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Feds to monitor investigation of upstate rogue police
[Wallkill, NY]

January 23, 2001
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Feds to monitor investigation of upstate rogue police
[Wallkill, NY]

By Greg Gittrich and Joe Mahoney Daily News Staff Writers
January 20, 2001, Saturday Sports Final Edition
Copyright 2001 Daily News, L.P.
Daily News (New York)
January 20, 2001, Saturday Sports Final Edition

(WALLKILL, N.Y.) -- Two members of a disbanded police commission said yesterday that their photographs - with nooses drawn around their necks - were posted in a police squad room after the panel began probing cop misconduct. As the Orange County town drew national attention for allegations that Casanova cops hounded women for dates and retaliated against critics, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White said federal prosecutors would monitor the state probe to see whether any federal civil rights or criminal laws were violated.

"It's been anarchy in the police department," said George Green, who served on the police commission. It was disbanded two weeks ago.

Green and commission Chairman Oscar Dino said panel members learned of the crude crayon defacing of their photographs.

"It was very chilling," Green said. "We totally unnerved the powers that be."

With the cops feeling the heat, Anthony Sofaro of the State Union of Police Associations called the allegations "false or inaccurate" and blamed any problems on "the poor leadership of the police commission itself."

But State Police Maj. Alan Martin, who oversees five counties in the mid-Hudson region, had a different view.

"We weren't being advised of major incidents in the Town of Wallkill," he said. "It's dangerous not to know what's going on. We don't have this situation - or anything close to it - anywhere else."

One cop at the center of the probe, suspended Officer Dennis Rolon, identified himself as the one involved in four incidents being investigated by state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer but denied any misconduct.

"They are using me as a political pawn," he said.

Jennifer Ortiz, 19, accused Rolon of putting a gun in the small of her back after pulling her out of her car during a traffic stop in August 1999. "I'm very happy someone is going to do something now," she told The News. "It's about time."

Rolon admitted following her to her house and pulling his gun, but he said he followed procedures and never jammed the weapon into her back. He was cleared after an internal investigation, he said.

One woman who has been interviewed by state investigators told The News she was tailed by a cop in October while heading home to be with her four kids.

When the officer finally pulled her over near her house, she said, she asked why and he replied, "It's your lucky night." When she asked other cops about the traffic stop, she said they told her she was targeted because she had blond hair.

Dino said the police commission delved into complaints that some women were pulled over because they had "certain characteristics.

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