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What you need to know for 03/28/2017

Schenectady cop charged with fleeing an officer

Schenectady cop charged with fleeing an officer

Schenectady police arrested a fellow patrolman this morning for speeding.
Schenectady cop charged with fleeing an officer
Aaron Zampella, far right, is sworn in as a Schenectady police recruit in 2011.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

Schenectady police arrested a fellow officer early Friday morning after fleeing the scene during a traffic stop, police said.

Aaron Zampella, a Schenectady patrolman and five-year veteran, was heading south on Broadway around 1:15 a.m. at a high rate of speed when police pulled him over near 797 Broadway. But as the officer approached the vehicle, Zampella fled the scene, police said.

The vehicle, described as a Nissan Maxima, was located a short time later on Campbell Avenue.

Police pulled him over again and discovered that Zampella, who was off-duty at the time, was driving the vehicle. It is unclear if he was alone.

Zampella turned himself in Friday afternoon and was arrested on one-count of unlawfully fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree, a misdemeanor, and one count of imprudent speed, a traffic violation.

Alcohol and drugs were not involved in the incident, police Lt. Mark McCracken said.

Zampella was released on an appearance ticket and is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday, McCracken said. He has been suspended without pay from the department.

It is unclear why Zampella fled the scene during the initial traffic stop on Broadway. “That’s a good question,” McCracken said. He called the incident “unfortunate.”

“A young man made a poor decision and will face the consequences of it,” McCracken said. “It’s very difficult for everyone and it’s difficult for the community to accept.”

McCracken described Zampella, a city resident, as a “highly regarded” officer.

Zampella was sworn in to the Schenectady Police Department by Mayor Gary McCarthy in July 2011. Actor Bradley Cooper attended the ceremony as research for his role in the movie “The Place Beyond the Pines.”

Zampella is the son of longtime Schenectady police Officer Arthur Zampella, who retired in 2009 after serving for 31 years.

Arthur Zampella, who was a sergeant detective, was the department’s expert on arson cases and sex crimes, and was trained to interview children who were molested.

At the swearing-in ceremony, Aaron Zampella said he decided he wanted to be a police officer from watching his father.

“Growing up as the son of a police officer, seeing everything he has done in his career, serving the community, it’s always been something I wanted to strive for and wanted to do,” he said in 2011.

Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, hviccaro@dailygazette.net or @HRViccaro on Twitter.

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