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New York Inspector General issues report detailing misconduct on drug task force

A New York state police car is staged at the Hugh Carey Tunnel, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, in New York.

(The Center Square) – The state Inspector General’s office has released the findings of its investigation of a New York State Police probe of overtime practices and misuse of government vehicles by personnel assigned to a specialized drug enforcement task force.

The Inspector General concluded that the police probe was lacking in transparency, resulted in insufficient disciplinary measures, and permitted officers who acted improperly to still retire “in good standing” without accountability for their conduct, an IG news release said.

Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro’s review of the probe included task force members’ attendance records, the discipline taken, and the follow-up actions of the State Police.

“My office’s investigation uncovered a lack of controls among the State Police members of this important task force, creating an environment ripe for abuse with insufficient accountability and oversight,” Tagliafierro said. “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.”

The episode that began the probe occurred Feb. 18, 2018, when a task force senior investigator drove his government-assigned vehicle into a ditch while he was off duty and failed to immediately report it.

In the ensuing internal investigation, numerous inconsistencies in claimed overtime and other issues were brought to light, and the probe grew to encompass 36 of the 39 State Police officers on the task force.

A total of 12 were found to warrant discipline, but four retired before any could be issued while four of the remaining eight received “retirement in good standing” identification cards.

The State Police have summarily instituted leadership and staffing changes, as well as implemented significant protocols. The Inspector General also has recommended further action to increase accountability in the areas of vehicle use, discipline, internal oversight, and training.

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