Jordan Kochan was sworn in as the new Niskayuna police chief Friday afternoon, following a process plagued by a delay due to the COVID pandemic and an investigation into the deputy police chief — a finalist for the job himself.
Kochan, who was previously a sergeant in the department, has been on the force since 2008 and first moved to Niskayuna in 1996. He is originally from Nebraska.
“In this position, I don’t promise a lot of things, but I can promise you this: I’m going to give all of me, back to you,” Kochan said.
He thanked the town for embracing him from the beginning.
Former interim chief Fran Wall and the Niskayuna Police Benevolent Association both supported the decision to appoint Kochan.
“I can say that we are very excited to see Chief Kochan take over the reins of the department and are looking forward to what his vision for the department holds,” said PBA President Anthony Comanzo. “He’s proven himself to be an outstanding leader and we have full faith in his leadership quality and temperament. We believe the town board made a fantastic selection and know that Chief Kochan will make them proud.”
Wall, who retired in June and had been the likely pick for chief before she left, said she has known Kochan since he was young and worked closely with him for 13 years on the force.
“I believe that he is both bright and dedicated,” she said in a statement Friday, following the ceremony. “And, I believe that he is and will continue to be an asset to the police department.”
Wall said Kochan is an officer that any department would look to and hope to hire.
“The citizens of Niskayuna will surely benefit from his leadership,” she said. “I also know that Jordan will continue to pursue many of the necessary and planned progressive changes that will hopefully bring the police department to where it needs to be. I wish him the very best of luck and much success.”
Two of the top priorities facing Kochan are staffing and morale, Town Supervisor Yasmine A. Syed said following the ceremony.
“They go hand in hand,” she said.
Before the meeting and ceremony, Syed said Kochan had relayed a plan to the board during the interview process on ways to improve the department.
“He suggested some different kinds of training, some different kinds of programming within the department, some different kinds of mental health and wellness services as well,” Syed said.
She said Kochan also caught the board’s attention during the interview process with his desire to actively be part of the town’s Police Reform Implementation task force, which is charged with identifying ways of carrying out the town’s police reform initiatives.
“These are things we’ve been talking about for over a year now and he really has a collaborative approach and that’s what we were really looking for,” the supervisor said. “Jordan did put in a lot of work, coupled with CNA that did our racial equity audit.”
Niskayuna resident and former deputy supervisor Lorene Zabin said she’s lived in town through six or seven police chiefs. She said she hoped the police department and town could have a good relationship.
“I’m so happy the board has come to a very conclusive and delightful ending, it’s been a long time,” she said.
Part of the delay in naming a new chief involved the availability of the chief’s exam which was limited by the pandemic. The appointment was also delayed because the town was conducting an investigation into Deputy Chief Mike Stevens for allegations surrounding his behavior in the workplace.
Charges were withdrawn by Syed on Tuesday and the originally scheduled disciplinary hearing was canceled. The hearing on Stevens was set for Wednesday.
Stevens did not attend the swearing-in ceremony. He said he did not want to be a distraction.
“I guess the board successfully blocked the public from knowing the truth,” he said. “Lack of transparency at its best. I assure you it would have proven I didn’t do anything.”
Stevens also indicated that he would not provide any of the information he intended to share at the hearing.
“I have too much integrity to leak information,” he said.
Syed said the issue concerning Stevens will be handled internally now, would be resolved soon and that Stevens would likely not face disciplinary action.
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected] or 518-478-3320.