BRENNER: Officers’ Dedication, Professionalism Have Earned City’s Support

LETTER FROM THE CHIEF

Officers’ Dedication,

Professionalism Have

Earned City’s Support

Editor’s Note: In this July 19 letter, Oneonta Police Chief Douglas W. Brenner expressed his concern about the“Say Their Names” photo display at the Westcott Lot. Nonetheless, Common Council unanimously approved the display Tuesday, July 21, and it was installed this past Sunday.

The Oneonta Police Department has always placed the needs and concerns of the residents and visitors to the City of Oneonta as its first priority.

Promoted to Oneonta police chief in 2017, Douglas W. Brenner has served with the OPD since 1998, after 12 years experience in the sheriff’s department and as a corrections officer. 

While not insensitive to the issues facing the nation and the world, the efforts of the members of the department are best focused on what we can do for our neighbors to make Oneonta a better place for everyone.

On the agenda for the regular meeting of the Oneonta Common Council for July 21, Item 9 is listed as a topic for discussion and pertains to a photographic display supporting Black Lives Matter to be placed on the fence at the head of the Westcott lot on Main Street.

I would be remiss not to express my concerns with a photographic display that could show members of law enforcement locally in a negative context.

The city is blessed to have residents and visitors who can freely express themselves in a respectable and constructive manner, which has been seen on at least two occasions in the recent past.

We enjoy good neighbors, friendships and any display that disrupts the community feeling and positive energy of the community serves no purpose but to divide, especially when the content of the display is in relation to incidents that did not occur locally and show all law enforcement, including members of Oneonta Police Department, negatively.

Any display that could have ramifications that are potentially divisive to the City of Oneonta, its residents and its businesses, is not an image that should be promoted.

In addition, as the chief of police, one of my top concerns is for the wellbeing of the members of the Oneonta Police Department.

Police officers throughout the nation are under attack for the disturbing and unlawful actions of a few other law enforcement officials from other agencies who they have no contact with, no allegiance to, any sympathy for, and no tolerance for such actions.

This has caused a national shortage of those who wish to serve their community. Oneonta is no exception to this shortage. The department currently has two unfilled patrol officer positions and two members who are eligible for retirement. The current civil service list is almost exhausted and there is no entrance exam scheduled for this year by the state.

Many other departments throughout the state are accepting lateral transfers, as are we, but are able to offer more advantageous working conditions.

If my officers sense that the City of Oneonta is not supporting their hard work, their dedication to community, their professionalism, their unwavering dedication to fairness by allowing a divisive display, the probability of losing more officers increases.

We at the Oneonta Police Department enjoy a positive relationship with our friends and neighbors in the city, and work very hard to promote good relationships with all members of the community in which we protect and serve. A display that intentionally shows all members of law enforcement in a negative light based on the actions of a few from well outside our area would be devastating to the morale of the finest officers I have ever had the pleasure to work with and lead.

As the chief of police and a lifelong community member, I would hope that all factors are taken into consideration before any display is permitted in the City of Oneonta. Our strength comes from ourselves, and the residents in the City of Oneonta are compassionate, respectful,
have concern and empathy for our neighbors, and love of community.

Any display that does not emphasize the positivity only serves as a catalyst to create division and polarization of this community.

Yours in service,

Douglas W. Brenner

Chief of Police


2 thoughts on “BRENNER: Officers’ Dedication, Professionalism Have Earned City’s Support

  1. Jay Shultis

    Chief Brenner,

    As a citizen of the City of Oneonta I personally express deep support for the Say Their Names memorial. I would also request that you and your team take the lead and support the Memorial as well. This memorial does not say that we have a problem with the Oneonta police force, if anything it seems like the Oneonta police has a great reputation in our community currently. I would hope that we can all agree that police brutality is a problem, and needs to be addressed. This would be a perfect time for you to write a letter to the paper explaining what efforts you are taking to ensure that our citizens are all policed equally, justly and with the deepest respect as human beings and that you are working as hard as you can to ensure that we will not have these types of issues arise in policing our city.

  2. Rev. LaDana Clark

    Black Lives Matter!!!
    The very Public Letter by Police Chief Brenner warrants a Vote of No Confidents by the Citizens of The City of Oneonta and at the least warrants Censureship by The Mayor!!! Last I heard the Mayor’s position is higher than the Police Chief. We need to find out if this letter was approved by the Mayor from the Police Chief to present to the Council? According to Mayor Gary Herzig’s public statement, he was in opposition to what the letter represented.
    When I worked in collaboration with city administrators in other locations across America everything submitted by City Employees and especially City Officials has to be reviewed and approved by the City Council and The Mayor.
    If City Council did not approve of this letter as expressed by their No Vote and The Mayor did not approve of this letter than Police Douglas Brenner is acting on his own, which means he has gone rogue, therefore derilect in his duties! This has to be investigated and he must be held accountable! There is a proper place for Departmental City debates or concerns. Was Police Chief Brenner sending a dog whistle to his supporters or trying to make up for not being public at the Broome County Sheriff’s Press Conference that expressed irrational demands for felony charges for bystanders and other absurd demands against citizens that were thankfully blocked. Was Police Chief Brenner trying to put the Mayor on Blast for something he could not accomplish departmentally, so he went public. Either way, The Police Chief made his true thoughts public and now it is a Public concern that the Police Chief cares more about the reputation of police officers who sign up for the job knowing, opposition comes with it! Now we know, that he cares more about the reputation of police officers than the lives of Dead Black Americans from the effects of 400 plus years of in your face, institutionalized and undercover Deadly, Systemic Racism, Disproportionate Health Care disparities and Financial Inequality! Someone would have to be suffering from racist tendencies or be totally out of touch with reality, not to have empathy for the “Say Their Names Memorial” after the recent proven Police Brutality, as seen by America and The World!!! Rest in Peace George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Gardner and the list goes on! As a United States Army Veteran and Former Police Officer, I have great respect for Law Enforcement Officers who treat all citizens Equally, Respectfully an Appropriately, but as it relates to the statement released by Police Chief Brenner, I am appalled and believe, he should be held accountable for the damage and division he has now created on his own in the Fun, Loving Oneonta Community. With or without Police Chief Brenner the Oneonta Community is going to continue to Grow, Diversely, Positively and with Justice for All! You cannot publicly express a belief like that, which clearly does not represent all the People and expect this community who believes in Justice for all to accept that and do nothing! A No confidence Vote should be in Police Chief Douglas Brenner’s Future…

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