PBA President comments on dangers Troopers face

On the evening of Dec. 30, PBA President Dan De Federicis spoke to a reporter from the Times Union newspaper of Albany regarding a critical incident in Rensselaer County. During the incident, law enforcement officials said a man fired a shotgun at a New York State Trooper and a sheriff’s deputy, and the officers returned fire, killing the man. President De Federicis talked about the inherent danger involved in the jobs of PBA members and commented on the incident. Below is the story that was published in the Dec. 31 issue of the Times Union, along with President De Federicis’s comments placed in bold for emphasis.

Officers fatally shoot man in Schaghticoke

Police say suspect, who was not immediately identified, opened fire first

First published: Friday, December 31, 2004

SCHAGHTICOKE — A man who fired a shotgun at a State Police trooper and a Rensselaer County sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed by the officers Thursday night, police said.

Few details were available as State Police and the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Department continued early today to piece together what happened outside a home in the Hudson Avenue neighborhood on the banks of the Hudson River.

But during a midnight news conference at Brunswick State Police barracks, officials said the trooper and deputy had both raced to Hudson Avenue after a 911 call about 7:30 p.m. reported a raging domestic dispute.

"Not only did they save their own lives but they saved the lives of the family" involved in the domestic dispute, Sheriff Jack Mahar said. "We’re very early in the preliminary investigation," but he added early reports indicate "both officers acted correctly."

Officers cordoned off several hundred yards around the scene of the shooting. Hudson Avenue, which is a dead-end street accessed from Lansing Avenue, is in the tightly woven residential community off Second Avenue called Pleasantdale.

About 11 p.m., Rensselaer County sheriff personnel said much of that department’s staff, including Sheriff Mahar, were on scene. Just before 11 p.m., Patricia DeAngelis, Rensselaer County district attorney, walked into the State Police barracks at Brunswick, where the news conference was held. Cmdr. Gerald E. Meyer also participated in the news conference.

Mahar said the sheriff’s deputy had arrived on scene shortly before the trooper. While Mahar confirmed the man who was shot had fired on the officers at least once, it wasn’t clear early today how many shots the officers had fired or who hit the man. The man’s identity was being withheld until his family could be notified of his death.

A representative for all the state’s troopers spoke out in defense of the officers late Thursday.

"This is just another instance that shows our troopers and our sheriff’s deputies are constantly in the line of fire," said Dan DeFedericis, Police Benevolent Association president, which represents thousands of state troopers. "From the union’s standpoint, it certainly appears 100 percent justified." It just goes to show law enforcement jobs in the Capital Region are "incredibly and increasingly dangerous," he said.

Authorities said internal affairs investigations within both departments are now ongoing.

DeFedericis said troopers and other law enforcement are allowed to use deadly force when they are "reasonably certain" that a perpetrator is going to use deadly force against them or someone else.

"We’re just thankful that our trooper and the sheriff’s deputy can go home to their families tonight," he said.