Contact: David Galin
ALBANY, NY – Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan joined Police Chief Eric Hawkins, Council President Corey Ellis, Council President Pro Tempore Kelly Kimbrough, Council Majority Leader Ginnie Farrell, and Council Public Safety Committee Chair Tom Hoey today at City Hall as she announced the appointment of retired City Court Judge Gary Stiglmeier as the City of Albany’s Public Safety Commissioner.
The City of Albany’s Public Safety Commissioner will serve as the designated arbiter of any discipline within the Police Department that is appealed. Designating the Public Safety Commissioner as the new hearing officer will help provide thorough, thoughtful, expedited, and consistent reviews of disciplinary appeals.
The Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards will continue to investigate instances of alleged misconduct, and the Police Chief will continue to render discipline they deem necessary based on those investigations. If a subject of disciplinary action exercises their due process right and appeals the Police Chief’s disciplinary decision, then and only then will the Public Safety Commissioner serve as the impartial arbitrator, hold a hearing, and issue final, binding discipline.
Prior to Judge Stiglmeier’s appointment, appeals of disciplinary actions were sent to the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) where hearing officers were selected among a pool of arbitrators to hear disciplinary appeals and render a decision. This process often took months, if not years, and resulted in inconsistent interpretations of the Albany Police Department’s General Orders, policies, and procedures.
The Public Safety Commissioner will also advise Mayor Sheehan and Chief Hawkins on further implementation of the City of Albany’s Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative recommendations.
To ensure independence from the Albany Police Department, the Public Safety Commissioner will report directly to the Mayor and will not oversee operational administration of the Police Department. The Police Chief will continue to report directly to the Mayor.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “During the Policing Reform Collaborative, we heard loud and clear the concerns regarding the inconsistent, protracted, and unaccountable police discipline appeals process. This new process will ensure any disciplinary appeal is reviewed promptly by a trusted member of our community who is familiar with not only the Police Department’s General Orders but our Policing Reform Collaborative goals and recommendations. Gary Stiglmeier has earned a reputation as an impartial jurist and trusted public servant, and I thank him for coming out of retirement to serve in this very important role. I look forward to working alongside Public Safety Commissioner Stiglmeier to help us create an even more accountable and respected Albany Police Department.”
Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins said, “I welcome Judge Stiglmeier to the City of Albany’s Public Safety Team. I have always been troubled by the outside arbitration process which often yields incongruent and problematic binding arbitration decisions. Our officers deserve to have their due process rights preserved. I’m confident that Judge Stiglmeier will provide a fair and impartial perspective during the rare occasion that a disciplinary matter may require arbitration.”
Public Safety Commissioner Gary Stiglmeier said, “I am humbled to be appointed as the City of Albany’s Public Safety Commissioner, and I thank Mayor Sheehan for selecting me for this important role. Our residents rightfully expect a police department that is held to the highest professional standards, and I am committed to utilizing the same skills I brought to the bench for 15 years and serve as an impartial, thoughtful, and fair reviewer of any disciplinary appeal brought before me.”
Council President Pro Tempore Kelly Kimbrough, Council Majority Leader Ginnie Farrell, and Council Public Safety Committee Chair Tom Hoey said, “The Common Council firmly believes we must hold members of our Police Department accountable through a fair and expedient appeals process and appointing a Public Safety Commissioner will ensure just that. We applaud Mayor Sheehan’s appointment of Gary Stiglmeier as Public Safety Commissioner. Judge Stiglmeier spent 15 years on the bench adjudicating criminal and civil matters with a commitment to integrity, impartiality, and fairness, and we are confident he will continue to live by those principles as our Public Safety Commissioner.”
About Public Safety Commissioner Gary Stiglmeier:
Gary Stiglmeier was born and raised in Albany’s South End. Gary is a graduate of Boston College and Albany Law School.
Gary Stiglmeier served as an Albany City Court Judge for 15 years, first elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2014. Judge Stiglmeier presided in the Court’s Civil and Traffic parts from 2004 through 2013. Judge Stiglmeier was assigned to the Court’s Criminal Part in 2014 where his duties included serving as the Treatment Court Judge for the regional Drug Court program. Judge Stiglmeier also presided over the Court's "Vet Trak"; a program designed to assist and rehabilitate veterans involved in the criminal justice system. In 2009, Judge Stiglmeier was also designated an Acting Family Court Judge and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2019.
Before serving as a City Court Judge, Gary began working as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in 1976 and worked in the Law Department for 28 years under Mayors Corning, Whalen, and Jennings. Mayor Jennings appointed Gary as Corporation Counsel in January 1998. During that time, Gary represented and defended the City together with its officers and employees in administrative appeals, special proceedings, and other litigation in New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division – Third Department, and the Court of Appeals.
Gary is a resident of Albany’s 12th Ward.