Schenectady police officer charged with DWI

Police Department changes approach to police officers charged with DWI

SCHENECTADY — An off-duty city police officer faces drunken driving charges after being involved in a crash three blocks from police headquarters, police said.

Two-year veteran Daniel Coppola was charged with driving while intoxicated after a crash about 4 a.m. Sunday at the corner of Broadway and Liberty Street, police said. No one was injured.

An investigation determined another motorist, who was driving on a suspended license, ran a red light and struck Coppola’s car, according to the police report. Police did not name that driver in a news release. 

Responding officers also found Coppola to be under the influence of alcohol, police said.

Court paperwork indicates police found Coppola had a blood alcohol content of 0.12 percent. The legal threshold for DWI is 0.08 percent.

Coppola, 23, of Rotterdam, was charged with a misdemeanor count of DWI. He was released and is to appear in court Thursday.

Police indicated in a press release that Coppola remains on duty but has been assigned to a desk job. Police issued that press release about two hours after The Daily Gazette asked about the arrest — and more than 48 hours after the incident.

Police Chief Eric Clifford issued a statement indicating Coppola’s status will be determined after an internal investigation is complete.

“All Schenectady police officers are expected to set an example to the community,” Clifford said in the prepared statement. “I hold each and every officer to the highest possible standards. When officers break the law, they will be held accountable like any other citizen. An internal investigation is currently being conducted, and once concluded, a decision will be made regarding Officer Coppola’s status as a Schenectady police officer.”

Allowing an officer arrested for DWI to remain on the job marks a change in the department’s policy regarding arrested officers. In prior years, those charged with DWI have at least received immediate suspensions without pay for 30 days, rather than desk duty.

Clifford could not be reached for comment on that later Tuesday. Mayor Gary McCarthy also could not be reached for comment. Police spokesman Sgt. Matthew Dearing confirmed the change in protocol, citing the Second Class Cities Law discipline process cemented in October, when the city won a long-running case.

Prior officer arrests that originated with the city Police Department have appeared in the department’s arrest log, which is kept for local media. 

Coppola’s arrest information was not in that log Tuesday afternoon when checked twice by The Daily Gazette.

Coppola started with the department in mid-2015, attended the Zone 5 Police Academy and graduated in January 2016.

The department described him then as a graduate of the Christian Brothers Academy. He earned an Associate’s Degree in criminal justice from Schenectady County Community College. He was then continuing his studies at Siena College.

Coppola’s total 2017 pay is listed on as $65,519.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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