State Inspector General releases report on Drug Enforcement Task Force accountability

NY Capitol News

Letizia Tagliafierro, then special counsel for public safety, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo line up with State Troopers at the October 2016 funeral of Trooper Timothy Pratt in South Glens Falls, New York. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

NEW YORK (NEWS10) — New York State Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro issued a report that details examples of misconduct, lax discipline, and failed oversight within the Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Taglierro’s office released the “Investigation of the New York State Division of State Police Drug Enforcement Task Force” report on Thursday afternoon. It probes the New York State Police’s time and attendance, related discipline, and the corrective implemented by leadership. According to the Office of the Inspector General, they found lacking transparency, poor accountability, and inadequate disciplinary action, while allowing members engaged in misconduct to retire “in good standing.”

The Drug Enforcement Task Force represents a collaboration between the DEA, NYPD, and 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.” 

A February 2018 car crash upstate sparked the investigation into the DETF. The accident involved a State Police senior investigator in the Task Force who was found to have abused overtime, misused a state vehicle, and directed subordinates to falsify time records.

The probe expanded to all members assigned to the DETF, and found more false overtime claims and improper use of assigned vehicles while off-duty. It also found that officers conducted surveillance in a way that was contrary to State Police rules.

According to the Office of the Inspector General, an internal investigation suggested discipline for 12 task force members. However, Tagliafierro found that State Police retired four of the officers before they could be disciplined. The remaining eight were offered and accepted three to five days of suspension, and/or losing two to four days of accrued annual leave. Four of those officers then received “retirement in good standing” identification cards.

The report includes recommendation from the Inspector General to increase accountability and transparency:

  • Retraining on how to respond to vehicle accidents involving a Task Force member
  • Banning officers living 50+ miles from New York City from commuting in assigned vehicles
  • Creating a specific disciplinary checklist
  • Factoring retirement and resignations into disciplinary action
  • Requiring documentation in personnel files
  • Ensuring discipline lines up with precedents
  • Seeking restitution for time and attendance abuse
  • Conducting and sharing the results of audits and disciplinary actions
  • Creating a Professional Standards Bureau officer to monitor overtime and vehicles
  • New ethics training, vetting, and oversight procedures
  • Prohibiting the movement of supplies and evidence during overtime
  • Reconsidering assigning officers living 50+ miles from New York City to the Task Force
  • Requiring DETF members to document all surveillance activities

Take a look at the report:

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