Editorial: McCarthy should fire this law-breaking cop

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
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Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy needs to take prompt action to get rid of police Sgt. William Fennell, who pleaded guilty yesterday in Bethlehem Town Court to driving while intoxicated.

The city has seen enough of officers who flout the law, not only driving drunk, which is bad enough, but refusing Breathalyzer tests, crashing their vehicles and leaving the scene of their own accidents.

Anyone can make a mistake, but these escapades go beyond mistakes and indicate a kind of character not suitable for a law enforcement officer, someone equipped with a gun and a badge and entrusted with holding the line against antisocial behavior on the part of others.

Fennell was accused of all the above — driving drunk, rear-ending another vehicle, speeding away from the scene, then crashing his own vehicle, and when detained by a Bethlehem police officer, refusing to take a Breathalyzer test.

This was in November, and he has been off the job since then, without pay, fortunately, since Schenectady Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett ruled that without a drivers license, Fennell was unable to do his police job. His license was suspended following a hearing before the Department of Motor Vehicles, and it will remain suspended for a year.

In the last few years, four other Schenectady cops have been accused of similar offenses. Two were fired (Darren Lawrence and John Lewis), one resigned (Michael R. Brown), and one is on “last chance” status, indicating that not all Schenectady police officers are fast learners.

If they need another lesson, so be it. Let the mayor give it to them. The city doesn’t need cops who act criminally when they’re off duty.

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May 16, 2012
6:13 a.m.
wmarincic says...

To the idiot that wrote this column. Sgt. Fennell was extremely stressed from being involved in a shooting just before this happened. He was not offered the psychological help he needed. He was thrown to the wolves and his name was trashed by criminals and drug addicts without his bosses (Chaires and Bennett) defending him. And BTW, Lawrence and especially Mike Brown got a raw deal and screwed by Stratton. I wonder how many Gazette employees have made mistakes in their lives? You people just don't get it but you were awful glad to have them there when asnother armed man was in your lobby though, right? I'm sick of you people bashing the Police in Schenectady and shame on Judy Powers for letting you continue to do it.

May 16, 2012
6:31 p.m.
Fritzdawg says...

So if you ever get stopped for driving drunk, just tell the cop you are extremely stressed.

He'll likely just say "well everybody makes mistakes", and let you drive on your way.

May 17, 2012
7:06 a.m.
wmarincic says...


Not what I meant and you know it. Had Fennell been given the tools he needed after the shooting he probably would not have needed to turn to alcohol the first thing in the morning to get through the day.

May 17, 2012
10:45 a.m.
gazettereader says...

Anybody who "needs" to turn to alcohol to get through the day, no matter what the reason, should not be a cop. There should be standards to being a police officer.

May 17, 2012
12:55 p.m.
wmarincic says...


Until you are forced to shoot and kill someone you can't judge what he was going through.

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