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N.Y. police union criticizes manhunt, demands independent investigation

Associated Press Writers

ALBANY, N.Y.- The state police union demanded an independent investigation Tuesday into the search for a fugitive suspected of killing a trooper and wounding two others during more than five months on the lam.

Ralph "Bucky" Phillips was captured Sept. 8 during the largest manhunt in state history.

"This detail (manhunt) was poorly planned, poorly organized, poorly led and poorly executed," according to a letter sent by Daniel De Federicis, president of the New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association, which includes about 3,600 active state police employees.

The letter painted an image of bullying local commanders and exhausted personnel. It was sent to the highest levels of state government, including Gov. George Pataki.

New York State Police Lt. Glenn Miner said in a written statement that a review of major cases is routinely performed and already is under way on the Phillips case.

"We welcome the input of the PBA and all members of the New York State Police, and trust that in the future, when there is an issue of health and safety regarding an ongoing matter, that it will be brought to the attention of management immediately, not weeks later," Miner said.

Pataki did not comment on the letter late Tuesday.

Phillips is accused of escaping from the Erie County Correctional Facility in on April 2 by using a can opener.

He is charged with attempted murder in the shooting of a state trooper near Elmira in June, and is suspected of shooting two more troopers Aug. 31 in Chautauqua County as they staked out the home of his former girlfriend. Trooper Joseph Longobardo died three days later.

The union letter claimed that state police refused help from outside law enforcement and required some key officers to work up to 16 hours a day for six days straight. It also claimed that state police failed to give troopers appropriate body armor and communications equipment, and even failed to provide backup when one trooper saw Phillips run into a local home. Phillips escaped out the back.

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