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Mark McCracken to retire from Schenectady police force

Mark McCracken to retire from Schenectady police force

His last date is slated to be Jan. 16.
Mark McCracken to retire from Schenectady police force
Schenectady police Officer Mark McCracken leaves Schenectady City Court last year.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

SCHENECTADY -- Schenectady police Officer Mark McCracken is retiring after a 17-year law enforcement career that included some controversial incidents.

His last day of work will be Jan. 16, according city Personnel and Benefits Administrator Tiffany White.

The retirement is not news McCracken was looking to make public, but he said he gave the city notice several months ago, adding that he made the decision to retire early in early 2017.

“My entire adult life has been served wearing one uniform or another,” McCracken said. “I’m tired. It’s time to take a break.”

Police Chief Eric Clifford praised McCracken for his service. In a prepared statement, he touched on the fact McCracken was a member of the U.S. military and that he performed several acts of valor while at the Police Department.

He said McCracken has "earned the ability to retire."

"He deserves everyone's thanks at this landmark time of his career," Clifford said.

McCracken, 44, said he will be able to retire with his full pension because he was able to apply three of the 21 years he served in the military toward his years of service as a police officer.

His pension, according to White, will be based on an average of his three highest-earning years.

McCracken was named as one of the top 10 earners in the city for at least the past three years. However, it was unclear this week whether those were years in which he earned the most.

It was previously reported McCracken made $183,137.01 in 2017, $180,863.61 in 2016, and $168,649 in 2015.

At one point, McCracken served as the Police Department’s spokesman. He was even a finalist to become chief, before Clifford was selected for that post.

McCracken's career with the Schenectady force had some rough patches.

The City Council voted in October to pay $360,000 to settle an excessive force lawsuit against the city that named McCracken, specifically. He was found to have used excessive force against Nicola Cottone while she was handcuffed during an incident in September of 2016, according to a report from the department’s Professional Standards Unit. That incident left the woman with a significant wound to her head.

The report of that incident, written by retired Lt. Edward Barbagelata, stated McCracken also took a photo of Cottone’s injury and showed it to other officers -- a violation of department policy.

McCracken dealt with fresh legal issues last year.

In January, he was arrested on a criminal contempt charge after allegedly violating an order of custody and visitation held by his ex-wife, Cassie Walker. She claimed McCracken came in “close physical proximity” to her during their son’s hockey game at a Union College Hockey rink on Jan. 7.

McCracken and Walker were in the process of divorcing at the time.

In that case, McCracken accepted an offer from the Schenectady County Attorney’s Office for an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal of the criminal contempt charge. Under such an arrangement, the charge is dropped if the defendant does not get arrested within a certain length of time.

McCracken, who was placed on administrative leave after his arrest, was demoted from lieutenant to patrol officer when he returned to the job after the case was settled. The Police Department would not say whether the demotion was a result of his legal issues.

McCracken said he worked hard at his job, and that neither of those incidents played into his decision to retire.

“My private life got made public because I hugged my son at a hockey game while being too close to my wife,” McCracken said. “If someone wants to judge me for that, go ahead. I don’t care.”

McCracken, though, would not comment on the incident with Cottone.

“It is what it is,” McCracken said. “I don’t have a comment on it.”

McCracken has been on disability since November, due to surgery related to an injury he said he received while on the job. He said he wants to take time to heal before he decides what he’s going to do next.

McCracken said he has no regrets regarding his time at the Police Department.

“I have some great memories walking out the door,” McCracken said. “That’s all I care about.”

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