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State Police in the Spotlight, Again
February 25th, 2010

Denise O’Donnell, deputy secretary for public safety, resigned earlier today citing State Police involvement in the handling of a domestic incident involving Gov. David Paterson’s aide David Johnson.

In a statement O’Donnell said that she was told of the incident involving Johnson earlier this year and assured by State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt that State Police were not involved in the incident. Corbitt’s comments in the Times story seem to contradict that.

“My immediate concern was what role the State Police would take in the investigation and I was assured by Superintendent Corbitt that the State Police were not involved,” said O’Donnell in a statement. “It was only last night when I learned from press reports the contrary details, including the involvement of the State Police.”

Since then Corbitt has issued a statement saying that O’Donnell’s description of his statements was correct but that she drew “incorrect” assumptions about them.

A number of legislators say they are dismayed by Corbitt’s statements in the Times. “I was disappointed to hear the superintendent suggest this is the normal response,” said Sen. Neil Breslin.

The State Police have been the center of scandal for the past few years. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer used troopers to keep tabs on former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno which lead to the “Troopergate” scandal. In September of last year Attorney General Andrew Cuomo issued a report that detailed how top State Police officials took action to benefit political figures.

Paterson had asked Cuomo to begin the probe shortly after he took office following Spitzer’s resignation. Paterson had reportedly heard rumors that there was a rogue trooper unit that was involved in damaging politician’s careers.

Here is O’Donnell’s full statement:

“The fact that the Governor and members of the State Police have acknowledged direct contact with a woman who had filed for an order of protection against a senior member of the Governors staff is a very serious matter. These actions are unacceptable regardless of their intent.”

“It is particularly distressing that this could happen in an administration that prides itself on its record of combating domestic violence. The behavior alleged here is the antithesis of what many of us have spent our entire careers working to build — a legal system that protects victims of domestic violence and brings offenders to justice.”

“In early January, following a breakfast meeting on another subject, State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt informed me that a senior administration staff member had been involved in an incident months earlier where a Domestic Incident Report was filed. Superintendent Corbitt told me the staff member had an argument with his girlfriend, that a Domestic Incident Report had been filed, but that there was no arrest and that the matter was being handled as a local police matter by the New York Police Department.

“My immediate concern was what role the State Police would take in the investigation and I was assured by Superintendent Corbitt that the State Police were not involved.It was only last night when I learned from press reports the contrary details, including the involvement of the State Police.”

“For these reasons, I am resigning my position as Commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services and Deputy Secretary of Public Safety effective today.”

By on February 25, 2010, 5:55 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | Comments Off

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