Bigotry in Blue: New Paltz Officer Put On Leave for Transphobia

The Town of New Paltz has a committee called the Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Committee to hear suggestions from community members about local policing. Photo courtesy of change.org.

New Paltz Police Officer Robert Sisco posted a video of himself rapping transphobic statements which led to his suspension on June 16. However, nearly four months have passed and actions have yet to be taken since the town board called for his termination at a meeting on June 29.

In the 70-second video, Sisco recorded himself in uniform stating “spit facts over feelings, because your feelings are irrelevant. There’s only two genders, and Trump’s still your president. Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina. This whole coronavirus was sent here from China. Hillary is killery, we all know the reason. Where those emails at? We should hang her for treason.” The community responded with outrage over his transphobic remarks. 

During the public comment portion of the June 18 Town Board meeting, Eve Papp, a transgender woman, said that she was offended by Sisco’s statements.

“As a trans woman, I would like to take a minute to help understand why the recent ‘rap video’ from uniformed New Paltz Police Officer Robert Sisco was so offensive and harmful to the trans community, the non-binary community, the intersex community and in general,” Papp said at the June 18 meeting. “We see a cop in uniform, in a police car, saying that there are only two genders; it shows that even the people meant to protect us do not believe we are real.” 

About 11 days later, the Town Board held a special meeting in regards to how the issue should be handled.

“Be it resolved, that the Board determines that formal disciplinary charges seeking a penalty up to and including termination will be preferred by the Chief of Police against Officer Sisco and that such disciplinary charges shall be in accordance with Article V, Title B, of the Civil Service Law of the State of New York,” said Town Supervisor Neil Bettez at the June 29 meeting.

“We’re asking that he be fired,” Bettez said, according to The Daily Freeman.

Since the incident, Sisco has been suspended with pay and nothing has been resolved in regard to his termination. The town office said that there are no updates on the situation. 

The Deputy Town Supervisor has not responded to a request for comment about the situation.

The incident regarding Sisco’s future with the New Paltz Police Department has created a divide within the New Paltz community.

At the June 18 town policing forum, community member Todd Fillette requested that Sisco be returned to full duty.

Fillette has also created a petition requesting that Sisco returns to full duty. The petition currently has 3,165 signatures.

“Officer Sisco serves with care for his fellow human beings and impacts life in our community in a myriad of positive ways. Officer Sisco always selflessly puts the needs of others’ needs before his own,” Fillette said in the petition. “Most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, Officer Sisco personally donated generously to local servers and waitstaff. He is also a loving father of four, an owner of a small business and he rehabilitates animals.” 

However, Fillette’s request was followed by public comments stating that Sisco should be terminated for his transphobic statements and that there is a general lack of discipline for police officers.