News10NBC Investigates: At least one Greece cop accepts punishment over former chief SUV crash — a letter in his file

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Some of the Greece Police officers targeted in the investigation over what they did or did not do the night their former chief drove drunk and crashed his SUV are on the clock to accept their recommended punishment.

News10NBC spoke to the lawyer who represented three officers. The internal investigation recommended no discipline against two of them. A third officer got a punishment offer from the town Thursday and accepted it.

It was a letter in his file.

This started when former Greece Police chief Drew Forsythe crashed his police SUV on I-390 and drove another five miles on three tires.
Forsythe pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired Thursday night.

The district attorney said none of the Greece Police officers who came to the scene gave the former chief a breath test or gave him a sobriety test.

The SUV was towed to the police station and someone took the former chief home.

"We even had officers from the Greece Police department who, when questioned by my investigators, who said — we didn’t smell anything. We didn’t think he was intoxicated," DA Sandra Doorley said.

In a statement Thursday night, the Town of Greece says the special investigation report found "a reasonable officer would have found reasonable suspicion to alcohol test Drew Forsythe at the scene."

The internal investigation was on the agenda for the Greece Town Board Thursday night. It authorized the special investigator to "prefer disciplinary charges against officers." It also directed the special investigator to "issue" charges no later than Monday.

But instead of any discussion about the report and because of COVID rules, the Town Board approved that and 37 other agenda items in one vote.

Supervisor Bill Reilich: "Is there any further discussion? All those in favor signify by saying aye."

Greece Town Board members: "Aye."

Reilich: "Opposed? Item carries."

Among the 37 other items approved in that one vote was the hiring of the next chief of police for Greece, Mike Wood.

After his guilty plea Thursday night, Forsythe apologized to the officers targeted in the investigation.

"To those who were affected by the accident I was in I am heartbroken for you and your families for my poor decision that has ended up putting you in this situation," he said.

For most police in New York who get in trouble, the chief of police comes up with a penalty and the officer can ask for arbitration, but Greece and some other towns with police departments approved what’s known as the Wallkill resolution.

It eliminates arbitration and shifts the power of discipline to the town board. If the officers refuse the initial offer, they get hit with a formal charge which can be more severe. The officers can request a hearing but the hearing officer is hired by the town board. One former officer told me it gives the town board a real "hammer."