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State Police Superintendent Retires Amid Controversy

New York State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt is the latest member of Governor Paterson’s administration to abruptly depart. He spoke out in an interview that aired Tuesday night on Capital News 9.

“I would never do anything to tarnish the reputation of the state and its employees by providing inaccurate information,” said Corbitt.

Corbitt says intense media scrutiny played a role in his decision to retire on Wednesday. “This media firestorm has really destroyed my ability to function in that capacity,” said Corbitt. He went on to say the relationship between the state police and governor is a complicated one.

The departure comes just a week after his boss, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Denise O’Donnell resigned. Reports have said a state police official had contact with a woman who had accused a top Paterson aide of domestic violence last fall. The woman later dropped the case. The governor himself had no comment Tuesday night when asked if he told Corbitt to step down. He only said this, “I think we’ll move forward now and we’ll see who will be the best person to lead State Police,”

This all once again raises serious questions about political interference at the highest levels of the state police. Former legislative aide and attorney, Thomas Carr weighed in on the resignation. “If he did in fact troopers or someone under his command to reach out to this person then you’re potentially talking about obstruction of justice charges,” said Carr.

The Assembly Majority Leader says Corbitt’s departure is appropriate.

“Certainly it hurts the governor more. To think that this individual who was at least a part of the picture here decides to remove himself completely, says something,” said Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari.

Corbitt could not answer questions relating to the Attorney General’s investigation. He did reiterate that he is “a good cop.”

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, before Corbitt announced his retirement, the State Troopers PBA released this statement, through their President Thomas Mungeer:

The State Troopers PBA cannot stress enough that the rank-and-file members of the New York State Police have not been politically manipulated by Gov. David Paterson.

“The men and women who proudly wear the gray uniform and risk their lives continue to serve and protect the public without politics influencing their brave and selfless actions each and every day,” said PBA President Thomas H. Mungeer.

The unflattering portrait of the New York State Police that is being painted due to recent reports involving the Governor’s office and the State Police is a disservice to our road Troopers who face danger at every turn.

“We want to emphasize that road Troopers are in no way, shape or form involved in these allegations,” Mungeer said. “While it may be easy to confuse the reported actions of a few people in higher positions for the uniform-wearing men and women who respond to emergencies and keep our communities safe, we would like to remind everyone there is a distinct separation.”

The PBA awaits the results of the investigation being conducted by the Attorney General’s office, and will comment further as details develop.


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