Fishkill board split on former town cop

Fishkill Town Hall

TOWN OF FISHKILL – On Wednesday night, the Fishkill Town Board discussed issues related to embattled former town police sergeant Scott Bierce, who resigned in December of 2019.

Bierce was an officer for the town for 38 years until his resignation.  Towards the end of his career, he was made aware of several departmental charges against him by Police Chief James Schepperley, who retired in January of this year.  Prior to being formally served with approximately 40 different charges, Bierce resigned.  Schepperley submitted documentation to the NYS Division of Criminal Justice (DCJS), indicating that Bierce had resigned.  The former chief included a memo that said Bierce was facing disciplinary charges which resulted in DCJS de-certifying Bierce’s law enforcement credentials.

Bierce filed a federal lawsuit and also claimed that because he was never served with the charges, Schepperley filed a false document with DCJS, preventing him from being hired elsewhere as a police officer and is seeking compensation.

Bierce, while a Fishkill officer, campaigned for Ozzy Albra who sought to become town supervisor.  Albra was successful.  After taking office, Albra named Dennis Zack as Police Commissioner.  Shortly thereafter, Zack attempted to have Bierce re-certified by DCJS.  The request was denied because Zack lacks the authority to do so.

The denial by DCJS prompted Albra to bring the issue to the board, claiming that Bierce was denied due process because he was never served with the charges which led to his decertification.  Albra is seeking to have Bierce’s certification reinstated and said if that occurs, Albra would seek to re-hire the long-serving cop.  “If a false document can be filed against an officer, civilians are even more susceptible to being wronged,” said Albra.  “This is the right thing to do,” Albra said of the re-certification.

Board members voted 3-2 to approve the letter to DCJS seeking Bierce’s credentials be restored.  Ori Brachfeld and Louise Danielle opposed it.  “You don’t remove a cancer from a body and then try to put it back,” said Brachfeld when asked about Bierce returning to the force.  Brachfeld said he is planning to send a letter to DCJS explaining that Bierce’s resignation was likely an attempt to avoid facing departmental charges.  “If Bierce wanted to clear his name, he should have stayed to face the charges.  Instead, he chose to resign in an effort to avoid the issues.  If he wasn’t in the wrong, he would have addressed the charges.”

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