FORT EDWARD, N.Y. (NEWS10) – This week, the police chief charged alongside a sergeant with falsifying documents filed his resignation from the village force. The decision was accepted by the Fort Edward Village Board in a special meeting on Tuesday.
Fort Edward Village Police Chief Justin Derway and Sgt. Dean Watkins plead not guilty in late March to 11 counts of first-degree filing a false instrument with intent to defraud. They are accused of falsely reporting a collective total of over 800 hours in police training hours in 2019.
As first reported by the Glens Falls Post-Star, the Village Board has passed a resolution that could lead to actions against Sgt. Watkins, who has not announced any plans to retire from the force. The resolution, which passed unanimously, gives the village the power to enact disciplinary action against Watkins under the Civil Service Law, as well as Village Law. As members of the village police department, both Derway and Watkins are considered village employees.
Derway and Watkins were both placed on administrative leave in January. The village of Fort Edward said that Derway resigned in order to begin retirement. That retirement is effective as of July 15.
The exact nature of disciplinary action for Watkins has yet to be determined. Attorney Brian Kremer has been appointed to conduct a hearing on the sergeant’s conduct, which will be reported to the board, at dates yet to be determined. Village law allows for disciplinary action to include fines, reprimands, suspension or outright dismissal from duty.
The charges against Derway and Watkins are centered around over 1,400 hours of total training time that the two men submitted in 2019. The two men trained 15 police officers, 11 of whom were later hired to the village police department. The training program used was designed to comprise 700 hours over 11 months, but the hours submitted claimed that the entire training had comprised twice that amount in merely three months – July 28 to Oct. 20, 2019. Derway and Watkins were the only officers running training.
The New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services compared those records to those of the hired officers. The department alleges that Watkins filed 668.5 hours that he did not work. Derway submitted 228 hours that he did not work.