Eli Ruiz | Democrat
Monticello police officer and PBA President John Riegler, left, is intervierwed by CBS-TV reporter Steve Langford on Sunday, at a press conference in which he called for Gordon Jenkins' resignation.
Jenkins pleads not guilty; arrest video goes viral
Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO November 26, 2013 Village Mayor/Acting Manager Gordon Jenkins pleaded not guilty Friday to DWI and a raft of other charges stemming from his actions after his initial arrest his third as Monticello’s top official.
Several groups, including the Monticello Police Benevolent Association (PBA), are calling for Jenkins to step down after police videos of a seemingly inebriated, belligerent mayor was posted to YouTube over the weekend.
The videos, from the Monticello Police Station interview room, were acquired by Village Trustee Carmen Rue via a Freedom of Information Law request and has attracted wide attention, including coverage by NYC television news stations.
Rejecting the calls for him to resign, a defiant Jenkins told the Democrat, “I’ve still got a lot of business to get done in the village. I have work to do and projects that are pending… I’m not going anywhere. I will continue to work for my constituents. These casinos are moving forward, and so am I. I have about 10 projects in front of me right now… projects that guarantee local jobs.”
Jenkins added, “When I ran [for mayor] I promised much needed jobs for the village, and I’m going forward with those promises. Monticello has the highest unemployment rate… Sullivan County is the third poorest county in New York State and I’m going to make it better, just like I said I would.”
As far as the police videos, Jenkins admitted to seeing portions of three of seven videos available. Asked why he believes Rue publicly posted the videos, which have garnered over 20,000 views as of this writing, Jenkins said, “I don’t know… I really have no clue, but I’m going to have to talk to my attorney before I comment on that.”
‘Out of sorts’ at
Jenkins was arrested November 16 shortly after arriving at the scene of two-car motor vehicle accident on Broadway in the village. He had been at a party and when he heard about the accident Jenkins drove over to check on the situation.
Fire personnel on the scene noticed the mayor was “out of sorts” and alerted police. Upon leaving the accident scene Jenkins was pulled over and arrested and charged for unreasonable speed and failure to keep right; driving while intoxicated as a first offense, a misdemeanor; and refusing a chemical test.
Once in police custody, though, Jenkins would garner two counts of obstructing governmental administration, stemming from his refusal to comply with the arrest process; and criminal mischief, stemming from Jenkins allegedly “damaging police department property while in custody.” Jenkins reportedly broke a wall clock at the village police department while being booked.
Last Monday afternoon, Jenkins, through his attorney, Michael Sussman, released a statement saying in part, “Mayor Jenkins rejects calls for his resignation. He believes he is fully capable of fulfilling the duties of mayor and village manager, as he has been doing. He will answer the charges against him in a respectful and professional manner.”
On Friday, Jenkins answered to those charges in the Village of Monticello Court with a plea of not guilty plea and had his driver’s license suspended.
On Saturday, though, two police videos of Jenkins in police custody, in what appears to be a booking room, surfaced on YouTube, and the footage is damning. On the videos a seemingly intoxicated Jenkins repeatedly threatens various officers with retribution and frequently utters racial slurs.
On Sunday, Monticello police officer and Police Benevolent Association (PBA) President John Riegler joined the local chapter of the NAACP, and various other groups, in calling for the mayor to step down.
“As PBA president, I’d like first of all to demand his [Jenkins’] resignation,” said Riegler at the press conference. “He should step down as mayor. He should step down as village manager and let the people of Monticello and everyone else move on with their lives. He should also move on with his life, but this is no longer the place for him to be anymore. He needs help. He needs to resign and get that help.
Answering remarks from the mayor’s supporters that Jenkins was treated unfairly and should not have been handcuffed by police officers, Riegler said, “The way he was acting and how intoxicated he was, he was treated as anyone else would have been in that situation. That’s what our job is, to follow the rules regardless of who you are. You’d be handcuffed, brought back to the police station for processing and usually released depending on the level of your charges.
“Unfortunately the mayor took it a step further and damaged police property. He also refused processing, which added to his charges and it’s the reason he had to be arraigned,” he added.
Jenkins was held overnight and arraigned the next morning, Sunday, at Town of Forestburgh Court.
Regarding the mayor’s behavior while in custody, Riegler offered, “Yes, he called officers all kinds of names. I think the officers did a great job and took it like true professionals, but it’s just not the way a village mayor and a manager should be acting. He really needs help. Based on the now public video and audio from that night, Mr. Jenkins proved to the public what he actually is. And this is not the person he claims to be. His threats of retaliation to the officers at the station that night are alarming to say the least. As long as Mr. Jenkins is the mayor and manager of Monticello, this will never be realized. His departure would be best for the community as a whole.”
Jenkins believes he has an obligation to his constituents to carry on.
“Nothing and no one will stop me from doing my job. I work 24 hours a day, and nothing will stop me. Till the day I die I will continue to work hard for this village. I will not resign. What I will do is move forward,” he said.
A call to Rue for comment was not returned as of press time.
Jenkins is due back in Village Court on Friday December 6th.