is the issue: Rick LaJoy wants to be a cop.
PHOTO: Chris Shields
Albany man finds out the hard way that age matters when you
want to be a cop
Last October, just days after turning 36, Rick LaJoy filed
his application for hire with the Albany Police Department.
He wasn’t concerned that the age restriction for those applying
for the force set the cutoff age at 35. A loophole in the
restriction allowed for people who had served in the armed
forces to deduct from their age the time they had spent enlisted.
LaJoy had done a year and a half with the Army Reserves. He
figured he was in the clear.
Eight months later, after scoring high marks on both the physical
and written exams, he would be told that he had technically
not been eligible to take those tests. His history of military
service lacked active duty, and couldn’t be used against his
age. Therefore, he was told, he was too old.
Although he doesn’t agree that his military service ought
to be discredited in such a way, it bothers LaJoy even more
that his dream of being a cop has been dashed by his age.
think it is discriminatory,” LaJoy said. “You have someone
who is willing, able, and wants to do the job. I have given
everything they have asked for, and I have passed everything
that they have given me.”
According to David Ernst, with the state’s Department of Civil
Service, New York’s age limitation for joining any police
force across the state (except New York City, which has different
guidelines) was enacted by the state Legislature in 1999.
The previous limitation of 29 had been eliminated in 1994.
1996,” Ernst wrote in an e-mail, “President Clinton signed
into law the Age Discrimination in Employment Amendments to
provide that it would not be unlawful to fail or refuse to
hire an individual as a law enforcement officer pursuant to
a State law enacted after such date. Therefore, the age requirement
for law enforcement personnel in New York State is in conformance
with the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
It is our understanding that the age limitations that were
enacted . . . at the request and urging of the law enforcement
community within the State.”
is state legislation and the courts make decisions that throw
out age restrictions, and then the courts allow them to resurface
again,” said Richard Stevens, the staff director for Council
82, the union representing Albany police officers. “And it
is an ongoing issue that’s basically a legal, technical one.”
of the arguments,” Stevens said, “are that the younger guy
might be able to do their job in a much more agile way. But
the piece that baffles me is, as a guy gets older, he gets
more experienced. He has opened up through more facets of
life, and that may be an attribute that would offset the physical
demands of the job.”
The union, he pointed out, doesn’t advocate one way or the
other on the issue of age restrictions, as the people on the
job aren’t adversely affected.
is based on the mood of the day,” he said. “It is a social
issue that keeps on changing, that doesn’t have any real sense.
It doesn’t conform to anything.”
Detective James Miller, with the Albany Police, sees retirement
as a large factor in the restrictions. To receive a full pension,
a person must serve 20 years on the force.
am sure it is from an aspect that if you didn’t have one and
you hire someone who is 45 years old, after 20 years they
will be 65,” he said. Serving on the force from 25 to 45 would
be much more tolerable than serving from 45 to 65, he figured,
considering that “it is a difficult and stressful job.”
Stevens also noted that the police academy is rigorous.
have to run miles, do obstacle courses early in the morning,”
he said. “It is a full day of training. But I know a lot of
people—and I am an old guy, 57—but I know a lot of people
in their 40s that could do it without a problem.”
LaJoy pointed out that he aced the physical-agility entrance
exam. Thirty-five sit-ups in a minute, 25 push-ups, and 1.5
miles in 12 minutes and 53 seconds—he had been training for
it since October.
ran the 1.5 miles in the time that people 29 or younger ran
it in,” he said. “Sit-ups I made. Push-ups, you know, I doubled
what they wanted. It was a good feeling. It was a big accomplishment.
And then for them to yank the rug out from under my feet.”
At this point, LaJoy hasn’t had any official notification
saying whether or not he is still a candidate. He assumes
from his last conversations with the police department that
he is not. But, he said, “there is no accountability on their
He has contacted attorneys, though he really doesn’t want
to engender any animosity.
thing I want to do is get on and then have problems,” LaJoy
said. “I just don’t feel like I am getting a fair shake. I
wanted to be a servant to the public. I wanted to give back
to the community.”
It makes no sense to him, he said, that they would turn away
a willing applicant at a time when the force is hurting so
badly for cadets, and they are experiencing the largest wave
of retirement since 1986.
the worst thing is that nobody can tell me why,” LaJoy said.
“Why is it 35? Why 35?”
Albany Common Council adopted committee recommendations
this week that would establish public-access television
in Albany. The recommendations would have Time
Warner Cable provide $500,000 for start-up costs,
going to the purchasing of equipment and securing
of programming. A $4.20 yearly fee would be added
to cable bills to pay the salaries of four employees.
The city’s lawyers will now use these recommendations
to bargain with Time Warner.
U.S. Army claimed this week that their investigation
into the Baghdad Diarist, an unnamed soldier who
wrote about his time serving in Iraq for The
New Republic, revealed that his sometimes
shocking reports of U.S. troop misconduct were
untrue. The Diarist recently revealed himself
to be Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp as The New
Republic finished an investigation into his
claims. The magazine said that members of Beauchamp’s
platoon had confirmed his graphic reports. The
Army insisted that Beauchamp’s platoon members
did not corroborate his stories, and reportedly
curtailed Beauchamp’s access to phone and e-mail
after he revealed his identity.
Sunday, Congress signed into law a vast expansion
of warrantless wiretapping, rendering legal much
of the National Security Agency’s domestic spying
program exposed in 2005 by The New York Times.
The law will allow the government to eavesdrop
on any telephone conversation between persons
in the U.S. and a foreign country, without first
seeking a warrant. Further, the legislation shifts
oversight of the program away from the special-intelligence
courts, established by the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act, to the attorney general and
the director of national intelligence.
for the Leak
Congress debated extending the powers to eavesdrop
on U.S. citizens, FBI agents, backed by a classified
search warrant, raided the home of former Department
of Justice lawyer Thomas M. Tamm. Tamm has come
under scrutiny as the possible source of the leak
about the government’s warrantless surveillance
program first reported by The New York Times.
According to Senate hearings, in 2004, Tamm, along
with other top officials at the DOJ, including
former Attorney General John Ashcroft, strongly
opposed the scope of the warrantless eavesdropping
apparently condoned by President George Bush.
a message: Maud Easter and Diane Reiner of Women Against
PHOTO: Chris Shields
Against War launch campaign to prevent war with Iran
Maud Easter and Diane Reiner, representatives of Women Against
War, want to rally their troops in the Capital Region to fight
what they see as an impending conflict with Iran. The opening
salvo of their battle came in the form of a billboard posted
earlier this month on Fuller Road between Washington and Central
avenues. The billboard features pictures of Iranians taken
by Reiner during her trip to Iran in 2005. Reiner said she
is thrilled to see the images of the people she met during
her trip being used to show the human face of their country.
In the next month, Women Against War plan to raise the issue,
expose the propaganda that the Bush administration is using
to paint Iran as the next target in the war on terror, and
put a human face on the country in anticipation of the return
of Congress in September.
want to really push our representatives to take action,” said
Easter, who added that representatives from Women Against
War have met with Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Congresswoman
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-Greenport).
McNulty (D-Green Island) has the best position on the issue,”
said Easter, “but we would like to meet with him about it.
We would like to see him out front being a leader on this
Women Against War would also like to see a local representative
sponsor a bill to preempt funding for any military action
Along with meeting with representatives and holding demonstrations,
group members are handing out a fact sheet they hope will
expose what they see as the very similar ways the Bush administration
has used propaganda to justify war with Iraq and a possible
war with Iran, from claiming the countries are both on the
verge of developing nuclear weapons to insisting that diplomacy
is not working or saying the countries are fueling terrorism.
don’t want to see the people of Iran going through the kind
of suffering the people of Iraq are experiencing,” said Easter.
For more information, visit women againstwar.org.
loose ends this week-