What Sch’dy cop story tells us about P.D.

How fascinating. A Schenectady cop was apparently cheating the Police Department by working as a sec
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How fascinating. A Schenectady cop was apparently cheating the Police Department by working as a security guard at a Hess convenience store when he was supposed to be patrolling the streets, and on at least some occasions he was apparently cheating Hess also by not really doing the security-guard job but rather holing up in an apartment for a few hours of rest and recuperation.

So learned my colleague Kathleen Moore in several months of diligent sleuthing and so she reported in this newspaper yesterday. The cop in question, Dwayne Johnson, now might be facing criminal charges.

Meanwhile, he continues to collect his full pay of about $1,000 a week while he sits at home waiting for this matter to be resolved. He was suspended without pay in February, after Kathleen’s initial report, but the unpaid part lasted only 30 days, per the union contract.

What a world of insight is contained in this story, once you start to think about it.

First, it means that after years of scandal in the Schenectady Police Department, including multiple incidents of cops shirking their jobs, one officer still felt comfortable enough shirking his that he did it week after week, presumably without fear of getting caught.

It means, if the allegations are true, that he wasn’t worried about dispatchers noticing he was unavailable for calls. It means he wasn’t worried about a supervising sergeant tracking him down. It means that during those days when he really did pull guard duty at the Hess station on Brandywine Avenue he wasn’t worried about some random citizen wondering what he was doing there, in uniform, in a marked patrol car, for hours at a time.

He wasn’t even worried about the GPS devices that had recently been installed in patrol cars to prevent the very thing he was now doing. The idea was the devices would show where every car was at every moment, so that a cop could not spend half his shift at a bowling alley in Scotia, let’s say, watching his son bowl, as another cop did until Kathleen, bless her heart, caught up with him too.

Officer Johnson’s car was equipped with a GPS device, but nobody was monitoring it, or if anyone did monitor it, nobody cared. He could park in one place from 4 to 8 a.m. every Tuesday, and it fell to a newspaper reporter to catch him.

What does this tell you about the overwhelming workload that we’re so often told burdens the Schenectady Police Department? For as long as I can remember I’ve heard they can barely keep up with the great number of calls they receive. They’re always scrambling and never quite catching up, which is why their response time is dismal.

But now we learn that a cop on the midnight to 8 a.m. shift could regularly go AWOL for the last four hours and not be missed.

And something else: Is it really possible that no one in the Police Department noticed? I find it hard to believe, myself. I think it more likely that the cops cover for each other, that there’s a culture in the Schenectady Police Department that encourages cheating.

Remember, just a month after Dwayne Johnson got suspended, one of the department’s supervisors, Sgt. Eric Clifford, who is one of the guys who is supposed to be keeping an eye on the patrol cops and to make sure they’re doing their jobs, was himself caught going to the dentist on company time. The basic notion of doing an honest job seems to be lacking, and I am not confident the situation has changed yet.

Categories: Opinion

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