EXCLUSIVE: Dispatchers decry conditions

Bethlehem police dispatchers say coworker is dangerous and administration ignores complaints

Several dispatchers in the Bethlehem Police Department say they're fearful for their safety now that a suspended employee is set to return to work, and that their superiors are failing to respond to complaints about the connected coworker.

Several town employees, speaking on separate occasions and on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said dispatcher Eric Kerr has during his time in the Police Department created a hostile atmosphere that culminated with his threatening coworkers in April, leading to an unpaid suspension.

Employee complaints obtained by The Spotlight describe Kerr using profanity, throwing paperwork and threatening to get even with coworkers in an April 14 incident after he was supposedly reprimanded for leaving his post.

The following day, he was served the 30-day suspension. According to sources, Kerr has been disciplined in the past for showing internal documents to people outside the department, screaming an obscenity at a coworker, throwing objects and other offenses.

Efforts to reach Kerr for this story were unsuccessful.

Eric Kerr is the son of James Kerr, a sergeant in the Bethlehem Police Department, former chief of the Delmar Fire Department and current president of the Bethlehem Firefighters Association. Kerr also works part time as an Albany County EMT (a representative said he has no ongoing disciplinary actions there).

Personnel files, including disciplinary records, are generally not available under the state's Freedom of Information Law, but sources said Kerr has accumulated many disciplinary charges during his few years in the department and has had more than one "last chance."

In April of 2010, Kerr was arrested by Bethlehem police on charges he pointed a handgun at an ex-girlfriend during a domestic dispute. The charges were later dropped. The Albany County District Attorney's office stated it was "unable to satisfy the burden of proof without the testimony of witnesses in the case." A source close to the case said it was because the alleged victim would not testify against Kerr, who was on paid suspension for more than seven months while the case was ongoing.

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