NISKAYUNA – An investigation into Niskayuna Deputy Police Chief Michael Stevens was dropped hours before a hearing on the allegations against him was set to take place.
“I, on behalf of the town of Niskayuna, have elected to withdraw the Civil Service Law Article 75 charges brought against Deputy Chief Michael Stevens,” said Supervisor Yasmine Syed in a press release Tuesday evening following an executive session during the board’s agenda meeting. “As such, the hearing scheduled to begin on September 15, 2021 has been canceled. The matter will be addressed internally and I will be making recommendations to the Town Board as to the next steps.”
Syed said she would not comment on her reasoning for dropping the charges.
Stevens was under investigation on allegations he was the driving force behind a hostile work environment inside the department. Those allegations led to a 17-1 vote of no confidence by the Niskayuna Police Benevolent Association in December 2020.
Stevens’ lawyer, Michael McDermott of Albany-based O’Connell and Aronowitz, said he received a call late Tuesday that the hearing had been canceled.
The hearing had been scheduled to happen before the public.
“Mike wanted to have these allegations aired in public because he’s confident in his defense and has nothing to hide,” McDermott said Tuesday morning.
Stevens is one of three candidates for the police chief position. The other two candidates are Sgt. Todd Frenyea and Sgt. Jordan Kochan.
The Town Board was expected to name a new chief Tuesday but will now name one Friday afternoon, according to the release.
The town has been without an official chief since Dan McManus’ departure in September 2020 after he was placed on leave in July of that year while the town investigated him for an alleged violation of town policy. That investigation ceased when he left.
Fran Wall had been leading the department as interim chief up until June, when she retired.
This news comes as another officer has resigned from the department. Officer Komeiko Bonitatibus announced her departure Monday following an eight-month medical leave.
The department has been plagued by staffing issues following several departures this year.
“”Despite recent turmoil and a lot of unwanted and less than favorable coverage, the Police Department and town is composed of dedicated men and women, lots of whom have served for a decade or more,” Bonitatibus said in her resignation letter. “I wish them all the best and hope that the town is able to find balance and continue to thrive.”