out there in my neighborhood and I have seen many great and selfless acts by the Schenectady Police. Believe me I have had issues with a few over the years but that does not diminish the job that they do nor should it.

February 19, 2009
1:11 p.m.
fyrefly65 says...

That's real interesting, 16 hours allows a three hour lunch huh? I guess when I was working between 14-17 hours a week at my job, I wasn't informed. I'm not saying all cops are bad, but, Schenectady seems to have more corrupt police and if you don't think so, then sir, you are ignorant or in denial. How many cops have had and still having problems with drugs, money, harassment, assault? Need I go on? And there is the Judge looking the other way, unless it's a regular joe. The reason the whole department is bashed as you put it, because they keep these people employed when they should be terminated. That is what has happened to anyone else in the "REAL WORLD" of us common folks. So when a cop screws up, the newspaper isn't suppose to print it? Bull, we get our business thrown out there, it's only fair to treat them the same. They are no better than anyone else.

February 19, 2009
1:36 p.m.
wmarincic says...

fyrefly65 and they have the same rights as anyone else. Everyone is making an assumption on a new's story. We have yet to hear the whole story and as I have said if he is guilty then he needs to pay for it.
I work at least 14 hours 1 and sometimes two days per week also and it is not my fault you don't know labor law. If his immediate supervisor gave him permission to take that time tell me, is he guilty of a crime? Schenectady has no more problems than most police departments, the difference is that most departments dont have a Police hating newspaper printing every negative story they can about their department. There are lot's of stories about the good work the SPD does, where are those stories. And by the way, if you work for the State and complete your probation you can beat up your immediate supervisor and not lose your job, you just get transfered, so dont make it sound like the Police have these special privileges. I know a state worker that was arrested on the job for selling drugs and he still works for the state. now that is a union.

February 19, 2009
2:19 p.m.
mikelieman says...

"I'm starting to wonder, are there any decent cops in Schenectady?"


If there were any decent cops, there wouldn't be any Bad Cops.

By turning a blind-eye to the Bad Cops, the Good Cops ain't Good anymore.

February 19, 2009
4:31 p.m.
whatshisname says...

He might have been on a secret investigation.

February 19, 2009
4:53 p.m.
RCordone says...

whatshisname wrote...

"He might have been on a secret investigation ".

I'm guessing he was working "undercover". :)

BTW, Good job Daily Gazette for exposing another of these leeches!

February 20, 2009
9:04 a.m.
irene says...

This guy screws the taxpayers and wmarincic is debating the difference between "several and a couple or a few"? What's wrong with that picture. Does it matter? Since when does anyone get a few or a couple hours for lunch?

Oh yea, and OJ didn't kill Nicole.

February 20, 2009
9:30 a.m.
streetztalk says...

everyone in the 'hood" knows this cop arrest men then go date their spouse or girlfriends.This is no way a honest cop just as crooked as a criminal.Why is it his word over the average Joe?because of badge. he has no morals. I bet he was at one of his girlfriends house.Not all cops are bad but I'm sure alot more know whats going on. If you are a honest cop you should want to get the dirty cop out of the department making the public have no faith in the police.Believe me he is not the only one but the only one who got caught.

February 20, 2009
10:51 a.m.
anichols says...

If an employee is making that much money because of overtime... Why not just hire another employee?! That is the real crime & how the Schenectady Police provided another disservice to the taxpayers.

February 20, 2009
4:07 p.m.
goldstar says...

Fyrefly; Repay the money, no overtime for 6 months, and 2 week suspension without pay? Sounds like you assisted with the PBA's current contract. If you are a thief, stealing from the city (Schenectady or any other)turn in the badge and go directly to prison. I would agree that the officer is not the only one a fault here, the supervisor of the shift, the dispatcher, and the upper managers who continue to condone this ridiculus behavior (including your Mayor who is out of town metting his hero Mr. Obama)

February 21, 2009
5:28 a.m.
keliegh1225 says...

Take a long hard look what you all voted back in for mayor. he is a joke. He cares about himself and what he can get. Forget the taxpayers who pay his salary. I live in Schenectady and don't travel downtown it is not safe. How sad.

February 21, 2009
8:07 a.m.
wmarincic says...

irene, A couple, few and several hours do matter. If he had lunch time comming. Also when the public hear's several hours the perception is 3 times greater than a few hours. There have been many inconsistencies in this story by this reporter and when what she writes will impact this person for life she has an obligation to get the fact's right which she has failed to do multiple times.

February 21, 2009
11:54 a.m.
kathe2962 says...

Here's the labor law regarding meal breaks....and it doesn't say anything about 3 hours if you work 16 hour shifts.

Section 162 of the New York State Labor Law provides as follows:

Time allowed for meals
Every person employed in or in connection with a factory shall be allowed at least sixty minutes for the noonday meal.

Every person employed in or in connection with a mercantile or other establishment or occupation coming under the provisions of this chapter shall be allowed at least thirty minutes for the noonday meal, except as in this chapter otherwise provided. The noon day meal period is recognized as extending from eleven o'clock in the morning to two o'clock in the afternoon. An employee who works a shift of more than six hours which extends over the noonday meal period is entitled to at least thirty minutes off within that period for the meal period.

Every person employed for a period or shift starting before eleven o'clock in the morning and continuing later than seven o'clock in the evening shall be allowed an additional meal period of at least twenty minutes between five and seven o'clock in the evening.

Every person employed for a period or shift of more than six hours starting between the hours of one o'clock in the afternoon and six o'clock in the morning, shall be allowed at least sixty minutes for a meal period when employed in or in connection with a factory, and forty-five minutes for a meal period when employed in or in connection with a mercantile or other establishment or occupation coming under the provision of this chapter, at a time midway between the beginning and end of such employment.

The commissioner may permit a shorter time to be fixed for meal periods than hereinbefore provided. The permit therefore shall be in writing and shall be kept conspicuously posted in the main entrance of the establishment. Such permit may be revoked at any time.

In administering this statute, the Department applies the following interpretations and guidelines:

Employee Coverage. Section 162 applies to every "person" in any establishment or occupation covered by the Labor Law. Accordingly, all categories of workers are covered, including white collar management staff.

February 21, 2009
8:37 p.m.
szamboti says...


First you denigrate Kathleen Moore's investigative skills and ask us not to give her "too much credit", based on your belief that "I'm quite sure someone called the Gazette and made a complaint about the car being there after the story on the overtime". Then, you tell another poster here that they should "go back to Junior High and finish their education as they stated his car was parked for several hours. Several hours woyld be 6,7 or 8 hours".

What gives you the right to be such a jerk toward these folks!? Your beliefs are just that, beliefs, and in this case really have nothing to do with the story that these other folks are discussing. I wonder why you don't get some real facts to spout off about, rather than what you make up in your little mind. As far as going back to school, perhaps you sir might be a better candidate. Your spelling appears no better than grade school level at best, and your definitions are not much better. Where did you get the definition for "several"? Is this another one of your "beliefs"? Several is defined, at least at the, as "being of a number more than two or three but not many" or "an indefinite but small number; some or a few". Several is not then, as you point out, "6,7 or 8 hours". 6, 7, or 8, would be more properly referred to as "more than several".

You make a lot of good points, one of them being about the good, hard-working, selfless cops that we do have here in Schenectady having to suffer because of the inevitable bad few that surface once in a while. Why not stick to these good points and forget about casting aspersions on peoples work skills or their supposed lack of education. If you do feel the need to cast stones, at least get your facts straight. I believe that in another post that you made in the past "several" days, you stated something along the lines of "Let he that hath no sin cast the first stone". Perhaps you should heed your own advice.

Real Name: Mike Wyman

February 22, 2009
9:55 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Mike Wyman, sorry if I type too fast sometimes that I mispell a word, as for my education, I have one, and in fact I read a minimum of two books per week along with working 50 plus hours per week, raising a family and being active in my community. I'm very secure in who I am so your disparaging remarks about me come from as you say a little mind.
As I said I'm active in my community and as such I have first hand knowlege and experience of the job that the Sch'dy Police do day in and day out, so let me ask you, what do you base you're post's on, the Daily Gazette or are you somehow part of the newspaper community?
A large part of why newspapers are folding is people don't trust the reporting in them and prefer to get ALL SIDES of a story not just one biased one. I have seen again and again that this newspaper will go after the rank and file in the Police Department with a vengeance while kissing the *** of the Mayor and Administration in Schenectady, who by all account's should be out of a job.

February 23, 2009
7:55 a.m.
keliegh1225 says...

I agree with wmarincic The Mayor is horrible and I for the life of me can't figure out why the people of Schenectady vote him back into office. I don't think he cares about anyone but whats on his agenda.

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