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Niskayuna police chief resigns, alleging lack of support, toxic workplace

Jun 07, 2021 6:00 am

Kathleen Moore is reporting for the Times Union Niskayuna police Chief Frances Wall is resigning less than one year after taking office. In a letter to the department sent via email, Wall called her promotion as the first female police chief in Schenectady County, "window dressing," alleging the town board is not supportive of her efforts to make progressive change in the department. Wall tendered her resignation May 27, to the town board, effective June 11, Supervisor Yasmine Syed said. “My thought is that some people have an issue with me being the chief of police and with my progressive approach to operational change. The department, therefore, is suffering as a result,” Wall wrote. She said the town board would not hire more officers or replace administrative staff members who retired. “Our present number of working sworn members within the department is the same as it was in 1985 (36 years ago). The population of Niskayuna has clearly grown to an historic level, the tax base of the town has markedly increased, and the commercial infrastructure in the town has also grown to an historic level. ...” She cited the resignation in March of a police officer who said the department was chronically understaffed, creating an unsafe and stressful workplace. Wall went on to suggest that she had to work in a toxic workplace. Syed said Wall may have had ulterior motives when she wrote the letter. “While I cannot comment on the specifics of personnel matters, I believe that this email was authored as an act intended to change the narrative in anticipation of a determination" in a workplace investigation, Syed said in a statement to the Times Union. Wall would have been a member of the Police Reform and Reinvention Implementation Task Force, which is being formed this month, Syed said. And that would have allowed Wall to help “implement the progressive changes that she desired.” Town Board member Denise Murphy McGraw said Wall had support on the town board, but within budgetary limits. When Wall leaves, Deputy Chief Michael Stevens will run the day-to-day operations of the police department, Syed said. Read the full story in the Times Union.