Officer faces charges in incident involving girlfriend's car
The Albany Times Union by DAVID FILKINS - March 29, 2009
SCHENECTADY, NEW YORK - One day after Mayor Brian U. Stratton was blasted for proposing the trouble-plagued city police department be replaced by a county agency, a city patrolman was taken into custody for allegedly taking his girlfriend's car without her permission. When Patrolman Kyle Hunter was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle Friday night, he joined a long list of Electric City officers on the wrong end of the law. More than a dozen police officials have been arrested and served jail time for various charges in recent years, including giving drugs to an informant, driving while intoxicated and sleeping on the job. County officials and others slammed Stratton's proposal Thursday, calling it unrealistic and unnecessary. As much as Stratton dislikes another city officer getting cuffed and booked, he knows it strengthens his claim that a seismic overhaul is warranted. "It's all the more reason why we have to look at what we're looking at," he said. "We need to bring the hammer down." Police said the most recent incident began at 5:45 p.m. Friday when Hunter, an eight-year veteran, and his girlfriend, a correction officer, started arguing. Hunter allegedly said he was going to take her car, and did so even after she told him not to. When she reached Hunter by phone and demanded he return the car, he cursed at her and refused, police said. She called police, who told officers to be on the lookout for Hunter. He eventually returned the car and was taken into custody around 11:45 p.m.
Chief Mark Chaires said Hunter already was under internal investigation for alleged abuse of extended sick leave and other violations. He also once lost his service weapon and "took his sweet time informing us that he'd lost something that could kill someone," Chaires said. "They found it in a Dumpster or something like that," Stratton said. Hunter could not be reached for comment. He has been suspended for 30 days without pay, though his unpaid leave could become permanent. "He's in line to be terminated," Chaires said. "No question about that. He will not be here." The chief extended that message to any officer found guilty of wrongdoing. "We're cleaning house," Chaires said. "Unfortunately and fortunately, these guys are basically turning themselves in, self-identifying themselves as having their head and heart in the wrong place. They clearly don't want to be here." Reach Filkins at 454-5456 or email@example.com