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What you need to know for 01/17/2017

Law prevents identification of suspended Saratoga Springs cops

Law prevents identification of suspended Saratoga Springs cops

The names of the three Saratoga Springs police officers suspended this week after an incident at Dan

The names of the three Saratoga Springs police officers suspended this week after an incident at Dango Fitzgerald’s Sports Bar aren’t being released because doing so would violate state Civil Service law, the city’s labor lawyer said Wednesday.

The three male officers have been suspended without pay, said Mark McCarthy of the Harris Beach law firm, the city’s labor counsel.

The Saratoga Springs Police Department continued its investigation Wednesday into an allegation that up to three off-duty Saratoga Springs police officers may have been involved in a fight at approximately 12:15 a.m. Monday at Dango Fitzgerald’s Sports Bar at 38 Caroline St.

At 12:52 a.m. Monday, the Police Department received a call from a man who reported being assaulted while at Dango Fitzgerald’s and he believed those involved were off-duty Saratoga Springs police officers, said a statement from city police Chief Christopher Cole.

The victim sought medical treatment on his own accord sometime Monday afternoon for minor injuries, Cole said.

“There was no serious injury,” Cole said.

An initial investigation was conducted Monday morning by on-duty supervisory personnel. The investigation was turned over Tuesday to command-level staff — Cole, Assistant Chief Gregory Veitch, Capt. Michael Chowske and Lt. John Catone — and is continuing. No arrests had been made as of Wednesday evening.

“When complete, the investigation will be forwarded to the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office for his review and a determination of any potential criminal charges in this case,” said a police statement released Wednesday afternoon.

City police referred any questions about the case to McCarthy. McCarthy said the officers’ cases are governed by state Civil Service Law, Section 75.

“Employees are entitled to confidentiality. It’s not because they are police officers, it’s because they are public employees,” he said.

A case in the city of Schenectady, for example, involving police officers throwing eggs at cars from a tour bus in the late 1990s went to the state’s highest court, which ruled the officers’ names could not be released.

Under Civil Service Law, the maximum time a public employee can be suspended without pay is 30 days. Usually a hearing is held during this 30-day period and the case resolved in some manner.

“If it is not resolved at the hearing, [the person] is back on the payroll [after 30 days],” McCarthy said. “It’s a personnel matter. It doesn’t matter whether a crime was committed.”

The courts have upheld disciplinary action against public employees whose off-duty behavior violates city regulations and codes of conduct, he said.

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