Enforcement frustrated with bail reform

With seven alcohol-related driving arrests — including three in Watervliet since May 3 — Brandon L. McKinley is known to Waterville police. And the city’s police chief wants McKinley to be just as known to the public.

In a news article in the Albany Times Union on July 25, Watervliet Police Chief Joseph Centanni detailed the 41-year-old McKinley’s sordid legal history in a news release that was based on a summary of McKinley’s extensive arrest record which includes seven driving while intoxicated arrests since 2008. The Albany Times Union article said Centanni’s release explained that McKinley is charged for all three arrests with felony driving while intoxicated, which carries up to seven years in prison; aggravated unlicensed operation, a felony that carries up to four years in prison; circumventing an interlock device, a misdemeanor carrying up to a year in prison; drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle, a ticket, and other violations.

Centanni’s frustration with the repeat offender was clear. “This offender is a serial intoxicated driver,” said Centanni, a retired 25-year Troy police veteran who became Watervliet police chief in April 2021.

“The danger that he and every impaired operator pose to our roadways is not in dispute,” Centanni stated. “McKinley’s actions indicate an obvious need for assistance, which has unfortunately gone unanswered. The single reason this defendant continues to place our community at risk is because he cannot be remanded due to an absurd provision in New York’s bail reform law. Although our officers are disappointed, we remain committed to removing dangerous criminals from our streets.”

The Albany Times Union article explained that under state bail law changes that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and which were later amended, judges now cannot detain or set bail for defendants charged with many misdemeanor and felony offenses outside of “qualifying offenses,” such as murder, rape, cases that resulting in death and a select number of other crimes.

In most cases, defendants are given desk appearance tickets. The change in law has been overwhelmingly unpopular with police and prosecutors around the state. Centanni is no exception.

The Albany Times article detailed McKinley’s arrest record beginning on May 3, when Watervliet police responding to a disturbance arrested McKinley at a Stewart’s shop at Second Avenue and 19th Street and charged him with driving under the influence of alcohol. Six weeks later on June 19, Watervliet police stopped McKinley for traffic violations and charged him with driving under the influence of alcohol and possessing crack cocaine. On July 7, Watervliet police stopped McKinley’s car for traffic violations and charged him with, once again, driving under the influence of alcohol. In all three cases, McKinley did not have an ignition interlock device on the car, police said.

No wonder police are frustrated — who wouldn’t be?


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