A New Paltz police officer is on administrative leave after insulting transgendered people and saying Hillary Clinton should be hanged in an amateur rap performance he posted on social media.
Officer Robert Sisco is in full uniform in a patrol car as he films himself spitting the lyrics.
The self-shot video was posted publicly on Instagram, then shared on a local Facebook community board by upset residents.
The original Instagram video was then either made private or removed and is no longer publicly available.
However, a digital copy of the video was obtained by The Other Hudson Valley and can be viewed below.
Chief Robert Lucchesi, who took the helm of the New Paltz Police Department (NPPD) this spring, said he first became aware of the video after receiving a complaint.
Officer Sisco was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation that began Tuesday morning, Lucchesi said.
Lucchesi said he could not state his personal feelings about the video or say what internal policies Sisco may have violated as the investigation was ongoing. He referred to a statement released Tuesday evening by the New Paltz Town Board, saying he felt it was not appropriate to elaborate further.
In the statement, released Tuesday afternoon, town board members stated they received “many complaints” about the video and viewed it themselves.
“We are so sorry that the trust of many in our community has been broken and that their safety feels threatened. No one in our town should have to feel that way about our police,” according to the statement.
“We are all committed to repairing trust with our New Paltz transgender and LGBTQ+ community members,” the statement concludes.
New Paltz Town Supervisor Neil Bettez said late Tuesday he was “disappointed” and “angry” about the video, which he first became aware of Monday night.
“I can’t say the words that came out of my mouth when I saw it,” he said.
He and Chief Lucchesi had talked to the town’s labor attorney, Bettez said, but firing an officer was “not as simple as it is on TV” because of labor contracts.
“We’ve been working a long time to get the trust of everyone in the community, and I think this is very damaging,” Bettez added.
Bettez could not say what NPPD or town policies the video may have violated off the top of his head.
However, police officers are generally barred by their departments from making political statements while in uniform.
The lyrics on the video read, in part:
Spit facts over feelings because your feelings are irrelevant/
There’s only two genders and Trump’s still your president/
Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina/
This whole coronavirus was sent here from China/
Hillary is killary, we all know the reason/
Where those emails at?/
We should hang her for treason
In the video, Sisco also questions the official narrative of Jeffery Epstein’s suicide and reps his hometown of Newburgh.
The video comes at a particularly fraught time for community-police relations as massive protests continue across the country demanding police reform after the recent police killings of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and other black citizens.
Sisco – who is black – touches on the protests, advocating non-violence and for people to “stop lootin/stop shootin.”
The NPPD has authority over both the Town and the Village of New Paltz, both progressive strongholds.
The Village of New Paltz has a history of liberal activism and LGBTQ+ positivity. In 2004, then-Mayor Jason West married 25 same-sex couples at Village Hall in violation of state law. He and two others were arrested, sparking a national conversation on marriage equality.