Paterson Aides Wanted State Police to Fire 10 White Members of His Security Detail and Replace With Black and Latino Officers

Aides to New York’s first African-American governor wanted a police entourage that looked more like their boss, so they made an unusual request to the State Police: Replace at least 10 white troopers assigned to protect Gov. David A. Paterson with black or Latino officers.

The request prompted an extraordinary battle between the Paterson administration and leaders of the State Police shortly after Mr. Paterson, a Democrat, took office in 2008, according to court testimony, e-mails and interviews.

Preston L. Felton, at the time the acting superintendent of the State Police and the first African-American to lead the agency, said the Paterson administration had sent him “a typed request to remove 10 to 15 white troopers, and 2 African-American troopers they didn’t like, and it was clear to me that they wanted to remove all the white troopers and replace them with African-American or Latino troopers.”

State Police officials believed such moves would violate state law and lead to discrimination lawsuits. Mr. Felton said the dispute became so heated that he considered making a harassment complaint in Albany city court against a top Paterson aide.

“It was something I was not going to do,” Mr. Felton said. “I was not going to break the law.”

Former Paterson aides adamantly dispute many aspects of the accounts. In a statement, a spokesman, Sean Darcy, said, “There was no formal request by the governor’s office to alter the security detail.”

“When the superintendent brought this to the attention of the governor’s secretary,” Mr. Darcy added, “he confirmed there was no such request.”


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