News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.


Topher Hammond

HAMMOND: Friend Reports Standoff With Bassett’s New K9s

Friend Reports Standoff

With Bassett’s New K9s

To the Editor:

I wrote previously about the new K-9 at Bassett Hospital, and I predicted that the dog would be used to intimidate people.

On Oct. 2, I got a phone call from a friend who has lived next to the hospital for decades. She was in a state of shock because six Bassett security personnel had just chased a skinny black man off Bassett property with the attack dog at his heels, barking and straining at the leash to get a piece of him.

According to the man, he was waiting outside the hospital for his girlfriend’s mother, who was being released after foot surgery, when he received a call on his cell phone from someone who wasn’t supposed to be contacting him. He was upset by the call and got a bit loud with the caller. Security approached him after the phone call was over and insisted that he leave Bassett property immediately instead of just asking him not to be loud.

My friend called out to him to ask if she could help him. She said he was very polite and didn’t seem the least bit threatening. He broke down crying when she asked him what was the matter. He was worried because he’d called a cab to pick him up at Bassett. My friend watched as he pleaded with the security officers standing at the curb near the hospital, saying to them, “sir, sir, I’m sorry I got too loud,” while the security guards just laughed at him and let the dog keep barking and straining at the leash to attack him.

My friend was very upset by this unsavory spectacle. something like Birmingham Alabama in the 1960s. We should be sensitive to issues of race and how we appear to visitors.

The sight of six laughing white security guards chasing a black man with an attack dog just because he had a loud conversation on the phone is disturbing, and puts a blot on the reputation of Cooperstown.



Stop Dunkin’/Baskin Incursion Into Town

Stop Dunkin’/Baskin

Incursion Into Town

To the Editor:

Cooperstown residents should stand up against the Baskin Robbins/Dunkin Donuts franchise proposed for the corner of Walnut Street and Route 28.  Our town has consistently resisted the invasion of huge corporate franchises for decades, and we should oppose this incursion into our small village as well.  So far, we have kept McDonald’s and Pizza Hut at bay, by keeping them several miles outside of town.

Anyone who drives around the town knows what a nightmare it is to get from Walnut Street to Route 28 during the Dreams Park season, when there is an unending line of traffic coming south on Route 28.

Putting a junk food franchise on that corner is not only going to make the traffic even more of a nightmare, but it is also going to divert tourists before they reach Main Street, where they might patronize some of our local businesses like Schneider’s Bakery, Danny’s Market, The Inside Scoop, Doubleday Café, Stagecoach, etc.

I’ll admit that Main Street has declined a bit since I grew up here in the 1970s, when we had two supermarkets on or near Main Street (the Victory and A&P), three hardware stores, a shoe store, and Newberry’s Department Store, which transformed into the Cooperstown General Store in later years but is now defunct and currently only hosts photographs related to the Hall of Fame and other local attractions.

Nowadays you have to travel to Oneonta for a lot of things you used to be able to buy right on Main Street, unless you’re looking for baseball souvenirs, of course.

Nevertheless, if we open the floodgates to trashy fast food franchises our town is going to be transformed into just another mass-produced consumption economy that will leave us looking no different than any other small town across America that has sold out their mom and pop stores to kneel at the feet of corporate giants that couldn’t care less about our local businesses.

Let’s not bow to the WalMart-ization of Cooperstown.  Let your representatives know that you do not want corporate franchises anywhere near our lovely little town.



Hospital, Country Going To The Dogs

Hospital, Country

Going To The Dogs

To the Editor:

I read the article about the new K-9 security dog at Bassett Hospital, and felt the article was deceptive.  The article emphasized how friendly this dog supposedly is, and how it could be approached by children as long as they first got an “affirmative response” from the dog’s handler.

Presumably, if they don’t obtain such consent, they might be attacked.

If you read between the lines, it is apparent that this is a potentially aggressive animal, and not a cuddly seeing-eye dog that would not hurt a fly.  If you want to see how brutal these dogs can be, look up “when Malinois attack” on YouTube.

Should we expect children to understand that they need to ask permission to go up to a dog and pet it?  I hope Bassett is ready to be sued when its K-9 dog attacks and mauls a child who did not read the article warning them that permission from the handler was required to approach this dog.

The wisdom of having one of these animals prowling the hallways of a hospital is questionable at best, especially since many people are afraid of dogs.  Some sick person trying to walk down the hall or being pushed on a hospital bed might get a dangerous shock from seeing this potentially vicious dog approaching them.

In the article, there was no mention of the purpose of K-9 dogs, or why they are part of the “security system” at Bassett, or how they “promote safety” at the hospital.

K-9 dogs are usually trained to sniff out drugs or explosives.  There was absolutely no mention of this in the misleading article.  Another primary purpose of these dogs is to attack people, or to intimidate people with the threat that the handler might let the dog loose on them.

Use of a dog for security purposes is essentially a threat to use excessive force.  A security officer or police officer can be convicted for using excessive force, but a dog can’t.

What is the purpose of having a dog trained to attack people or to sniff out drugs at Bassett Hospital?  To deter drug addicts from seeking treatment at the hospital?  To increase the tragic drug overdoses that afflict Otsego County?

What exactly can a dog do to promote security?  How does it “calm a highly charged situation?”  By being ready to bite and maul people?  None of this was explained in the article.

The article did state that the dog is the hospital’s “liaison with local law enforcement,” suggesting that the purpose of the dog is indeed to arrest people.

Even if this dog was not trained to sniff out drugs, it is going to deter drug addicts from seeking treatment at the hospital, since historically the main purpose of K-9 dogs has been to arrest people for drugs.

I wrote previously about the K-9 search at Milford BOCES in April 2017 that subjected students there to random unconstitutional searches of their knapsacks and other belongings.  It is all part of the government’s attempt to abrogate the Bill of Rights and subject us to random searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects us from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

We don’t need Russia or “Islamic terrorists” to threaten our freedom, because our own government is doing a much better job of it on its own.

This country is going to the dogs, and random K-9 searches of people seeking treatment for drug overdoses, or students at school, is a good start to turn us into a country that has no more freedom than China, Saudi Arabia, or Russia.





Trust In ‘Intelligence Community’ Ill-Founded

Trust In ‘Intelligence

Community’ Ill-Founded

To the Editor:

Last week in your newspaper, I read with concern the interview with Otsego County Democratic chair Aimee Swan about the end of Robert Mueller’s two-year witch-hunt regarding alleged “Russian interference” in the 2016 election. Ms. Swan stated that
“there should be a trust, a loyalty to our intelligence community.”

The so-called “intelligence community” was behind the ridiculous allegations that Russia was the cause of Hillary Clinton’s resounding defeat in 2016, and the Democrats jumped on the bandwagon, and played up this pathetic conspiracy theory to the hilt. Apparently the Democrats have nothing to offer America other than smear campaigns against their adversaries.

Two years later, Mueller had to fold his tent without any charges being brought against Donald Trump.

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