Community members voice outrage over ouster of Gloversville police chief

GLOVERSVILLE — Carol Lewis says her friend got a lifeline from the 13 Investigates series on opioid addiction.

“She said, ‘I saw this thing on the news,'” said Lewis. “She said, ‘I’m going to go down to this center this morning and see if they can help me.’ The last few weeks, she’s been saying, ‘I need help, I need help, I want to get help,’ and it was that morning she said, ‘OK, this is where I need to go.'”

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Lewis says that step gave her friend a chance.

“She’s so motivated. I’ve never seen her like this before in my life. On the news you hear about overdoses, and I think, is it my friend this time?” said Lewis, breaking down in tears. “Is it her?”

The opioid epidemic affects every local city and town.

Gloversville police gave NewsChannel 13 reporter Tessa Bentulan a first-hand look at the grim reality police officers face every day. However, because of the series, Police Chief Anthony Clay lost his job.

City leaders did not like the story.

“Because it depicted Gloversville as a crime ridden community. That was the only thing that was there,” Gloversville Mayor Vincent DeSantis told Tessa Bentulan Tuesday.

Some people who worked with Clay were upset about him losing his job.

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“I was irate, to say the least,” said community activist Lashawn Hawkins, chief of change for the group I Can Breathe and I Will Speak. “We’ve come a very, very far way as a community and as a city, and a big part of that is due to our law enforcement and the direction that chief has brought this city.”

She says it’s not a public relations problem.

“For me, it’s a people problem. Whether it’s opioids or political, it’s a people problem that we’re struggling with, that we’ve been struggling with,” she said.

“The one thing that chief did that nobody else that’s struggling with the same exact issues that he’s struggling with — he came out and stood for the community that he’s serving. And if more people decided to do what he did, we’d probably be better off as communities,” she said.

“He’s just trying to help, and he went above and beyond his call of duty to help, and he’s being penalized for it. It’s not right.”

Carol Lewis, Gloversville Resident

“You guys are ridiculous,” said Lewis. “He’s just trying to help, and he went above and beyond his call of duty to help, and he’s being penalized for it. It’s not right.”

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The response to our stories has been overwhelmingly supportive of Clay.

Some community members accuse city leaders of just putting their heads in the sand.

“You can try to cover up, you know, put lipstick on a pig, plant trees here and make it like there are no needles in the street near Fremont and all the areas where there’s heavy drug usage,” said Lewis. “What it does is it says it’s a call to attention. It’s not just in Gloversville. This is every small town that got their jobs taken from them, that went to drugs and now we have this problem.”