The Locally Owned Voice of the Capital Region

Editorial: Get officer off Schenectady payroll

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Text Size: A | A

Just like in the bad old days of the Schenectady Police Department, it’s taking altogether too long — 14 months and counting — to determine whether an off-duty cop suspended for possibly criminal behavior can be fired. And he’s essentially been on paid vacation for all but the first month.

The officer, John Hotaling, stands accused of a repugnant act of road rage — tailgating, then speeding past a young driver who wasn’t going fast enough for him in a no-passing zone in Glenville.

But what he was accused of doing next, after the teen’s grandfather apparently made an obscene gesture as he roared past, is worse: getting out of his truck at a traffic light and menacing them with a gun.

Schenectady police officials, properly outraged after Glenville police charged Hotaling, did some investigating. The fact that the complaint had been phoned in immediately, before anyone even knew Hotaling’s identity, and that there were witnesses, convinced Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett (as well as Glenville police) that this was no cock-and-bull story. And even though the criminal case has languished for over a year for a variety of technical reasons, Bennett wants to fire Hotaling. Now.

He should be canned, because cops can’t go around when they’re off duty, breaking the very laws they’re charged with upholding when they’re on duty.

It would undoubtedly be easier for police to convince an independent hearing officer to uphold Hotaling’s firing after a criminal conviction. And Schenectady police have, in the past, waited under similar circumstances for criminal proceedings to be played out before seeking a rogue cop’s dismissal. It’s reassuring that in this case, they didn’t wait, but undertook their own investigation and made their own determination.

Unfortunately, it’s still taking too long to get a hearing for Hotaling. And he’s being paid all the while.

Perhaps the city should seek to amend the part of the police contract that allows cops accused of wrong-doing to collect their full salary after 30 days while awaiting disciplinary hearings.

It’s one thing if they’re exonerated. They can be paid retroactively.

But if not, there’s no way they should be entitled to an extended free vacation.

Share story: print print email email facebook facebook reddit reddit


June 4, 2014
9:59 a.m.
-2 votes
reader1 says...

Editorial missing some information: In the past internal investigations were done as soon as the allegations became known. The hearings were not scheduled because of concern it might negatively impact the criminal proceeding. These decisions are generally made based on discussions with District Attorney's Office. Additionally, many of the cases were held up due to the legal battles over the new disciplinary procedure.

June 4, 2014
2:28 p.m.
+0 votes
kmiac says...

Also, who is to say that the individuals making the accusations didn't do so base on possibly being arrested prior to said encounter? Have you looked I to the criminal past of those doing the accusing?? Were they arrested by this officer prior to this, and if so does it really make since to say "it was called in immediately, so no one knew his identy"? By your account any Joe schmoe should be able to make any accusations they please and lose their pay and lively hood, regardless of the outcome? Retro pay if found innocect does not really save a person from losing their house, car, having no you often think prior to writing and printing these rediculious articles? I say all members of the gazette should have their pay held until they are able to write and print a clearly thought out, educated, factual story.

June 4, 2014
3:47 p.m.
+0 votes
mezz3131 says...

ANYONE that knows Hotaling knows this is TOTALLY out of his character however, a lot of people that know the person making the complaint say the person probably more than had it coming if it even happened at all. How about looking into both side's background before you rush to judgement. Then again, all you need to hear is Schenectady cop and you have already passed judgement.

June 5, 2014
9:09 a.m.
-1 votes
wmarincic says...

Again the Gazette forgets that he is innocent until proven guilty. Because Bennett said something it does not make it true, believe me he has been wrong before. As Mezz said, anyone that knows Hotaling knows that this is out of character, John is a pretty level headed laid back guy.. The Gazette might want to investigate for once before passing judgement.

June 5, 2014
12:53 p.m.
+0 votes
memny says...

I take no sides, I don't even live in Sch'dy County so I'm not tainted in my thought process. It seems the people sticking up for Officer Hotaling know him and therefore have a biased opinion. No matter how "out of character" it may seem, everybody has bad days and there is no telling what they may do on any given day (meaning he should have stayed IN his car). There are idiotic drivers everywhere and they all deserve a swift kick but there are many details in this story and they can't all be made up.
This guy crossed the line and if he's found guilty, who's to say how this event may have traumatized the student driver. Sounds like it was all ignorant adults that put this in motion and they should suffer the consequences for their lack of self control.


columnists & blogs

Log into

Forgot Password?