Auburn police sergeant disciplined for violating policy

What started as a fender bender has led to disciplinary action against a veteran Auburn Police sergeant.

Ice and slush on Grant Avenue in Auburn last Friday caused a pickup truck to slide through an intersection and hit a passing car - but it wasn't just any car. The car was Auburn Police Sgt. Joseph Divietro's official vehicle, and two teenagers were inside. Even though the responding traffic officer saw Sgt. Divietro had two civilian passengers, that important detail didn't make it into the initial police report filed by the captain on duty.

"By the time the captain got to the location, the two girls had left and the captain didn't know he had two passengers in the car," said Auburn Police Chief Gary Giannotta.

Giannotta said that the two girls were being driven to school when the accident happened at 7:40 on Friday morning. According to Giannotta, Sgt. Divietro came to his office an hour later and told the chief that he had violated a executive order by having civilians in his official vehicle. The policy has been in place since 2007.

"I saw that the passengers were not listed on the on the report. I called the captain in and advised him that two passengers were omitted from the report and that he had to add them to the report," said Gionnatta.

CNY Central received a copy of the amended report with the teens names blacked out. Giannotta says the traffic officer who saw the teens in the car but did not mention it to the captain writing the report will not be facing any discipline.

"Totally slipped his mind. As you can imagine, Friday was a very busy day for us. So it just slipped his mind that he had that piece of paper in his pocket," said Giannotta.

Sgt. Divietro has received discipline from violating the order prohibiting civilians from being in official vehicles. Chief Giannotta said he could not discuss what that discipline consisted of. Giannotta admits some people in Auburn are suspicious of how the accident was handled but said he sees no reason for concern.

"They're all good officers. I don't believe there was any attempt to cover anything up. I believe it was a comedy of errors. I really do," said Giannotta.

CNY Central contacted Auburn Police Sgt. Joseph Divietro on the phone. He said that as long as we had talked with his police chief he had nothing else to say about Friday's accident.