Schenectady County

Outsiders make list for chief job

A Gulf War Army officer, a retired Albany police commander and one of the top police officers in Tro

A Gulf War Army officer, a retired Albany police commander and one of the top police officers in Troy have joined the short list as candidates for Schenectady police chief.

Also on the list are Schenectady assistant chiefs Michael Seber and Mark Chaires. However, the city’s third assistant chief, Jack Falvo, did not pass the exam.

That failure allows the city to hire an outsider. Under Civil Service rules, the city is only required to pick an insider if it can choose among three qualified candidates. If only two candidates make it, as in this case, the city can consider outsiders.

The county Civil Service Commission released the passing list Friday afternoon. Mayor Brian U. Stratton immediately announced in a news release that he would consider the top three outside candidates as well as Seber and Chaires. He and Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett did not return calls seeking comment on the finalists, but two of the three outsiders do not appear to have the experience that Bennett wanted.

In advertising for the position, Bennett said he wanted an external candidate with extensive experience in an urban environment. He also said that his ideal candidate would have experience working with union contracts and union disputes.


The top scorer on the exam was Suffolk County Police Department Lt. William Hasper, who was surprised to find himself at the top of the list.

He scored an 86 on the exam, according to the Civil Service Commission.

Hasper became a police officer in 1993 after seven years in the Army. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was stationed in Tel Aviv, Israel, during the Gulf War. He retired in 1991 and worked on Wall Street before joining the Suffolk County Police Department.

Suffolk County has no cities but has a population of 1.4 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Schenectady police have recently focused on the county because the suspected supplier for a large cocaine and heroin ring charged recently came from Coram in Suffolk County. He is still at large.

Hasper said he knows little about Schenectady — “It seemed nice and people told me good things about it,” he said — and seemed nonplussed when asked why he wanted to run the city’s police department.

“I met some great people when I was up there. I stayed there for a couple days [before the exam],” he said. “I don’t have all the details; I don’t have all the facts. But being chief — it’s something I would consider.”


The second-best scorer on the exam is Steven Stella, who runs security for the University at Albany. He retired from the Albany Police Department in 2003 after two years as commander.

Stella specialized in hostage negotiations and won the department’s combat cross for coaxing a man into releasing his hostages and surrendering in June 1993. He was also a member of the department’s scuba team and supervised the emergency services team. He was on the force for 24 years and scored an 80 on the chief exam.


In third place by exam score is Schenectady Assistant Chief Michael Seber, who scored a 76 before picking up four extra points for his status as an internal candidate.

Seber most recently oversaw the vice squad, which was disbanded after one of its members confessed to stealing cocaine evidence and smoking it. A grand jury report later criticized the supervision of that squad, but Seber was not specifically named.

Seber also played an important role in the FBI investigation of corruption in the department. He was one of three supervisors assigned to the investigation from its inception in 1999. Federal prosecutors praised his efforts, saying he faced retaliation, including derogatory cartoons, from anonymous officers who were angry that supervisors would help the FBI.

Seber became assistant chief in 1998 and tried for the chief position in 2002. However, he did not pass the exam.

He joined the department in 1998.


Fellow assistant chief Mark Chaires, who scored a 70 before receiving his extra four points as an internal candidate, also tried for chief in 2002. He passed the exam but was not selected.

Chaires was promoted to assistant chief in 2001, when he became the highest-ranking black officer in the history of the department.

Chaires has a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University at Albany. He joined the department in 1988 and was supervisor of the department’s now-defunct plainclothes street crimes unit and led the community policing unit before becoming assistant chief.

He won the promotion despite bluntly criticizing Chief Gregory T. Kaczmarek’s decision to eliminate the street crimes unit just a year earlier. He knew he would face internal punishment if he made his criticism public, but he made the remarks anyway.


The final candidate on the list for chief is Troy Assistant Chief John Tedesco, who scored a 72 on the Civil Service exam. He is making his fourth attempt at becoming a police chief.

Early this year, Tedesco was one of the three finalists for chief of the Guilderland Police Department. In 2002, he made it to the top three for the Schenectady chief position, when he was considered alongside Chaires and chief-to-be Michael N. Geraci Sr. In 2000, he was among the top three candidates for the chief slot in Troy.

He has intimate experience with police unions, having led an unusual union made up of the Troy command staff. Troy officials wrangled with the command union for years before winning the group’s approval to remove the chief and assistant chiefs from the union in 2005. The change was designed to keep those officers from collecting overtime pay by declaring them to be management.

Before Tedesco became assistant chief, he oversaw the city’s Community Policing unit. He began his police career in 1976, became sergeant in 1984 and was promoted to captain in 1994.

If Hasper, Stella or Tedesco decides to drop out of the running for the chief position, the city could also consider the fourth outsider who passed the Civil Service exam, according to Civil Service rules.

That candidate is Poughkeepsie police Capt. Steven Minard, who had held that rank since May 2001. He scored a 70 on the Civil Service exam and was the only other outsider to pass the test.

The Schenectady department has been without a chief since last October. That’s when Geraci left to take a job with the federal government.

Since then, Bennett has been running the department with the three assistant chiefs.

The chief position is advertised at a salary of $115,000, an increase from the $109,000 that Geraci was to make this year.

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