Niskayuna

Niskayuna deputy chief out of consideration for next top cop

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Niskayuna Deputy Police Chief Michael Stevens will not be the next leader of the department, he confirmed Thursday afternoon. 

Stevens is not happy with the decision by the Town Board. 

The other candidates for the job are two sergeants currently on the force, Sgt. Jordan Kochan and Sgt. Todd Frenya. The new chief is expected to be announced at noon Friday at Town Hall.

“Sergeants have no administrative experience,” Stevens said. “So, they’re opting to put a sergeant, who is a road sergeant, in charge of the entire police department with zero administrative experience — either sergeant you choose.” 

Stevens said he has seven and a half years of administrative experience. He’s been on the force for more than 19 years, he said. 

A year-long investigation into Stevens’ behavior was terminated Tuesday by the town supervisor. That investigation was sparked by an anonymous email sent to Supervisor Yasmine Syed on July 20, 2020 alleging Stevens engaged in sexist, racist and hostile acts while on the job. A hearing on those issues was scheduled to begin Wednesday of this week.

The anonymous email alleged: that Stevens had asked a female officer if she was going to abort her baby, that he would blow kisses and call other male colleagues sweetheart, that he called a Muslim subordinate a terrorist and made jokes about Muslims blowing people up and being in sleeper cells and that he berated and swore at another officer, according to the email. 

“Absolutely nothing in that email is true and I would say proof is the fact that the town decided at the last minute to walk away from this disciplinary hearing,” Stevens said.

Tuesday evening following an executive session to discuss the position of the police chief, Syed announced she was withdrawing the charges against Stevens and handling them internally. 

Stevens said no deal was made with the town regarding the investigation concerning him. 

“Just so we’re clear there was no deal made,” he said. “We were set — myself and my attorney Mike McDermott — were set to go to our hearing Wednesday morning, we were called Tuesday late afternoon and told the hearing was canceled they were withdrawing the charges.” 

Stevens said he has not spoken to town officials between the time the meeting was canceled and the time he received the call from Syed notifying him he was not the next chief. 

Syed said the town is continuing to use Jay Girvin, an outside attorney with Girvin and Ferlazzo to resolve the matter. She said a report may be forthcoming, but “in all likelihood” there won’t be disciplinary action against Stevens.

The town has spent approximately $20,000  in 2021 having Girvin as its outside attorney for this investigation. Syed did not have the costs for 2020 immediately available. 

Stevens said he believes the accusatory letter was sent because people are trying to aggressively take over the police department. 

“People are trying to move up without earning it,” he said. 

He would not name the people he was talking about. 

“I have no proof,” he said. “I don’t put false allegations out there. I actually have proof when I do stuff, but I can tell you this much: people walked away from this investigation because they were afraid of what was going to come out about other people.”

Categories: News, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

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