An investigation of a Schenectady police party featuring strippers should be wrapped up by early next week at the latest, Police Chief Mark Chaires said Wednesday.
Off-duty officers on the midnight shift hired women from Tops in Bottoms Entertainment for a party last week at Johnny Goo’s Clam Shack on Lower Broadway.
These mostly young officers working the midnight to 8 a.m. shift gathered at the bar, which is owned by a retired police officer, and for hours watched the women take off their clothes. Their spouses were not present at the party, according to city officials.
There is no immediate indication that officers did anything illegal such as touching the women in sexual areas, which would constitute prostitution, or that the women got completely naked. Bars where alcohol is served are prohibited by state law from allowing women to disrobe completely.
Chaires, who is about to retire, said the investigation is being conducted by the department’s Office of Professional Standards and consists mainly of interviewing people at the party. Those findings will then be reviewed.
“If discipline is appropriate, we will. If not, we’ll act accordingly,” he said.
What makes this case different, according to Chaires, is that watching strippers take off their clothes is not illegal. In other instances of police misconduct, there were clear violations of rules and regulations.
“DWI is never legal. Sleeping on duty is never legal,” he said, referring to recent transgressions by now-former members of the department.
While watching strippers raises some moral questions, Chaires said, it is not against the law. “Would it be illegal for an off-duty police officer to go into a strip bar? No, it wouldn’t,” he said.
However, Chaires said the issue is what this type of event does to the department’s image. “Although it’s not sponsored by the department, it’s basically a Christmas party. You’ve attached that to the department,” he said.
Chaires said he has never heard of this sort of thing happening at a platoon party, which usually consists mostly of officers drinking, joking around, playing cards and giving out goofy awards such as the most fit officer.
Ed Frank, an instructor at the Zone 5 Law Enforcement Academy, called the party “felony stupid” last week. The academy’s director, Pat Smith, said previously that he would immediately expel any student who held such a party.
Mayor Gary McCarthy has said he would not comment on the matter until the investigation is completed.