Michael Wood to become new Greece police chief
After saying the department needs a fresh set of eyes on it, Greece Supervisor Bill Reilich announced Michael Wood as the town’s new police chief on Thursday.
“That’s one of the things I think we need,” Reilich said. “A fresh perspective to our police department, some guidance and true leadership, and that’s what he’s going to bring to our police department.”
Former Chief Drew Forsythe stepped down in October. Forsythe faced criminal charges, accused of driving drunk from downtown Rochester to Greece.
On Thursday evening, Forsythe, according to the Democrat & Chronicle, pleaded guilty to charges of driving while ability impaired and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. Both charges are classified as a violation.
Forsythe was sentenced to a license suspension of 90 days and will have to pay $1,100 in fines. He also has to participate in a victim impact panel.
Pending Town Board approval, Wood is expected to take over next month.
Wood has an extensive background in law enforcement, primarily with the Rochester Police Department, where he rose to deputy chief after serving for more than two decades serving in roles as varied as Homicide/Major Crimes commander, aide to chief of police and Crime Analysis Unit commander.
He resigned as deputy chief of police in 2014 to become deputy commissioner of the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services, a position that he currently holds.
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said last month that Forsythe crashed a town vehicle into a guardrail on Route 390 near Latona Road on Oct. 21.
Doorley claims Forsythe drove several miles with just one unpunctured tire until the car stopped functioning. During a news conference announcing those allegations, the district attorney criticized the Greece Police Department’s leadership for not bringing in outside investigators sooner.
Three officers who helped Forsythe were suspended.
Despite all this, Wood said don’t expect immediate changes to the department.
“It’s too early for me to even talk about that. To be honest, I’ll start next month. I’ll do my homework and we’ll see what it brings,” he said.
When asked what he would say to residents concerned about the department’s credibility, he said don’t blame everybody for the actions of few.
“It is a solid agency, it's made up of professionals.” Wood said. “It’s a noble profession, these are outstanding people. Things happen. That’s human behavior. You deal with it and move on.”
An internal investigation led by outside investigators into the actions of Forsythe and other Greece Police officers has concluded.
On Thursday night, the town board received an overview of recommendations that will be issued by Special Investigator Joseph Morabito.
A statement issued by Town Supervisor Bill Reilich said that disciplinary action or demotion was recommended for seven of the ten Greece police officers who were investigated. The statement said that while Forsythe “placed all the members of the department in a difficult position,” the officers in question failed to follow policy and protocol.
The investigation concluded that a “reasonable officer” would have found reasonable suspicion to alcohol-test Forsythe at the scene, and the probe also found that information was not reported completely or in a timely manner.
There are various steps that will happen now in the disciplinary process.
Wood is expected to take over Jan. 10. His appointment is also up for approval on Thursday night.