Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Case Of The Imploding Investigation

It's looking more and more like the Utica Common Council's investigation of C. Allen Pylman won't end with a bang, but with a whimper.

The Common Council could end its investigation of police Chief C. Allen Pylman by putting Public Safety Commissioner Philip Taurisano in charge of the Utica Police Department, Majority Leader Bill Phillips said.

Phillips Wednesday presented legislation that outlined what Taurisano's responsibilities would be, but it was moved to committee. The Public Safety Committee will meet Monday, April 16 to discuss that and other issues.

If the legislation passes, Taurisano would be in command of the police department, investigate complaints and oversee disciplinary matters.

How..anticlimactic. After all the drama and posturing by both the Council and the Mayor it looks like nothing much will change after all. What a shock! All we need now is Snidely Whiplash scurrying offstage while twirling his mustache and crying "Curses! Foiled again."

The full council, made up of both Republicans and Democrats, voted Jan. 31 to form the committee. It is looking into allegations that Pylman violated the Utica Police Department's General Order, a set of guidelines and rules by which officers must abide.

But the Investigatory Committee has made little progress since its last hearing on Feb. 22. That night, Anthony Garramone, who was the council's attorney, resigned. The council has unsuccessfully looked for a new attorney since then, Phillips said.

At least $8,000 has been spent on the investigation and the council is reluctant to spend any more to hire an attorney, which could cost about $100,000, Phillips said.

Without a legal adviser, the council can't move forward with the investigation, he said. It is unclear whether a report will be issued, Phillips said.

No report? Surely you jest! After three months of theatrics I expect the citizens of Utica will demand a report, if only to answer the slew of questions the Council's cryptic comments have spawned. What, exactly, were they investigating? What specific rules of the General Order were alleged to have been violated? When did the Council become aware of these violations? Who came up with the idea to offer witnesses immunity from prosecution in return for their testimony? How and why was that decision made? All of those questions, and many more, deserve to be answered.

Above and beyond those answers the Council needs to release the full transcripts of every witness, particularly those that testified about Anthony Franco's assault on a suspect and the resulting decision not to prosecute him. There was clearly a cover-up of the incident and all the details of how it happened, and who was involved, need to be brought out into the open.