UTICA, N.Y. – Some members of the Utica Police Department walked out on their shifts, while others called in sick for future shifts, on Friday after the city announced the suspension of a sergeant for misconduct, according to a statement released by Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri's office.
Sgt. Samuel Geddes was suspended without pay, and the city is seeking termination, after he used pepper spray and made ‘inappropriate comments’ while on a call in August.
According to city officials, the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) said workers would begin calling in sick if the department released details of the misconduct case to the public.
After hearing from the union, Utica Police Chief Mark Williams worked with the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office to make sure deputies could help provide sufficient coverage of the area.
“It is unfortunate the PBA leadership does not recognize the value and importance of accountability and transparency, unlike the Administration,” the statement read. “It is disappointing that some members of the Utica Police Department violated their oath to protect and serve our community.”
According to the statement, the department plans to discipline officers who left their shifts or called in.
“Regardless of one’s opinions on a respective personnel issue, it is unacceptable to potentially endanger the safety of our residents, and the fellow members of the Police Department who chose to remain and honor their commitment. Our community demands better,” the statement also read.
According to officials, the PBA union is planning to fight Geddes’ suspension.