Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler in 2014. | Photo credit: Michael Greenlar | email@example.com
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Syracuse Police Department has withdrawn from a drug task force in the latest chapter of an ongoing feud with Onondaga County’s district attorney.
Syracuse police dropped out of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Central New York Drug Task Force five months ago, shortly after an employee of the district attorney’s office was assigned to the unit.
Syracuse had concerns that the inexperienced officer posed a danger to other members of the task force, a DEA spokeswoman said. That new officer was Peter Rauch, according to sources.
Rauch, 35, is a part-time Liverpool police officer and full-time employee of District Attorney William Fitzpatrick.
“In 2014, we became concerned about the professional qualifications of a member added to the task force, and as a consequence withdrew from the task force in September,” Syracuse police Chief Frank Fowler said in a written statement to Syracuse.com.
The DEA asked Syracuse police to put their reasons in writing why they thought the officer was a danger, but never received a response, Special Agent Erin Mulvey said.
She said the DEA admitted Rauch onto the task force after conducting a thorough background check on him, which the DA’s office says vetted him for the assignment.
“It leaves no stone unturned,” Mulvey said of the background check. “Our criteria is pretty tough to pass to become a member of the task force.”
No other police agencies have withdrawn from the task force because of Rauch, she said.
Rauch appears to be caught in the middle of an extraordinary public feud between two of the region’s top law enforcement officials.
In 2011, Fitzpatrick held a news conference and called Fowler an irrelevant police chief with “a juvenile mind.” Fowler later accused Fitzpatrick of being blinded by a vendetta when the DA started an investigation into a fender-bender involving the chief’s son.
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