TOWN OF FISHKILL = The Fishkill Town Board has approved a settlement agreement with former Fishkill Police Officer Scott Bierce, who resigned amidst controversy in December 2019. Bierce had been a police officer with the town for 38 years at the time of his resignation. His federal lawsuit claimed that the town and former Fishkill Police Chief James Schepperley violated his free speech and political association rights.
The town agreed to give Bierce a one-time payment of $145,000 to bring the lengthy litigation to a close. As part of the settlement of the suit, filed in 2020, Bierce agreed to withdraw his claims against Schepperley and cease his action against the town. The town’s insurance policy has a $10,000 deductible which must be paid to the insurance company which will then pay Bierce the total $145,000.
Prior to his resignation, Bierce had been decertified as a police officer by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice. He claimed that former Fishkill Town Supervisor Bob LaColla and Schepperly arranged for the decertification because Bierce supported current Supervisor Ozzy Albra over LaColla who had been seeking reelection.
“The era of police officers having their civil rights violated are over,” Albra said.
“Over the past three years I fought to protect this officer’s civil rights and worked diligently to have him recertified as a police officer, but I was thwarted every step by politics,” he said. “The town’s inability to rectify this situation resulted in another six-figure settlement. Throughout this effort as your town supervisor, I backed the blue during these hard times.”
When Albra became town supervisor, he named a new police commissioner and the two unsuccessfully tried to get Bierce re-certified as a police officer with the state.