One year and five months after a Geneva Police officer was found to have posted racist images on social media, the Geneva Police Department, City of Geneva, and the Geneva Community Compact Committee still have not issued any public updates on the internal investigation launched in September 2017. The officer is still listed on the department roster, and he collected his full paycheck in 2018.
On September 13th 2017, the Geneva community was rocked by the revelation that racist images had been posted to social media by Geneva Police officer Todd Yancey.
An internal investigation was launched, and statements from city officials and community leaders strongly condemned the officer’s actions while pushing for a swift and fair resolution.
City officials stated that Yancey was on medical leave at the time the racist posts went viral, and assured residents that the officer would not be interacting with the public. One city councilor even called for Yancey’s immediate dismissal.
“Not only should this officer be immediately relieved of his duties, his firearm should be revoked as well…
I will be working closely with city officials and staff for real accountability in this matter.”
– City Councilor-At-Large Mark Gramling, September 14 2017
On September 19 2017, a community forum was held at the Geneva Public Library. Guests included members of the Compact Steering Committee,the city manager and chief of police.
“We understand that the Geneva Police Department has launched an investigation into these posts. It is our desire that this investigation be thorough and swift, and that the conclusions and associated ramifications be in clear and direct alignment with our core values of inclusion and celebration of our rich racial and cultural diversity.”
The final public statements on the matter by anyone from the city, police department, or Community Compact Committee were on September 21 2017.
“We don’t want this to drag out. This isn’t something I want to take weeks you know?” said Horn in an earlier interview with WXXI. “This is something we want an answer on very quickly and then we’ll move to the appropriate discipline.”
City Manager Matt Horn, September 21 2017
When asked about accountability, Gramling admitted the national narrative usually shows officers getting off but he said he wants to do what he can to keep this from happening in Geneva.
“My message to those who are maybe a bit cynical because of past practices be encouraged. I think again we have been working, sometimes behind the scenes it doesn’t always seem to be that there’s anything progressing but I am here to tell the community we have been working with the Geneva Police Department and we have been working with the city on these things.”
Councilor Mark Gramling repeatedly assured the public in 2017 that he was working “behind the scenes” for “real accountability.”
Seventeen months later, Yancey is still a Geneva police officer, and Gramling has not issued any updates to the public related to the internal investigation.
The Geneva Community Compact Steering Committee asked in 2017 for a “thorough and swift” investigation.
Seventeen months later, Yancey is being paid his full salary, and the Compact Committee has not issued any updates to the public related to the internal investigation.
The Geneva City Manager reassured the public in 2017 that the situation would be handled “effectively” and “in a timely manner.”
Seventeen months later, neither the City of Geneva nor the Geneva Police Department have issued any updates to the public related to the internal investigation.
Yancey Still On The Payroll
The SeeThroughNY website, which includes a database of salaries for all public employees in the state of New York, shows that Yancey was paid a salary of $80,611 in 2018.
At the time of this writing, Yancey is still listed on the Geneva Police Department roster as a Patrol Officer.
Compact Committee Is Complicit
Since 2017, the Geneva Community Compact Steering Committee has been busy doing the following:
- Hosting public forums on policing where residents are told what they can and cannot say.
- Announcing the police department’s new body worn camera program and claiming it will create “accountability” without having any written policy in place.
- Refusing to allow the public to see the draft body camera policy, or to participate in the creation of the policy.
- Creating a new program of “Complaint Resource Assistants,” a group of predominately white, upper-middle-class people to “assist” residents who bring complaints against the police department.
- Hosting public forums that have gradually decreased in attendance because the forums’ controlled and staged format has discouraged residents from participating.
- Hiring a national expert to speak on fair and impartial policing, and ignoring his recommendation for a citizen review board to hold the Geneva Police Department accountable.
- Characterizing residents who ask for police accountability as “adversarial.”
- Allowing three members of their committee to speak out at a City Council meeting in full-throated support for former Chief Trickler, who was under fire after being caught failing to follow the residency requirement for his job for seven years after accepting $2,500 in taxpayer money for moving expenses.
- Restricting attendance at future Compact-sponsored public events in order to protect the police in attendance from being asked about accountability.
- Supporting Compact member and Chief of Police Mike Passalacqua when he refuses to acknowledge the need for a civilian review board while accusing those who demand accountability of being “adversarial.”
- Blaming residents for the misconduct of the police department, including declarations that “we all have to change” and refusing to acknowledge the existence of police abuse against Geneva residents.
- Ignoring questions about the sudden and dramatic demotion of a longtime GPD officer.
- Refusing to stand up for community members who asked why the GPD conducted a paramilitary SWAT “exercise” in a vacant north side home at the same time dozens of children living in Wards 5 and 6 were walking home from school.
The City Manager, members of City Council and the Compact Committee have repeatedly warned residents that the police department will end their participation in the Compact’s efforts if residents continue to insist on asking for police accountability.
In a short two years since the Compact was revitalized, it has become clear that the Compact does not serve the public. Rather, it is being used, repeatedly, as a shield for the police, to protect them from being held accountable for their actions or asked difficult questions.
City government and community leaders are working together to craft a narrative of “positive change” around the Compact in order to protect the police department from answering to the people, while leveling accusations of being “adversarial” at community members who want change and accountability.
The people cannot count on the Compact Committee, the Compact signatories, the City Manager’s office, or City Council to address police corruption and injustice in our city.