WNYT.com

Pastor: Neighborhood is a powder keg

Posted at: 11/14/2012 11:37 PM
Updated at: 11/14/2012 11:47 PM
By: Dan Levy

TROY - A well known pastor in the Collar City is describing North Central Troy as "A power keg with a very short fuse." Pastor Willie Bacote says residents are constantly telling him about police abuse and brutality in their neighborhood.

Wednesday night, the community came face-to-face with leaders determined to iron things out.

Pastor Willie says he has already collected several reports involving alleged misconduct or inappropriate behavior by police. He says as many as a dozen more people have come to him for advice but have not yet filed official complaints.

Khaleed Pascal admits he was kind of a wise buy when Troy Police came to his house recently, responding to what he calls a minor altercation with another man. But Khaleed says he didn't deserve the treatment he got from police, beginning with handcuffs that he says were cutting off circulation in his wrists.

"They dragged me out of the car and I'm (saying), "I'm not resisting arrest! Can you just loosen the cuffs?" And they punched me in the face," Pascal testified before the church gathering.

That was one of several tales of alleged abuse told Wednesday night at the Missing Link AME Zion Church, an evening arranged and hosted by Pastor Bacote.

Pascal's story drew an immediate response from Deputy Police Chief Richard McAvoy.

"If that happened exactly the way (you say) that it happened, I want to apologize to you," McAvoy said, reaching out to shake Pascal's hand. "If somebody punches you in the mouth and makes you bleed, we don't tolerate that."

Troy resident Frank Lasher says the video he has on his home computer (see attached video) shows him handcuffed and a city police officer grabbing him by the neck. Lasher says things are out of control in North Central.

"Next there's going to be a violent tragedy," Lasher predicts, "Someone's either going to get shot or stabbed."

Troy Police Chief John Tedesco says he doesn't see a serious problem, pointing out that the stories he was hearing Wednesday night weren't showing up in the department's official complaint files.

"It's always possible (that some people are reluctant or fearful to file complaints)," Tedesco says, "They're talking on a grand scale here (at the church meeting) and we just don't see it."

"If it quacks like a duck, it must be a duck," Bacote responds. "I'm very adamant about the fact that ten or twelve people can't walk in my office with the same story, different things about what they're experiencing on a daily basis and also look at them as being liars. I'm not going to accept that."

"We have a stringent review process on the use of force and again we're not seeing it," Tedesco reiterated. "We're not seeing injuries that would be consistent with what some of the claims are."

If there is a problem involving Troy Police and their treatment of minorities, some critics argue that changing the racial diversity of the department might be a good place to start. Of the 124 officers on the Troy Police Force, five of them are African American.

Chief Tedesco says they are trying to narrow that gap. He's hopeful that new recruitment efforts will lure more minority applicants.