Aides to New York’s first African-American governor wanted a police entourage that looked more like their boss, so they made an unusual request to the State Police: Replace at least 10 white troopers assigned to protect Gov. David A. Paterson with black or Latino officers.
The request prompted an extraordinary battle between the Paterson administration and leaders of the State Police shortly after Mr. Paterson, a Democrat, took office in 2008, according to court testimony, e-mails and interviews.
Preston L. Felton, at the time the acting superintendent of the State Police and the first African-American to lead the agency, said the Paterson administration had sent him “a typed request to remove 10 to 15 white troopers, and 2 African-American troopers they didn’t like, and it was clear to me that they wanted to remove all the white troopers and replace them with African-American or Latino troopers.”
State Police officials believed such moves would violate state law and lead to discrimination lawsuits. Mr. Felton said the dispute became so heated that he considered making a harassment complaint in Albany city court against a top Paterson aide.
Former Paterson aides adamantly dispute many aspects of the accounts. In a statement, a spokesman, Sean Darcy, said, “There was no formal request by the governor’s office to alter the security detail.”
“In the end,” Mr. Darcy said, “there were no changes on the detail, except that the major that supervised the unit retired.”