Ulster County, NY – The long-awaited dash-cam video of a traffic stop meltdown involving Ulster County Legislator Jennifer Schwartz Berky has been released.
The video was released Tuesday, October 24, by the Town of Ulster Town Board after several FOI requests, according to HudsonValleyOne.
Ulster Police Officer Gary Short initiated a traffic stop of Berky for speeding 43 mph in a 30 mph zone in May.
He appears courteous and professional throughout the traffic stop, as shown in the video.
In the video, Officer Short can be seen approaching Berky’s Prius in an Aldi’s parking lot after following her for about a quarter of a mile from the intersection of Ulster Avenue and Morton Boulevard onto Route 9W.
Berky asked Officer Short why she was stopped, and he told her it was for speeding 43 in a 30 mph zone.
In the video, Berky almost immediately brings up the fact that she works for the county and is a county legislator. She told Officer Short that she was doing the same speed as everyone else.
Berky can also be seen having what looks to be some type of panic attack, although she does calm down afterward. Officer Short offered to get her medical assistance but she refused.
She continued to argue and question Officer Short through the video, and told him once that she didn’t trust him and didn’t feel safe with him. Another officer had arrived to assist by then.
Officer Short initially wrote Berky a ticket for failure to wear seat belt, but she told him to write him for what he stopped her for. He then wrote her for speeding and she said she wanted the initial ticket back.
Officers have discretion when issuing tickets and will often write the ticket for a lesser offense to help a defendant.
Berky also told Officer Short that she was recording him, and he advised her that the stop was being recorded both on dash-cam and body-cam video.
On Friday, October 27, Berky publicly apologized. In her apology, she said:
“The video released earlier this week of my Town of Ulster traffic stop captured a tough moment for me. Like so many working families, I too face tough times and stressful situations. As a professional, a public servant and a mother, I know my interaction with Police Officer Gary Short was unacceptable. I want to apologize to Officer Short and thank him for his patience and professionalism with me during a very difficult time.
This has been a humbling experience for me. I hope to use it to grow and learn how to better represent the diverse working families who reside in the great the city of Kingston.”
Berky’s attorneys objected to the release of the video and argued that release of the video would affect her ability to receive a “fair trial” for the speeding ticket.
Berky represents the city of Kingston in the county legislature, and is up for re-election on November 7.
You can see the video of the incident below: