EDITORIAL: Don’t let TV report affect Gloversville police chief’s status

PHOTOGRAPHER:

FILE – Gloversville Police Chief Anthony Clay in January

Gloversville Police Chief Anthony Clay could have handled a TV report on the city’s opioid situation better. No doubt about it.

He should have let the mayor and other city officials know about the report and his participation in it before the news feature aired. He should have thought harder about how the city was being portrayed and he should have provided the TV crew with more accurate information about the city’s problem compared to other Capital District cities.

The report made the city look bad, with some feeling that it painted Gloversville as the poster child for the region’s opioid problem – not exactly an image that a city trying to get back on its economic feet needed to have projected to outsiders right now.

But his handling of the report should not be a factor into whether he keeps his job or not.

Yet that appears to be the case in the announcement of the chief’s “retirement” at the end of the year.

It’s not always easy dealing with the press, as the mayor and the council members well know. And no city official – the mayor, the council or the police chief – could have had any actual say over how it turned out or how it made the city look.

City officials claim the chief is leaving office at the end of the year on his own, and that he wasn’t forced out because of the report.

But city officials reportedly were very upset with the chief over the report. And the timing is certainly suspect.

If, as it appears to some in the city, that Gloversville officials are forcing the chief out over the report or that the report is playing a role in why he decided to leave, it would be an overreaction that could undermine the public’s confidence in the city’s police force and city government itself.

If city officials have a problem with the chief’s performance overall, they should just say so. If the report did indeed play a role in their confidence in him continuing to serve as chief, they should say that as well.

Hiding behind closed-door executive sessions to keep the public in the dark about the discussions regarding his departure is not the way to handle this situation.

Mayor Vince DeSantis says the chief is free to discuss his reasons for leaving, but so far, he’s declined to do that.

If it’s just a simple matter of the chief deciding he’d done enough or that he wants to do something else with his time or some other reason, then the chief could help matters along by being honest with the citizens he serves. And if he feels the TV report was a factor in the agreement that he leave, then he should say that as well.

City officials need to be honest with the citizens about the real circumstances between their police chief’s departure in order to ensure confidence in the city and the department.

Right now, that confidence is shaky.

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