Police chief on suspension: 'This is an absolute witch hunt'

By Kelly McCarthy
By Dave Greber

April 28, 2014 Updated Apr 29, 2014 at 12:38 PM EDT

Greene, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Greene's police chief is firing back at what he calls "a witch hunt" by the village's mayor and board.

New York State Police said Monday they arrested Chief Steve Dutcher at approximately 3:35 p.m. April 24 in Greene on a charge of petty larceny and harassment.

Dutcher said late Monday the theft charge is the result of a dispute over a $127 vacuum -- owned by the village -- that he routinely takes home to clean his patrol vehicle. Dutcher is permitted to drive his patrol vehicle to and from home.

Dutcher said Monday he's just the latest victim of an overzealous village administration that attacks employees who fail to fall in line.

"It's an absolute witch hunt," Dutcher said via phone Monday. "This administration is just out of control. It's a lack of respect. They (the administration) handles things inappropriately.

"I intend to fight the charge," he added.

In fact, that's why Dutcher Monday morning rescinded the resignation he turned in a week ago.

Dutcher said he was suspended with pay without explanation on March 21. He said the suspension came just days after his 10th consecutive "perfect" annual evaluation.

"There was no communication for a month," he said. "So I resigned."

That was until he was arrested by state police April 24. Then, Dutcher said, he turned in a letter to the mayor's office rescinding his resignation and fight the charges.

Dutcher became police chief in 2004 and oversees five sworn police officers. He is the only K-9 officer in the Village of Greene Police Department.

He says the harassment charge stemmed from a personal matter in September 2013 "that has since been resolved."

Greene Mayor Phill Brown said late Monday the village board agreed to accept Dutcher's resignation and deny the letter rescinding his resignation. Brown said the board appointed a part-time officer to the position of chief on an interim basis.

Brown declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.

Dutcher says he and the village administration have been in a disagreement over moving the police department to the village's fire department building on North Canal Street. Dutcher says the village spent more than $27,000 just to study the move.

"I'm very much against, the move," Dutcher said.

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