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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cop Accused of Dodging Duties

Schenectady Cop Accused of Dodging Duties
FOX 23 News, Reported by Paul Merrill - February 17, 2009  -

Schenectady Police Officer Dwayne Johnson is accused of abandoning his patrol vehicle for hours while he was on duty. The Schenectady cop who raked in the most overtime last year is now being raked over the coals. Officer Dwayne Johnson is accused of spending hours at a time inside a city apartment while he was on the clock. Department leaders are trying to figure out what Johnson was doing, spending so much time in a neighborhood where he doesn't live. Officer Johnson spoke to FOX23 News last October after he helped to collar a New Jersey fugitive. Ironically, the interesting part of that story was that Johnson was off the clock when he spotted the alleged crook.

"As a police officer, you tend to have that kind of awareness on and off the clock," Officer Johnson told us back on October 10, 2008. Now, the eight-year department veteran is accused of being on the clock but off the job. Schenectady Police brass are looking into the claim that Johnson's been parking his patrol car in a neighborhood in the Woodlawn section of the city. Johnson's supervisors tell us GPS records indicate that his vehicle was parked in the neighborhood on several Tuesday mornings during the last four hours of his regular midnight shift: from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. "Right there, on the corner, he was parked," says Hilda Romines, pointing to the intersection of Queen Philomena Boulevard and Sir Benjamin Way. "I go to work early in the morning. I go at quarter-after-six." With overtime, Johnson nearly tripled his base salary last year.

His 2008 base salary was $57,478; overtime pushed Johnson's pay up to $168,921, making him the highest paid cop in the City of Schenectady. "If he was snoozing on the job, then that's a problem," says Kathy Miller who also lives in the Woodlawn neighborhood where Johnson is accused of shirking his duties. Officer Johnson remains on duty while his superiors investigation the accusations against him. Schenectady Police Commissioner Wayne Bennett explains, "We don't know exactly what we're dealing with here and we also don't know if it's just potential violations of the department policy rules and regulations or is there, indeed, something here that would constitute criminal behavior?" This issue is yet another black eye on an already battered police force.

The Schenectady Police Department has experienced corruption and scandal all the way up with the rank of chief. Former Schenectady Police Chief Greg Kaczmarek is currently behind bars for his role in an upstate cocaine ring. Bennett says the situation isn't fair to the other cops on the force. "This issue now becomes the matter of importance," Bennett tells us. "It's the only thing that's focused upon and forgotten about is all the good that got done this week and that's unfortunate." Bennett says the department is reinstating its practices of doing hourly radio checks during the midnight shift and reporting patrol officers whose vehicles stop for more than 15 minutes without a reason.

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