Saugerties Police Officer Accused of Misconduct, Termination Now Recommended
The New York State Attorney General's Office has concluded its investigation into the alleged misconduct by Saugerties Police Department (SPD) Officer Dion Johnson and have released their findings to the public.
The investigation was conducted by the Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office (LEMIO) after at least five complaints were registered against Officer Johnson over the last two years from both civilians and fellow officers.
Investigation by the New York Attorney General's Office
The results of the report, which were released Friday, July 7th, chronicle allegations of untruthfulness against Officer Johnson from his previous employment with the Albany Police Department as well as allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment while working with the Saugerties Police Department, where he has been employed since June 1st, 2020.
Alleged Untruthfulness with the Albany Police Department
Details of the alleged misconduct while working with the Albany Police Department include Officer Johnson stating he "was not eligible to work an overtime shift even though he was, in fact, eligible." The report also alleges that this conduct persisted and led to his sergeant "requesting that charges be 'preferred' against Officer Johnson for violating a departmental rule requiring truthfulness." The report also states that these disciplinary actions were not communicated to the Saugerties Police Department when Officer Johnson applied for a transfer.
Alleged Sexual Misconduct and Harassment with the Saugerties Police Department
The LEMIO report also states that "within four months of Officer Johnson’s initial employment at SPD, he was the subject of an allegation of sexual misconduct from a female member of the public." Allegations include Officer Johnson entering the complainant's home without permission while she was sleeping and while Officer Johnson was on duty.
Review of Alleged Misconduct
The SPD Chief of Police found Officer Johnson's reported actions in violation of several department procedures, including unbecoming conduct, neglect of duty, and leaving post. The report states that "there was insufficient evidence to sustain Complainant’s 1 allegations that Officer Johnson committed the crimes of Stalking in the Third Degree, Forcible Touching, Criminal Obstruction of Breathing and Blood Circulation, or Official Misconduct." The report also noted that "with respect to SPD’s internal investigation... the agency’s disciplinary actions did not match the gravity of the misconduct."
Harassment of a Fellow Officer
The report highlights that while Officer Johnson was under internal investigation for his alleged sexual misconduct against a Saugerties resident (above), he was also under investigation for "substantiated sexual harassment of a female SPD officer" in the same time frame. Allegations including that "[Officer Johnson] had touched her in a sexual manner while on duty and previously had sent her an inappropriate and unwelcome message via a social media service" were concluded to be sexual harassment by both the LEMIO and SPD.
Second Instance of Alleged Sexual Harassment
Another investigation of sexual harassment by Officer Johnson while working at SPD was also substantiated by the LEMIO after an investigation that included collaboration with the Ulster County Human Rights Commissioner and the Police Chaplain Program.
Recommended Action Against Officer Johnson
The report concludes that "Officer Johnson engaged in repeated acts of inappropriate conduct while on duty", and also highlighted Officer Johnson's recommended "administrative charges of untruthfulness and his shifting answers and apparent untruthfulness when interviewed by the SPD investigator in connection with Complainant #1’s allegations, both of which shed light on his lack of credibility." Recommendations from the LEMIO include the termination of Officer Johnson and to "update SPD’s Practices and Policies Regarding Sexual Misconduct and Internal Investigations."