Letter: In Schenectady, a Police Review Board in Name Only (Daily Gazette)

January 27, 2009 —  To the editor:

The recent resignation of Bob Tufano, investigator for Schenectady’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, is yet one more piece of evidence highlighting the sorry state of police affairs in the city.

Tufano, who was supposed to be an independent investigator for the review board, is reported to have said in his letter of resignation that he is leaving because he has been constrained from doing “any type of meaningful investigation.” Instead, he has been limited to picking up a few complaints a year and dropping them off at police headquarters.

An ineffectual review board only serves to reinforce the perception that the Schenectady Police Department is a rogue organization that operates without legitimate oversight. We know from personal experience that the department has many committed, professional officers. For their sake, as well as for the sake of Schenectady’s citizens, it is important to have a civilian complaint review board that is unbiased, thorough and efficient.

One would think that both the Stratton administration and the Police Benevolent Association would want a review board that is respected by all parties. It would not only be good public relations; it’s good public policy. We urge the current review board members to work on strengthening its presence in the community and urge the new police chief, Mark Chaires, to treat the board professionally and comply with its charter.

Melanie Trimble,
Director, Capital Region Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union