Troy, NY — The entire drug unit of Troy, New York's Police Department has been placed on administrative leave following reports that the unit entered a home without a warrant.
According to the Times Union, the officers entered a home after they were tipped off by another Capital Region police agency. But then they lied about it.
Apparently, they realized they made a major mistake, but then compounded their problems by attempting to cover their tracks. They allegedly filed a false burglary report. Now, all of their cases will likely come under scrutiny by lawyers attempting to free their clients.
After the chief became aware of the incident, and their attempts to cover it up, they were all placed on administrative leave.
The unit is led by Sgt. Ron Epstein, and it consists of five officers. It serves as Troy's front line in the city's "war on drugs." Their suspension has further deepened the rift between the police department, and the mayor's office and the city council—who have been given very little information about the alleged home invasion.
Mayor Patrick Madden issued a statement saying their suspension resulted, "from a personnel matter which involves the conduct of certain officers of the unit during a particular occasion.” The ambiguous statement by the mayor has left more questions than answers, according to some who are now very critical of the way the sheriff and the mayor are handling the incident.
The ambiguous statement by the mayor has left more questions than answers, according to some who are now very critical of the way the sheriff and the mayor are handling the incident.
"An internal investigation has been commenced to protect the integrity of the Troy Police Department and reassure the public’s continued trust and confidence in our law enforcement officials," Mayor Madden said.
City Council President Carmella Mantello, whose nephew is also on the police force, raised concerns about the kind of rift the firing of an entire squad of officers could cause among city leaders.
"I am deeply concerned that this would remove from the front line a total police department unit in our city’s fight against drugs and related matters," Mantello said. "I am calling upon the mayor to advise the council and the public as to how the city would fill the gap and responsibilities of this important unit."
Unfazed by the criticisms of the council, Madden issued a statement Friday, calling the drug unit, "a highly trained, professional group of men and women who are committed to serve and protect our community with distinction."
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"The conduct of a few officers on a specific occasion should not impact the reputation of the entire department," Madden said.
The apparent stonewalling by the mayor—who is equally tight-lipped about the investigation—did not settle well with Mantello who is now calling for full transparency.
"While part of this issue is a personnel issue, according to the city, the actual circumstances of this case should be revealed,” she said, noting that she now wants her questions answered.
"In other words, what specifically caused the removal of this unit from their duties of protecting the public?" Mantello asked. "I don’t believe in anytime in the city’s history has a total police department unit been removed from carrying out their duties and responsibilities."
Troy Police Chief John Tedesco spoke with News 10 and implied that the department may be better off without the officers involved if they are guilty of committing the alleged crime of falsifying a police report.
"If they’re going to do that then I kind of feel safer without if that’s the case," Tedesco said. But then he backed off of the comment, and said, "I can’t say I feel safer with or without them."
Chief Tedesco said he asked the NY State Police and others for help. "As soon as the unit was placed on the administrative leave, we were in contact with the New York State Police and the Rensselaer County Sheriff. They will be coming into the city to assist us," he told reporters.
"I can confidently say to the citizens that while it’s not the ideal situation, their safety is paramount and it’s being taken care of." Tedesco said, attempting to reassure the public by implying that changes of rank would be made. "It depends on the length of the investigation and what we find in the investigation. We will be making changes as we go along."
While the suspension of an entire unit may come as a surprise to Troy city leaders, it is no surprise to The Free Thought Project. As we have reported on numerous occasions, entire police departments can become corrupt.
In March 2015, the Brooklyn Police Department came under investigation amid allegations that weapons, drugs and other items had been removed from the evidence room. Then in March 2016, the head of a drug task force in Pennsylvania was arrested for having sex with a minor in exchange for leniency.
The Free Thought Project will continue to follow this story closely and inform our readers of any important updates.