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Buffalo resident talks of 'nasty' treatment years ago from cop who wants to be sheriff

Buffalo resident talks of 'nasty' treatment years ago from cop who wants to be sheriff

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Deputy commissioner Kimberly Beaty kirkham

Deputy Police Commissioner Kimberly L. Beaty at headquarters in Buffalo on July 14, 2014. 

 

Sheriff’s candidate Kimberly Beaty has two cases of “discourtesy” on the disciplinary record created during her almost 28 years with the Buffalo Police Department.

Neither case involved the arrest of Lizzie M. Rodgers.

Because of a chance encounter with Beaty and her partner, Rodgers went from being a passenger in her husband’s car to a handcuffed defendant in a flash.

“She was really nasty,” Rodgers said of the way Beaty treated her when she was a young officer in September 1989.

Rodgers and her husband, Calvin, were returning home to Purdy Street around 5 p.m. Suddenly a police vehicle backed out of an alley near their home, and Calvin Rodgers braked to avoid it, he said.

Words were exchanged, and then-Officer Clay Twitty pulled his car up to the other vehicle to ask, “You got a problem with that?” the couple recalled.

Calvin Rodgers admits that when he was 34 years old he would freely convey his opinion. He said he told Twitty he should have activated his emergency lights when he backed out of the alley.

Lizzie Rodgers said some things, too. Soon, she said, Twitty and Officer Kimberly Miller – as Beaty was known when she had roughly three years on the job – pulled Mrs. Rodgers from her seat.

Lizzie Rodgers said she asked at least twice why she was under arrest, and each time Beaty or Twitty or both told her to “just shut up.” She complained to both officers that the handcuffs were too tight but neither seemed to care, she said. Lizzie Rodgers said that as she sat in the back of the squad car, both officers ridiculed her and even made fun of her wig.

“I do remember it,” Beaty said when asked about the arrest recently.

“I don’t want to say anything disparaging about her. I hope it is something she has been able to get past. But at the end of the day, she was rude,” Beaty said of Lizzie Rodgers.

“Officer Twitty made the arrest,” Beaty recalled, “and he didn’t do anything wrong, but she just became more and more uncooperative.” Beaty added: “If Officer Twitty had done something wrong, I absolutely would have intervened on her behalf.”

Twitty, when reached recently, said he did not remember the episode. 

Calvin Rodgers, who said Beaty followed the tone set by her partner, filed a complaint with a lieutenant but no one followed up. Beaty’s disciplinary record shows no sign that an internal affairs case was opened.

The charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and harassment against Lizzie Rodgers were eventually dismissed in City Court, The Buffalo News reported in 1991 in an article revealing that the couple had filed a federal court lawsuit over the arrest. The records from the lawsuit are no longer available, but they say their case failed when the city produced a witness who reported Lizzie Rodgers had yelled at the officers.

“If there were cellphones at the time, it would have been a slam dunk case,” Lizzie Rodgers said.

The couple had been married for just a few months at the time of the arrest. She worked as a baker at Wonder Bread, and he was a cleaner at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, she said.

Beaty said she was personally hurt, and stunned, that Calvin and Lizzie Rodgers filed a lawsuit because she and Twitty did nothing wrong.

“I would never do anything to disparage a person intentionally,” she said.

Beaty is heading into a Democratic Party contest against Brian J. Gould, Cheektowaga’s assistant police chief, and Myles Carter, an activist who has not been a police officer.

She said she wants to restore the community’s trust in the Sheriff’s Office and will focus on better training personnel for the road patrol and overseeing the Holding Center downtown and the Correctional Facility in Alden. Thirty-one county inmates have died in custody since Timothy B. Howard became sheriff in 2005.

"I believe the people of Erie County deserve a professional police department. And they need so much more, and they need it right now," she said. 

Discipline records

As the party primaries approach, The News has been gathering the disciplinary records of sheriff candidates with law enforcement backgrounds now that those records are public documents in New York.

Records obtained by The News show Gould once pushed and punched a handcuffed defendant who spit on him. As a sergeant working his way up the ladder, Gould said nothing in 2010 as his department hired a man his team had arrested one year earlier for assault during a neighborhood fight. As an officer, the man later punched out his sergeant at an off-duty event.

A Republican candidate, Karen Healy-Case, was found negligent in an on-duty car accident that cost the City of Buffalo $825,000. Another Republican, John C. Garcia, arranged a drug raid that led to the death of a dog and a $110,000 court settlement after it was alleged that his narcotics team hit the wrong residence. A judge found Garcia’s deposition testimony for a civil suit contradicted other facts that had been uncovered.

Beaty said she supports Albany’s shift to make police disciplinary records public. “I think it is important as public servants that we are open,” she said, adding later, “we can’t have rogue cops on the street. Those files reveal a picture.”

Her “disciplinary card,” an index of her cases, lists 10 incidents, but she was cleared in nearly all, including two opened for “discourtesy” and another for “poor service.” A police spokesman said the underlying records on those three, from the mid-1990s, no longer exist. But all would have involved complaints about her because a record shows letters went to each complainant stating the outcome of the investigations – “exonerated” in two and “not sustained” in the third.

Said Beaty: “I would never want someone to think I was discourteous or treated someone with less than the dignity and respect they deserve.” She added, however, that “sometimes you have to be a little bit more firm when you speak to people and when you are giving people orders – and people may be a bit put off by that. But I certainly was not disrespectful when I did, it in my manner or my tone.”

In more cases in which records are available, she was reprimanded for causing a property damage accident when backing out of a police station lot in the summer of 2010.

Political flap in 2013

Beaty rose consistently through the ranks and as a district chief in 2013 appeared in a campaign advertisement for Mayor Byron W. Brown, in uniform and with police cars as a backdrop. Brown’s Republican opponent in that race cried foul, as did the Police Benevolent Association. But state election law bars police officers from using their “official power or authority” for political advantage. No one found she had done so, and the flap died out.

Beaty doesn’t regret being part of the ad.

“I was proud that I was a part of the police administration, and identifying with the mayor’s campaign and his positive goals for the City of Buffalo was not a problem for me,” she said.

Cited in labor grievance

In 2018, as Beaty was closing out her Buffalo police career and heading to Canisius College to head its Department of Public Safety, she defended actions that had denied thousands of dollars in overtime to a captain who had been her supervisor when she was assigned to the police academy.

An arbitrator determined that the city, through Beaty, violated three articles of its contract with the PBA, including one protecting employees from “discrimination and coercion.” Beaty, as deputy police commissioner, had required staff at the shooting range to complete daily activity reports. While the arbitrator wrote that the city could require such reports to control overtime, it also appeared to be a punishment directed mainly at Capt. Patrick Mann.

The arbitrator’s decision, first reported by WKBW-TV, describes Mann testifying that Beaty told him she was unhappy with the way he performed his duties, he was “disrespectful and insubordinate” and was barred from overtime.

The arbitrator ordered the city to compensate Mann for the overtime he lost over roughly a year. A Buffalo police official said the city ended up paying Mann, who is now retired from the force, $10,202.

Beaty said the labor grievance has been dug up now to damage her candidacy.

“I have no ill feelings toward Capt. Mann,” she said, but explained, as she did to the arbitrator, she had issues with his job performance.

“Overtime is not an entitlement program,” she said.

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