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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 29, 2010

Officers queried by GPD

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — An internal investigation in the police department here could lead to the suspension of in-car computer use for at least four officers.

The town of about 34,000 residents has approximately 30 officers.

Police cars are equipped with mobile data terminals, which, according to department policy, “provide field officers with independent access to police data.” According to a description of the terminals, they allow individual officers to access data more rapidly.

“They are basically like computers in the cars that allow the officers to message back and forth,” said Carol Lawlor, chief of police.

The recent investigation within the department is based on allegations that certain officers misused the terminals. Regulations for use of the terminals clarify that they should be used for law enforcement purposes only. Lawlor declined to comment on how that terminals had been misused.

“Officers will not use the Mobile Data Terminal in any matter that would tend to discredit the Guilderland Police Department. Only police related business will be transmitted through the Mobile Data Terminal,” reads the procedures document, issued in March 2001.

Lawlor said the investigation has been ongoing for at least a month, and is now at the point where the department is in negotiations with the Guilderland Police Benevolence Association.

The president of the PBA, Ken Harrison, could not be reached for comment, but former president Brian Forte said it is the association’s job to represent its members.

“The circumstances are different for each case, and it depends on the allegations,” Forte said.

“The punishment could be suspension of the use of the computers, or it could be something worse,” said Lawlor.

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