State Police Superintendent Preston Felton is “retiring” from his position, and “retiring” effective April 4th. Some seem surprised by this, I am not. Felton has had a mixed record while executing his duties as Interim Superintendent.
Felton is leaving after 22 years as a State Trooper. Up until his appointment as Superintendent, his record had been solid. A career Trooper, he came up through the ranks, and got where he did on his record as a Trooper. But, in recent years, he had become very political, and at times acted as a political operative for Spitzer and other allied politicians.
Felton, while acting as Superintendent, did some things to improve the lot of the rank and file Troopers. They got better equipment, ranging from body armor to hand guns, and made sure that those who shot at, or killed Troopers were fully prosecuted. He made sure that the people of the State of New York knew who each and every Trooper who fell in the line of duty were. He put what the Troopers go through on the front page, and made sure it got the right attention.
However, there was another side to Felton. One where he curried political favor (perhaps for his own ambitions), and potentially abused his position, and dishonored the State Police as a whole. Felton will be inextricably linked to Eliot Spitzer and his scandals.
First there was “Trooper-gate,” where according to the State Attorney General (Andrew Cuomo, Democrat), Felton acted in co-operation with Spitzer and his aides to leak information to the press about Joe Bruno. While not charged, the investigation into this affair is still on going between the Senate Investigations Committee and the Albany County DA. Felton is still facing possible charges stemming from this.
Then came “Hooker-gate.” Felton was, and is, a Spitzer partisan. He owed his ascension to the Superintendent’s post to Spitzer, and had a working relationship with him from Spitzer’s time as AG. But with Spitzer’s illicit and illegal affairs, the too often unasked question is “where was Spitzer’s State Police guard detail?” Either the detail was incompetent in allowing Spitzer to give them the slip, or they were party to Spitzer’s illegal activities. Either way, Felton had to know, and did nothing about it.
One last note, and this is more rumor than substantiated fact. It may be the Fleton was involved with, if not the source, of the release of a complaint and incident report on former Congressman John Sweeney, conerning a domestic dispute call. And internal investigation by the State Police ended with Sweeney being ousted, and Spitzer’s ascension to the throne…errrr…Governorship. This one got “dead letter filed,” but may come to light again as the investigation into Trooper-gate continues.
So, in light of all this, I am unsurprised that Felton is leaving. He was facing a potential scandal of his own, one which would have cut the State Police to the core. In one last act of trying to protect the State Police, Felton is giving it up. As he will be out of his position by the time everything comes to the fore, it will minimize the impact on the rank and file officers of the State Police. While Felton is not out of the woods yet, he won’t be bringing down the entire organization with him. And that’s a good thing for the State of New York.