Schenectady Mayor Stratton Responds To Prison Planet “Martial Law” Report


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Yesterday we reported on how a New York State city is considering implementing martial law and replacing the local police force with National Guardsmen, in an effort to clean up law enforcement in the area.

City officials in Schenectady are reportedly considering scrapping the entire police force in response to the actions of a small selection of officers who have been accused of assaulting citizens.

While other options have been raised, such as a consolidated county-wide police force diverting authority to the State Police, Mayor Brian Stratton has indicated that he believes the Governor could declare martial law during a period of “transition”.

Mayor Stratton today sent us a statement clarifying his comments, which were originally made to Capital News 9. Stratton writes that though martial law is not a “permanent remedy” to the problem, the use of state militia to oversee a transitional phase is being seriously considered.

We don’t feel in any way that our article “misinterpreted” the Mayor’s comments as he claims. Indeed, our subheadline emphasized the fact that the use of national guard was a “transitional” issue. The main thrust of our report was to express alarm that the extreme measure of declaring martial law was being considered in response to a relatively minor problem.

We were also trying to make the point that for authorities to be able to declare martial law so readily and on such a flimsy pretext sets a dangerous precedent for the entire country.

In addition, the use of military assets in civilian law enforcement is still illegal under Posse Comitatus, unless a clear state of emergency exists.

However, for the purposes of Mr. Stratton’s right of response, we are happy to post his statement in full below.


Dear Mr. Watson:

Your recent posting of an article on Link Removed (“City Considers Martial Law to Clean Up Policing”) is misinterpreting the nature and intent of comments I have made to local media regarding the potential use of martial law in the City of Schenectady.

As reported on the local cable news channel, Capital News 9, I have said that martial law might be a necessary but temporary interim measure if in fact our city were to abolish its police department and transition over an extended period to a county-administered force or other option.

The very fact that many officers in our 166-member police department may choose to retire, leave city employment or seek employment elsewhere were the city to plan to ultimately move to that option, could result in a sudden exodus of personnel. Our responsibility to provide continued public safety through adequate numbers of police officers could mean a temporary assignment of State Police, other local law enforcement personnel, or even state militia only as an emergency and temporary measure until such time as a new department is formed and fully staffed.

Contrary to what your readers may believe, the City of Schenectady is not considering the implementation of martial law as a permanent remedy to the ongoing personnel and administrative problems within our police department. We are addressing those challenges internally, as we continue to investigate all realistic, long-term options available should we decide to dissolve or consolidate the department with another non-military law enforcement agency.

I hope that this email will clear any confusion over the recent report on Capital News 9.


Mayor Brian U. Stratton
Schenectady, New York

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