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Wayne County sergeants show body-cam video at party

April 22, 2019 07:06 PM

WAYNE COUNTY, N.Y. (WHEC) -- A Christmas party was held inside the Wayne County Sheriff's Office where video from body-worn cameras was used for the entertainment of the deputies.

It happened the day after Christmas.

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News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke was tipped off about the party last week and on Monday, Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts confirmed two of his sergeants resigned prior to disciplinary charges being filed against them.  

Sheriff Virts tells News10NBC he was furious when he discovered Sergeant Scott Knapp and Sergeant Andrea Knapp not only hosted the party in the Police Services Section of the sheriff's office in Lyons but directed their subordinates to come.

At the party, video from body-worn cameras was shown.

Sheriff Virts says while he didn't see the video directly, it is his understanding that it was a compilation of interactions that road deputies had with members of the public.

The Wayne County road deputies have been wearing body cameras since June 2018.   

Sheriff Virts says the Knapp's were supervisors on the night shift. They directed road deputies to come back to the station for a Christmas party and then accessed the body camera cloud to pull up the videos on a big screen. When accessing the videos, the Knapp's claimed it was training purposes.

They resigned two days before their scheduled disciplinary hearings.  

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke sat down with Sheriff Virts to discuss the situation.

News10NBC's Jennifer Lewke: "What was your reaction when you learned what happened?" 

Sheriff Virts: "Furious, furious. The body cameras, the policy we put together to use them is to protect the integrity of the deputy, the integrity of the complainant and the community... the video is only to be used for training and only to be used for training if it's approved by me. This was not."

Lewke: "The other sheriff's deputies who attended, were some of them on duty?" 

Virts: "They were all on duty. "

Lewke: "And was there any drinking?"

Virts: "No, absolutely there was no drinking whatsoever, no evidence of any alcohol."

Lewke: "What kind of body camera videos were they watching?" 

Virts: "So, there were six videos that we see on the system, on the audit, on the cloud that we reviewed. They were streamed, they never left the system, they never got on social media or anything like that...three were of intoxicated individuals, highly intoxicated individuals, two were of taser deployments and one was a foot chase."

Lewke: "Was it basically, they wanted to laugh at these people?"

Virts: "I don't know that. I didn't interview the deputies. All I know is that the deputies told us it wasn't for a training purpose, it was shown for entertainment."

Lewke: "Did you notify the people who were in the video, the private citizens who were played during that party?"

Virts: "I did not and I will not. Those videos did not leave this building."

Lewke: "And you believe after your investigation that it's simply a disciplinary measure not a criminal matter?"

Virts: "Absolutely. It's a disciplinary measure. We did do a parallel investigation but it didn't rise to the level of filing criminal charges."

Lewke: "The other deputies, who came to the party... how long were they here for?"

Virts: "Some were here for extended periods of time. I think the one that was here for the least amount of time was about an hour but some were here for an extended amount of time when they should have been out on the road and the supervisors should have had them out on the road protecting the community."

News10NBC reached out to Scott and Andrea Knapp for comment. Our calls were not returned.

The union that represents Wayne County road patrol deputies says it does not comment on personnel issues but considers the matter resolved.  

Credits

Jennifer Lewke

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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