In trying to fill a vacant patrol officer position in the Schenectady County sheriff's office, apparently there were no other candidates available for the job that aren't under suspension from their current job and facing termination, under investigation by the Albany district attorney's office, or facing a potential lawsuit over allegations of roughing up a kid.
If that's the case, then the sheriff's department is perfectly justified in hiring Michael Geraci Jr. to join its road patrol.
Otherwise, the hiring of Geraci for the $65,000-a-year job is ill-conceived, and might actually hurt the department down the road.
Geraci, the son of a former Schenectady police chief, was suspended by the Albany police department last year following an incident on Oct. 31 in which he's alleged to have grabbed a 12-year-old boy by the neck, thrown him to the ground and punched him in the chest in Colonie.
In addition, in 2013, Geraci was reportedly removed from patrol duties after allegations he was abusive to people he arrested while on a DWI patrol. And in 2006, Geraci faced a grand jury over allegations he dragged a 73-year-old man by the ankles from a police van. The grand jury cleared him, but it cost the city $25,000 to settle a lawsuit.
What does it say to the citizens of Schenectady County that the department chooses to hire someone with this kind of record? Why hire him and put the department and its citizens at potential risk?
At the very least, why not wait to see if he's cleared of the allegations by his department, until the district attorney's office closes its case in the matter, and until the parents' litigation has been settled before bringing him on board?
Perhaps all of these incidents can be legitimately explained away. Maybe he's a great officer and the allegations that seem to follow him have all been blown out of proportion. But maybe they haven’t been. Maybe, instead, they were even covered up or glossed over because police were protecting one of their own.
The sheriff says he was "satisfied with the answers" he got from Geraci, enough to give him a job. But there are still too many unresolved issues with this officer, too much baggage still hanging over his head, to put him in contact with the citizens of Schenectady County.
When Mr. Geraci’s resume came across his desk, the sheriff should have moved on to the next applicant.