CARS HOMES JOBS

Schenectady police officer faces charges over on-duty conduct

Patrolman worked as guard at gas station

Wednesday, December 23, 2009
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Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson

— Schenectady police Officer Dwayne Johnson has been indicted on charges related to his on-duty conduct early this year.

District Attorney Robert Carney said Johnson will be arraigned at 9 a.m. in County Court today. He declined to list the charges prior to the arraignment.

Johnson’s attorney, Gaspar Castillo, said he didn’t know what charges Johnson will face.

But high-ranking law enforcement sources said that the charges would focus on Johnson’s alleged work at the Hess gas station on Brandywine Avenue. He has been accused of working there as a security officer during the same hours that he was supposed to be patrolling the city.

Law enforcement officials say Johnson’s tax returns prove that he worked at the Hess as a night watchman. Johnson also worked nights for the city as a patrolman.

A source at Hess confirmed that the company hired a police officer to provide security on the nights that Johnson is accused of leaving his post to work there, but the source said the officer was believed to be off-duty.

The officer had guarded the station while using his marked police car, which police are not generally allowed to use when off-duty. Hess workers said the officer stopped using a police car late last year — a change they did not like because they believed the car was a more effective deterrent than a uniformed officer sitting in his private vehicle.

The change appeared to coincide with the date on which the Police Department installed GPS devices in every car in November 2008.

Law enforcement sources said the city’s investigation also indicated that Johnson cheated both Hess and the city on some occasions by sleeping in a private apartment rather than working either job.

The city began investigating last February after The Daily Gazette reported that Johnson was often parking his patrol car outside a Queen Philomena Boulevard apartment for four hours of his shift. Police quickly confirmed that, saying that GPS data showed Johnson repeatedly parked his car for hours during his shifts.

It is not clear what he was doing during those hours, but law enforcement sources said Johnson’s actions were explained to the grand jury.

When The Daily Gazette first reported the story, city officials suggested that Johnson may have simply been too exhausted to work. Johnson was the top overtime earner last year, nearly tripling his salary to $168,921.

He logged 75 hours every week last year and had logged 70 hours a week through mid-February this year, when he was suspended.

Other officers who worked similar schedules in previous years said it’s not possible to get through the work week without napping during slow periods, and Chief Mark Chaires also seemed to think it likely that Johnson was sleeping.

When asked about Johnson in February, Chaires said, “When you’re caught sleeping, we consider that stealing time.”

Officers are supposed to refuse overtime when they are too tired to work. But Johnson wasn’t working overtime when he allegedly left his beat — the eight-year veteran was working his regularly scheduled overnight shift. He usually followed that shift with another full shift, on overtime, in either the morning or the afternoon.

 
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