Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy needs to take prompt action to get rid of police Sgt. William Fennell, who pleaded guilty yesterday in Bethlehem Town Court to driving while intoxicated.
The city has seen enough of officers who flout the law, not only driving drunk, which is bad enough, but refusing Breathalyzer tests, crashing their vehicles and leaving the scene of their own accidents.
Anyone can make a mistake, but these escapades go beyond mistakes and indicate a kind of character not suitable for a law enforcement officer, someone equipped with a gun and a badge and entrusted with holding the line against antisocial behavior on the part of others.
Fennell was accused of all the above — driving drunk, rear-ending another vehicle, speeding away from the scene, then crashing his own vehicle, and when detained by a Bethlehem police officer, refusing to take a Breathalyzer test.
This was in November, and he has been off the job since then, without pay, fortunately, since Schenectady Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett ruled that without a drivers license, Fennell was unable to do his police job. His license was suspended following a hearing before the Department of Motor Vehicles, and it will remain suspended for a year.
In the last few years, four other Schenectady cops have been accused of similar offenses. Two were fired (Darren Lawrence and John Lewis), one resigned (Michael R. Brown), and one is on “last chance” status, indicating that not all Schenectady police officers are fast learners.
If they need another lesson, so be it. Let the mayor give it to them. The city doesn’t need cops who act criminally when they’re off duty.