An anonymous letter accusing Plattsburgh police leadership of racist behavior has triggered an investigation by city officials.
The author of the letter, which was sent to Mayor Christopher Rosenquest and the Common Council on Wednesday, claims to be a Plattsburgh police officer who “personally witnessed the use of racial slurs and discriminatory language by members of the police leadership.”
“Their actions are not only morally reprehensible, but they also contribute to a culture of fear and mistrust within our community,” the letter said
On Thursday, the city’s Public Safety Committee called an emergency meeting in response to the accusations. Rosenquest said the investigation will be conducted by the Labor Council, an independent committee.
“I don’t want to make an assumption or provide an opinion about the credibility,” the mayor said. “We will not know until we can work through the concerns themselves and do some interviews in the department and make that determination whether they are or are not credible.”
The letter accuses provisional Police Chief Nathan ‘Bud’ York of using offensive language during a conversation with the department’s first Black police officer, a National Guard member who was being deployed to Africa.
“Chief York approached the officer in front of several police officers and made insensitive, and racially charged comments, including ‘Are you going to Africa to find your ancestors?’ and ‘You better return and not decide to stay and live with your people,'” the letter alleged.
Rosenquest said the Labor Council has begun reaching out to the individuals involved. No timetable has been set for how long the investigation may last, Rosenquest, and York will remain on duty while it is being conducted.
He also said the department has taken part in a number of diversity and inclusion activities and believes officers have responded well to them.