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News of Otsego County

Oneonta Police Department

Oneonta Police Department seeking help in identifying suspect in bank robbery

Oneonta Police Department seeking help in identifying suspect in bank robbery

While the Oneonta Police Department continues to investigate the bank robbery that occurred on Wednesday, December 29 at the NBT branch on Wall Street in Oneonta, they ask for the public’s assistance in finding a person of interest in the robbery, pictured above.

According to a press release from OPD, the suspect is believed to have been assisted by another individual, who drove a four wheel sedan with blue and gold New York State plates. The car, possibly red, parked in a municipal parking lot at Wall Street and Dietz Street.

OPD asks any businesses with surveillance cameras on Main Street which might have captured traffic between 10: 40 a.m. and 11:10 a.m. to contact the Oneonta Police Detective Division.

Anyone with additional information can contact OPD at 607-432-1111.

 

 

Oneonta PD investigating bank robbery at NBT branch on Wall Street in Oneonta

Oneonta PD investigating bank robbery at NBT branch on Wall Street in Oneonta

The Oneonta Police Department (OPD) is investigating a bank robbery that occurred in Oneonta on Wall Street at the NBT Branch on the morning of Wednesday, December 29.

The suspect walked in through the main entrance and demanded the teller hand over an unknown amount of cash, according to OPD.

The suspect is a male between 5’8 and 6’0, heavyset, between 220 to 250 pounds, and was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, and dark pants. He is not believed to be armed or a current danger to public safety.

‘Porch pirates’ on the hunt for holiday shipping booty

‘Porch pirates’ on the hunt for holiday shipping booty

By Kevin Limiti • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

They take on the title “porch pirates,” but really, they’re package thieves — the dark side of the busy holiday shopping season deliveries.

Just two weeks ago, two people were arrested for stealing packages from porches in Hartwick, Garrattsville, and New Lisbon, according to New York State Police. The pair were arrested November 15 and charged with petit larceny, criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree, and conspiracy in the sixth degree.

The Freeman’s Journal/Hometown Oneonta asked local police departments for strategies local residents can employ to protect their packages.

Oneonta warming site at capacity
Oneonta’s warming station at 189 Chestnut Street. (Kevin Limiti/AllOtsego.com)

Oneonta warming site at capacity

By Kevin Limiti

Opportunities for Otsego and the Oneonta Police Department are exploring strategies to get homeless people in the area sheltered now that winter is here.

An executive order issued by former Governor Andrew Cuomo says that after temperatures go below 32 degrees, the homeless must be sheltered.

Catholic Charities, the Main Street Baptist Church, Otsego County Department of Social Services, and other religious groups opened a new warming station in Oneonta in March 2021 to allow those outside to warm up during the cold weather.

New Oneonta police chief ‘humbled’ by role
Witzenberg

New Oneonta police chief ‘humbled’ by role

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

The Oneonta Police Department has a new chief of police, Christopher Witzenberg, who has a long history of serving in leadership roles.

Witzenberg was previously an OPD lieutenant and became acting chief after Doug Brenner retired last winter.

“It’s humbling,” Witzenberg said. “I’ve been pretty pensive the last week about the things I’ve done to
get here.”

Common Council holds public hearing on CABRC report

Common Council holds
public hearing on police report

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA — The Common Council held a public hearing for the long anticipated vote on the Community Advisory Board Review Committee report Tuesday, Sept. 21, created in response to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s directive that police departments create a document of “best practices” by local law enforcement with input from the community.

Only two people spoke at the public hearing, both of whom were supportive of the council passing the report.

Daniel Driver said the report gave him “confidence in how hard the OPD works with few resources, but also cause for concern” and urged the council to consider more social services for those with mental health issues and addiction. He said that police officers were being put in a “untenable position where they have to arrest or interact with folks” who have some of those issues.

“There is a lot more to be done,” Driver said.

Steve Ludner offered “personal gratitude and thanks” for those who worked on CABRC and suggested the council “modify some of the wording” to make “clear that the Community Police Board will have options for community engagement.”

Oneonta’s review board gets hung up on ‘use of force’ language

Oneonta’s review board
gets hung up
on ‘use of force’ language

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA Members of the Community Advisory Board Review Council, which includes mayoral candidates Mark Drnek and Len Carson, discussed some of the language pertaining to the Community Advisory Board document on “best practices” for the Oneonta Police Department.

However, ultimately it was decided there would need to be another meeting in two weeks to further discuss what is being put in the final document.

The delay means the city will miss the self-imposed deadline for acting on the plan.

Most of the issues the CAB had with the document as it stands now were highly semantical including replacing the words “may” with “shall” when referring to certain practices.

The biggest issue discussed was the language about “use of force” procedures, which is a broad category that includes verbal commands as well as use of potentially deadly force.

Community Advisory Board document on OPD best practices set to be reviewed

Community Advisory Board
document on OPD best practices
set to be reviewed

By KEVIN LIMITI• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA — A committee including mayoral candidates Mark Drnek and Len Carson approved final changes to the Community Advisory Board police review document, which will sent back to the original CAB members followed by a public hearing.

The process should take about a month to complete, according to city officials.

The Community Advisory Board met Tuesday, July 13, at City Hall to follow up on the document, which was prepared in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order for police departments to recommend “best practices” that align with community values. That order and a review Herzig had ordered before Cuomo’s order, were in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020. A Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, was found guilty of Floyd’s murder in April.

Alleged Halloween party stabber appears in court

Alleged Halloween party stabber appears in court

By KEVIN LIMITI• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Public defender Brett Cowen, left, defends Richard Gantt on Monday, May 24, in Otsego County Court in Cooperstown. (Kevin Limiti/AllOtsego).

COOPERSTOWN  – An Oneonta man, whose violent altercation in Unadilla ended in a stabbing and the victim having to be taken by helicopter to a medical facility, appeared in Otsego County court Monday, May 24, to face charges of assault in the first and second degree.

Richard Gantt voluntarily agreed to be interviewed by state police, according to testimony.

“I was called because it was a serious case,” Jeremy Hicks, investigator for the New York State Police, said via video in the courtroom.

The confrontation which led to the stabbing occurred on Sunday, Oct, 18, 2020, at a Halloween party, with Logan Kabana of Oneonta.

Gantt, who is Black, claimed during the police interview that Kabana had made racial remarks, leading to the fight.

However, Kabana said during the proceedings, that he had been hanging out with Gantt and did a shot with him when he made a remark that somebody who was hanging out near the fire pit was a serial killer and was going to get Gantt. This allegedly caused Gantt to fly into a rage and resulted in Kabana being assaulted and stabbed.

The next day, Kabana picked out Gantt from a photo array and police sought out Gantt’s girlfriend, who works at Springbrook, and eventually got him to come down to the state police barracks in Oneonta, where he was read his Miranda rights.

Lambert at one point warned an observer in the courtroom, who was shaking their head demonstrably in reaction to an overruled objection, to no longer do that or they would be removed from the courtroom.

There was no return court appearance set, but Lambert predicted they would convene again in about a month.

As Oneonta Waits, AG To Investigate

Public Weighs Meaning Of Killing, Mayor Says

As Oneonta Waits, AG To Investigate

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

In addition to Sergeant Pajerski’s body cam, at least two videos of the scene are circulating on the Internet.

Not only has a police shooting made history in Oneonta, it’s making statewide history, too.

A new department in the state Attorney General’s Office, the Office of Special Investigations, created by Executive Order 147 after George Floyd’s death last May 25, opened its door on April 1, according to Sofia Quintanar, the AG’s deputy press secretary.

The office is empowered to “investigate and, if warranted, prosecute … a police officer … concerning any incident in which the death of a person, whether in custody or not, is caused by an act or omission.”

Five days later, on Tuesday, April 6, Tyler Green, 23, (also identified as Tyler Johnson in early reports), was shot twice after pulling a knife in a domestic dispute at 48 River St., by Sgt. Ralph Pajerski, an 18-year veteran of the Oneonta Police Department.

“This is the first in the state for our new department,” said Quintanar.

Both officers remain on the job, with Sergeant Pajerski on desk duty while the investigation is in progress, and his partner in responding to the 48 River situation, Officer Kristen Lapointe, resuming her regular duties, said OPD Chief Chris Witzenburg.

Pajerski

With officials and officers who have viewed Pajerski’s body cam saying it shows he acted as he had to, Witzenburg said, “The frustration for me is that it’s taking as long as it’s going to take – 6-8 weeks. But I understand they have an investigative procedure they’ve adopted, and I’m just going to have to trust it.”

After Police Shooting, Public Shows Sensible Restraint
EDITORIAL

After Police Shooting, Public

Shows Sensible Restraint

A number of videos recorded the April 6 shooting.

In an era when everyone rushes to judgment about everything, it’s reassuring to see the sensible, restrained comments on www.AllOTSEGO.com to last week’s police shooting of Tyler Johnson, 23, of 48 River St., during a domestic dispute.

“I’m not saying the cop was wrong,” said one commentator. “The guy had a knife and was grabbing for the woman, then the kid. He even stabbed her in the leg. It’s a sad situation, but I believe the officer did his job.”

“After the guy slashed the woman’s leg, he turned to the male cop and tried to stab him in the leg, too,” wrote another.

“Cop danced back and avoided it. Happened fast.”

“Officer was absolutely correct to do what he did,” said another.

UPDATED STORY: 7 New OPD Officers Set To Take Oath Wednesday

7 New OPD Officers Set

To Take Oath En Masse 

ONEONTA – After Common Council approval Tuesday evening, the Oneonta Police Department’s new class of six men and one woman – a record seven – will be sworn by Mayor Gary Herzig at 10 a.m. next Monday, the 22nd, in an open-air ceremony in Neahwa Park, City Hall confirmed this morning.

The new officers are Michael Angellotti, Christian Cooper, Bryce Kohout, Michael Pedulla, Carson Pochkar, Thomas Steinberg and Karolina Stypulkowski.

Each will be paid $40,000, the starting salary under the Police Benevolent Association’s contract with City Hall, and will undergo six months of training at the Broome County Police Academy.

Beware Of Phone Scams, Oneonta Police Advising

Beware Of Phone Scams,

Oneonta Police Advising

ONEONTA – The Oneonta Police Department is warning residents of “numerous phone scams” reported locally.

They include:

• A caller purportedly from the Social Security Office advises you your Social Security number  has been compromised. You are then asked for personal information, including bank information, and – eventually – to send money.

HERZIG: After COVID, Many Projects Will Happen
STATE OF THE CITY

After COVID, Many Projects Will Happen

Oneonta Ford Demolition, Renovations
On Upper Floors Planned, Mayor Says

Editor’s Note: Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig delivered his sixth annual “State of the City” speech to Common Council Tuesday, Jan. 19. This is the text.

Mayor Herzig addresses Oneonta’s MLK Jr. commemoration
Sunday, Jan. 10.

Good evening, Oneonta – We have been tested these past 10 months; however, I can tell you that the state of the City of Oneonta is one of Strength, Resilience, and Caring 2020 was a year that Oneonta will always remember – not only for the unprecedented challenges it brought – but also for the way we came together to overcome them.  From the shutdown of the spring, to the SUNY outbreak of the Fall, and now the second wave of the Winter, we have stuck together and we are getting to the other side.

I know that Oneontans are independent-minded folks – never shy about letting you know when they disagree with you – but we come together as one when times are tough. I could not be more proud of your doing so this past year.

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

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