Lame police response, even lamer excuses

Thursday, July 18, 2013
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Won’t things ever change at the Schenectady Police Department?

Stories like the one in Wednesday’s Gazette about the department’s glacial-paced response to a burglary complaint, followed by a series of surly excuses for the indefensibly long delay, indicate that however much progress has been made weeding out bad cops and improving service in recent years, the department still has serious accountability problems — both performing basic duties and treating customers with respect.

It’s bad enough that a woman who called at 4:05 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon to report a break-in at her house had to wait more than 24 hours for someone to investigate — and only then after she’d gone to the police station to complain in person. Even worse was the attitude she encountered from an unidentified desk officer, who purportedly advised her to take her complaint to the City Council and mayor; as well as the one of the patrol officer who finally showed up at her house and blamed the department’s inexcusably slow response time on old patrol cars, all of which “have over 100,000 miles on them.” Even if that were true (and unless many of its cars have been to the moon and back this year, it’s not) the excuse would be a lame one.

As the Gazette story indicated, the cops had trouble fielding a full team that day (because too many of them called in sick or took vacation or comp time). Then they got slammed when an extraordinary number of calls came in, and had to prioritize their responses. OK, maybe, but don’t insult taxpayers’ intelligence by politicizing things.

And, frankly, it’s not OK that police get so much time off, and can take it whenever they want, that they can leave the city inadequately protected when they all decide to take it at once. Doesn’t management have some obligation to ensure appropriate staffing?

Workers in both the public and private sectors have had to suck it up and work harder to compensate for all the downsizing that’s gone on since the Great Recession. Why should Schenectady police be any different? We’d further be surprised if the odometer on the car of the average Schenectady taxpayer (who has to pay for his own repairs) didn’t exceed 100,000.

Police brass and Mayor Gary McCarthy have expressed appropriate outrage at this latest episode, apologizing to the woman and promising to “fix this” so it doesn’t happen again. That’s a more enlightened public response than we’re accustomed to from them, and while we certainly wish them well in their endeavor, we can’t help but point out that it’s more or less the same problem they’ve been grappling with for years. Better make that decades.

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July 18, 2013
8:15 a.m.
reader1 says...

While I think the vast majority of the Gazette staff are professional and do their best to be fair and objective, the writer of this editorial and one or two others, which I will not name, have shown they are incapable or unwilling to do the reporter's job the way it is supposed to be done.

First, response time can be a problem especially when you only have 145 officers dealing with the crime (which is declining in several major categories) and social problems they have to deal with. But, certainly - that is little consolation for the poor woman whose house was burglarized.

The response from the officers is what it was - unprofessional, immature, and contrary to the direction the leadership and officers are trying to take the Department.

what bothers me most about this editorial is the leadoff line - "Won't things ever change?" To say that one or two unprofessional clowns counterbalances all the the positive work by the PD leadership and members is unfair, and its' unrealistic." In a department of over 200 people, 145 sworn - there are unfortunately going to be a few jerks whose comments or performance will be substandard - cops are human (although I wouldn't call the two unnamed officer cops) and they are going to make mistakes or in this case intentionally do and say stupid things. And, it's been addressed and I see nothing from the leadership down there that leads me to believe they will not address this. But the editorial writer wants to take this one incident that occurred and assert that because there are still isolated acts of stupidity and immaturity - the Department will never change. It's a problem and it has been dealt with.

You know, while an editorial is an opinion, it should still be fair and objective. The writer has something in common with those officers, they all fall short of what a professional should be.

July 18, 2013
9:44 p.m.
wmarincic says...

I agree 100% with reader1. It is the same old Gazette hatchet job editorial bashing the SPD.

July 21, 2013
4:55 p.m.
albright1 says...

Good job reader1

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