New Paltz Police Officer Robert Sisco defended his career and social media postings in an exclusive interview with The Other Hudson Valley, saying his postings were being misinterpreted and he was being unfairly judged by parts of the community.
Last month, Sisco posted an Instagram video of himself performing a politically conservative freestyle rap while in uniform in a police cruiser. In the video, Sisco raps that “there’s only two genders” and that Hilary Clinton should be “hanged for treason.”
After the video was obtained by TOHV and other outlets, Sisco was put on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, and the video was denounced by Town Supervisor Neil Bettez and the full Town Board.
Bettez said Tuesday the Town Board is trying to fire Sisco, and arbitration between the town’s labor attorney and Sisco’s police union attorney would soon begin.
Addressing the “two genders” line in the original video, after which he raps that “boys have a penis and girls have a vagina,” Sisco said he has no issue with transgender people.
He was speaking of the sex of children at birth, Sisco said, though he admitted in the interview there were also people born with both genitalia.
Sisco made a distinction between what he called “gender and gender identity” and said there had been “no reason to elaborate on the difference, because the people that follow me [on Instagram] knew exactly what I mean,” Sisco said.
Sisco, who joined the New Paltz Police Department in 2012, said he took the negative response as “a shock to the system” and his entire career was being characterized by parts of a short video.
The video attracted regional interest, and the past few weeks have seen marches both for and against Sisco in New Paltz, sometimes at the same time.
In defending himself, Sisco compared himself to town board members, suggesting there was no difference between a law enforcement civil servant stating their political opinions and a politician stating political opinions.
There is also no evidence any town board members have said national political figures should be hanged.
When asked if he felt the need to apologize, Sisco said he could not.
“It’s not that I don’t want to apologize, but right now I’m limited by what I can and I can’t say,” he said.
Officer Sisco’s Tuesday Instagram story seems to address the rap video and the response (above) and contains the line, “If you point a gun at me, you better kill me. Because I will most certainly kill you.”
Supervisor Neil Bettez said late Tuesday he had been shown the Instagram story.
“Personally, I think it’s very disturbing for a police officer to post something like that,” he said, adding it sent the wrong message during national protests over police violence.
It was social media that got Sisco in trouble in the first place, Bettez said, and it was surprising Sisco continued to post.
“If I was in his shoes, I would not be doing this.” he said. “I don’t think he’s helping himself.”
Sisco said he was not being literal.
“You can’t expect somebody to try to destroy my career and try and make me look like this horrible person, and then when it’s all said and done, just to expect me to lay down and take it…I’m a human being, I’m a man, and I feel that I am being wronged,” he said.
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.