ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — An internal probe by state police into a drug task force allowed members who engaged in misconduct to retire “in good standing” without being held accountable, New York's inspector general said Thursday.
Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro said her investigation into the police probe revealed a lack of controls over the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force that created “an environment ripe for abuse with insufficient accountability and oversight.”
The probe and subsequent Inspector general's investigation came after an off-duty senior task force investigator drove his police vehicle into a ditch in Dutchess County in February 2018.
The resulting police probe found the investigator abused overtime, misused a state vehicle and told subordinates to falsify time records. Police also found some task force members falsely claimed overtime, used assigned vehicles while off-duty and conducted surveillance improperly.
While police found 12 task force members warranted discipline, four members retired before discipline could be issued. Eight more were presented with disciplinary “offers” that included three-to-five days of suspension and/or the loss of two-to-four days of accrued annual leave. Of those eight, four retired and received “retirement in good standing” identification cards, according to the inspector general.
“The State Police has implemented significant reforms in the wake of this investigation, but there is more work that must be done to ensure that the Drug Enforcement Task Force members are properly supervised,” Tagliafierro said in a prepared release.
State police spokesman William Duffy said the agency has already strengthened oversight and changed the task force's supervisory protocols, leadership and membership.
"Integrity is a core value of the State Police, and violations of Division policies are simply not tolerated,” Duffy wrote in an email.
The task force is a collaborative effort among the state police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and New York City police.