ITHACA, NY -- Ithaca Police Sgt. Kevin Slattery has been suspended without pay for 30 days and demoted to the officer position, which will be reflected in his salary, for at least two years. He has 10 days to either accept the discipline or demand an arbitration hearing. The action comes after he was put under internal investigation for comments caught on his body camera, in which he was caught talking about mistreating a suspect and joking about mishandling DNA evidence.
Mayor Svante Myrick issued a statement that the city was seeking “serious discipline for this serious breach of responsibility.”
“Sgt. Slattery’s comments raise serious concerns regarding respect for evidentiary integrity, respect for the public and above all, the imperative to avoid — and counsel the avoidance of — use of force whenever possible.”
Earl Redding, an attorney who provided outside counsel to the city and has background in police disciplinary issues, added that he advised the IPD that the level of discipline fit the available precedents in other agencies.
“On the one hand, this situation involved serious misconduct by a supervisor in the presence of the subordinate. On the other hand, there is no evidence that Sgt. Slattery actually engaged in the acts that he described, and he has shown contrition and cooperation in the aftermath of his deeply unfortunate comments,” he said. “As a result, termination from IPD would be both disproportionate and unavailable as an outcome in the upcoming disciplinary arbitration.”
In Nayor’s notification of discipline, he said Slattery violated sections 4.1 and 6.2 in the Ithaca Poloce Department General Orders Rules and Regulations. Section 4.1 requires officers to “conduct themselves in both their private and professional lives as to avoid bringing discredit upon the department,” while section 6.2 requires employees who are in a supervisory position to “provide a good example in both conduct and appearance, have a thorough understanding of the rules and procedures of the department, and shall assist and instruct subordinates in the proper performance of their duties.”
Nayor also wrote that because Jovon Monk, the suspect involved in the matter, is a defendent in an active case, the body cam statements are considered evidentiary in value and the full recording is subject to discovery and must be provided to Monk and his counsel. This could compromise Slattery, and other officers in the department, as a credible witness in court.
“The District Attorney’s Office also believed that it would need to provide notice of your statements captured on the body worn camera in any future case you are a witness in, and that you may have to answer questions as to your statements as part of any future testimony you give.”
Monk's attorney disagreed with the conclusion that there's no evidence Slattery actually engaged in the acts he described, particularly with the way he treated Monk in a prior arrest.
"[It] ignores both Mr. Monk's interview with IPD in my presence, and Slattery's own unintentionally recorded statement," he said. "That would be like if someone admitted they hit you on tape, and you confirmed you were hit, then your police department says 'well there's no evidence that you were actually hit.' It is puzzling what they would consider evidence since body cameras were not worn by IPD at the time of this arrest from what I can tell. Mr. Monk has no reason to make it up since the statute of limitations for a lawsuit has expired. If IPD and the Mayor’s Office agree that there is “no evidence” now, after Slattery recorded himself describing it, imagine how they would have treated a complaint from Mr. Monk back then. Bodycams are helping bring police misconduct to light, however the City's handling of this investigation is a sweep under the rug."
The Police Benevolent Association, however, believes the punishment is too harsh, and focuses on sending a message.
"The harsh sanctions that the City Administration seeks to impose upon Sergeant Slattery reflects that the Administration has placed politics over good government," the PBA statement said. "As the City has acknowledged, Sergeant Slattery made bad jokes while wearing a body camera and reported himself for having done so."
The PBA added that the punishment was setting a bad precedent.
"If not for Sergeant Slattery reporting his error to his superiors, no one would have known of his comments," the statement said. "Sergeant Slattery chose transparency and honesty over self-interest and the Administration has sent a clear message to all other City employees that honesty and transparency are not valued in City government."
Slattery has been a member of the Ithaca Police Department since 2006 and was promoted to sergeant in 2016.