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SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Regional YMCA (SRY) has a goal: to make sure that everyone who wants to go to the Y is able to. Through their Annual Scholarship Campaign program, SRY has provided countless memberships over the years to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. This year, the Scholarship Campaign is called Mission 443, and represents the goal of the 443 memberships SRYMCA hopes to provide in 2016.
Mark Ventra has been going to the YMCA Saratoga Springs Branch for over five years, sometimes going five days a week. As a traveling salesman, the Y staff was sometimes the only people he would see on a regular basis besides his family, and he loved how welcoming and caring they all were. However, if it wasn’t for the Y’s Scholarship Campaign last year, Ventra would have had to stop going.
“A year ago, I was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. At the same time, my job was going through financial difficulties and couldn’t afford to pay me any longer, so I was let go,” explained Ventra.
When Ventra approached John Higgins, Director of the Saratoga Springs Branch, and explained to him how he wasn’t going to be able to afford to renew his membership, Higgins simply told him, “We’ll take care of it.”
“I never thought I’d need a scholarship,” said Ventra. “I always thought the scholarships were for people that weren’t as well off as I had been. I used to never give it a second thought about volunteering or giving $100 to the scholarship fund, and now, I couldn’t even pay for my own membership. I wasn’t looking for a handout, but they helped me anyway, no questions asked.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS –For over 55 years, Saratoga Bridges has been providing optimum services for people with disabilities, from their residential programs to their day services and beyond. As March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, it’s important to highlight how vital Saratoga Bridges has been in integrating those with disabilities into the community. Volunteering is a big part of these efforts, and individuals at Saratoga Bridges volunteer at dozens of non-profits across the county. One of these volunteer opportunities is with the Saratoga County Office for the Aging’s Home Delivered Meals program.
“Saratoga Bridges helps us to deliver hot, nutritious meals to seniors in Saratoga County,” said Billie Jo McConkey, County Nutrition Coordinator at Office for the Aging. “With the help of the Bridges groups we are able to exist on mainly volunteers to deliver to our 39 meal routes throughout Saratoga County.”
Currently, there are 9 groups of volunteers from Saratoga Bridges that help with Home Delivered Meals –roughly 100 volunteers total. They deliver meals every day, except for weekends, holidays and during extreme weather.
“Our site managers and clients enjoy seeing the Saratoga Bridges folks,” continued McConkey. “We have a symbiotic relationship that helps both of our organizations and we are thankful for their help.”
Dacia Saville, one of the volunteers from Saratoga Bridges, enjoys making the rounds to seniors’ homes and ensuring that they have healthy meals.
“It makes me feel good,” she said. “I love to help the people, they’re so nice.”
Another volunteer, Brian Burnett, is equally glad to be a part of something that helps so many people.
“Elderly people are sometimes unable to cook and do grocery shopping,” said Burnett. “So you’re given the chance to make someone’s day.”
For Catherine Holbrook, a recipient of the Home Delivered Meals, the volunteers that deliver to her home are a godsend. Holbrook had spinal surgery several years ago, which is when she first found out about Home Delivered Meals. Holbrook lives by herself in her apartment, and finds it hard to cook on her own because of her bad eyesight.
“It makes it very easy to have a complete nourishing meal without having to struggle over the stove,” said Holbrook. “If it wasn’t for the delivered meals, I’d probably have to go to a nursing home or rely on my family more for help.”
When it comes to the volunteers from Saratoga Bridges, Holbrook loves how friendly and helpful they are.
“They’re just pleasant people, a happy group that enjoys helping me,” she said. “I’m very content with the services they give. It has helped me stay more independent and live in my apartment by myself. It’s a life-saver for me, that is for sure.”
Individuals from Saratoga Bridges not only help with the Home Delivered Meals program, they engage in volunteerism at many local charitable organizations. For example, Saville and Burnett both regularly volunteer at local animal shelters, firehouses, ambulance rescue squads, the Elks Club, and more.
“My favorite part is giving back to the community,” said Burnett. “People should volunteer because it makes you feel good about yourself.”
When they not volunteering, they like to create artwork for Saratoga Bridges’ own art gallery and studio, Creative Endeavors, as well as practice their Special Olympics events. Saville particularly likes swimming and track and field, while Burnett focuses on cross-country skiing, horseback riding, track and field, and bowling. With their wide range of hobbies, volunteer work, and activism, people at Saratoga Bridges are shattering stereotypes of people living with a disability.
“People with disabilities can do all kinds of things. There may be certain limitations, but it does not mean we’re dumb. We just have a different way of doing things,” remarked Burnett. “Disabled doesn’t mean unable.”
Volunteer opportunities also provide individuals at Saratoga Bridges the skills and training they need for employment. Saratoga Bridges has programs, such as Alpha Career Options, that help people with disabilities find jobs in the community. They can be found working at businesses such as Stewart’s, Walmart, Price Chopper and more – all places where they can be directly involved in the community, interacting and building those necessary skills.
“The individuals we support are blended into the fabric of the community. They have a variety of disabilities, and also a variety of abilities and talents,” said Pamela Polacsek, communications specialist at Saratoga Bridges. “They never fail to impress me with how profound they are and explicit in the way they express themselves. They value and appreciate what life is all about.”
Polacsek, as well as the other staff members at Saratoga Bridges, are passionate about the work they do and the individuals they serve daily.
“I work with a bunch of dedicated, compassionate staff members whose goal is to give people the opportunities to succeed,” continued Polacsek. “Giving support within our agency, as well as through these volunteer sites and businesses that employ our individuals, is encouraging, it’s enriching. I think it enhances the whole community when people are accepted for who they are.”
For more information about Saratoga Bridges, including their services and extensive charitable work, visit saratogabridges.org. For more information about Home Delivered Meals, or if interested in being a volunteer in the program, call the Office for the Aging at 518-363-4020.
Sheriffs Seek Information About Fred “Fritzie” Drumm
SARATOGA – The whereabouts of Fred “Fritzie” Drumm, 68, of Burgoyne Road in the Town of Saratoga, are still undetermined according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office. Drumm, who is a Councilman for the Town of Saratoga, was reported missing by his family on Wednesday, November 25. The Sheriff’s Office is continuing to actively investigate leads in the case.
According to the Sheriff Department’s Lieutenant Jeffrey Brown, a search of the ground and waterways surrounding the area that Drumm was last seen began immediately after the family reported his disappearance. A total of more than 200 people have participated in the search for Drumm. In addition to the Sheriffs, other agencies involved in the search included Saratoga County fire agencies, the New York State Federation of Search and Rescue Teams, members of the Saratoga County Sheriff's Office and New York State DEC Forest Rangers.An area of about 1200 acres was searched, including portions of the Hudson River by the Sheriff’s Marine Unit.
The ground search concluded last Saturday, although Lt. Brown emphasized that the investigation is still classified as active, and the Sheriff’s Office is still continuing to focus on all leads and possible avenues that they receive regarding Drumm’s disappearance. They are continuing to request the assistance of the public (see below for contact information).
The decision to suspend a ground search is determined by a variety of factors, Lt. Brown noted. It is made on a case-by-case basis by the Sheriff’s Office, and in this case was done with consultation with the Forest Rangers. Lt. Brown noted that some possible factors that are taken into account when determining the size and length of an ground search include the topography of the area of disappearance, the general health and age of the missing person, time of year and weather conditions.
Anyone with knowledge or information regarding the possible whereabouts of Mr. Drumm are requested to contact the Sheriff's Office at 518-885- 6761.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Domestic violence is the number two violent crime in Saratoga County, the primary cause of family homelessness, and one of the top two causes of homicide. In fact, from 2010 to 2013, 100 percent of homicides in Saratoga County were because of domestic violence.
According to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women and one in seven men will be the victim of domestic violence at some point in their life. As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it is key to look at the statistics and learn about how domestic abuse affects our loved ones, our society and even ourselves.
Wellspring is a fully comprehensive relationship and sexual abuse service for Saratoga County. Previously called Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services for Saratoga County (DVRC), Wellspring helps victims of domestic violence, while simultaneously providing prevention education for the community.
“We have so many services that can help people before a crisis and that can avert a crisis,” said Maggie Fronk, the Executive Director of Wellspring for the past 14 years. “With our other name, it said “crisis” so many people didn’t think they could come in until after the crisis. Wellspring is really promoting all of the things we do to help people be safe, and ultimately, avoid that crisis.”
The vision for Wellspring is a Saratoga County free of abuse, and awareness is vital to that vision. Domestic violence is more prevalent in the community than anyone realizes, and it’s much more than physical abuse. Domestic violence can manifest as emotional abuse, sexual abuse, isolation, economic abuse and psychological abuse. These many forms of domestic violence often occur together.
“I think one of the biggest myths is that domestic violence is only physical. It can be, yet there can be highly abusive relationships that have no physical abuse at all,” said Fronk.
A stereotype exists that domestic violence only happens to certain people. In reality, all socio-economic groups, all races, all religions and all genders are affected by domestic violence. According to Fronk, this stereotype may exist because domestic violence is a crime that happens in the home, outside of public view.
It is never easy to make the first step in reaching out for help, but Wellspring tries to make it uncomplicated and nonintimidating.
“Just call and make an appointment, or if need be, just walk in the door. All our services are free and confidential,” said Fronk. “We respond to what your needs are. One person might come in and be ready to leave the abuse, go to a shelter and get an order of protection. Another person may just want to talk about what’s happening and find out if it is an abusive relationship. It is driven by the needs of whoever is walking in our door for help.”
Helping over 1,000 people per year, Wellspring prioritizes what each individual needs and wants at that time, acknowledging that it is different for everyone. No one is going to be rushed to leave their abuser or pressured into steps they are not ready for. The only commonality for everyone is that they are going to be talked to about safety options, so they can be safe with whatever choice they make. There will be customized, individualized safety planning for anyone who comes into Wellspring.
One anonymous survivor who has been helped by Wellspring said, “[Wellspring] supported me and helped me when I was going through a very tough moment in my life. They were there for me when I needed someone to talk to, to advise me how to get help, supporting me during the court days. The staff was also always nice and helpful with my son. They made our stay as easy as possible. They supported us with summer camp for day care when I could not afford it so I could keep working.”
The array of services Wellsprings provides is vast. Whether someone needs counseling, legal counseling or case management, the resources are available. There are even advocates that can accompany victims to the police or to court.
Financial security is a terrifying thought for many who want to leave a violent relationship. Victims are afraid they won’t be able to support themselves and their children after leaving their abuser. Wellspring offers an eight-week financial literacy program that covers everything from knowing your assets and rights with money, to budgeting, to getting a job and growing in that career. It also helps people apply for public assistance, such as SNAP, for temporarily relief during a difficult period to get survivors back on their feet.
Wellspring has shelter and housing opportunities readily accessible. The shelter is in an undisclosed location in the county, ensuring safety and privacy.
“Some people might be coming in [to the shelter] for a few days, letting things settle down at home. Other times, they might be ready to totally change their life and have no idea where to start. Either one of those is fine,” explained Fronk. It is important to note that children and parents stay together in the shelter.
If victims still need help with housing after leaving a shelter, there is an affordable housing program with subsidized rent and support services.
Shelter is not only provided for people, either. Pets are often used as tools of coercion and control, keeping victims trapped in abusive situations. Abusers may threaten to harm or kill pets if the victim tries to leave. In turn, Wellspring developed the Safe Pet Partnership, which provides loving foster homes for all pets while a victim goes into a shelter and receives the help they need. When they are ready, families are then reunited with their pets. This program has fostered hamsters, fish, cats, dogs, and even horses, taking away the worry about pet safety when escaping domestic violence.
While Wellspring deals directly with healing and supporting victims of abuse, as well as their family, friends and pets, they are very much involved in preventing domestic violence in the first place. Wellspring’s awareness programs visit local schools, businesses and community organizations to teach about domestic violence, including what to look for and what to do if you think you or a friend may be a victim. An emphasis is put on being an active bystander, saying or doing something about it when you see violence happening.
“When you start at the high school level, you can stop this behavior from progressing into adulthood and escalating. The point is to get ahead of this,” said Fronk.
Wellspring makes getting help comfortable, inviting and shame-free. By providing a wide range of awareness, education and victim services, they are making help for domestic violence more accessible to everyone. Fronk says it perfectly: “You are not alone in this.”
If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic violence, or even suspects abuse, call Wellspring’s 24-hour hotline at 518-584-8188. Wellspring is located at 480 Broadway, downstairs in the Collamer building, next door to City Hall. For more information or to donate to Wellspring, visit Wellspringcares.org.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Sara Cummings, a mother of two, recently went out to a popular chain restaurant and noticed that the kids there weren’t having a good time. They were fidgeting in their booths and had energy that couldn’t be contained in a regular restaurant setting. But Cummings had a plan. Her and her husband, Patrick Finch, have designed a place where parents and children can both be happy. The Saratoga’s Kids Castle, a restaurant paradise for kids, is opening its doors on August 13 to provide Saratoga with a much needed family space.
“We thought ‘I think we’re onto something here,’” said Cummings. “The community has given us a positive response and we’re really excited about it.”
Saratoga’s Kids Castle features giant structures for children to play on, such as castles and pirate ships. There are play and craft tables and dress up stations where kids can put their imaginations to work.
For children under the age of three, there is a baby and toddler play area called “Crinkle Manor,” where there are age-appropriate toys for little ones to build their cognitive development while also having fun. It is also safe for small children since they cannot enter or leave “Crinkle Manor” by themselves.
“There is no TV and no electronics, just real play and real interaction,” said Cummings.
The menu is yet another kid-friendly aspect of Saratoga’s Kids Castle. The menu was created by registered dietitian in nutrition, Nichole Doolingm of Whole Nichole Nutrition. The food is all nutritious, healthy and authentic. There are even special sections of the menu with food designed based on the age of the child. The menu is mindful of food allergies and intolerances with special menu items for both parents and children. There is also a full café menu which includes lattes, coffees, loose teas, smoothies and juices.
Sara Cummings and Patrick Finch both have a history in real-estate and operating a restaurant. In 2006, Finch purchased and operated the Saratoga City Tavern and in 2014 he renovated and opened Kings Tavern. With this experience under their belts, they are ready to take on this adventure together.
“I’m looking forward the most to the birthday parties,” Cummings explained. “A lot of the employees are in the local drama club so they’re very interactive and creative with the kids.”
There are eight detailed party packages to choose from including the Princess Spa Party, the Dragon Party and the King or Queen Party.
Adding to the festive and lively atmosphere of the restaurant/play land are large murals painted by Gretchen Tisch from Saratoga’s Paint and Sip. Interestingly, the king and queen mural overlooking the baby area is based on the likeness of Sara Cumming’s parents while the pirate room has a mural of crazy pirates based on Patrick Finch’s parents. In the kitchen area, there is a lacrosse princess mural that represents Cumming’s 13 year old daughter, Katie.
Visitors will finally get to see Saratoga’s Kids Castle on August 13, opening at 9 a.m. with a ribbon cutting tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m. Hours will be Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. On the weekend, it is open from 5 to 7 p.m. with a special focus on birthday parties during the day. Admission is $10 for all-day play per child. From 4:30 to 7 p.m., admission is free. There are also monthly passes available.
Saratoga’s Kids Castle is located at 26B Congress Plaza in Saratoga Springs. For more information please visit saratogaskidscastle.com/
SARATOGA COUNTY – The Sage Colleges is expanding its Capital Region footprint. The private, liberal arts college has announced it will soon begin offering a Master of Business Administration program at the Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) TEC-SMART facility in Malta this fall.
Aside from Empire State College, no other higher education institution offers MBA programs in the Saratoga area.
“There really aren’t a lot of choices, particularly for an MBA, up towards the North Country,” explained Kimberly Fredericks, Ph.D., associate dean of Sage’s School of Management. “We know that there’s a niche up there. It’s a growing community – Saratoga, Malta…really Saratoga County in its entirety is a growing community, and we wanted to make education accessible and flexible.”
Administrators say classes will be offered in an accelerated format – two classes one night a week- evenings from 6 to 10 p.m. The fall 2015 classes will include “Management of Change and Innovation” and “Human Resource Management.” It is the same MBA program offered at Sage’s Albany location, only now it’s accessible in Malta.
“So many kids and adults are driving a long distance, so I’m going to either catch them on their way to work or next door to their employers so education can be accessible, affordable and flexible,” said Frederickson. “We cater to working adults in all of our graduate programs currently. We have night classes and sometimes once a week or even once a month because everybody works.”
The professional MBA program is designed to develop leaders who can manage complex organizations and who have the desire and capability to move into high-level positions. For nearly three decades, Sage MBA graduates have taken major leadership roles in business, government, health care and non-profit organizations. The program is accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).
Fredericks says the college may add coursework for additional programs in the future, but wanted to start with an MBA program because of Malta’s growing business community; like the Luther Forest Technology Campus (LFTC) for example.
“Because we’re a smaller institution, we can be flexible. We have some skill sets in our faculty that not everybody has,” says Fredericks. “For example, we have an intellectual property attorney who can do things with patents, intellectual property or tech transfer that might be attractive to that market up in Malta.”
Due to its location at HVCC TEC-SMART, Fredericks also explained it puts the college in a good position to potentially offer continuing education coursework or seminars to the more than 3,000 employees at LFTC.
“We love being part of the community. We listen to the business community and adapt to what skill sets they want employees to have and we listen to our students and I’m able to put on electives and try certain courses out, because we’re smaller,” said Frederickson.
So far it seems as though Sage’s MBA program in Saratoga County is being well-received. The program has reached its cap at 30 students for the upcoming fall semester. However, applications are still being accepted and Frederickson says adjustments can be made to fit a high demand.
In the next year, school administrators say they hope to see the program grow and become a partner in the Saratoga County community. The five-year goal for the college’s “Sage in Saratoga” initiative is to offer more graduate- and undergraduate-level programs.
The Sage Colleges is the university to have a presence in three counties – Albany, Rensselaer and now Saratoga.
To learn more about The Sage Colleges MBA program in Malta, visit sage.edu/management.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Health tech company mySmartHealthcare is fighting the Ebola virus from right here in Saratoga Springs.
The company, which is headquartered at 60 Railroad Place, launched a series of online training courses aimed at training healthcare professionals on the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as Ebola.
Karen Cornelius, COO of mySmartHealthcare says, “We noticed such a broad fear of it [the Ebola epidemic], so we got on it right away.”
Cornelius explained that safety breaches were occurring due to a combination of misinformation and improper procedures. For example, some health care providers were using duct tape to secure gowns to their wrists and since the tape can be difficult to remove properly, this actually led to a greater risk of contamination. The company saw the need for better instruction and is now one of the leading producers of simulations for donning and doffing (putting on and taking off) PPE.
While mySmartHealthcare is based in upstate New York, their reach is international with customers in China, Singapore, South America, Russia, Turkey and Canada. Locally, mySmartHealthcare has partnered with Albany Med to accredit courses so staff can receive continuing education credits.
Cornelius says that their product is unique because “We create simulations that require the user to go through every single step, it’s very interactive.” Cornelius explained that before her company began producing their simulations, health care providers typically only had exposure to a basic safety video and training sessions often included a dozen or more people. After the brief training, Cornelius says, “Everyone was charged to go and just do it right.”
And that, she says, is where problems can arise.
Simulations with mySmartHealthcare are more interactive than a video or group presentation, and after completing the training, providers have to pass an assessment and prove that they are proficient.
Hospitals can then use this as evidence that they are following CDC guidelines. Institutions can also track every step of the simulation. For example, if a lot of users are struggling on a specific step (e.g. removing gloves), they can hold a special training on that particular action. The interactive portion of the training is important, because as Cornelius says, “You learn better when you do something yourself.”
In addition to primary provider training, mySmartHealthcare also offers trained observer instruction. During news coverage of the transport of the infected Dallas nurse, you may remember the outcry surrounding the plain-clothed person holding a clipboard. Many viewers asked why the individual was not wearing PPE; however, Cornelius says this person is actually an integral part of the team. A trained observer’s job is to ensure all providers are following correct PPE protocol. While they do not have to don and doff their own PPE, they must be trained to notice any safety gaps.
Most importantly, mySmartHealthcare’s training can be accessed 24/7. The company maintains that providers can access it “Anywhere, Anytime, and Just in Time.”
Cornelius says the simulations are so important because they allow for learning in a safe, virtual environment where providers can’t harm themselves or anyone else. “Practice makes perfect especially with low volume, high stakes procedures”, Cornelius says.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Over 3,000 participants will once again line up on Broadway near City Hall on Thanksgiving morning for the 13th annual Christopher Dailey Foundation Turkey Trot.
The 5k race is in memory of Christopher Dailey, who passed away suddenly the day after Thanksgiving in 2001, when he was an 8-year-old third grade student at Dorothy Nolan Elementary School. His parents, Mark and Maria of Wilton, began the steps to starting a foundation in his name just weeks later.
The idea was to build and pay for a recreational facility in Saratoga County for the children of the community—Chris was an avid baseball, basketball and soccer player.
In March of 2006, the Christopher Dailey gym was officially opened in Wilton at Gavin Park. By May of 2009, it was completely paid off. It’s now used for Junior NBA, after-school sports, travel teams and by many others.
As the foundation continues, the funds from the Turkey Trot and the family’s annual golf tournament have since contributed to a vast amount of other programs in the local community.
The foundation’s mission, including the Turkey Trot, is to: “Serve children in the Saratoga Community by providing resources that support youth athletics, the Christopher Dailey Foundation fulfills its mission through sponsorships for the needy, the physically challenged and all children who make sports a part of their life.”
Fundraising for the foundation has gone toward scholarships to local graduating students. It has also benefited the Special Olympics’ Young Athletes Program, as well as the Franklin Community Center’s Project Lift, the Double HH Ranch in Lake Luzerne, Saratoga Springs athletic facilities, Saratoga Youth Lacrosse, Saratoga American Little League, Wilton Youth Baseball, Saratoga Stampede Baseball, Saratoga Rowing, local Saratoga booster clubs, the Saratoga skating team and the Camp Chingacook Campership.
The foundation recently pledged to set aside funds for an adaptive playground in Gavin Park.
“We’ve been fortunate to have such a great community to support [the Turkey Trot],” said Mark on Sunday, the anniversary of his son’s passing on Nov. 23, 2001. “Somehow, it’s turned itself into a family tradition for a lot of people, so we’re happy to be able to have something like this occur as a result of what happened to us. It’s nice to have it in Christopher’s memory. It gives people a chance to think about him a little bit after all these years.”
There were a few hundred participants in the inaugural Trot in 2002. The event has since grown substantially.
Last year there were over 3,500.
As of Monday, that was around the expected number with over 3,000 registered and the big day being Wednesday night’s signup.
“We’re on path for that,” Mark said on Sunday. “One year we got over 450 on Wednesday, but either way it’s still a hefty number of people and it will be a full crowd.”
A series of pictures were put together for a slide show, which played as people signed up and collected their 2014 Turkey Trot packets from 4-8 p.m. Wednesday. The slide show documented the array of the Turkey Trot fundraiser’s contributions to the community as well as pictures from previous Trots.
After starting on Broadway at 8:30 a.m., the Trot continues on North Broadway past the Saratoga Hilton before looping into the Skidmore College through the second entrance and returning back down Broadway.
“We like the formula the way we have it for the race, and we want to keep it that way,” Mark said.
Before the race starts, Christopher’s younger brother Brendan, 14, will be one of the singers for the National Anthem—a yearly tradition for the race.
Mark and Maria’s daughter, Laura Rose, 24, has a best friend who will be joining Brendan in the pre-event singing.
“We’re looking forward to seeing all the regular people we know and new people who we don’t know,” Mark said. “We appreciate it very much.”
On Monday Nov. 10, a Saratoga County Sheriff’s Deputy abruptly resigned following charges of misconduct and harassment. Sgt. Shawn R. Glans, a 27-year veteran of the force, stepped down after a video showing Glans harassing a young man was posted online over the weekend.
The incident began when Glans received a call reporting suspicious activity around 2:30 a.m. on Friday Nov. 7 near Route 236 in Halfmoon. By the time Glans and his fellow deputies arrived, the vehicle was gone, but a few minutes later they located another car matching the descripting in the Walmart parking lot.
Upon approaching the vehicle, Sgt. Glans noticed a .22-caliber rifle in the back seat and told the car’s owner, Colin Fitch, and his friend, Adam Roberts, that he wanted to search the car.
Fitch replied that he didn’t want Glans to perform the search without a warrant and the scene escalated from there. Glans, who was unaware that Roberts was videotaping the scene with his cell phone, grew more and more agitated during the confrontation. Glans’ speech was littered with curse words and in the video you can hear him allegedly slapping Fitch.
In a press release, Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo said, “The actions of Sergeant Glans both as a police officer and a supervisor were completely inappropriate and unwarranted and not condoned in any fashion by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office.” Zurlo also maintained that Glans’ actions are not a reflection of the Sheriff’s Office as a whole.
In light of this incident and the pending charges, we decided to dig a little digger into the laws and rights surrounding car searches. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects you from search or seizure without probable cause, but what exactly is probable cause? The most widely accepted definition is that the police must have reasonable suspicion that a suspect has committed a crime. Facts or evidence must be present. For example if an officer sees a bloody weapon in your car or smells marijuana, that’s considered probable cause.
If you’re pulled over by the police, it’s important to remember that you are required to show your license and registration— you can be ticketed if you don’t comply. If an officer asks to look inside your car, you do not have to give your consent. However, if an officer believes evidence of a crime is within your car, your permission won’t be needed. It is unclear what criminal evidence Sgt. Glans believed was present in Fitch’s vehicle.
There are a number of situations when a police officer has the authority to search your car. The first, obviously, is if you give your consent. If an officer asks and you say it’s OK, he or she can proceed with the search.
The second situation is when an illegal or suspicious item is in “plain view.” For example, if an officer pulls you over for speeding and notices a bag of drugs on the backseat, he or she has the authority to search the rest of your car for contraband.
The third situation would be in connection to an arrest. If an officer has probable cause to arrest you, he or she can then proceed to search your car for further evidence.
The police can also search your car if they have probable cause to believe a crime has taken place or if “exigent circumstances” exist. Exigent circumstances can be likened to an emergency situation. An example of this would be if a police officer suspects you may try to flee or destroy evidence in the wake of a crime.
What if you really don’t want your car and personal property to be searched? If the officer has a warrant or can claim one of the above reasons, you must submit to the search. If none of the outlined situations apply and you refuse consent, the officer can hold you until a search warrant can be obtained. The guidelines for detaining a driver depend on the situation, but you can be held as long as it takes police to conduct the investigation, within reason. Remember that detentions are considered voluntary unless you ask (politely) to leave.
As far as the official protocol for the Sheriff’s office, during Monday’s press conference, Sheriff Zurlo said that Glans should have received permission from the car’s owner. If the permission was withheld, Glans could have detained Fitch until a warrant was issued.
Following Glans’ resignation, Justice Lester Wormuth arraigned him in the Town of Halfmoon Court. Glans was released and is scheduled to appear again at a later date.
- The right to remain silent in order to avoid incriminating yourself.
- The right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home.
- The right to leave as long as you are not under arrest.
- The right to a lawyer if you are arrested.
- Do stay calm and be polite.
- Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.
- Do not lie or give false documents.
- Do prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.
- Do remember the details of the encounter.
(Source: The American Civil Liberties Union)
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Bataan Death March of verbiage, pontification and blather about all things relating to the city’s status regarding the proposed Saratoga Casino and Raceway (SCR) expansion was taken to a new level of intensity this week.
We were first treated to a marathon City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 3, in which the mayor’s agenda item about the expansion did not get entertained until nearly 10 p.m. (note that the meeting started at 7 p.m.; note further that the mayor’s agenda is the first of five departments to report, followed by the county supervisors).
This meeting ended about 11:20 p.m., but after the item about SCR’s expansion I had had enough for one evening, thanks. Three plus hours is enough. Mind you, this was a discussion item. Nothing was actually decided.
A “special” public hearing on the next night (Wednesday) followed this — this one solely devoted to the expansion issues. I hoped that everyone got their comments in, for everyone should feel they had their say I guess.
But, at the risk of being characterized as “un-interested” or “un-involved” I admit I gave this one a pass altogether. I also cover arts and entertainment, and there was a great new jazz ensemble making its debut (look for a feature on them before their next appearance in a few weeks) on the same night.
Blast me if you want, but I think I made the right call. Good music wins out over hot air. Tell me, what would you do?
Now, we hear that there “might” be another “special” city council meeting, this time after Saratoga TODAY goes to press: it is tentatively scheduled for Friday, June 6 at 10 a.m. Unbelievable.
Perhaps something might actually be decided at this one. But from now on, your city council reporter will value both your time and my own. We will report on something that actually happens.
The crux of the issue, for those whose eyes are not totally glazed over at this point, is whether the city should assert itself as an involved agency in the review process, known as SEQRA, as opposed to “interested,” which in theory would give them the further right to vie for the lead agency status on this project, instead of the Gaming Commission and therefore greater oversight over what happens.
This would be triggered by filling out a form, stating that the city objects to the gaming commission being the lead agency. However, if this course is pursued, it is likely to generate a costly legal battle, which the city’s attorneys say they have no shot of winning.
So there you are. I have summarized nearly 600 hours of debate in two paragraphs. Yes, I might be glossing over some fine points, but who cares. The mayor believes that an ongoing dialogue with both SCR and the gaming commission can gain more than a legal fight. Time will tell if that is the right way to go.
None of the above should be construed as wanting to restrict anyone’s right to comment. The public comment period to the Gaming Commission extends until June 13 and I certainly encourage everyone who wants to express their opinion to do so.
Just don’t make me listen anymore, OK?