Rotterdam Police Chief G. William Manikas is raising concerns over a $25,000 audit conducted by a law firm the town hired after the town supervisor’s office sent a news release Thursday that the chief said is woefully inaccurate.
“I feel compelled to address several inaccuracies and false implications outlined in the unsigned press release sent by the Town of Rotterdam on February 17, 2021 and will outline them below,” Manikas said Friday in a release.
Manikas’ release comes after Town Supervisor Steven Tommasone’s office sent a release Thursday stating an audit done by Albany law firm Barclay Damon found the department lacked policies and procedures on how to handle the town’s sex offender registry. Those findings come after a February 2017 event in which an officer was disciplined after he failed to properly register a level 1 sex offender by not uploading an updated photo of the offender to the registry. That mistake led to the offender being arrested and placed in jail for failing to properly register.
Manikas said the original release implies that there had been multiple incidents of mismanagement of the sex offender registry.
“This was in fact one incident and the officer was not disciplined for a lapse in monitoring,” Manikas said in his release. “The officer was disciplined for failing to follow procedure in how he received the required photo, which was required to be in person instead of by email.”
Manikas also said the Town Board has never requested or required him to tell the board about any policy changes prior to the changes being made, which he said was stated in the supervisors release.
“The Rotterdam Police Department is a NYS accredited agency and was first accredited in 2001,” Manikas said. “Policies and Procedures are subject to review on a continuous basis and changes are made routinely in accordance with changes to NYS law, law enforcement best practices and the requirements of the NYS Accreditation Council.”
Manikas said the statement that the department doesn’t have written policies regarding the registry or someone trained to handle compliance with the Sex Offender Registry Act is wholly inaccurate.
He said policies on the registry have been around since 2002 and are periodically reviewed and updated to comply with new state standards.
He also said that Investigator Connor Lee currently oversees the registry and was trained on how to manage it in 2018. Manikas said he is not the same officer who was disciplined.
Manikas declined to release the officer’s name or how the officer was disciplined, but said the officer is still with the department. He said the town attorney sent a memo in June 2020 that the chief should not release an officer’s personal information and that the town attorney’s office would handle requests for information.
The officer’s mistake was discovered almost a year later in March 2018, at which point the officer notified the department and the offender was released and the charges dropped, Manikas said.
Manikas said Tommasone has not responded to his request for the audit or inquiry into who wrote the release.
“Clearly, the author has access to the findings of the audit and has chosen not to provide them to me,” he said. “For this reason I have concerns with the integrity of the audit and whether it was conducted in an independent manner.”
Tommasone could not be reached for comment.
Manikas also said the sex offender’s identity could not be released but that once the mistake was discovered in March 2018 the sex offender was released from jail and the charges dropped.
“That was our mistake,” Manikas said.