Colchester cop certification suspended, town admits failure

By Matt Porter

April 4, 2013 Updated Apr 5, 2013 at 8:50 AM EST

Town of Colchester, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The only patrolman in the town of Colchester is forced to go back to the academy after the state found the town failed to properly train its single officer on staff.

Scott Valentine began working for the town of Colchester in April 2011 while taking courses at the Broome County Police Academy.

During that year, he was required to complete 160 hours of field training with an authorized officer before graduating on Oct. 20, 2011.

Valentine was supposed to train with Colchester Police Chief Christopher D'Addezio.

However, D'Addezio retired in April, although he remained on the payroll through the fall due to accumulated sick and vacation time.

However, D'Addezio's cousin Terry Edwards noticed something was wrong with what happened in 2011.

"I saw Chris with Scott in the car when I went downtown, and then all of a sudden, Chris wasn't there," Edwards said. "And I asked where's Chris, because I see this other guy driving the car, I didn't know who Scott was at the time."

In July 2012, Edwards filed a Freedom of Information Law request to see Valentine's complete field training records.

It turned out Valentine had signed off on training hours without D'Addezio or another officer present.

Edwards said he brought it to the board and was ignored.

"It was a cover up for somebody's mistake," he said, "Just trying to push it on through so nobody would know the difference."

In December 2012, Edwards went to the Department of Criminal Justice Services with his complaint.

The DCJS sent a letter on March 4 to Valentine informing him they were removing his certification as a police officer.

The letter said the state was doing so after after receiving complaints and cross checking information with the town, police academy and former chief D'Addezio.

Town supervisor Cindy Donofrio was not in charge during the alleged time the training occurred, but said the former supervisor and town board made mistakes.

"We didn't realize we needed it, we didn't even realize he needed to be trained, field trained," Donofrio said.

Valentine had previously worked as a police officer in Colorado, and before that in 1994, was certified as a police officer in New York.

Donofrio said no one -- including Valentine -- questioned what he did was wrong in New York.

"He honestly didn't," she said, "He thought he could come in and do a few refresher courses and that would be it.

Donofrio admitted the town messed up.

"I blame the town, the board, and the supervisor at the time," she said, "We didn't realize, we should have insisted and hired an FTO trainer."

The town is committed to restoring its only officer to duty.

"He moved his family here," Donofrio said. "He moved everything and we feel we have some obligation to him."

Valentine began classes at the Oneonta Police Academy today, but will still be able to serve the town.

The DCJS said those ticketed by Valentine who feel it was in error can question the outcome of those tickets to either the Delaware County District Attorney or the Town of Colchester.