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Should three Schenectady police officers face criminal charges for allegedly failing to fill out paperwork related to the use of force on a drunken driving suspect in December 2007?

Yes 46% 497 votes
No 47% 515 votes
Not sure 6% 67 votes
Total Votes: 1079

Note: This is not a scientific poll.

comments


September 7, 2008
10:21 a.m.

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PKlotzJr ( PKlotzJr ) says...

NOBODY is above the law. No matter what any citizen's group for the promotion of authoritarian retirees says.

September 8, 2008
9:42 a.m.

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taxpayer1 ( taxpayer1 ) says...

CRIMINAL charges for failing to complete paperwork properly. This is a witch hunt. The continued anti police media along with the american civil liberty union has led us to this hypocrisy. These cops have familys -come from our community and do a job that nobody else can even comprehend, they deal with the worst in society and get continually criticized for doing it. Here a grand jury has said they didnt assault that "upstanding citizen" but should face criminal charges anyway this is over-reaching political correctness not justice.

September 8, 2008
1:32 p.m.

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BellaMia4457 ( BellaMia4457 ) says...

So sick of the Schenectady police in the news. Is there anyone on that force, honest? I used to look up to officers when I was little, now as an adult I question which ones really uphold the law?

September 8, 2008
3:17 p.m.

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bosoxfan ( bosoxfan ) says...

I am appalled at the waste of time this investigation has been. Unnecessary time and money were spent to find out that the officers did not file paperwork or forgot to turn on a camera. When are the council and the police department commanders going to go to bat for the men and women who put their lives on the line daily to protect the city? If anyone is guilty of anything, it is the Schenectady officials who appear to be looking for scapegoats or examples, so they can ‘prove’ they are ‘cleaning’ up the department. Has anyone considered whether or not the problem is not with the beat cops but rather the administration that looks for any reason to slap or tie their hands? If the treatment of these officers is any example of how their jobs are ‘rewarded’ then Schenectady will continue to be the dangerous, drug ridden, criminal refuge the city has become. The law-abiding residents of Schenectady need to rally behind their officers. They need your support not criticism, they work hard and do their best, when not hampered by their bosses, to protect and serve the city and its citizens. Instead of berating them, thank them and show them you are on their side.

September 8, 2008
3:31 p.m.

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Riley ( Riley ) says...

bellamia4457- You can be sick and tired of SPD in the news, but do they really deserve to be in the news because of this? Once the three officers were cleared of any assault charges, everything should have been dropped. But think of how silly they would look if the city and AG's office took 8 months with these 5 officers suspended and came back with absoloutly no charges. These officers cannot be called criminals. And just because of what you've read in the media on this particular case, I don;t see how you can imply that they are dishonest. They have claimed they did not use excessive force, it was found they did not. They did not fill out a department piece of paperwork, and are now being tried criminally for that.

September 9, 2008
8:44 a.m.

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davidgiacalone ( davidgiacalone ) says...

As far as I know, the grand jury has not issued a report saying that appropriate force was used by the officers. Therefore, the three officers were not "cleared of excessive force charges" by the grand jury. All we can say for sure is that (1) the grand jury did not have enough evidence to ask for an indictment for excessive force; (2) they would have had more information if the forms had been filled out; and (3) every one of the officers "forgot" to fill out the Use of Force form in a situation where the jail report states the arrested man arrived at the jail with a swollen face and bruised wrist.

The grand jury was stymied in doing its job, because the forms were not filled out in exactly the kind of situation where they would have served the interests of both the public and of any blameless officers. It's not surprising, then, that it wanted to send the message that filling out the Use of Force form is serious, important business.

We all want police officers who can effectively enforce the law, but also want to be able to trust our officers to abide by the law. The Blue Code of Silence hurts good cops and the public. And all the Red Herrings throw out by defense counsel makes the situation even worse. See my weblog post for a fuller discussion at

http://tinyurl.com/BlueCodeRedHerring

September 9, 2008
11:27 a.m.

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taxpayer1 ( taxpayer1 ) says...

iam so sick of hearing about this blue code of silence cliche.that might of have been true a decade or two ago but its not now. It was schdy cops that turned in cops 8 yrs ago and sent some to prison. It was the department that called in the fbi. its internal affairs of the department that sustained action in this instance.stop listening to professional defense attornys and the aclu who pay their bills by sueing the police department

September 9, 2008
11:42 a.m.

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davidgiacalone ( davidgiacalone ) says...

Maybe we should call it the Blue Fog of Forgetfulness instead. There's no doubt that conditions are better now for honest cops at SPD, which is exactly why we can't let Coincidental Forgetfulness Syndrome creep back in.

There was an awful lot of silence over the years prior to the incidents you mention, taxpayer1, and Commissioner Bennett needs to be supported in cultivating the open atmosphere.

By the way, I don't believe you're correct that "it was internal affairs of the department that sustained action in this instance." The internal investigation has only just begin now that the grand jury investigation is over.

September 9, 2008
2:23 p.m.

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BellaMia4457 ( BellaMia4457 ) says...

Riley...not implying that they are dishonest, just so much crap with the SPD over the past several years makes one wonder who's covering for who at times. I appreciate what you did say though.

September 9, 2008
3:05 p.m.

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taxpayer1 ( taxpayer1 ) says...

DG-get your facts straight- internal affairs made a sustained recommendation to Bennett who then took it to the DA who wimped out as usual and called in the AG. you have got to be kidding about silence over the years the SPD has been the most media scrutinized pd in the region tv and print over the years.Each of any of these issues was in the media for months and usually blown way out of proportion by liberal press and carl strock its a wonder the department has continued to function and it has because of the efforts of guys that were just doing their job just like when they went to a call of a drunk man threatening people and causing a disturbance at macdonalds.

September 9, 2008
3:53 p.m.

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davidgiacalone ( davidgiacalone ) says...

TP1, Sorry, I misunderstood the insider jargon "sustained the action," thinking you were saying they approved the officers' conduct, when there has been no final internal investigation.

Nonetheless, my focus is the current conduct that is under scrutiny here, not the entire history or system in the SPD. Focusing on the continued existence of the Blue Code (whether department-wide or within a particular group of officers) is not as helpful as dealing with one case at a time. Here, the question is whether the participants decided to stay mum and that frustrated the work of the grand jury.

No one gets a pass just because they do a hard, important job. No one -- not myself, my brother, cousin, spouse, or neighbor, and hopefully not yours. If everybody forgetting to fill out a Use of Force form in this case doesn't make you at least a little suspicious, you are far more saintly and non-judgmental (or non-objective) than I am.

p.s. As at my website, I sure wish commentors here would identify themselves. I believe in standing behind my statements.

September 9, 2008
9:14 p.m.

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Melizabeth ( Melizabeth ) says...

I think the point is that is in my job, your job, probably just about everyone elses job, that if you do forget to fill out paperwork you are not CRIMINALLY charged. Most likely, you would be called into your bosses office and dicipline would be handled internally within the company....which is EXACTLY how it should have been handled in this case.
And I stand behind that statement.

September 9, 2008
9:42 p.m.

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davidgiacalone ( davidgiacalone ) says...

Melizabeth, I appreciate your perspective. But, I must ask: Is the job law enforcement? Is the form mandated in reaction to former administrative and legal abuses? Is the particular instance of failing to fill out the form related to a grand jury investigation of the employee's own conduct or to potentially-criminal conduct to which the employee is a witness?

Every job is not alike. Every form is not alike. Every failure to fill out a form (much less every multiple failure relating to the same criminal investigation) is not merely a matter of forgetfulness. The law makes distinctions all the time.

September 9, 2008
10:26 p.m.

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Melizabeth ( Melizabeth ) says...

Bottom line-the grand jury did not have enough evidence to convict these officers on assault charges. With or without the use of force form they at least had a video of the incident. In reviewing your prior posts, as far as I know a grand jury is not charged with issuing a report with comments as to what type of forced used, but they are charged with specifically reviewing if excessive force was used. Your argument as to whether the jury was "stymied" because they didn't have this report has no merit. If the prosecution had a case against these officers, (which in this instance they did not) they have the burden to prove.....and they had a video and still couldn't do it.

September 10, 2008
8:59 a.m.

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cjane ( cjane ) says...

Perhaps some of the criticism and media attention should be put on the administration and not the officers. Has anyone noticed that in the last decade or so, only officers have been removed and none of the adminstration? This department is in need of leadership and direction, not someone passing the buck up to the AG.

September 10, 2008
9:03 a.m.

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stefinschdy ( stefinschdy ) says...

I am shocked at the continued willingness of the public to convict police officers at the drop of a hat. The man who was supposedly beaten up by the police has a long criminal record and several run ins with the law. He was in fact breaking the law at the time of his arrest, yet he is still out free to party and have rape accusations made on him while waiting for his big pay day from Schenectady County Taxpayers. Obviously if he weren’t being disorderly, the officers would not have been called to the scene in the first place. He put himself in that situation, as he had many times before, and I refuse to see him as a victim.
Schenectady High School is in the top 20 schools in the state for most violent incidents occurring during school hours. As a mother and aunt of several children who attend this school, I can tell you it was no surprise to me. Where are these children learning all of this violent behavior? At home and on the streets.
The Schenectady Police officers have a terrible job on their hands. They are dealing with gangs, drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, abusers, etc. The only difference between here and NYC is the refusal of the powers that be to admit that there is a problem in this city, so the officers do not have all the necessary resources to deal with these issues. There are nearly 200 officers in the city alone, along with NYS Police and the sheriffs department. It is so unfair, that when a few get in trouble the entire force is to blame and covering up under their blue wall (so 70’s!). If I work for a company where a bookkeeper embezzles money, I am not going to have my employment record in question.
These forms were new forms that were just a few months old. Paper work is real easy to forget, especially when it is new. Also, the forms were excessive force. Is that a judgment call or are their guidelines on the forms. Maybe they felt like they didn’t use excessive force to subdue a drunken lunatic terrorizing patrons at McDonalds. These are hard working people who do their best to keep us safe, without a pat on the back or even a thank you. If you can give the drunken lunatic with a long record the benefit of the doubt, I think you can find it somewhere in yourself to give the officers the benefit of the doubt as well.

September 10, 2008
12:25 p.m.

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bosoxfan ( bosoxfan ) says...

stefin - Thumbs up for you. I completely agree that the powers that be have continually turned a blind eye to the real problems. For some reason the Police Department has been made the scape goat while the city continues to see an increase in violence, death, and drugs.

September 10, 2008
2:38 p.m.

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capregiongirl ( capregiongirl ) says...

Several musings on the issues here:

The reason the AG's office took over on this case is because one of the accused officers' wife works in the District Attorney's office.

Everytime a police officer leaves his home to go to work, he and his family have no assurances that he will be returning home at the end of that shift. And being a police officer in Schenectady is doubly dangerous because the people committing crimes don't care who they shoot, attack with a knife or fight with.

Growing up I was taught to respect police officers - there is no respect for them in the City of Schenectady thanks in large part to the administration, which time and time again fails to stand behind their officers.

I'm not suggesting they turn a blind eye when something truly criminal happens, but ever since the police commissioner rode into town with his dictatorial style, good officers have to be afraid of being suspended for simple things like their badge not being on their shirt uniform when they came in off the street during the winter to use the bathroom. Sounds silly but they are required to put their badges on their coats during the cold weather. It's a true story.

In other countries where someone declares themselves to be judge, jury, and executioner as the commissioner has, that person would be known as a dictator. THIS IS AMERICA - PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.

But those rules don't apply according to the city administration and the commissioner. Let's suspend first based on an allegation from a career offender instead of conducting an investigation and then if it is warranted suspend the offending party. Check around - at most of the other area police agencies, their administrations actually stand up FOR their officers and won't suspend unless the allegation is proven true.

Nothing in the police department will truly change until both sides stop being obstinate and truly want to make things happen instead of butting heads.

The city administration should really be focusing it's attention on allowing the police to clean up the streets so the law abiding, tax paying residents can feel safe living here. Instead they focus on things like putting in a roundabout and making Erie Boulevard pretty.

September 10, 2008
3:34 p.m.

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taxpayer1 ( taxpayer1 ) says...

dear davidwhatever. The "inside jargon " you refer too was what i read in the gazette newspaper they used that term not me.I accept your backhanded apology. I looked at your website and once is enough. you dont need to refer to it in every post -commercials are not necessary.

September 10, 2008
4:14 p.m.

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rminissali ( rminissali ) says...

I have to say this all just seems like politics. People are trying to damage the name of good police officers. Possibly damage someone's career. It is people like this guy they arrested that make it hard for good cops to do there job. There is no conspiracy here. It is a simple arrest where someone got out of control and the police did what they had to in order to protect themselves. This is a diversion to take our minds off the real corruption in the PD. Focus on the really bad stuff; not a couple officer's getting rough with a jerk who probably provoked the entire incident.

September 11, 2008
11:47 a.m.

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nicolelee ( nicolelee ) says...

To Stefinschdy and capregionfirl, thank you! As a family member to a Schenectady Police officer, it so nice to hear that their are members of our community that see what is really going on in our city. The stories I hear are not just for my ears, but you see it happening too. I have said it before and I will say it again, "the city of Schenectady is being run by its criminals." If something is not done soon, Mayor Stratton, Commissioner Bennett or anyother person in that department isn't going to stand a chance in hell.

As for this case, what a disaster! This is a case of politics getting involved with police work and five guys are taking the fall for it. As for the Use of Force form that wasn't completed, please. Mr. Red Herring, are you kidding me. Do you have anything better to do with your time other than trying to make the lives of Schenectady police officers and their family members more stressful? You are relying on information from the media, which let's be honest is never 100% accurate, and jumping to conclusions before knowing the details. Just remember, you can't believe everything you read in the paper.

It is good to hear support for our officers and I hope it transfers to other community members:)

September 11, 2008
2:07 p.m.

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capregiongirl ( capregiongirl ) says...

WELL IT LOOKS LIKE NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE ADMINISTRATIVELY - RUMORS ARE FLYING THAT ONE OF THE ASSISTANT CHIEFS IS BEING PROMOTED TO CHIEF WITH THE ANNOUNCEMENT TO COME OUT EITHER TODAY OR TOMORROW.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF THE OFFICERS NOW...

September 12, 2008
9:19 a.m.

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MtPleasantMom ( MtPleasantMom ) says...

Well, it's about time someone is finally finding officers accountable for their mistakes. Paperwork is not necessarily where I would have started, but it's better than nothing. Imagine the world we would live in if everyone who forgot to fill something out or filled it out wrong was taken to court? LOL

The Schenectady Police force does so many things wrong, it's odd to me that they would pick paper work. We live in Mt Pleasant and I see on a daily basis officers driving and talking on their cell phones, running stop signs & stop lights, speeding down our streets with no sirens on, parked the wrong way or even blocking the traffic just to chat with someone. Now if any citizen did any of these, we would be ticketed and most likely treated not very kindly. I was recently pulled over in Glenville and so impressed with how kind the officer was, unlike the mostly rude & better than you attitude officers of the Schenectady Police Force. Again I am glad these officers where prosecuted, but I hope this is just the beginning. This city will never be a nice & safe place to live in until the law enforcement officers change their ways along with the citizens.

September 12, 2008
3:20 p.m.

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Melizabeth ( Melizabeth ) says...

MtPleasantMom-Your generalizations regarding the officers of SPD are ignorant. I'm not sure if you read the entire article, or maybe you just didn't understand it correctly, either way they are just accused and not yet convicted. Comparing SPD and Glenville is comparing apples to oranges. Our city has become a haven for thugs and criminals from NYC. Our officers are doing a job that is more comparable to that of an officer in NYC and on most days probably worse. They deserve more thanks and respect from our city officials and members of the community. And as a side note---I know some SPD officers that have transferred to Glenville PD--it was probably a former SPD officer that you were speaking so highly of.

 

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