accreditation program records for police departments in Albany County

Christopher Philippo filed this request with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services of New York .
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Christopher Philippo

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the New York State Freedom of Information Law (1977 N.Y. Laws ch. 933), I hereby request the following records:

The Application, Agency Participation Agreement, documentation, and assessment for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services Accreditation Program for the Albany City Police Department, Albany County Sheriff's Office, Bethlehem Town Police Department, and University at Albany Police Department.

The webpage http://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/ops/accred/ states that the program "has four principle goals:
"To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement agencies utilizing existing personnel, equipment and facilities to the extent possible;
"To promote increased cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies and other agencies of the criminal justice services;
"To ensure the appropriate training of law enforcement personnel;and
"To promote public confidence."

The program has accredited several SUNY police departments despite testimony such as the following:

"there are police chiefs in SUNY who are not mandating policer [sic] officers, certified, whatever. We have police chiefs that refuse to voluntarily give up their fingerprints"
James Lyman, Executive Director of Council 82 for the New York State Law Enforcement Officers Union. (108). http://www.nysenate.gov/files/SUNY%20testimony%20pt.%202.PDF

"SUNY police chiefs serve at the pleasure of the campus president, thus are motivated to keep crime stats down by any means […] SUNY can no longer afford to staff, or overstaff, a body, or overstaff, a body which is subject to inefficiencies, manipulation, cronyism, ill motivation and mismanagement."
Peter Barry, VP & Legislative Director of NYS University Police Officers Union Local 1792 of the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees AFSCME, Council 82 & AFL-CIO. (127-128).
http://www.nysenate.gov/files/SUNY%20Testimony%20pt.%203.PDF

SUNY Police Commissioner R. Bruce McBride knows that it was represented to the New York State Court of Claims that UAlbany Police Lt. Paul Burlingame and Assistant Chief Paul Berger were never appropriately trained with respect to the Personal Property Law; the same would appear to be true of Christopher Farina, though not explicitly stated in the decision by the New York State Court of Claims, Abdul-Wahhab v. The State of New York, #2012-032-004, Claim No. 116205 (June 18, 2012) http://vertumnus.courts.state.ny.us/claims/html/2012-032-004.html Inadequate training and using that claim as a defense are prohibited by the SUNY Police Manual http://www.suny.edu/sunypp/documents.cfm?doc_id=364 The most Mr. McBride could muster by way of response to the facts of the case in a November 19, 2012 11:21 AM e-mail he sent was "Thank you for bringing this to my attention." Mr. McBride had also been informed of the fact that UAlbany Police had not been properly maintaining their Sexual Offender Registry years ago, to the extent that they'd wound up with two different, separate registries, both of them erroneous and misinforming the campus community and via the Internet also misinforming the broader community; he did not to respond at all to that.

The University at Albany Police Department appear to have received its special accreditation from the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services Accreditation Program http://police.albany.edu/UPDAnnualReport2011.pdf (page 15) around the time of the fallout of the Raven Arms .25 "junk gun"/"Saturday Night Special" campus firearms violations and improper storage of a departmental weapon involving decorated Investigators Wendy Knoebel and Matthew A. Griffin, the major area drug manufacturing case involving Knoebel and her husband's drug barn at their home in Duanesburg, and just prior to President Obama's visit to campus. The blatant problems with the UAlbany Police department's sexual offender registry still existed at the time the special accrreditation was given:

• Sexual Offender Registry #1 "© 2009 University at Albany"

"There are currently three (4) [sic] registered sex offenders enrolled or working at the University. The following Information has been released:" was followed by a list of six (6) offenders. Accessed: October 19, 2012 Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6BXAjbUOP Accessed: February 19, 2013 Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6EZ55k2vF (it still read © 2009 at that time)

• Sexual Offender Registry #2 No date (probably circa 2007-2008)

"There are currently two (2) registered sex offenders enrolled at the University. The following Information has been released:" was followed by a list of three (3) offenders. Accessed: October 19, 2012 Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6BXAsiiOT http://police.albany.edu/2ColPage.asp?PageSName=SOR2 now redirects to UPD's homepage
There was an audit by the NYS Comptroller's Office in 2007 with a follow-up in 2009 http://osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093009/07s121.htm which found a number of problems, but it evidently failed to take note of the mismanagement of the sexual offender registry. The Registry gets referenced in the Clery Act Report http://police.albany.edu/ASR.pdf on page 53 of the 2011 report, the claim being there that it was being maintained - when clearly (the above archives) it was not being maintained properly. At least part of page 53 was not written for the report but was instead copied and pasted from the website: "The DCJS Sex Offender Registry site may be found on the web (See the link to the right)" (there's no link to the right in the PDF). The obvious error has been retained in the 2012 report on page 58; John M. Murphy, incidentally, is the Clery Act Compliance Officer at UAlbany who has permitted such utterly careless errors and problems to exist in the annual Clery Act report.

Lieutenant Glenn R. Miner, Records Access Officer, Central Records Bureau, New York State Police in a January 30, 2013 document attached to a January 30, 2013 12:22:53 PM EST e-mail from the NYS Troopers FoilUnit in response to a FOIL request indicated that they failed to find a written agreement between the Division of State Police and the University at Albany’s President pertaining to N.Y. EDUC. LAW §355(2) (l). The lack of such an agreement may be a violation of the law, would presumably impede cooperation and coordination between law enforcement agencies, and leaves one wondering how the departments could be working together on the current Anthony Collins case and the disappearances of Karen Wilson and Suzanne Lyall.

"Chief" J. "Frank" Wiley failed to swear and file his Oath of Office the year he was appointed according to the response to a FOIL request made to the NYS Department of State. When the request had originally been made to the University at Albany, the Records Access Officers there did not respond and instead a threatening e-mail and letter were sent by Clarence L. McNeill indicating that all my FOIL requests had been complied with (they had not) and that I may not communicate with anyone at UAlbany other than he, or UAlbany would contact local authorities(!).

"Chief" Wiley gave Investigator Wendy Knoebel the Chief's Award for Excellence in 1999 for her work in 1998, the year she failed to solve the disappearance of Suzanne Lyall, a year in which excellent police work would seem to have been lacking.

"On Tuesday, February 9, 1999, University President Hitchcock officiated at the police officer swearing-in ceremony. Also present were Vice Presidents Kirchner and Doellefeld, and the New York State Director of University Police, R. Bruce McBride. Many officers brought their families to share in the celebration as their took their oath of office as police officers.
"This event, held at the Alumni House, also served as the Department's annual awards ceremony. Tim Brady received the award for 1998 Officer of the Year, and Investigator Wendy Knoebel received the Chief's Award for Excellence"
"What's New…" University at Albany, Department of Public Safety. http://web.archive.org/web/19990501211630/http://www.albany.edu/public_safety/whatsnew.html

The picture to the right of the "ONGOING INVESTIGATION Missing Person Suzanne Lyall" at the following link is of Investigator Wendy Knoebel holding what might be her 1998 Chief's Award for Excellence, flanked by Investigators Paul Berger and Garry Slyke. http://web.archive.org/web/19991023053405/http://www.albany.edu/public_safety/ciu.html#lyall

She was subsequently given another award:
"In 2002, Knoebel received the Lawrence E. Gall [sic] Award, awarded to officers exhibiting excellence in police services to the UAlbany community."
"Wendy Knoebel: Driven by Evidence." April 20, 2009. Campus News. University at Albany. http://web.archive.org/web/20090504133846/http://www.albany.edu/news/campus_news_6077.php

The award is named after the late Lawrence E. Gaal (two As, not two Ls), who'd been shot in the line of duty: Reinhart, Janice. "Mental Patient Found Not Guilty." Albany Student Press. January 29, 1980: 3 cols 1-5. http://library.albany.edu/speccoll/findaids/issues/1980_01_29.pdf Lawrence Gaal survived the shooting, but later died young of cancer. UAlbany frequently forgets how to correctly spell the name of the award created in his memory.

Ms. Knoebel was subsequently investigated by the State police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Aside from a house and barn filled with drugs, she'd also been found to have committed firearms violations.

"[University at Albany Investigator Matthew A. Griffin] said [Wendy] Knoebel told him in April [2011] that she was considering filing for divorce from her husband […] Griffin said at that time he advised her to bring any guns she had at home to the police station for safekeeping because a divorce could trigger ‘emotional’ reactions" Lyons, Brendan J. “SUNY police officer also faces gun charge; Cop arrested on drug charge allegedly asked colleague to move gun.” Albany Times Union. July 23, 2011: B1. http://albarchive.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=15255123

It is difficult to square Mr. Griffin's advice with certain things, like the statements in the SUNY policy item “Firearms on State-operated Campuses” http://www.suny.edu/sunypp/documents.cfm?doc_id=367 regarding possession of firearms on campus and perhaps with something noted by the FBI, that "Risk factors at times associated with potential violence include […] bringing weapons onto a work site; […] breakup of a marriage or romantic relationship; other family conflicts; financial or legal problems; or emotional disturbance.”
Rugala, Eugene A. and Arnold R. Isaacs, Eds. Workplace Violence: Issues in Response. Quantico, VA: Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“In a sworn statement given to State Police on May 19, a fellow SUNY investigator, Matthew A. Griffin, said that Knoebel had called him on May 17 and asked him to remove two pistols from her locker at the UAlbany police headquarters. He said Knoebel was comfortable storing her departmental weapon in a police armory safe but she asked him to take another gun, a .25-caliber Ravens Arms pistol, to his private residence for safekeeping.Griffin said he did not know at the time that Knoebel was facing imminent arrest on federal drug charges. He told State Police that he only learned of those charges the following day, May 18, after he had already returned Knoebel's unregistered handgun to the police station and logged it in as evidence." Lyons, Brendan J. “SUNY police officer also faces gun charge; Cop arrested on drug charge allegedly asked colleague to move gun.” Albany Times Union. July 23, 2011: B1. http://albarchive.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=15255123

“Firearms on State-operated Campuses” §§ II (C ) and V (A); 8 NYCRR § 590.4; and the SUNY Police Manual § 75.21 seem to indicate that all firearms should be kept in the university police arsenal, tagged. There's no indication that Ms. Knoebel's weapons were tagged, or of where their ammunition was. Why did Ms. Knoebel have her departmental weapon and an unregistered Raven Arms .25, popularly known as a "Saturday Night Special" or "junk gun" in her personal locker? Ms. Knoebel and Mr. Griffin are no doubt well aware of the reputation of such guns?

"This type of handgun, commonly known as a 'Saturday Night Special,' presents particular problems for law enforcement officials. Saturday Night Specials are generally characterized by short barrels, light weight, easy concealability, low cost, use of cheap quality materials, poor manufacture, inaccuracy and unreliability. These characteristics render the Saturday Night Special particularly attractive for criminal use and virtually useless for the legitimate purposes of law enforcement, sport, and protection of persons, property and businesses" (1153-1154).
Kelley v. RG Industries, Inc., 497 A. 2d 1143 - MD: Court of Appeals 1985. http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=4146105566330191972

That case goes on to cite prominent individuals' testimony at Senate hearings, for example, "Patrick Murphy, Police Commissioner of the City of New York, added […] 'There is absolutely no legitimate reason to permit the importation, manufacture, or sale of these weapons, or their parts. They are sought only by people who have illicit motives, but who may have some difficulty securing a better gun. No policemen, no Army officer, no security guard, no businessman or merchant, and no sportsman would purchase one of these weapons for any lawful purpose'" (1154 n. 10).

Since Ms. Knoebel could have afforded a better weapon, and the Raven Arms .25 would have been, if those authorities were correct, of little use protecting her home, her husband or daughter, or her major drug manufacturing operation in her barn in the rural/suburban community of Duanesburg, and would have been of little use for law enforcement, why did she own one? During the time she was keeping it in her home (if it hadn't been on campus the whole time), a home with "a small amount of marijuana in the couple's bedroom, kitchen and bathroom," did she have a trigger lock on it to keep it safe from her daughter, friends, neighbors, etc.?
Gavin, Robert. "Man admits to growing pot; Duanesburg resident in court a day after his wife pleads to similar charge." Albany Times Union. December 11, 2011: B6. http://albarchive.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=16772361

“Meg Versteegen who has lived near the couple for the past three years […] said, 'I think it makes it worse in the fact that she would know it was wrong.' […] Neighbors said it makes them nervous to have a couple like the Knoebels living nearby. Versteegen said, 'Very surprising. A little worrisome, I would have to say. Obviously small children in the area, so not really a good thing.'”
Connolly, Erin. "SUNY police investigator arrested on federal drug charges." YNN, Your News Now. May 20, 2011. http://capitalregion.ynn.com/content/your_news/543934/suny-police-investigator-arrested-on-federal-drug-charges/

Mr. Griffin would seem to have been wrong not only in advising Ms. Knoebel to bring her weapons on campus, and to permit her to store both her departmental weapon and her "Saturday Night Special" in her personal locker, but also to have been wrong in his act of removing them under any circumstances (much less the specific circumstances under which he removed them). "Firearms on State-operated Campuses" §II (D) and 8 NYCRR § 590.4 would seem to have prohibited him from removing them, unless he'd been designated by the chief administrative officer in writing? SUNY Police Manual §§ 70.01 and 70.04 would also seem to have prohibited him from, after having secured the "Saturday Night Special" in a safe at his own home, from removing it, from bringing an unregistered firearm back on campus, and from logging it in as evidence himself. Those sections seem to indicate he should have called the police with jurisdiction over his home and turned it over to their custody at his home.

That department and others have quite a few serious problems, many of them problems that had been publicized in the media. It leaves one wondering why there should be any public confidence whatsoever in the NYS Department of Criminal Justice Services. Prompt compliance in delivering the records herein requested might help in that respect at least a little.

If my request is too broad or does not reasonably describe the records, please contact me via MuckRock.com so that I may clarify my request, and when appropriate inform me of the manner in which records are filed, retrieved or generated.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Christopher Philippo

From: dcjs.sm.legal.foil

Dear Mr. Philippo:

This will acknowledge receipt of your Freedom of Information Law request for the following records:

The Application, Agency Participation Agreement, documentation, and assessment for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services Accreditation Program for the Albany City Police Department, Albany County Sheriff's Office, Bethlehem Town Police Department, and University at Albany Police Department.

Please be advised that your request is under active review and you may expect a formal response to your inquiry within twenty business days.

Very truly yours,

Valerie Friedlander
Record Access Officer

From: Christopher Philippo

The FOIL request touches upon matters such as police departments in Albany County failing to properly maintain a sexual offender registry and other quite serious matters of incompetence and/or public corruption. As such, a prioritized formal response to the inquiry delivered with the swiftness such a serious inquiry warrants rather leaving such matters in question until sometime in November (November would be leaving the inquiry unanswered until after the upcoming election) would be greatly appreciated to promote public confidence.

"Albany Police Officers Union President Christian Mesley questioned whether Krokoff's resume, and comparatively shorter experience, stack up with the other finalists and said Jennings would do well to pick someone from outside the department.
"'I'm not surprised that he made it. I think he'd lose the confidence of the taxpayers if he didn't make the final four,' Mesley said, again noting that the union was given no input into the search. 'Here's the bottom line to me: If you pick Steve Krokoff, why did you do a search?'"
Carleo-Evangelist, Jordan. "Short list at 4 for Albany chief job; Mayor Jennings reveals the names of candidates for the top police position." Albany Times Union. April 8, 2010: D1. http://albarchive.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=10170537

"Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff was surprised to find out that his officers have conducted some 655 strip searches dating back to January of 2009".
TU Editorial Board. "Why so many strip searches?" Albany Times Union. December 12, 2012. http://blog.timesunion.com/opinion/why-so-many-strip-searches/23305/

"'I'm looking into our handling of it,' Police Chief Steven Krokoff said".
Lyons, Brendan J. "Cops chided in finger-biting case; Victim says police slow to probe attack that nearly cost her finger." Albany Times Union. January 31, 2013.http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Cops-chided-in-finger-biting-case-4236663.php

"Police Chief Steven Krokoff says his department was 'insensitive' when it conducted a training exercise that involved police firing blank ammunition and using flash grenades near occupied apartments at the Ida J. Yarbrough Homes.
"The chief said the department will review how it conducts 'neighborhood-based training' after Thursday's operation drew criticism from residents who said they were frightened by a chaotic scene that seemed real to them.
"Krokoff released a statement as photos of the incident spread on Facebook. The pictures showed armed officers in tactical gear as well as fake blood and spent shell casings that were left behind at part of the public housing complex that is now deserted and slated for demolition."
Stanforth, Lauren. "Police training exercise draws criticism; Residents of Ida Yarbrough describe explosions and gunfire; chief apologizes." Albany Times Union. March 25, 2013. http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Police-training-exercise-draws-criticism-4379839.php

"[Steve Barnes, questioning Steven Krokoff:] Geographically, in square miles, how big is the city of Albany?
"[Steven Krokoff:] A: 60?
"Q: It's 21.8
"A: Shoot. I knew that.
"Q: Wasn't it on the chief's exam?
"A: Yeah, sure. [...]
"Q: Pop quiz: How many 'likes' does the Albany Police Department's Facebook page have?
"A: Just above 8,000.
"Q: Wow — it's 8,104 as of this morning.
"A: That's something I follow."
Barnes, Steve. "Conversing with Steven Krokoff, Albany's top cop." Albany Times Union. April 18, 2013. http://www.timesunion.com/entertainment/article/Conversing-with-Steven-Krokoff-Albany-s-top-cop-4445351.php

"Albany County Correction Officer arrested for assault on inmate." News10 ABC. March 8, 2013. http://www.news10.com/story/21558800/albany-county-correction-officer-arrested-for-assault-on-inmate

"Rodriguez allegedly recorded a January 2010 meeting where Apple brought together members of his department to boost morale. In the meeting, Apple, who officially succeeded former sheriff James Campbell in 2012 after serving as acting sheriff for nearly a year, encouraged the members of the department to work within a 'gray area' and is heard saying 'I've been living in the gray for 22 (expletive) years. I know exactly how to manipulate the law and I've gotten pretty good at doing it. Is it right, wrong or indifferent? I don't (expletive) care.'"
Fitzgerald, Bryan. "Dismiss misconduct claim, court rules; Statue of limitations cited in investigator's taping of undersheriff." Albany Times Union. April 6, 2013: C5. http://albarchive.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=22105121

Lyons, Brendan J. and Robert Gavin. "Gambling is bad bet for two at county jail; Arrest of correction officers part of illegal website operation, officials say." Albany Times Union. April 11, 2013: A1. http://albarchive.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=22160470

"Inmate found dead at Albany County jail." Troy Record. May 12, 2013. http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2013/05/12/news/doc518f2dca6a813981309342.txt

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 15, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: dcjs.sm.legal.foil

Dear Mr. Phillipo:

This is in response to your Freedom of Information Law request for the Application, Agency Participation Agreement, documentation, and assessment for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services Accreditation Program for the Albany City Police Department, Albany County Sheriff's Office, Bethlehem Town Police Department, and University at Albany Police Department.

Please be advised that we are in the process of reviewing the records which are responsive to your request and we anticipate having a formal response to you by December 20, 2013. This additional time to respond is required to carefully review the records responsive to your request to determine whether any portions are exempt from disclosure under the provisions of the Public Officers Law.

Very truly yours,

Valerie Friedlander
Records Access Officer

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 15, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: dcjs.sm.legal.foil

Dear Mr. Philippo:

As indicated in our correspondence below, your request is in process. We are compiling and reviewing the records that are responsive to your request and we anticipate that we complete our review and have a final response to you by December 20. This time to respond is required to review the records that are responsive to your request.

Very truly yours,

Valerie Friedlander
Records Access Officer

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 15, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: dcjs.sm.legal.foil

Dear Mr. Philippo:

In response to your inquiry, please be advised that we are completing the processing of your request, and the responsive records will be provided to you by December 20, 2013.

Very truly yours,

Valerie Friedlander
Records Access Officer

From: dcjs.sm.legal.foil

Dear Mr. Philippo:

This is in response to your Freedom of Information Law request for the Application, Agency Participation Agreement, documentation, and assessment for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services Accreditation Program for the Albany City Police Department, Albany County Sheriff's Office, Bethlehem Town Police Department, and University at Albany Police Department.

Enclosed are the records which are responsive to your request. Please be advised that home addresses, direct telephone numbers and email addresses have been redacted on privacy grounds pursuant to Public Officer Law §87(2)(b). In addition, portions of the documents have been redacted pursuant to POL §87(2)(f) on the grounds that disclosure could endanger the safety of a person.

Pursuant to POL §89(4)(a), you may appeal this determination within 30 days to the Counsel, Division of Criminal Justice Services, 80 South Swan Street, Albany, NY 12210, or by email to the following email address: foil@dcjs.ny.gov .

Very truly yours,

Valerie Friedlander
Records Access Officer

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