E. SYRACUSE FIRE CHIEF ARRESTED, JAILED;
SUSPENDED CHIEF IS CHARGED BY POLICE AFTER HE REFUSED TO TURN IN FIREFIGHTING GEAR.
Copyright 2004 Post-Standard, All Rights Reserved.
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)
February 11, 2004 Wednesday Final Edition
The chief of East Syracuse's Volunteer Fire Department spent two nights in the Justice Center jail after he was charged with obstruction of governmental administration for not returning fire department property.
Vincent Stevenson was arrested Saturday evening on the misdemeanor charge after village police said he refused to turn over the items when asked by a sergeant of the East Syracuse Police Department.
The sergeant had accompanied a fire department official to Stevenson's home to retrieve radios, uniforms and other gear.
Stevenson, 33, of 5014 James St., was arraigned before Village Justice Francis J. Murphy and ordered held in the Justice Center without bail pending a psychological examination. Murphy ordered Stevenson's release Monday morning.
Stevenson appeared Tuesday night in Village Court with his lawyer, William Sullivan.
"He feels terrible about what happened," said Sullivan, who contended the fire department was not following its standard procedures for recovering property. "I don't think that the actions he took will equate to the commission of a crime," Sullivan said.
Sgt. Dana Vinch said in court papers he went to Stevenson's home about 2:30 p.m. Saturday with Howard Gray, vice president of the fire department.
At that time, Stevenson "was notified he was suspended from the East Syracuse Fire Department effective for a period of 60 days and was ordered to turn over any property belonging to the East Syracuse Fire Department," Vinch said in court papers.
Gray, contacted Tuesday, said he had no comment.
Sullivan said Vinch had a letter from the fire department's lawyer asking that the items be returned. He said that's a civil, not a criminal, matter.
"Why the police department got involved, I do not know," he said. Under instructions from his lawyer, Stevenson declined comment.
"He (Stevenson) was suspended by the fire board," said Douglas Robertson, village police chief. "He refused a lawful order. He was arrested."
Stevenson was elected chief of the volunteer department last April. It is an unpaid position.
He previously served as an assistant chief. He joined the department through the Explorer program when he was 14, becoming a full member at 18.
The department also has two assistant chiefs - also unpaid positions - Mike Cramer and Jeff Conrad. The department has 55 active volunteers, according to village records.
Village trustees granted Stevenson a leave Feb. 4, said Mayor Lorene McCoy Dadey.
"He asked for a personal leave until March 1," she said. Stevenson told trustees he had some family matters to settle.
"Everyone has problems where they need time off," she said.
His performance as chief is not in question, she said.
"It's not about him not doing his job at a fire scene," she said.
Stevenson turned in his department vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV, after the village board meeting.
Dadey said it was her understanding that the department's fire council, which oversees fire department matters, decided to suspend Stevenson.
Trustees are not involved with the council, she said.
The fire council is made up of the department's three chiefs and four other members, known as wardens, who are elected by the department membership.
The council administers the department's rules and regulations, including those involving personnel. Cramer, the first assistant chief and a member of the council, said the department would have no comment on the suspension but may issue a statement later.
Stevenson's case in Village Court was adjourned to March 23. Murphy also ordered Stevenson to stay away from village offices and the fire stations until the charges are resolved.
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02-13-2004, 12:44 AM #1
Am I missing something ? this doesnt sound right to meIACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
"but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
02-13-2004, 07:21 AM #2
You're not, but the story is...
With the understanding that this is a personell issue and the guy has a right to his privacy, the story doesn't address the underlying reason for the suspension. If the guy aked for and was granted a leave of absence, it seems he was using the proper channels to handle his business. It does appear, from what was or was not reported, that the suspension is a bit shady.
Hopefully, there will be some follow up.Lt. D. Gordon
Greendale Fire Department
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