Posted at: 02/12/2014 11:12 PM
Updated at: 02/13/2014 7:52 AM
By: Jessica Layton
TROY - He never lost his temper and his tone never wavered. But nobody left this public safety committee meeting in Troy wondering where the police chief stands on serious allegations against his department
"Let me be perfectly clear. The actions of the Troy Police Department at Kokopellis club were not motivated by race," Chief John Tedesco said.
Tedesco became particularly pointed when directing his comments to the owner of Kokopellis Night Club - the site of that massive melee involving police and patrons on Jan. 25.
"Let me express my profound sense of repulsion at your analogy of Troy Police Department acting in a manner akin to the Ku Klux Klan. You owe the members of Troy Police Department and residents of the city an apology for such reckless speech," he added.
Since that bar brawl, tensions have escalated between the department and some residents, particularly members of the African American community. There have been been calls for the chief and some officers to resign.
During a meeting last week, Pastor Willie Bacote led the chorus of claims of excessive force, brutality and racism against the police department. Bacote didn't attend Wednesday night's meeting -- and the chief called him out. So did PBA President Bob Fitzgerald, who challenged Bacote to sit down and watch the surveillance video from the night of the fight side by side.
In the end, Tedesco offered suggestions to make the police department better, asking everyone here for help to improve police relations with residents.
"The community must be part of the change. It's not a one way street," he said.
The chief agrees with members of the public who say there needs to be an outside investigation. He says he's still hopeful for that. The complaint has been filed with the U.S. Department of Justice. He, like the rest of the community, is waiting for a decision on whether there will be an investigation.