ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The police chief and a sergeant from the village of Fort Edward are set to appear in Albany City Court next week. This comes after an investigation into alleged false training records filed by both men.
Fort Edward Police Chief Justin Derway, 42, and Sgt. Dean Watkins, 50, were named as codefendants charged with 11 counts of first-degree filing a false instrument with intent to defraud, a felony. The two have been ordered to appear in city court at 10:30 a.m. next Monday.
According to a complaint filed in Albany City Court, Derway and Watkins were accused of falsifying hundreds of documents over an 11-month span. Those documents claimed that the two officers had supervised the training of 15 police department recruits. Eleven of those recruits were hired to the Fort Edward Police Department. Take a look:
Those records were submitted to the DCJS, which found that the hours reported on some files included more than 24 hours worked in a row. State officials allege that Watkins and Derway falsely submitted over 800 hours of combined field training time.
The documents signed claim that Derway and Watkins served as overseers for an approved Basic Course for Police Officers, comprising of a curriculum of over 700 hours of training content. The Fort Edward Police Department was approved to run one such course from Oct. 20, 2018 to Sept. 27, 2019. Documentation of that training was then handed over to the DCJS.
The report that the DCJS received showed that the supervised field training took place between July 28 – Oct. 20, 2019, a different (and shorter) timeline than what had been approved. Derway signed the final evaluation on four recruits, Watkins the other seven.
Derway and Watkins were the only names on those recruits’ paperwork – and the hours they logged stood out on their own. Watkins was reported as working 892.5 hours, over 71 out of 78 total training days, including multiple shifts that exceeded 24 hours. Derway was reported as working 510 hours – 51 out of 67 days. Both men reported often working with multiple recruits at the same time.
Upon discovering those numbers, the DCJS obtained the attendance and time records for the 11 recruits who were hired by Fort Edward Police Department. They found that Watkins did not actually work 668.5 of the hours he submitted. Derway did not work 228 of his submitted hours.
Derway and Watkins were notified in April 2020 by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) that their certifications as General Topics Instructors and Field Training Officers had been revoked. Both were told that they had failed to comply with field training observation requirements, which detail that all police trainees must be under Field Training Officer supervision during training.
Both men have been on administrative leave since January. Fort Edward Mayor Matthew Traver did not immediately respond to a NEWS10 call seeking comment on Thursday afternoon.
The Fort Edward Police Department is also the subject of a lawsuit by village resident Robert Murat-Hinton, who alleges being a victim of excessive force during an incident last July. Murat-Hinton who was arrested in a bar fight on July 8, was tased by police after kicking a wall inside a police station, and alleges that the tasing continued after he stopped.