GREECE, N.Y. (WROC) — Greece officials announced Thursday that 10 members of the Greece Police Department were investigated for their actions or lack thereof the night former Chief Drew Forsythe crashed into a guardrail on 390.
Forsythe pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving while ability impaired and leaving the scene of a property damage accident.
According to Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich, three of the GPD members investigated were fully exonerated. The remaining seven face disciplinary action or demotions.
“Ultimately, the investigators concluded that a reasonable officer would have found reasonable suspicion to alcohol test Drew Forsythe at the scene,” Reilich said in the written announcement. “Additionally, information was not reported completely or in a timely manner.”
The seven GPD members under investigation will be offered an opportunity to accept disciplinary action or demotions as recommended. If they decline, Reilich said they would be served charges in accordance with town law. A hearing process would follow.
Reilich said the town would not release more specific information until that hearing process was finished.
According to the DA’s office, Forsythe was driving home from a function with coworkers in his police-issued vehicle around 1:30 a.m. on October 21 when he crashed into a guardrail on 390. Forsythe did not stay at the scene or immediately report the crash. Instead, he drove until his car had only one working wheel.
Greece police officers arriving on scene after the crash did not conduct a field sobriety test.
Greece police initially claimed Forsythe swerved to avoid a deer, and attempted to drive back to the police station. The DA’s office said the route Forsythe took after the crash suggests he was actually trying to drive home.
Reilich asked Forsythe to resign 4 days after the crash.
Michael R. Wood was named as the new chief of the Greece Police Department Thursday morning. Jason Helfer has been acting as interim chief since Forsythe’s resignation. Wood will officially be sworn into the department on January 15th.
Read the full statement from Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich
Tonight, the Town Board received an overview of the recommendations that will be issued by Special investigator Joseph Morabito for disciplinary action against sworn officers of the GPD who either worked at the scene of the motor vehicle accident involving former Chief Drew Forsythe on October 21, 2021 or who were involved with the situation.
Ten members were subject to the investigation, though only seven were potential targets of the investigation. Three of the officers investigated have been completely exonerated. Disciplinary action or demotion is recommended for seven of the ten officers investigated.
Although, by his actions, Drew Forsythe placed all the members of the department in a difficult position, especially those directly involved, unfortunately, each of these officers failed to follow policy and protocol in some way. Ultimately, the investigators concluded that a reasonable officer would have found reasonable suspicion to alcohol test Drew Forsythe at the scene. Additionally, information was not reported completely or in a timely manner.
In the coming days, most of the officers involved will be given the opportunity to accept the discipline recommended by the investigators. If the officers do not accept the discipline, they will be served with disciplinary charges which are required by the Town Law. Pursuant to this law, employees are entitled to a hearing in which a Hearing Officer is appointed by the Town Board to determine whether the officers engaged in the conduct they are charged with and whether the penalty recommended by the investigators is reasonable. This hearing would take place at some point in the future. We will not know the final disposition of the cases until the hearing is concluded. The Town does not release specific information about police officer disciplinary action until cases are finally adjudicated.