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SCANDALS OF THE NYPD
New York City is in the midst of a developing crisis about the leadership and policies of the NYPD. This page tracks the extraordinary number of NYPD abuses, scandals, and calls for reform since just October of 2011.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly
This following month-by-month listing contains full publication information, links to the original articles, and excerpts from key or revealing passages. This is arranged so the headlines can be skimmed to see the range of abuses and scandals that have come to light just since October 2011
[Update with more recent excerpts and links of NYPD scandals coming soon.]
AUGUST 2012 EXCERPTS AND LINKS FOR SCANDALS OF THE NYPD
"Manufacturing Low Crime Rates at the NYPD: Reputation Versus Safety Under Bloomberg and Kelly" by Eli B. Silverman, John A. Eterno, and Jesse Levine, Huffingtonpost, August 13, 2012
The practice of manufacturing artificially low crime rates increased substantially after 2002 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his police commissioner Raymond Kelly. New research based on interviews with 2,000 retired police officers from the NYPD reveals pervasive, system-wide corruption of criminal records and police practices. This research suggests that concern with the department's reputation for reducing crime, much more than with public safety, drives police policy.
Mountains of scientific evidence supporting this are explored in The Crime Numbers Game. The bulk of the book's evidence came from a survey of 500 retired police officers ranked captain and above, as well as from in depth interviews with over 40 retired and active officers. A new survey of former NYPD officers includes 10 police chiefs, 36 inspectors, 63 captains, 262 lieutenants, 382 sergeants, and 1,154 patrol officers and detectives.... In the Kelly/Bloomberg era (2002 and after) over half the officers -- 51 percent -- had observed the intentional misclassification of serious crimes as petty offenses and other unethical practices, typically multiple times. Officers also reported that since 2002 they had experienced unusually strong pressures from supervisors to downgrade crimes and keep crime numbers low.
The consequences of downgrading or not reporting crimes can be severe. For example, in 2010 recently retired Detective Harold Hernandez revealed to Village Voice reporter Graham Rayman that a series of sexual assault-robberies in Washington Heights had been downgraded from serious felonies to misdemeanors. As a result, the NYPD missed the crime pattern and allowed a sexual predator to remain at large for at least two months and to commit six more rapes. More evidence came from numerous NYPD whistleblowers. Since 2010 officers Adrian Schoolcraft, Craig Matthews, Frank Polestro, Adyl Polanco, and Vanessa Hicks have talked openly to reporters and TV cameras about the routine downgrading of crimes and the use of illegal arrest quotas by the NYPD. Not surprisingly, they have been punished by the department for doing so. Other officers have discussed confidentially the pressure to keep numbers low with reporters and researchers (including the authors).
It is important to understand that the official crime rate is a powerful indicator of crime in New York and a broader gauge of how the city is doing. The mayor and other officials, the real estate and tourist industries, and the top brass at the NYPD all have a strong interest in keeping the crime numbers low....
There is now a clear message emanating from the top commanders at police headquarters: make many stop and frisks, write many summonses, make many arrests for petty offenses, and downgrade serious crimes. In other words, the NYPD seeks to keep the serious crime numbers low while showing lots of officer activity. The NYPD's 50,000 marijuana arrests, 600,000 summonses, and nearly 700,000 stop and frisks do little or nothing to make the city safer. Indeed, this unnecessary activity alienates communities and hurts the NYPD's ability to fight serious and violent crimes.
This strategy does not involve intelligence gathering, surveillance, or community involvement -- nor does it make good use of Compstat. This is a policy created to maintain appearances, not to catch dangerous criminals. When the NYPD protects and serves its reputation for reducing crime, it does not protect and serve the people of New York; these are conflicting priorities.
In the next year New Yorkers have an opportunity to effect change. The mayoral race is heating up as opposition to the NYPD's racially-biased stop and frisks, marijuana arrests, and other practices intensifies. As the New York Times and others have suggested, this is an excellent time to install a federal monitor or inspector general with powers to investigate and supervise the NYPD's practices.
"The Next Mayor: An NYPD Still Outside the Law?" By Nat Hentoff,
Village Voice, August 8, 2012
After one of many columns documenting this disgrace to the city, let alone the kids (“The Strip Search Room,” January 7, 2009), a cop I didn’t know called me in a fury at what he called “the slipshod so-called training” Kelly authorizes for these plainclothes prowlers with the authority to arrest students who have scrawled on their desks or slipped a cell phone into school if their mother wants to contact them.
On June 17, Ramarley Graham, a protester in Harlem against the Kelly-Bloomberg stop-and-frisk and racial-profiling expeditions, told the Daily News that his son was shot to death in the teen’s Brooklyn home February 2 by police officer Richard Haste, who wrongly believed the 18-year-old had a gun. “To me,” the father had said at Al Sharpton National Action Network, “my son was murdered. I lost my son to people we pay to protect us.... We will never let them forget what happened.” Neither will a growing number of this city’s civil rights and civil liberties organizations, very insistently including the New York Civil Liberties Union, which the National ACLU should cite to its affiliates across the country as a model on how to educate students, their parents, the police, and the community at large that the Constitution cannot be barred at the schoolhouse door, the streets, and the homes of blacks and Latinos.
What about the future education of this city’s public school students and what it means to be an American, including in school? It is certainly time for candidates striving to replace, at long last, the self-glorifying incumbent, to let the voters know what they intend to do as our public students, very particularly blacks and Latinos, deeply feel they are being treated by the NYPD as potential suspects, or worse.
At this point, I have to insert that I am not making a general indictment of all NYPD members as bigots. There are many who are acutely aware of the powers they wield—sometimes of life or death—and their responsibilities to adhere to why many of them became cops. I’ve known a number of them well and how angry they are at those among them who have tarnished the force as a whole by acting as if some of them frisk by slamming students to the ground.
Think back to the Occupy protests and the NYPD culture. On July 25, Rebecca Lehrer reported—“NYPD Used Force on Occupy Protests Without Apparent Need or Justification 130 Times”—finding that a report by law school clinics found: “A complex mapping of protest suppression emerges. . . . They find 97 times police allegedly used bodily force like striking, punching, shoving, grabbing, kicking, or dragging, and 41 documented cases of alleged weapon use like batons, barricades, horses, and pepper spray.” There were so many witnesses of this unnecessary police abuse, covered too in the Voice, that it became a national story by, among others, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
An inspector general could prevent these NYPD bruisers being linked to the force as a whole.
A further suggestion for voters in the coming mayoral election was buried in a small story on page A15 of the July 2 New York Times in the National Briefing Section datelined Northwest: “The city of Seattle reached a settlement agreement on Friday with the Justice Department on the use of police force and the training and supervision of officers that will create an independent monitor and a community police commission aimed at increasing citizen output.” Now there’s a revolutionary idea that not even Thomas Jefferson or Samuel Adams thought of. Getting We the People involved in training the police. Some of us don’t have to be black or Latino to remember being targeted by a cop with total presumption of guilt for something we couldn’t possibly have done.So the Seattle advance in participatory law enforcement continues: “Federal prosecutors began investigating the Seattle police department after the fatal shooting of a homeless Native American woodcarver in 2010 led to a public outcry and accusations that the department was out of control. “Investigators said they had found that the Seattle police had engaged in excessive force that violated federal law and the Constitution. Under the agreement, officers will receive training in avoiding bias, in conducting stops, and in the use of force. “The department will also be required to develop more specific policies on what constitutes biased policing and better reporting when such episodes occur.”
I expect many New Yorkers think they’re a lot more hip and otherwise sophisticated than those folks way out there in Seattle. But think about it. We have something to learn—with variations we can work out—from what Seattle is doing to reasonably Americanize its police force. Maybe some of our local radio, TV, and digital-media reporters and commentators could interview participants—police, politicians, citizens, as well as students in Seattle schools about what it took to get this agreement swinging.
And among those interviewing these Seattle contributors to a police force effectively at ease with the Constitution should be all our New York City candidates for mayor.Of course, one thing I’d surely ask these candidates is whether they plan to retain Ray Kelly as police commissioner. And if New Yorkers did come to an agreement along the lines of what was accomplished in Seattle, would Ray Kelly, if he were asked to stay on, accept being in the close company of the Constitution of the United States?
Seattle aside, a vital message for New York voters as they replace Bloomberg is raised by NYCLU’s Advocacy Director Udi Ofer: “Anyone interested in increasing student achievement, and particularly in closing the achievement gap, should pay close attention to the impact of stop-and-frisk practices on the lives of black and Latino students, including on their view of authority and ability to succeed academically.” In this primarily segregated, largest public school system in the nation, so many black and Latino students on its streets are treated by the NYPD as decidedly suspicious persons of interest. Adds Ofer: “This experience on the street is only compounded by the experience that many [of these] young people face in school. The NYPD arrested or ticketed more than 15 students each day in school during the first three months of 2012.”
Do the math. “More than 96 percent of the arrests were of black and Latino students. About 18 percent of the arrests were of students between the ages of 11 and 14. Disorderly conduct, a catchall category that could encompass all kinds of typical misbehavior, accounted for 71 percent of all summonses.” And dig this: “Last year, 90 percent of all stops of young people [mostly blacks and Latinos] did not result in an arrest or a ticket—meaning that in 131,087 of the stops, the young person being stopped is innocent of any action that would constitute a crime or an infraction.” Yeah, but Bloomberg and Kelly glory in all the guns seized. Ofer smacks them in the face with this: “Only 1.4 percent of frisks of young people in 2011 recovered a weapon.”
This is how New York City fosters, among the majority of its public school students, confidence in academic achievement, let alone lifetime love of learning?
With the NYCLU suing over stop-and-frisk, our Education Mayor snapped: “If the NYCLU is allowed to determine policing strategies in our city, many more children will grow up fatherless, and many more children will not grow up at all.” NYCLU president Donna Lieberman let him have it: “It’s a lot easier to trash the NYCLU than to acknowledge the widespread dissatisfaction the community feels with an NYPD that acts like it’s above the law” (New York Post, July 16). Oh, but the number of stops and frisks has fallen. However, our royal mayor assures us he is certainly staying with this essential way to retain his reputation as the best mayor we have ever had.
It’s up to you, New Yorkers. How many of you are going to demand that the next mayor, starting on his or her first day in office, shows us with absolute clarity how he or she is going to bring the NYPD back into our rule of law? All of us have been shamed long enough by Michael Bloomberg and Ray Kelly.
"NYPD's Defensiveness Is No Defense for Mishandling of Occupy Protests," By Alex S. Vitale, The Independent, August 7, 2012
A recent report by the Protest and Assembly Rights Project highlights the many ways that the New York Police Department has violated both constitutional and international human rights standards in its policing of the Occupy Wall Street movement. These problems are not new. In 2003 and again in 2004, the New York Civil Liberties Union documented extensive failings in NYPD protest policing including unlawful preemptive arrests, restrictions on access to protest areas, excessive subdividing and “penning in” of demonstrators, extensive restrictions on permits, use of force and violent arrests for minor legal violations, inflexibility, and poor communication with demonstrators. These are the same problems identified by the new report.
"Police Enforcing Unposted Rules at Zuccotti Park, Memo Indicates" By Colin Moynihan, New York Times, August 6, 2012
A memorandum indicating that the police agreed to enforce unposted rules restricting activities at Zuccotti Park, the epicenter of the Occupy movement, surfaced on Thursday night, protesters said, handed out by a man who said that he worked for Brookfield Properties, which owns the park.
The memorandum, labeled “Rules of Engagement,” states that yoga mats, carpet padding, large trays of food, drums, large suitcases and backpacks were not permitted in the park. Neither a kitchen nor a library may be set up, the memo says.
Although there are not nearly as many protesters in the park as there were last fall, the memorandum has added to a long-running argument over access to the park, a privately owned public space that is required to be open 24 hours. It has also raised questions about the relationship between Brookfield and the police, with protesters saying that officers should not enforce rules that were adopted secretly by a private company and that may violate provisions governing access to the park.
In an apparent reference to the police’s chief of department, Joseph J. Esposito, the document states that police supervisors who are “resistant to enforcing the rules of the park should be reminded that Chief Esposito agreed to this set of rules.”
"Times Photographer Is Arrested on Assignment" By The New York Times, August 5, 2012
A freelance photographer for The New York Times was arrested on Saturday night while on assignment with two reporters who were conducting street interviews in the Bronx.
The photographer, Robert Stolarik, 43, who has worked regularly for The Times for more than a decade, was charged with obstructing government administration and with resisting arrest. He was taking photographs of a brewing street fight at McClellan Street and Sheridan Avenue in the Concourse neighborhood.
Mr. Stolarik was taking photographs of the arrest of a teenage girl about 10:30 p.m., when a police officer instructed him to stop doing so. Mr. Stolarik said he identified himself as a journalist for The Times and continued taking pictures. A second officer appeared, grabbed his camera and “slammed” it into his face, he said.
Mr. Stolarik said he asked for the officers’ badge numbers, and the officers then took his cameras and dragged him to the ground; he said that he was kicked in the back and that he received scrapes and bruises to his arms, legs and face.
"Teen: Cops Cuffed Me Wrongly," Rocco Parascandola, New York Daily News, August 04, 2012
"Anthony Bologna, NYPD Cop Who Pepper-Sprayed Occupy Protesters, Will Get No Help From City In Lawsuit" By Christopher Mathias, Huffington Post, August 3, 2012
"Your Camera Can Stop NYPD Abuse. See a stop-and-frisk? Record it on your phone" By David Galarza, New York Daily News, August 3, 2012
Most of us now carry cell-phone cameras in our pockets. We have access to YouTube, which is a free and easy platform for sharing video. We should use these tools daily, if necessary, to keep police officers honest.
The police work for us — and they should know that we are always watching. In fact, I dread to think what else might have happened on the subway platform that day if I hadn’t been taping.
Far too many New Yorkers, mostly black and Latino, know exactly how 19-year-old Sean Pagan said he felt as he was being groped and then body slammed by Police Officer Michael O’Brien. Though unknown numbers of others have faced similar treatment at the hands of the NYPD, the majority often lack witnesses and other resources to support their allegations of police misconduct or abuse.
We can change that.
At Trinity Lutheran Church, where I am an active member and the Rev. Samuel Cruz is senior pastor, we strongly believe that monitoring the police contributes to public safety — which is why Trinity’s new project, La Casita Comunal de Sunset Park, is working with other groups to provide training to members of its congregation and the community.
We’ll be arming members of our congregation with cameras. We urge other congregations and groups to do the same.
"NYC’s Oddest Couple," New York Post, August 02, 2012
Ray Kelly and Lenora Fulani — kissing cousins? An unlikely image, to say the least. Yet there was New York’s longest serving police commissioner on Tuesday applauding — with a quick smooch — the “anti-violence” initiative of the long-time radical and borderline anti-Semite.
"New FBI slap at NYPD spying. Surveillance of Muslims a 'waste of money'" By Rocco Parascandola And Joseph Straw, New York Daily News, August 1, 2012
The FBI is so opposed to the NYPD’s so-called Muslim spying program that top brass have barred agents from dealing with cops from the department’s intelligence division, according to explosive claims in a new book.
The feds think the surveillance program is “a waste of money” and an affront to constitutional rights.
The anonymous claims come in an updated edition of “The Secrets of the FBI,” due out next week by best-selling investigative author Ronald Kessler.
The NYPD’s exhaustive post-9/11 mapping and tracking of Muslim communities in the city — and in other jurisdictions — came to light in a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning articles by the Associated Press.
“What never came out is that the FBI considers the NYPD’s intelligence gathering practices since 9/11 not only a waste of money but a violation of Americans’ rights,” wrote Kessler, who in April broke news of Colombian sexcapades by Secret Service agents doing advance work for President Obama.
“We will not be a party to it,” an FBI source told Kessler.
The NYPD has long denied any wrongdoing.
"Brooklyn Cop Arrested For Raping Ex-Girlfriend At Gunpoint In Staten Island Parking Lot." By Sarah Armaghan, New York Daily News, August 1, 2012
JULY 2012 EXCERPTS AND LINKS FOR SCANDALS OF THE NYPD
"Kidnapped Man Is Found Inside a Detective’s Garage" By Marc Santora And William K. Rashbaum, New York Times, July 28, 2012
A kidnapped man was found bound and gagged in a police detective’s garage in Queens, leading to the detective’s suspension and the arrest of four other men, the authorities said on Saturday.
The detective, identified by the police as Ondre Johnson, a 17-year veteran of the New York Police Department and a member of a Brooklyn gang investigation unit, told investigators that he did not use the garage and knew nothing about the abduction.
"Gun Theft Inquiries Led to a Longtime Informer," By Joseph Goldstein And Wendy Ruderman, New York Times, July 27, 2012
As a confidential informer for the New York Police Department, Ivan Chavez had a long track record of pointing detectives toward black market dealers in firearms. Since 2007, his tips led to dozens of arrests and the removal of hundreds of guns from the streets, two people with knowledge of Mr. Chavez’s work for the Police Department said. Early this year Mr. Chavez went to his police handler, a detective in an elite firearms unit, with a proposition. He told of a contact named Jason who was interested in importing guns from out-of-state to sell illegally on the streets of New York, one of the people said.
In early March, Mr. Chavez began delivering handguns to his handler, Detective Richard Wells, saying they had come from Jason. Others soon followed, after Mr. Chavez had arranged for an undercover officer to buy from Jason directly. But half of those guns had not been trafficked from afar. They were the Police Department’s own property, pilfered from the Ninth Precinct station house in the East Village. There, the authorities say, a young officer, Nicholas Mina, was stealing guns from fellow officers’ lockers and giving them to Mr. Chavez to pay off a drug debt.
A prosecutor said Mr. Chavez “sat really in the middle of the conspiracy” that led to detectives recovering 10 guns, including 5 that had come from Officer Mina. But there was no mention that Mr. Chavez, 25, was a police informer for the very unit that helped make the case against him. Mr. Chavez had been an informer since March 2007, working for the firearms investigation unit and a precinct in Queens, said the two people who spoke about his work for the police on condition of anonymity. But if the charges are proven, it would appear that Mr. Chavez was trying to double-cross the Police Department, as he sold the agency back its very own stolen guns for a handsome profit.
How much Mr. Chavez stood to make is not certain. But undercover detectives pay top dollar for street guns, sometimes several hundred dollars above the store value, a former detective with the New York Police Department said. Separately, informants initially receive $200 to $350 per gun as an introductory commission. Detectives believed Mr. Chavez was helping them find a new gun trafficker, the two people said. But in fact, Mr. Chavez was acting as a fence for the guns stolen from the Ninth Precinct station house, according to an indictment....
The two people familiar with Mr. Chavez’s history as a police informer did not know what cases Mr. Chavez had previously been involved in. It is unclear whether his current arrest and prosecution will have any effect on cases that he had worked on as an informer. A spokesman for the Police Department, Paul J. Browne, did not respond to an e-mail about Mr. Chavez. Nor did a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is prosecuting Officer Mina and Mr. Chavez. At Mr. Chavez’s arraignment, prosecutors described him as a “prolific and daily” drug dealer. When investigators searched his home in Queens, they seized thousands of pills and several packets of heroin, officials said.
"Artist Alan Ket Cries Foul As NYPD Erases Inwood ‘Murderers’ Mural. By Jennifer H. Cunningham And Shayna Jacobs," New York Daily News, July 26, 2012
The NYPD removed a controversial mural in Inwood, prompting cries of “censorship” from an artist and civil libertarians.... The mural features the word “Murderers” on coffins reading Haliburton, BP Oil, capitalism — and NYPD.... Artist Alan Ket, 41, believes his work was censored by police who did not like his message. “The police seemed to have overstepped their authority with this,” Ket said.
Ket said he has been painting a wall of New Edition Cleaners on Broadway for the past six years and he thought everything was okay unti the cleaners called him to say cops wanted it taken down.
They told him “police were upset about the mural and wanted it changed,” Ket claimed.
"City Council Bills Aim To Crack Down On NYPD For Ignoring Non-Fatal Car Crashes" By Erin Durkin / New York Daily News, Wednesday, July 25, 2012
City Council members want to crack down on the NYPD for largely ignoring car crashes where no one is killed. A package of Council bills introduced Wednesday would address what critics charge is a major failing of Accident Investigation Squad — a practice of not fully investigating the thousands of crashes a year where victims are hurt, but not likely to die.
Among advocates for the bills is Jacob Stevens, 35, whose wife was mowed down by a suspected drunk, unlicensed driver last year. Investigators didn’t show up, he said, because his wife, Clara Heyworth, was initially expected to survive. She died the next day — but by the time cops got around to investigating, crucial evidence was lost. Stevens said the Brooklyn district attorney told him it plans to drop charges against the driver.
“This unlicensed, drunk driver who killed my wife last year is going to get away with a traffic violation — not a misdemeanor, not a felony,” said Stevens, who is suing the NYPD. “She was bright, full of life,” he said of his wife of two years. “This should not happen in this city.”
The Council bills introduced Wednesday would compel investigators to step up their game. The bills would urge cops to investigate all crashes where someone is seriously injured and to designate five officers in every precinct who are trained to investigate crashes. Currently that job falls to a small, overworked accident squad. The bills would also force cops to report to an online database information about whether the driver in a crash was issued a summons and would create a task force to overhaul the crash investigation system.
“In the city of New York what we’re telling you is you can be a reckless driver, you can be a drunk driver, you can be an unlicensed driver, you can mow people over — nothing going to happen to you,” said Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn), one of the sponsors.
NYPD brass acknowledged at a hearing earlier this year that their investigation squad only responds when a victim is likely to die, despite state law calling for investigations of all serious injuries. The NYPD did not respond to requests for comment.
"Pot-Smoking Diabetic Wins $125K from City After Being Denied Insulin by Police Updated" By Patrick Helund, DNAinfo, July 20, 2011
Philadelphia native Jaime Rutkowski, 30, was busted for smoking a joint outside the Ludlow Street lounge Libation last October and hauled to a cell at the 7th Precinct, where she felt her blood sugar begin to rise, the New York Post reported.
After police refused to hand over her insulin meter to check her glucose levels at the stationhouse, she had to be rushed to the hospital when her blood sugar nearly quadrupled to life-threatening levels, the New York Times reported.
"Ex-Police Officer Is Sentenced in Gun-Running Scheme" By Colin Moynihan, July 20, 2012
Saying that a former New York police officer had breached the public’s trust in a scheme to transport firearms and stolen merchandise, a federal judge sentenced him on Friday to nearly five years in prison. “The offenses are indisputably serious, without any hint of justification,” the judge, John G. Koeltl, said as the former officer, William Masso, 48, closed his eyes and clutched a rosary.
"Distributing, Then Confiscating, Condoms" By Megan Mclemore, New York Times, July 15, 2012
I MET her at 2 a.m. on a cold and windy morning in Washington, when she ran over to the outreach van to get a warm cup of coffee. Volunteers were offering condoms and health information to sex workers. She took only two condoms, and I urged her to take more. She told me that although she was worried about H.I.V., she was more afraid of the police. A month earlier, she had been harassed by officers for carrying several condoms. They told her to throw them out. She thought if they picked her up with more than a couple of condoms again, she might be taken to jail on prostitution charges.
Her story is not unique. Over the last eight months, Human Rights Watch has interviewed more than 200 current and former sex workers in New York, Los Angeles, Washington and San Francisco. The interviews were part of an investigation into barriers to H.I.V. prevention for sex workers, who, worldwide, are more than 10 times as likely to be infected as the general population. What we found was shocking: While public health departments spend millions of dollars promoting and distributing condoms, police departments are harassing sex workers for carrying them and using them as evidence to support arrests.
Many of the women we interviewed asked, “How many condoms is it legal to carry?” One wondered, “Why is the city giving me condoms when I can’t carry them without going to jail?” Some women said they continued to carry condoms despite the consequences. For others, fear of arrest trumped fears of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Most of those we interviewed told us they were afraid to carry the number of condoms they needed, and some — about 5 percent — told us they had unprotected sex with clients as a result.
Police officers confiscate condoms and prosecutors try to enter them as evidence not because it is official policy to do so, but simply because they have not been trained to do otherwise. An act of the legislature (like one bill pending in the New York State Assembly), or even a directive from a police chief or district attorney, could end the practice immediately. Categories of evidence — like testimony regarding the sexual history of rape victims — are excluded as a matter of public policy in many legal systems. In this case, the value of condoms for H.I.V. and disease prevention far outweighs any utility they might have in the enforcement of anti-prostitution laws. Law enforcement efforts should not interfere with the right of anyone, including sex workers, to protect his or her own health.
Later this month, the 19th International AIDS Conference will be held in Washington. The United States’ response to the epidemic will be in the spotlight; it is an opportunity for our government to announce new policies that protect those at risk of H.I.V. infection and to eliminate those that undermine prevention. Police and public health officials both seek to protect individuals and make our communities safer. They can — and should — work together to keep condoms in the hands of those who need them the most.
"Mayor Bloomberg Touts Ray Kelly As Best Police Commish Ever. Hizzoner Says People Are Too Quick To Criticize Cops." By Tina Moore, New York Daily News, July 13, 2012
The police commissioner took heat this week for suggesting that black and Latino elected officials were too busy slamming the NYPD to care much about violence in their own communities. The remarks infuriated minority leaders who have been critical of police stop-and-frisk policies but Bloomberg praised Kelly as “the best police commissioner the city has ever had.”
In Hizzoner’s first comments about the flap, he told host John Gambling on his WOR radio show Friday that “no one has done more to improve community and police relations than Ray Kelly.” People are too quick to criticize the police, Bloomberg said. “I sympathize with Ray’s frustration. You know, everything the police do is wrong to certain groups of people.”
[Note that Mayor Bloomberg does not see the irony, or the contradiction, in claiming that his police commissioner has the best community-police relations while complaining that he is constantly attacked by that same community.]
"Bloomberg, Kelly Say NYPD Foiled 14 Terror Plots; Not So, Article Counters" By Graham Rayman Wed., Jul. 11 2012
For years, Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Ray Kelly have claimed that the NYPD has thwarted 14 terror attacks since 2001. And many people actually believed them.
The problem is it's not really true. In fact, as the internet news site Propublica notes, "the figure overstates the number of serious, developed terrorist plots against New York and exaggerates the NYPD's role in stopping attacks."
These questions have been raised before, most prominently by Leonard Levitt, a former Newsday columnist who writes the NYPD Confidential site. Levitt has written a whole series of columns critiquing the Bloomberg and Kelly claims about these foiled terror cases. Here at the Voice, we have also raised these questions--particularly about the so-called Newburgh 4 case which was made up out of whole cloth by the government.
What Propublica piece brings to the table is that it rounds up the key details behind the 14 plots in one fairly brief article. Author Justin Elliott writes that just two, maybe three, of the plots were clear cut terror plo.
"NYPD ‘Intimidates’ Occupy Wall Street Bike Repair Crew into Disbanding" By Matthew J. Perlman. The Local NY Times, July 11, 2012
Police broke up a free bicycle repair stand that was set up by an Occupy Wall Street-affiliated group yesterday on Flushing Avenue — then surveilled the activists as they disbanded.
The OWS Bike Coalition, which formed during last year’s Occupy Wall Street protests, had set up a repair station at Washington Avenue around 5 p.m., offering free mechanical help to riders in need. The cops showed up three hours later in a van, prompting the OWS group to post on Twitter, “NYPD why are you looking at me?” The bike activists had their answer minutes later when police ordered them to leave, citing a lack of permits. “A permit for helping people?” asked Cara Hartley, one of the group members.
Is there a problem officer? An Occupy Wall Street-affilated bike repairman, who declined to give his name, was ordered to stop his work by cops yesterday.
Ms. Hartley added that the officers “started yelling” at the would-be bike repair crew as it packed up. “It was really unprofessional,” she said. “The officers were pretty intimidating,” the group tweeted from the scene.
"A Legal Fight Over Sipping Beer on a Stoop" By Vivian Yee, New York Times, July 10, 2012
As they often do, Andrew Rausa and a few friends spent the evening of July 4 lounging barefoot on the front stoop of a friend’s brownstone home in Brooklyn and enjoying a few beers. Escaping the indoor heat, Mr. Rausa and two friends sipped cans of Brooklyn Summer Ale; his girlfriend held an unopened bottle of a blueberry ale.
When an unmarked police car pulled up and two officers got out, Mr. Rausa and his friends worried that the charcoal grill that was set up nearby had gotten them in trouble.
“You’re all getting summonses for drinking in public,” Mr. Rausa recalls one of the officers announcing from the other side of the wrought-iron gate in front of the brownstone, on Douglass Street in Boerum Hill.
“We were all kind of stunned for a second,” Mr. Rausa said in an interview on Tuesday. “It happened over the gate. It was a very tangible physical divide — when they said the words ‘public property,’ it just didn’t make any sense.”
Besides, Mr. Rausa said, a fifth person on the stoop who received a summons wasn’t drinking alcohol at all. She was holding a red plastic cup filled with soda.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rausa, who will enter his third year at Brooklyn Law School this fall, had pulled out his iPhone to study the New York administrative code, which defines a public place as one “to which the public or a substantial group of persons has access, including, but not limited to,” a park, sidewalk or beach. Exceptions include drinking at a block party or “similar function for which a permit has been obtained” or places with liquor licenses.
Holding his phone, Mr. Rausa approached the officer, who had returned to his car, and said that because he was sitting on a private stoop behind a gate, he was not breaking the law.
“I don’t care what the law says, you’re getting a summons,” the officer said before rolling up his window, according to Mr. Rausa.
At first, the group planned to simply pay the $25 fines. But they decided otherwise when they realized that the summonses, though relatively low-level violations, would become blemishes on their personal records.
- The New York Times reported that a survey of 2000 retired NYPD officers by professors John Eterno and Eli Silverman found that "manipulation of crime reports — downgrading crimes to lesser offenses and discouraging victims from filing complaints to make crime statistics look better — has long been part of the culture of the New York Police Department."
- An officer who retired in 2008 summarized how downgrading crime to lesser offenses works. With Pressure from the NYPD commanders, when the crimes are charged: "Assault becomes harassment, robbery becomes grand larceny, grand larceny becomes petit larceny, burglary becomes criminal trespass.”
- The New York Times and New York Magazine reported that "three former detectives and a current one have filed lawsuits alleging that they were harassed for reporting corruption."
- Long-time police reporter Len Levitt wrote a column for Huffington Post listing and describing a series of NYPD scandals reaching back several years.
- A 69
year old NY Supreme Court Judge was punched in the throat by a NYPD
officer while the judge was part of a crowd watching the officer
subdue and arrest someone. The Judge's report to the officer's
supervisor was ignored and the Judge went to the hospital.
JUNE 2012 EXCERPTS AND LINKS FOR SCANDALS OF THE NYPD
An anonymous survey of nearly 2,000 retired officers found that the manipulation of crime reports — downgrading crimes to lesser offenses and discouraging victims from filing complaints to make crime statistics look better — has long been part of the culture of the New York Police Department. The results showed that pressure on officers to artificially reduce crime rates, while simultaneously increasing summonses and the number of people stopped and often frisked on the street, has intensified in the last decade, the two criminologists who conducted the research said in interviews this week.
“I think our survey clearly debunks the Police Department’s rotten-apple theory,” said Eli B. Silverman, one of the criminologists, referring to arguments that very few officers manipulated crime statistics. “This really demonstrates a rotten barrel.” Dr. Silverman, professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and John A. Eterno, a retired New York police captain, provided The New York Times with a nine-page summary of the survey’s preliminary results. After reviewing a copy of the summary, the Police Department impugned the findings on Wednesday. Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman, criticized the researchers’ methodology and questioned the reliability of the findings....
Their survey is likely to rekindle the debate, which flared up earlier this year after The Village Voice detailed the case of Adrian Schoolcraft, an officer in the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn who secretly gathered evidence, including audio recordings, of crime-report manipulation. Shortly after Mr. Schoolcraft presented the evidence to police investigators, his superiors had him involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital, saying he was in the midst of a psychiatric emergency.
The survey, conducted earlier this year, was financed by Molloy College. Dr. Eterno and Dr. Silverman e-mailed a questionnaire to 4,069 former officers who had retired since 1941. Roughly 48 percent — 1,962 retired officers of all ranks — responded. The respondents ranged from chiefs and inspectors to sergeants and detectives. About 44 percent, or 871, had retired since 2002. More than half of those recent retirees said they had “personal knowledge” of crime-report manipulation, according to the summary, and within that group, more than 80 percent said they knew of three or more instances in which officers or their superiors rewrote a crime report to downgrade the offense or intentionally failed to take a complaint alleging a crime....
One officer, who retired in 2005, wrote that he heard a deputy commissioner say in a “pre-CompStat meeting” that a commanding officer “should just consolidate burglaries that occurred in an apartment building and count as one.” “Also not to count leap-year stats.”
Another respondent, who retired in 2008, wrote, “Assault becomes harassment, robbery becomes grand larceny, grand larceny becomes petit larceny, burglary becomes criminal trespass.”
Dr. Eterno, now director of the graduate criminal justice program at Molloy College, said he was startled by the responses. What we’ve been able to document here is how many times they’ve seen these manipulations,” he said. “It’s three or more times. That translates, conservatively, into at least 100,000 manipulations, if you extrapolate out the responses to the 35,000 officers on the force.”
Earlier this month, Paul Brown, the NYPD's chief spokesman, said the proposed inspector general's office is unnecessary because the department already has plenty of oversight. No independent monitor could "ever outperform" the 1,000 people assigned to the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau, as "there's nothing more effective than an internal affairs bureau with teeth." That may be true, but according to several lawsuits those teeth are pretty rotten.
While the NYPD has worked in recent years to end the stigma associated with snitching on fellow officers, three former detectives and a current one have filed lawsuits alleging that they were harassed for reporting corruption. In one federal suit, Detective James Griffin, who retired last summer, claims that the NYPD created a hostile work environment and infringed on his right to free speech after he reported that colleagues were trying to frame him for a botched homicide investigation. Griffin had a distinguished career, but that changed after he started working with Internal Affairs.
Per the New York Times:
Griffin claims that even transferring to new commands didn't help, since his colleagues would call ahead to warn his new co-workers that he wasn't to be trusted.
“Two NYPD officers accused of dumping teen in Staten Island swamp with each pay $5,000 to settle federal lawsuit” By John Marzulli, NY Daily News, Monday, June 25, 2012
Cops Richard Danese and Thomas Elliassen stranded Rayshawn Moreno in a swamp after the teen was caught pelting cars with eggs on Halloween in 2007.
The Patrol Guide, a hefty set of regulations governing conduct in the New York Police Department, states that all officers “have an absolute duty to report any corruption or serious misconduct.” But within the department, that regulation contends with an older taboo against informing on other police officers. “You’ll be the enemy,” said Frank Serpico, the department’s most famous whistle-blower; his police career ended after he was shot in the face in 1971. In the decades since Mr. Serpico helped reveal the graft that many plainclothes officers routinely took, the department has tried to lessen the stigma associated with reporting a fellow officer.
But the department’s official stance, according to lawsuits filed by three former detectives and one current one, runs counter to what police officers have experienced. Those lawsuits, and interviews with several officers who have called Internal Affairs to report their colleagues, seem to provide ample evidence that the anti-snitching culture in the Police Department remains virulent. The department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, declined to comment.
One plaintiff is James E. Griffin, a former detective with the 83rd Precinct, who called Internal Affairs in 2005 about a fellow officer who he believed was trying to frame him in an internal inquiry into a homicide case that his squad had mishandled.... Before he called Internal Affairs, Mr. Griffin said, his career was flourishing. He was a first-grade detective, the highest distinction an investigator can receive in the Police Department. His station house was less than two blocks from his childhood home in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he had first dreamed of becoming a police officer. By the end, he said, he felt as though he had been “banished to an island all by myself”.....
At times, police officers who called Internal Affairs have suddenly found themselves not only the target of other officers’ ire, but also in trouble with the department.
For much of 2011, Sgt. Robert P. Borrelli gathered evidence of crime reports that he believed had been improperly downgraded or hidden so that crime statistics would show a rosier picture. He called Internal Affairs and for months fed information to that bureau, as well as to the department’s auditors who examine crime statistics. His colleagues in the 100th Precinct knew he was nosing around the station house, pulling paperwork. “I’m not trying to get somebody in trouble for doing his job,” Sergeant Borrelli said. “I’m trying to get somebody in trouble for not doing his job.”
He said that he was called a “rat” and that he believed a fellow police officer was responsible for puncturing one of his tires while his car was parked at work. Around the time that Sergeant Borrelli publicized his concerns about the crime statistics in interviews with reporters, the department acknowledged that some of the criminal incidents he singled out were, in fact, improperly classified.
In February, Sergeant Borrelli was transferred to the Bronx courts, which he believes was in retaliation. He said he was summoned to Police Headquarters last month and informed that he was being placed on “level two disciplinary monitoring,” which would make it easier for the department to fire him. He said he was given no reason. “It’s disheartening. I always felt like I tried to do the right thing, you know what I mean?” said Sergeant Borrelli, who has not sued the department. “They basically want to make an example out of you to stop people from coming forward, and that’s what bothers me the most.”
“Ex-NYPD cop sentenced to 4+ yrs. for racist bust” By Georgett Roberts and Mitchel Maddux, June 23, 2012
An ex-NYPD cop who locked up a black Staten Island man on a bogus charge and later boasted he had “fried another n----r” was convicted.
The NYPD's spokesman was at his disingenuous best last week, explaining why an inspector general is not needed to monitor the police department. Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne said the NYPD is "probably under more scrutiny than any other police agency, probably in the world." He cited two United States attorneys, five district attorneys and two city agencies -- the Civilian Complaint Review and the Mayor's Commission to Combat Corruption. Browne added ... "There's nothing more effective than an Internal Affairs with teeth," he said.
In the early 1970s, the two U.S. Attorneys and the city's five district attorneys did not prevent the organized and systemic corruption uncovered by the Knapp Commission. In the early 1990s, they did not prevent the Michael Dowd drug scandal in Brooklyn and the Dirty Thirty drug scandal in West Harlem's 30th precinct, uncovered by the Mollen Commission.
As for the Civilian Complaint Review Board, Browne's boss, Ray Kelly, spent years violating the city charter ... which mandates that the police commissioner cooperate with the CCRB. Kelly refused to allow CCRB investigators to question supervisors of the mass arrests at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said or did nothing to force him to comply.
Kelly also sidelined the other city agency chartered with monitoring the police department: the Mayor's Commission to Combat Corruption. In 2005, the commission's chairman, Mark Pomerantz, requested departmental crime statistics to investigate claims of systemic crime-downgrading. Again, Kelly refused to comply. Again, Bloomberg said and did nothing. Pomerantz resigned in protest. Despite beefing up Internal Affairs, final decisions are made not by its longtime chief, Charles Campisi, but by Kelly...
Whether or not an Inspector General can effectively monitor the NYPD is problematic. But what the office could do is pressure Kelly to provide answers to some of the mysteries inside a police department increasingly closed to outside scrutiny and less transparent than even in the darkest days of the Giuliani administration.
Mystery Number One: the fate of Kelly's crime-reporting review committee that Kelly established in January, 2011. With great fanfare, Kelly announced that this committee of three distinguished former federal prosecutors would determine whether the department had systemically downgraded crime statistics to make the city appear safer than it actually is. In a press release on Jan. 5, 2011 -- six years after rejecting Pomerantz' request for similar information -- Kelly stated ... that the committee -- composed of David Kelley, Sharon McCarthy and Robert Morvillo -- would "complete its work over the next to six months, with the full cooperation of all units in the Police Department." It is now 18 months later. Morvillo has died. Like an Agatha Christie mystery, no one knows what has become of the committee. Did the committee not have a staff? Was no money provided for it? Did circumstances change? Was Kelly trying to head off a public outcry over those cooking-the-books allegations with the promise of a ground-breaking report? He's done that in the past.
After the 2003 fatal police shooting of the unarmed African immigrant Ousmane Zongo in a Chelsea warehouse during a botched undercover operation, Kelly promised an investigation. If an investigation occurred, the results have never been made public. After the fatal police shooting of Sean Bell, he hired the Rand Corporation to examine the shooting's circumstances. The Rand's findings were fruitless, centered on increasing the use of stun guns, which had no relevance to Bell's death.
Maybe an inspector general could solve a second police department mystery, this one reminiscent of a Robert Ludlum spy novel: the NYPD's Counter-Terrorism Foundation. About five years ago, the NYPD secretly created its own nonprofit foundation. In filings with the state's attorney general's office, the foundation listed Stephen Hammerman, the NYPD's former deputy commissioner of Legal Affairs, as president. The foundation also listed Kelly's chief of staff Joe Wuencsh as its treasurer. Ever heard of a city agency starting its own secret foundation to raise money from private donors? Unlike the Police Foundation which has funded other terrorism-related projects but whose donors are publicly disclosed, the donors to the NYPD Counter-Terrorism Foundation are secret. Starting in 2006, the NYPD Counter-Terrorism Foundation raised nearly $300,000. Of that, $180,000 went to pay Maryland-based Marc Sageman -- a former CIA officer, medical doctor, Ph.D, and author -- to become the department's first "scholar in residence." Filing documents do not detail how the other $120,000 was spent. An Associated Press story in 2008 quoted Sageman as saying he believed in the primacy of the "home-grown" terrorist threat, as opposed to an international Al Qaeda conspiracy. This has become the cornerstone of the NYPD's anti-terrorism philosophy. The foundation closed down around 2009.
After this column revealed the foundation's existence last November, the website ThinkProgress reported that five right-wing leaning, pro-Israeli foundations had funded it. If that's true, troubling questions arise about whether extremists are influencing the NYPD. Did these forces encourage the department's pervasive and controversial spying on area Muslims? Did these forces have anything to do with a third NYPD mystery: its Buffalo/Somali connection.
Back in 2009, Intelligence Division detectives were dispatched to Buffalo to spy on its small immigrant Somali community, even though the department's upstate liaison, Erie County Undersheriff Richard Donovan, is quoted in a secret NYPD Intelligence Division document that he was "not aware of any crime trends or crime pattern attributed to the ethnic Somali community." According to an Intel "briefing report," on Dec. 30, 2008, Donovan provided the Intelligence Division's Strategic Intelligence Unit with an "overview of the ethnic Somalian [sic] Community in the Buffalo area, where there are in excess of 1,000 Somali immigrants residing." According to the briefing report, the Intel detectives "conducted vehicle surveillance" of five Somali locations that appear to be mosques. "New license plate information [NJ Registration] was obtained of a new vehicle observed at a subject location and photos taken," the report said.
Following the outcry from New Jersey politicians to Associated Press stories that the NYPD had conducted similar secret surveillance of Muslims in Newark and other New Jersey cities, Mayor Bloomberg said that "everything the NYPD has done is legal, it is appropriate, it is constitutional." That may or may not be true.
But for the NYPD to target, apparently on whim, a small immigrant community hundreds of miles from New York, with no power or voice and when no crime appears to have been committed is just plain wrong. Last we heard, this was still the United States of America. Maybe that's why an inspector general is not a bad idea.
"Policing by the Numbers" by John A. Eterno, New York Times Op-ed, June 17, 2012
THE pervasive use of stop-and-frisk tactics that have deeply alienated racial and ethnic minorities in New York City is only one symptom of a broader dysfunction in the Police Department. The overwhelming pressure on officers to write summonses, make arrests, stop pedestrians and motorists with little or no justification, and downgrade crime reports reflects the deterioration of effective management under Raymond W. Kelly, the longest-serving police commissioner in the city’s history.
Eighteen years after the start of the much-vaunted CompStat system of data-driven crime fighting, the Police Department — where I served from 1983 to 2004 — has become a top-down, micromanaged bureaucracy in which precinct commanders are pitted against one another and officers are challenged to match or exceed what they did the previous year, month and week. Words like “productivity” are code for quotas. Supervisors must exceed last year’s “productivity” — regardless of community conditions, available budget and personnel, and, most important, the consequences to citizens.
There have always been quotas, but they were rarely enforced to the level that they are today. If an officer was sick or on vacation, for example, many supervisors understood that lower activity would result. If a situation on the street called for a warning, the officer was expected to give one and not give a summons. Taking complaint reports from crime victims was routine and the officer’s judgment was rarely questioned.
The institutional culture that once allowed police officers to use their judgment has dissipated, according to in-depth conversations with current officers that I have conducted as part of my research on policing.
An officer assigned to an “impact zone” — a high-crime area — told me that “the Constitution has been thrown out the window when it comes to stops.” He is given strict daily quotas and asked at the end of his tour about his numbers. An officer who fails to meet the required number for the day is berated (sometimes in front of peers), not allowed time off and given unpalatable work assignments. Nothing is asked about maintaining order, interacting with the community or other kinds of police work.
The result of this “performance culture”: needless summonses for minor violations (putting one’s feet on subway seats, playing chess in a park, failing to wear seat belts) and other quota-driven activity. This does not make for efficient policing.
Asked whether data are fudged, another officer, who prepares his captain for the daily CompStat briefings, says, “there is no way the command can possibly beat last year’s figures without doing so.”
Most seriously, crimes are being downgraded; crime scenes are revisited, and victims called back, expressly so that reports can be revised, and the seriousness of the crime downplayed. It should be no surprise that police manipulation of crime data has been reported in other jurisdictions — Baltimore, New Orleans, even Paris — where the police have emulated New York’s tactics.
Discretion is essential to police work, but today, local commanders and patrol officers are allowed so little that their work is no longer problem solving but bean counting. The irony is that Mr. Kelly, in his first stint as commissioner, from 1992 to 1994, helped usher in the era of lower crime by working with communities, a strategy that his successor, William J. Bratton, later eschewed in favor of a reliance on data that has now become an addiction. Officers of nearly every rank are now subservient to managers who are subject to little or no meaningful oversight. Entities like the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the Commission to Combat Police Corruption do not have the ability to compel the Police Department to give immediate answers, to subpoena witnesses or to grant immunity to whistle-blowers. That’s why a bill before the City Council, to create an independent inspector general for the department, is so important.
Policing in a democracy is not easy, nor is it meant to be. Reducing crime numbers is simple if you disregard basic rights, ignore victims, mandate quotas and manipulate numbers. The lunacy of this police performance culture can end only with stronger leadership, greater transparency and more meaningful relationships with communities.
It is worth heeding what Detective Frank Serpico, testifying on police corruption, told the Knapp Commission in 1971: “The department must realize that an effective, continuing relationship between the police and the public is more important than an impressive arrest record.”
John A. Eterno, a retired New York City police captain, is a professor of criminal justice at Molloy College and a co-author of “The Crime Numbers Game: Management by Manipulation.”
"Inside the Warped World of Summons Court," By Brent Staples, Editorial New York Times, June 16, 2012
Step into the dingy hallways of New York City summons court in Lower Manhattan and you are instantly struck by the racialized nature of this system. New York is a multiracial city, but judging from the faces in cramped courtrooms, one would think that whites scarcely ever commit the petty offenses that lead to the more than 500,000 summonses issued in the city every year.
Judge Noach Dear of Brooklyn Criminal Court made this point in a bluntly worded decision last week, noting that every defendant who has ever come before him charged with drinking alcohol in public had been black or Latino. “As hard as I try,” he wrote, “I cannot recall ever arraigning a white defendant for such a violation.”
On one recent morning at court, a 19-year-old black man seemed almost in shock that he had been ticketed and required to attend court for “dropping a piece of paper on the ground.” Another black man, with a heavy French accent, said that he had received a summons for reckless driving when he was trapped by traffic and forced to drive through an intersection when the light turned red. He took the ticket, he said, because “you don’t argue with a cop on Friday night.” And if they are out to get you, he asked, what can you do?
More than a fifth of the summonses issued last year were thrown out either for defects on the ticket or for lack of legal sufficiency. But that left about 400,000 New Yorkers facing a date in summons court, and failure to appear can lead to a legal nightmare.
In other words, summons court — which handles offenses like public drinking, riding bicycles on the sidewalk or talking back to the cops, otherwise known as disorderly conduct — is anything but petty. It is a place where low-level offenses can lead to permanent criminal histories and lifelong encumbrances. The system is now the subject of a class-action civil rights lawsuit unfolding in federal court in New York.
The people who show up in summons court are the fortunate ones; the majority will have their cases dismissed because the charge is not substantiated or because the judge thinks it is nonsense. Some defendants plead guilty and pay fines.
But woe to those who forget the date, even if the violation seems minor, like littering. The summons court will then issue a warrant, which means that the defendant stands a good chance of being handcuffed, fingerprinted and taken to jail, where he could spend days before going in front of a Criminal Court judge.
In 2011, more than 170,000 warrants were ordered. Once a warrant is issued and recorded in a database, the defendant is at greater risk of having a citizenship application denied or being turned away by potential employers.
The New York City Police Department has long described the summons operation as crucial to the “quality of life” initiative that it says discourages serious crime by coming down hard on nuisance offenses. City officials make the same claim for the controversial stop-and-frisk program, though crime has also fallen in recent years in cities that have not adopted such approaches.
The huge number of summons dismissals is at the heart of the civil rights suit, Stinson v. City of New York, that was granted class-action status in April by Judge Robert Sweet of Federal District Court in Manhattan. The plaintiffs charge that the high dismissal rate is evidence that bogus summonses are issued without probable cause by officers pressured to meet department quotas. These practices, they say, violated their constitutional rights and subjected them to lost time from work and school, and in many cases, to arrest and detention for crimes that had not been committed.
The plaintiffs also allege that summonses are disproportionately issued in minority neighborhoods. Civil rights lawyers say summonses for public drinking — the most common offense — are often handed out in these neighborhoods, where police officers routinely demand to smell people’s juice containers or coffee cups.
Disorderly conduct is the catchall category, one that can easily mask a summons issued for no reason. The lead plaintiff in the suit, Sharif Stinson, says he was walking out of his aunt’s apartment building in Upper Manhattan on Dec. 31, 2009, when several officers stopped and searched him without cause, then held him in a precinct cell for four hours. He was then given a disorderly conduct summons that was dismissed three months later.
The city has disputed the plaintiffs’ charges and asked Judge Sweet to reconsider his ruling. But the litigation has thrown a spotlight on the summons system, raising grave questions about its fairness and legality.
TOP TEN SUMMOMSES GIVEN OUT IN 2011
Graph from the New York Times
"Sniff Test Does Not Prove Public Drinking, a Judge Rules" By Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, June 14, 2012
The police in New York City wrote 124,498 summonses last year for drinking in public — far more than for any other violation. After having to adjudicate so many of these public drinking cases, a Brooklyn judge has decided he has had enough.
The judge, Noach Dear, has signaled that from now on, he intends to hold the police to a highly impractical standard if they want to issue a summons for drinking alcohol from a cup: The police must prove that the beverage in question was alcoholic. The sniff test, he wrote, was not enough.
Judge Dear made his intentions known in a written decision released on Thursday in a run-of-the-mill Criminal Court case: Julio Figueroa, 38, was cited for illegally drinking a cup of beer on a city sidewalk near his home in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn.
It was not sufficient, the judge wrote, that a police officer had smelled the contents of Mr. Figueroa’s cup and detected beer. Nor was it enough that Mr. Figueroa had told the police officer that, yes, the liquid was indeed beer.
In dismissing Mr. Figueroa’s case, Judge Dear wrote that the police should be required to adhere to a higher standard of certainty that the drink’s alcohol content exceeded 0.5 percent, the threshold under the city’s open-container law, before issuing a court summons. One way to do that, he suggested, would be for the New York Police Department to have a laboratory test conducted.
Judge Dear made it clear that he hoped his interpretation of the city’s public drinking law would persuade the Police Department to reconsider its enforcement of the ordinance. In his experience, he wrote, the department singled out blacks and Hispanics when issuing public drinking summonses.
“As hard as I try, I cannot recall ever arraigning a white defendant for such a violation,” wrote Judge Dear, a former city councilman who was elected to a judgeship in 2007.
Judge Dear wrote that he had his staff review a month’s worth of past public-drinking summonses issued in Brooklyn, and found that 85 percent of the summonses were issued to blacks and Latinos, while only 4 percent were issued to whites. According to census data, Brooklyn’s population is about 36 percent white.
“I am hereby recommending that the practices and policies of the N.Y.P.D. with respect to enforcement of the open container law be scrutinized and immediately stopped if found to be discriminatory,” he wrote.
The decision of a single judge is not likely to change the ticket-writing habits of the 35,000-member department. The fine that the city collects from such tickets is low compared with the penalty for other offenses — $25 per ticket — but each summons offers the police an opportunity to check the person for warrants, which police officers say is one of the reasons that the police are so energetic about enforcing quality-of-life violations like public-drinking offenses.
But the zeal with which the police seek out opportunities to write public drinking tickets has angered some New Yorkers, particularly residents of housing projects who in interviews have said they resent it when patrol officers demand to sniff the contents of any plastic foam or paper cup from which they are drinking.
Mr. Figueroa said that on May 12, he poured a beer into a paper cup at his home and went for a stroll outside, stopping outside a bodega as a friend went inside.
“It’s not like I was staggering,” said Mr. Figueroa, noting that that was his first beer of the evening. As he finished his beer, he said, an unmarked police car pulled up and three officers emerged, asking him what he was drinking. “I wasn’t going to lie,” Mr. Figueroa said. “They said they could tell it was beer by the way I was drinking it.”
The episode did not end with a ticket. One officer searched a nearby trash can for evidence of a beer can or bottle, while another ran his name through a database for warrants. In the end, Mr. Figueroa was arrested on what the police said was an outstanding warrant, although he said he was later told that there was a mix-up and that he did not have one.
Mr. Figueroa, a chef, said he was of Puerto Rican and Honduran descent. He said that he had received several public drinking tickets in the past, but that this was the first time he had ever been “put through the system.” He spent about 22 hours in jail before appearing before Judge Dear, who dismissed the case at the time, but issued the decision only this week.
The judge pointed that without direct proof of the alcohol content of the beverage, citizens were at risk of getting a ticket for drinking nonalcoholic beer. “While the arresting officer’s professional training and sense of smell may be sufficient to support his conclusion that defendant was drinking beer,” he wrote, “such does not support the conclusion that the beer contained more than one-half of one percent of alcohol by volume.”
"Negligence Suit Against NYPD in Drunk-Driving Death of Pedestrian, By Kyle Thomas Mcgovern, New York Times, June 13, 2012"
The NYPD violated its “professional responsibilities” when it allowed a drunk driver to get off virtually scot free by failing to properly investigate the death of the Fort Greene woman he ran down last year, a bombshell lawsuit claims.
Jacob Stevens, the husband of Clara Heyworth, sued the Police Department on Monday, claiming that inebriated motorist Anthony Webb ended up not being punished for killing Ms. Heyworth because of failures at every step of what should have been an open-and-shut investigation of the crime scene near Vanderbilt and DeKalb Avenues last July.
“The NYPD made a conscious decision not to investigate the scene of Clara’s death,” Mr. Stevens said on Monday at City Hall, where he announced his civil suit against the NYPD and Mr. Webb. “That decision was in direct contravention of the law, and of their professional responsibilities.”
"Lawsuits Against The NYPD That You Should Know About" By Victoria Bekiempis, Village Voice, June 12, 2012
Yesterday, the Voice reported on a lawsuit filed against the NYPD, which alleges that the department's "Dead or Likely To Die" accident policy leads to botched investigations. But this is hardly the only suit to hit the department recently.
So we have put together a guide to ten key court claims, which involve everything from negligence to grooming to religion. (Note: some categories include more than one filing, but the number totals ten.)
Pedestrian and Cyclist Deaths
We mentioned this before, but Jacob Stevens is suing the department, claiming officers dragged their feet when investigating the car that fatally struck his wife, Clara Heyworth. This suit, reportedly the first of its kind, puts to question the NYPD's treatment of cycling and pedestrian deaths.
Hasidic Jewish Beards
NYPD recruit Fishel Litzman, a 38-year-old father of three and Hasidic Jew, was canned Friday because his beard was too long. But, you know, having a beard is part of being a Hasidic Jew and all, so he's planning on suing the department. Of note: The NYPD has had problems with religious dress requirements before. Remember that top brass has long struggled with Sikhs, who grow beards and wear turbans as part of their religion.
Muslim Spy Scheme
Not too long after The Associated Press uncovered the NYPD's surveillance of entire Islamic communities in the Northeast, a major Muslim advocacy group has slammed the department with a civil rights suit, demanding an end to spying.
Anti-Gay Muslim Bias
This news just broke today: A Muslim cop hopeful has decided to take the Police Academy to court, claiming it's discriminating against him because of his anti-gay bias, reports the New York Post. The paper claims that he checked the "'yes' box next to the question, 'Do you believe that homosexuals should be locked up?'" -- which disqualified him for cadet candidacy. He says that Islam treats homosexuality as a sin, so the department's policies are discriminatory, he claims.
Treatment of Occupy Wall Street Protestors
One class-action suit lambastes the NYPD's barricading tactics . Other Occupy-oriented civil court actions claim First Amendment violations and police harassment of demonstrators.
A Federal judge agreed in April to give class status to 22 New Yorkers who say the NYPD's quota system, which officials deny exists, "leads street cops to hand out summonses even when no crime or violation has occurred just to meet productivity demands from their bosses."
Adrian Schoolcraft, NYPD Whistleblower and NYCLU
As chronicled by Graham Rayman, Adrian Schoolcraft was locked up in a psych ward after claiming his commanders manipulated crime statistics. He made recordings inside the precinct confirming these manipulation allegations, however. He's suing the department, as is the New York Civil Liberties Union. The NYCLU says Schoolcraft's precinct won't turn over public records.
A Brooklyn man claims that New York Police Department officers arrested him on false pretenses, beat him and "strangled" his penis with the drawstring of his pants, in a lawsuit filed in state court last week.
Officers arrested Nathaniel Carter in Crown Heights in June 2011 for consuming alcohol on a public street, then took him to the back of the precinct house where they beat and kicked him, according to the lawsuit. Officers then “strangled the plaintiff about the neck, placed a drawstring around his penis, and strangled his penis, causing bodily injury,” the suit said.
Carter said he was not consuming alcohol at the time of his arrest. After being released by police, Carter said he called 911 and was taken to Kings County Hospital Center, where he was treated for a laceration on his penis. His reproductive abilities remain unaffected, said his attorney, Erik Lutwin, of Lutwin & Lutwin in Manhattan.
The lawsuit, which names the City of New York as the defendant, seeks monetary damages for false arrest, unjust imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault and battery, civil rights violations and emotional distress. The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.
"Council Members Propose NYPD Oversight Amid Criticism," Ailsa Chang, WNYC, June 13, 2012
About two dozen City Council members are introducing legislation Wednesday to create an inspector general that would monitor the NYPD. The calls for oversight come as rancor continues to swell over the police department's stop-and-frisk practices and news reports about the NYPD's surveillance of Muslim communities within and outside of New York City. An inspector general would have authority to review NYPD policies, conduct investigations with subpoena power and recommend changes to the department. Reports would be issued semiannually.
Although co-sponsors Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams call the position an "independent" monitor, it would be funded by the Council and appointed by the mayor. The IG could also be removed by the mayor at any time with only 30 days' notice. Williams said the bill sets up ways to protect the independence of the IG, by mandating a seven-year term so he or she could theoretically outlast a mayoral term, and providing that the mayor can only remove the IG with cause. Lander said the office is "not a panacea," and its "independence" is rooted in the fact that the IG would not report to the police commissioner. "Doing the investigations, providing transparency about what the investigations find and recommending corrective action," Lander said, "and then continuing to identify whether there has been follow-up by the NYPD twice a year, we believe will help go a long way."
In addition, the bill's sponsors point out, the inspector general would not be confined to investigating specific instances of police misconduct, as the Civilian Complaint Review Board, a police watchdog organization, is confined. The IG would have the power to issue non-binding recommendations.
But Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday described the NYPD as the “most regulated department” in the city, and said he didn’t know if the City Council had the authority to pass a bill forcing the mayor to appoint an inspector general. “We have enough supervision and oversight,” he said, pointing out that two U.S. Attorneys, five District Attorneys, along with the CCRB, provide monitoring. Police spokesman Paul Browne said the department's own Internal Affairs Bureau provides rigorous oversight over police misconduct. But NYPD critics say those oversight mechanisms can only react to individual cases of police misconduct after-the-fact, while an inspector general can assess department-wide policies.
Both the FBI and CIA have inspectors general that oversee their practices. Police departments in major cities across the country also have independent monitors, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Agencies within New York City are under some form of independent oversight as well, such as the Departments of Education, Parks, Housing, Sanitation, Correction and the FDNY. "Matter of fact, if there's an agency that should have an independent inspector general, it probably should be the seventh largest army in the world — the one the mayor has called his private army," Williams said, referring to remarks Bloomberg made during a speech at MIT last November. Udi Ofer of the
New York Civil Liberties Union said a perfect issue for the IG to tackle is the alleged use of quotas by the department to keep arrests, summonses and street stops up. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have denied the department follows quotes but have acknowledged the use of performance goals. Ofer said the IG could examine whether those goals are leading to downward pressure on officers to make unlawful arrests or manipulate data, and it could then recommend reforms to the department's data-driven policies.The bill would set up a website for the public to recommend policing issues for the IG to investigate.
The legislation is being introduced as part of a package of bills pushing for police reform that would beef up the bans against racial profiling and unlawful searches and require officers to identify themselves during a stop and frisk. The bill's sponsors will need to secure support from two-thirds of the Council's 51 members, in order to circumvent the mayor's expected veto of the measure. Council Speaker Christine Quinn declined to comment on the bill Wednesday, saying she has yet to fully review the proposal.
Thomas D. Raffaele, a 69-year-old justice of the New York State Supreme Court, encountered a chaotic scene while walking down a Queens street with a friend: Two uniformed police officers stood over a shirtless man lying facedown on the pavement. The man’s hands were cuffed behind his back and he was screaming....
Within minutes, he said, one of the two officers became enraged — and the judge became his target. The officer screamed and cursed at the onlookers, some of whom were complaining about what they said was his violent treatment of the suspect, and then he focused on Justice Raffaele, who was wearing a T-shirt and jeans. The judge said the officer rushed forward and, using the upper edge of his hand, delivered a sharp blow to the judge’s throat that was like what he learned when he was trained in hand-to-hand combat in the Army.
The episode, Friday morning just after midnight — in which the judge says his initial complaint about the officer was dismissed by a sergeant, the ranking supervisor at the scene — is now the focus of investigations by the police Internal Affairs Bureau and the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The judge said he believed the officer also hit one or two other people during the encounter on 74th Street near 37th Road, a busy commercial strip in Jackson Heights. But he said he could not be sure, because the blow to his throat sent him reeling back and he then doubled over in pain.
“I’ve always had profound respect for what they do,” Justice Raffaele said of the police, noting that he was “always very supportive” of the department during the more than 20 years he served on Community Board 3 in Jackson Heights before becoming a judge. At one point in the early 1990s, he added, he helped organize a civilian patrol in conjunction with the police. “And this I thought was very destructive.”
The justice, who sits in the Matrimonial part in State Supreme Court in Jamaica, Queens, was elected to the Civil Court in 2005 and the State Supreme Court in 2009. Justice Raffaele was among the judges around New York State who volunteered to perform weddings on the Sunday last summer when New York’s same-sex marriage law went into effect. The judge’s description of the confrontation and its aftermath, which he provided in a series of interviews, was corroborated by two people he knows who described the encounter in separate interviews.
When a New York police officer karate chopped Thomas Raffaele in the throat as the 69-year-old watched the arrest of a man in Queens, he probably did not think too much about it. Certainly his fellow officers did not seem bothered.... Raffaele immediately sought to complain about being randomly assaulted by a man sworn to protect citizens, not abuse them. But the sergeant at the scene basically ignored him and Rafaelle went to hospital to check out his injuries. Unfortunately for the New York police department, Raffaele was not your average bystander. He is a judge on the New York state supreme court. Not surprisingly, the NYPD is now taking the assault on him a bit more seriously and has begun an internal investigation. But, really, if Rafaelle was not a judge would we have ever heard about this? How many other cases of flagrant disregard by the police for the laws they are supposed to uphold go unreported because their victims don't happen to sit on the state's highest court?
I have even had my own experiences. One afternoon several years ago, walking home from work through Chelsea, I heard a voice call out. I looked around to see two officers running towards me, hands hovering over their gun holsters in a way familiar from Hollywood films but much less so from real life. I was hustled over to a wall while they consulted over the radios. It quickly emerged someone wearing a grey shirt had been spotted shoplifting in the area. I explained – perhaps a little sulkily (my mistake, I admit it) – that I was a British journalist not prone to theft and, much more importantly, was not actually wearing a grey shirt. They let me go. I gave them a dirty look as I walked away (again, my mistake, but dirty looks are not yet illegal). The two men chased after me, stood me against a wall and screamed abuse for several minutes. It ended with one yelling: "Why don't you fuck off back to your own country?"
It was, in the end, a trivial incident. But it revealed a telling attitude that seems to keep emerging at the NYPD: they may uphold the law, but they are also a law unto themselves. I saw it again while covering an Occupy march last year near the South Street Seaport. I watched as a muscular, bald-headed man yelled abuse at the marchers. That was fine. It's called his democratic right to disagree. But he then hurled a glass bottle at them. It missed, but landed just a few feet away from several of them, sending shards of glass everywhere. Two police officers sat in a nearby van and watched the whole episode. They did not move. I went over to them and pointed out that the man who had chucked the bottle was still there. They shrugged. I pointed out that I was a journalist and taking down their badge numbers. They shrugged again. They did not care. But imagine that an Occupy marcher had thrown that bottle. Does anyone think those two officers would not have leapt out of their van, nightsticks at the ready?
The list of disturbing events seems endless.
- The New York Civil Liberties reported that young black and Latino men account for only 4.7 percent of NY City’s population, but in 2011 black and Latino males between the ages of 14 and 24 were 41.6 percent of police stops.
- The number of stops of young black men exceeded the entire city population of young black men (168,126 as compared to 158,406).
- In 70 out of 76 precincts, blacks and Latinos accounted for more than 50 percent of people stopped by the NYPD. In 33 precincts they accounted for more than 90 percent of stops. In 6 of the 10 precincts with black and Latino populations of 14 percent or less (such as the 6th Precinct in Greenwich Village), black and Latino New Yorkers accounted for more than 70 percent of stops.
- WNYC reported that police from the NYPD's Intelligence Division used unanswered summons violations from years ago to arrest people associated with Occupy Wall Street protests. Legal experts say that targeting and arresting people because of their political views is blatantly illegal.
- New York City paid $360,000 to settle a case brought by two attorneys who were assaulted when they tried to come to the aid of a man being beaten by police officers.
MAY 2012 EXCERPTS AND LINKS FOR SCANDALS OF THE NYPD
“Honor student Brittany Rowley claims she was roughed up cops in Brooklyn in case of mistaken identity, Exclusive By John Marzulli, NY Daily News, May 23, 2012
A black teen honor student at an all-girl Catholic high school claims she was roughed up by plainclothes NYPD cops who thought she matched the description of a shoplifting suspect, the Daily News has learned. Police later realized Brittany Rowley didn’t commit the crime — but she is still haunted by the nightmare she experienced on a Park Slope street and the three hours spent handcuffed to a bench in a police stationhouse. “It was terrifying,” Rowley, 15, said in an exclusive interview. “It is the most horrible thing I have ever experienced.”
“Amid Budget Wrangling, Council Takes Aim at Soaring NYPD Claim Payouts” By Bob Hennelly, WNYC, May 20, 2012
As the cash-strapped City Council scours the mayor’s proposed budget for wiggle room, a report shows the city spent $50.5 million more last fiscal year to settle claims against the NYPD than it did the year previous. And the Bloomberg Administration has projected $180.1 million will be required to settle judgments against the NYPD in the next fiscal year — ranging from claims of wrongful death, excessive force, to traffic accidents or damaged property.
Leo Glickman, a Brooklyn civil rights attorney, said his firm has compiled a list of court records of a dozen police officers who have been the subject of multiple tort claims and civil rights suits that have cost the city hundreds of thousands to settle. "If you had a precinct-by-precinct breakdown for police misconduct lawsuits, you would find some precincts are relatively unscathed and others are serial committers of police misconduct," he said.
“Cops Armed With Tape Measures Crack Down On SoHo Street Vendors” By Garth Johnston, Gothamist, May 17, 2012
At least five uniformed and two plainclothes cops this afternoon are working their way up the west side of Broadway—coincidently the border between the 1st and 5th Precincts—demanding that vendors pack up and go. And the reasons can be pretty lame. For instance Abibou Gugye, who says he has been selling bags and sunglasses between Grand and Spring for seven years, was told that his stand was "too tall." When he offered to remove the extra height they told him no, and to just "shut it down completely." "I have the best spot because I'm 20 feet away from all the entrances," Gugye explained, referencing the city sanctioned distance for street vendors from building entrances. "I'm right in the middle of Broadway and this has never happened. They're just doing this to show us that they have the power—and its not right."
“NYPD, PBA At Odds Over Ticket Issuing” By Courtney Gross, NY1, May 17, 2012
The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association has taken out numerous ads this week saying that beat cops are being forced to issue tickets by their superiors or face punishment, something police officials deny. NY1's Courtney Gross filed this report. Top New York City Police Department brass and and the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association are butting heads. Over the past week, the police officers' union has flooded city newspapers with ads saying that beat cops are being forced to issue tickets by their superiors. PBA president Pat Lynch says it amounts to a quota to issue tickets and to get convictions in traffic court. If they don't, Lynch claims officers are punished.
“Prosecutors said he also facilitated financial transactions for drugs and fed information about police” By NBC, May 16, 2012
Federal prosecutors say an NYPD officer helped a drug dealer by facilitating financial transactions and performed other favors like feeding him information about arrests of his associates and even providing him a police parking placard. Authorities said Guy Curtis, the leader of a heroin ring based in Jamaica, Queens, regularly reached out to Officer Devon Daniels, a 30-year-old uniform patrol officer, by phone and text, asking for help like how to "get gun shot residue off your hands."
"Port Authority Shakes Up Police Force for Test Lapse" By Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, May 16, 2012
Responding to its Police Department’s failure to investigate a high-ranking officer for misconduct, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey stripped the department of control over its internal affairs division, officials said Wednesday. The move is one of the first steps the Port Authority has taken after learning its police agency allowed claims of possible cheating on a promotional exam to go unreported and uninvestigated for nearly a year.
In recent days, executives at the Port Authority decided to place the Internal Affairs Division under the office of the Port Authority’s inspector general, officials said. “Internal Affairs was at the heart of the scandal, and it doesn’t leave you with a lot of confidence,” said a Port Authority official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters. The move coincided with a related personnel move: three high-ranking officers from the Port Authority Police Department filed for retirement, the officials said. Two of them, Deputy Chief Keith Walcott and Inspector Brian Sullivan, learned last June that a police captain had taken unauthorized photographs of questions on an upcoming sergeant’s exam, according to the Port Authority official. The Port Authority’s inspector general is currently investigating whether Inspector Sullivan’s actions, and those of others — including the 1,700-member Police Department’s superintendent, Michael A. Fedorko — were insufficient. The connection to the investigation, if any, of the third retiring officer, Inspector Nicholas Tagarelli, was unclear.
The captain who took the photographs, John Ferrigno, was on a panel of officers who were administering part of the exam, and he has since told other Port Authority officials that he took the photographs to help himself prepare, several people familiar with the inspector general investigation have said. Several colleagues were in the same room at Port Authority Police Headquarters with him when he took the photos, including his supervisor, Inspector Sullivan.
A second colleague present, Inspector Richard Brazicki, saw Captain Ferrigno taking the pictures and reported the breach in the test’s security to Inspector Sullivan and others, expecting prompt disciplinary action, the officials said. Eventually word of the breach reached Superintendent Fedorko, officials said. Inspector Sullivan eventually instructed the captain to delete the photos from his phone while he watched, according to the same official.
But it was not until last month — some 10 months after the test was given — that the Port Authority inspector general’s office learned of the breach and any formal inquiry was opened into what had occurred, the official said. In recent weeks, the Port Authority moved to fire Captain Ferrigno, a high-ranking officer in Internal Affairs. The inspector general’s investigation into Captain Ferrigno’s actions has not turned up evidence that he shared the test questions with any police officers sitting for the sergeant’s exam, two officials familiar with the inspector general’s report have said.
"Police Officer Aided Drug Dealer, U.S. Says" By Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, May 15, 2012
A wiretap by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to obtain evidence against a heroin trafficking ring uncovered a surprising suspect, officials said: a New York City police officer.
A heroin dealer, Guy Curtis, asked the officer on one occasion how to get “gunshot residue off your hands,” according to the authorities. And they said the officer, Devon Daniels, was once heard on the wiretap asking Mr. Curtis for help getting “any working revolver.” Those requests and others were described in a criminal complaint against Officer Daniels that was unsealed on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. Shortly before, Officer Daniels, 30, was arrested on his way to work. The complaint accuses him of regularly misusing his authority to help Mr. Curtis, whom federal officials described as the head of a drug-dealing outfit in Queens known as Pov City. Officer Daniels obtained a New York Police Department parking placard for Mr. Curtis, according to the criminal complaint, which was signed by Pathik R. Lotwala, an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
On another occasion, the officer, driving a vehicle belonging to Mr. Curtis, hurried to the site where one of Mr. Curtis’s associates was being arrested, the complaint says. After identifying himself as a police officer and talking to the arresting officers on the scene, Officer Daniels reported back to Mr. Curtis what he had learned, the complaint says.
It suggests Officer Daniels was at the drug dealer’s beck and call. “Yo do them plates real quick,” Mr. Curtis once said in a text message he sent to Officer Daniels, asking him to run several license plates through a national law enforcement database to get information about the owners, the complaint says. “What u need I got it,” Officer Daniels replied, before sending along a name and address of the person to whom one of the cars, a BMW 5 series, was registered, the complaint says....
Officer Daniels came to the attention of the Drug Enforcement Administration while investigators in the Wichita, Kan., office were monitoring a dealer there who received his heroin from Mr. Curtis’s crew in New York, according to the criminal complaint. The agency began wiretapping Mr. Curtis’s phone in April 2011, leading to the discovery of his relationship with Officer Daniels, according to the complaint. Once, the Wichita dealer wired $3,500 into Officer Daniels’s bank account as payment for heroin, which the officer passed along to Mr. Curtis, the authorities said.
The complaint charges Officer Daniels with misdemeanors of improperly using the law enforcement databases to which he had access as a police officer. In addition to checking license plates, Officer Daniels is accused of searching a database of warrants at Mr. Curtis’s request. The complaint does not indicate whether the officer obtained a revolver from Mr. Curtis.
“City and NYCLU Settle Livery Cab Frisk Lawsuit” By Associated Press, May 15, 2012
A civil rights group and the city said Tuesday they had settled a lawsuit that had challenged the New York Police Department's practice of routinely halting livery cabs, questioning the passengers and occasionally frisking them for weapons.
The New York Civil Liberties Union said the city agreed to improve training for police officers to prevent unfair treatment of minority passengers. The NYCLU had claimed that the inspection program was being carried out in a way that subjected some law-abiding blacks and Hispanics to unwarranted searches and interrogations. The NYCLU said the settlement will provide $10,000 to each plaintiff and calls for police to instruct all officers that they are to take no action against passengers unless the officers have independent suspicion that the passenger has committed a crime.
“Staten Island man Kenrick Gray adds NYPD cop Michael Daragjati to stop-and-frisk lawsuit, Exclusive: After Gray's false arrest, cop bragged to associate that he 'fried another n----r,' court papers say” By John Marzulli, New York Daily News, May 14, 2012
Daragjati had stopped Gray on April 15, 2011, frisked him in a heavy-handed fashion, and let him go, according to court papers. But then Gray complained to Daragjati about the rough treatment. Daragjati, feeling disrespected, arrested him on fabricated charges, claiming Gray had resisted arrest. “Another n----r fried, no big deal,” Daragjati told an associate — a conversation investigators recorded through a phone tap, the court papers state.
“Lawyers settle NYPD misconduct case” By Jessica Dye, Thomson Reuters, May 14, 2012
NEW YORK, May 14 (Reuters) - New York City has paid $360,000 to settle a case brought by two attorneys who claim they were assaulted when they tried to come to the aid of a man allegedly being beaten by police officers, according to lawyers involved in the case. On June 21, 2007, the Warrens say they were driving through downtown Brooklyn when they spotted several police officers pursuing a young black man. The man was caught and handcuffed, and police began to beat him while the Warrens looked on from their car, the complaint said. The couple left their vehicle, and asked the officers to stop hurting the man and take him to the precinct, the complaint said. One of the officers allegedly told them to get back in their car. When one of the officers noticed that the Warrens were taking down license plate numbers, he allegedly went over to their car and repeatedly punched Michael Warren in the face before dragging him out of the vehicle. The officer also allegedly punched Evelyn Warren in the jaw, the complaint said.
“House Democrats: NYPD should purge spy files” By Samantha Gross, Associated Press, May 10, 2012
House Democrats on Thursday urged the New York Police Department to purge its intelligence databases of information gleaned from its clandestine spying on Muslim neighborhoods. They also criticized the Obama administration for offering tepid responses to questions about whether it endorses such tactics. Lawmakers introduced a resolution Thursday calling for an end to NYPD programs that infiltrated mosques and monitored even innocent conversations in cafes and bookstores. Muslim business owners were included in police files, even with no allegations of wrongdoing.
For other news about the NYCLU report on Stop and Frisks, and for articles about the NYPD's Stop and Frisks click here
“NYPD Stops Affect Young Minority Men” By Sean Gardiner, Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2012
The New York Civil Liberties Union gave new ammunition to critics of the police tactic known as "stop and frisk," charging Wednesday that city officers performed more stops of black males ages 14 to 24 years old than the total number of such men living in the five boroughs.
New NYCLU Report Finds NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Practices Ineffective, Reveals Depth of Racial Disparities. New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), May 9. 2012
Last year, the NYPD stopped and interrogated people 685,724 times, a more than 600 percent increase in street stops since Mayor Bloomberg’s first year in office when there were only 97,296 stops. Nine out of 10 of people stopped were innocent, meaning they were neither arrested nor ticketed. About 87 percent were black or Latino.
NYCLU’s analysis reveals that:
“Our analysis demonstrates the alarming extent to which the NYPD is targeting innocent black and brown New Yorkers,” NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn said. “In nearly every police precinct – black and white, high crime and low crime – black and Latino New Yorkers are stopped and frisked at a far greater rate than whites. Everyone wants to feel safe in their neighborhoods, but the abuse of stop-and-frisk is making communities of color across New York City fear the force that is supposed to protect them.”
In response to discriminatory policing practices like the abuse of stop-and-frisk, the NYCLU and our allies in Communities United for Police Reform are working to pass the Community Safety Act, a series of City Council bills that would strengthen the definition of discrimination, ensure that New Yorkers understand their right to not consent to searches where no probable cause or warrant exists, and require that NYPD officers identify themselves when conducting stop-and-frisks or engaging in other police activities. In the coming weeks a bill will be introduced creating an NYPD Inspector General’s office.
The NYCLU is also helping to organize a Father’s Day march with 1199 SEIU, the NAACP, the National Action Network and dozens of other labor, civil rights and community organizations to demand an end to the NYPD’s abuse of stop-and-frisk.
“No Room for Dissent in a Police Department Consumed by the Numbers” By Michael Powell, New York Times, May 7, 2012
Officer Polanco said his supervisors in the 41st Precinct in the Bronx instructed him to slap handcuffs on teenagers guilty of nothing more than a boisterous walk to school. They told him to change reports of felony burglaries and attempted murder to far less serious charges of trespass and reckless endangerment. In 2009, he detailed his complaints in a long letter to Internal Affairs. He had tape-recorded several of these incidents. Many months later, the department filed charges against him — for filing false arrest papers. “They teach us to lie about stopping people. They teach us to lie about tickets, and ruin lives,” said Officer Polanco, who after about a decade on the force is suspended with pay. “I’ve never been a disciplinary problem. The only problem came when I decided to open my mouth.”
"Police Working Under Cover, and Under Strain" By Al Baker And Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, May 6, 2012
After a decade spent working the bottom levels of New York’s drug world, Margaret Sasso, an undercover police officer, believed she had done and seen enough. The thought of entering more crack dens made her numb. She sought a hardship transfer in August, but nothing came of it. In March, as she sat in her car before a shift, she began swallowing prescribed muscle relaxants. The police found her the next day, unconscious from what she said was a failed suicide attempt. “I just wanted to rest,” Detective Sasso, 43, said in a recent interview, after her release from a hospital. “Get away from everything and just rest.” Detective Sasso’s suicide attempt was seen by other detectives as a potent, if extreme, illustration of the difficulties plaguing undercover units at a time when the New York Police Department’s head count is diminished, but the demand for arrests has never been higher.
Of the 120 or so undercover officers in the Organized Crime Control Bureau, which runs most of the department’s undercover operations, there is widespread dissatisfaction among the ranks, according to interviews with nearly a dozen current or recently retired detectives, including several assigned to undercover units. About 40 undercover officers or detectives have pending requests to be transferred out, said one police official in Brooklyn who works with undercover officers, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Michael J. Palladino, the head of the detectives’ union, said, “Once you’re in, there’s no way out.”
The job generally attracts young officers with three to five years of experience. After an interview process, which involves a role-playing component, applicants undergo a month of training, including crash courses on street drugs, and lessons on how to affect the mannerisms of an addict. Most candidates tend to be black or Hispanic; police officials say that many minority drug dealers are more likely to suspect white customers of being undercover officers. Detective Sasso is white.The work is not glamorous. Their efforts are aimed at those who sell drugs or guns, making their jobs inherently dangerous. They are constantly at risk of being robbed, and some have been killed by the suspects they hoped to arrest; they even face the risk of being shot by fellow officers who occasionally mistake them for armed criminals.
In 1994, a white off-duty officer, Peter Del-Debbio, mistakenly shot Desmond Robinson, a black officer who was working in a plainclothes unit, at a subway station in Manhattan. In 1998, Sean Carrington, an undercover detective, was killed in a Bronx drug operation. In 2003, two undercover detectives with the Firearms Investigation Unit, James V. Nemorin and Rodney J. Andrews, were executed by a man they believed was going to sell them guns on Staten Island. Detectives Carrington, Nemorin and Andrews were also black — underscoring the racial disparity between those who work under cover and their supervisors.
“Who are the undercover officers?” Mr. Palladino said. “Hard-working minority men and women who grew up in some of the toughest neighborhoods in the city who chose to come into the N.Y.P.D., to try to make a difference. And the N.Y.P.D. uses them.” In the small but elite firearms unit, which accepts only experienced undercover officers, most of whom intend to make a career out of that kind of work, there has not been a white undercover officer in several years, according to three former detectives from the unit. They say that the supervisors are overwhelmingly white.
The organization 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care has long discouraged minority officers from volunteering for undercover assignments — exacerbating the shortage of new undercover detectives; only about a dozen or so are trained each year, one investigator said. The pressures of undercover work, and the desire to escape it, hung in the periphery of the 2006 fatal police shooting of Sean Bell in Queens.
Gescard F. Isnora, the undercover detective who fired the first of the 50 police bullets at Mr. Bell’s vehicle, testified in a departmental trial that three months before the Bell shooting, he had sought to leave undercover work, even seeking a demotion to return to patrol. He explained at his trial, held last year, how two recent undercover operations had ended violently — one with his partner shooting at a man — and he acknowledged not wanting to buy drugs anymore. Mr. Isnora was fired because he was found to have acted improperly in the Bell shooting.
Undercover assignments come with the promise of a detective’s gold shield within 18 months, and a transfer out of undercover work after another 18 months, Mr. Palladino said. But some undercover officers end up working several years beyond that before being allowed to “flip,” police parlance for leaving undercover work. Mr. Palladino is now lobbying state legislators in Albany to create a cap on the number of years that officers spend under cover.Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the Police Department, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.... [more]
Using NYPD Warrant Squads to Monitor Protesters May Violate
Constitution, by Ailsa Chang, WNYC, May 04, 2012
Additional Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are coming forward to allege they were targeted by police officers executing old bench warrants for minor violations in order to collect intelligence about the May Day protests this week. Executing old warrants -- no matter how minor -- is legal. But legal experts say the tactic becomes illegal if it is done solely to investigate political activity. The half-dozen or so stories fit a pattern: each individual was approached and questioned by officers who said they were picking up people on arrest warrants for low-level, non-criminal violations, such as public urination, walking around with an open container of alcohol or biking on a sidewalk. These warrants can stay open for years. Court officials say there are more than 1 million bench warrants currently open for these types of violations in New York City. But this week, squads of police officers decided to act on a few of them....
One of the plaintiffs lawyers [said] ... the police could be violating the First Amendment if they arrest someone on a bench warrant solely because they want to question him about his political organizing.
“Since these are the kind of warrants that typically sit for years and years, I think it's fair to say that they wouldn't have done it but for their desire to question these people about their First Amendment activities.
"Police Warrant Squads Were Used to Monitor Wall Street Protesters, Suspects Say," By Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, May 2, 2012
On Monday, the New York Police Department sent its warrant squads after an unusual set of suspects: people who had old warrants for the lowliest of violations, misconduct too minor, usually, to draw the attention of those squads. But those who were questioned by the warrant squads said the officers had an ulterior motive: gathering intelligence on the Occupy Wall Street protests scheduled for May 1, or May Day. One person said he was interviewed about his plans for May Day. A second person said the police examined political fliers in his apartment, and then arrested him on a warrant for a 2007 open-container-of-alcohol violation.
Officials have yet to respond to questions about the tactics, but one police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters about police policy, said the strategy appeared to be an extension of a policy used at events where crowd control could be an issue. Before certain parades that have been marred by shootings, for example, the warrant squads have tracked down gang members who live nearby to execute outstanding warrants, no matter how minor, the official said. But the department’s use of this tactic as part of its strategy for policing the Occupy Wall Street movement raises new questions about the surveillance efforts by the Police Department, which faces restrictions in monitoring political groups.
Zachary Dempster, 31, said he was wakened at 6:15 a.m. Monday by plainclothes police officers who entered his apartment on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn and herded him and two roommates into the living room. There, Mr. Dempster said, the police announced they were there that morning to serve an open-container warrant on one of the roommates, Joseph Ryan, a musician who goes by the name Joe Crow Ryan. But then one of the officers led Mr. Dempster back to his room for questioning. “The officer said, ‘What are you doing tomorrow?’ ” Mr. Dempster recalled. “Do you have plans for May Day?” “I said, ‘I’m not going to talk to you without my lawyer present,’ ” Mr. Dempster said, adding, “It didn’t seem right”.... But Mr. Dempster said that he was not particularly involved, beyond visiting Zuccotti Park, the protesters’ main encampment, in the fall. He noted, “I haven’t even Facebook-liked Occupy Wall Street.” “Possibly they were casting a net to see what they could pull in,” Mr. Dempster said about the visit to his home on Monday. Although Mr. Dempster was not arrested, he said the police arrested Mr. Ryan.
It is unclear exactly how many times the police inquired about May Day activities during warrant checks on Monday.
Gideon Oliver, a lawyer who has represented Occupy Wall Street protesters, said he heard of five addresses where the police had shown up in the last week to inquire about May Day activities and event organizers. Mr. Oliver said that he believed the visits, reported on Monday by the Web site Gawker, were intended to discourage people from “engaging in First Amendment activity on May Day.” “I was surprised by the fact that bench warrants would be used as a pretext to this kind of activity as opposed to the officers knocking on the door and saying we want to talk to X, Y and Z,” Mr. Oliver said. Paul J. Browne, a Police Department spokesman, did not respond to repeated calls over the last two days seeking comment.
About an hour after the police visited Mr. Dempster’s home, a warrant squad stopped by another home in Brooklyn, again to serve an open-container complaint. “I woke up in bed to a rather large detective standing over me with a flashlight,” said Sean Broesler, a resident of the home. He said that he and his roommates were brought into a common area.“Our apartment is well-known as one where political activists live,” said Mr. Broesler, who declined to identify his roommates or give his address in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He said the officers claimed to have warrants in the name of previous tenants whose mail they still sometimes receive. Mr. Broesler said he was arrested on a 2007 open-container violation for which he had failed to appear in court. He said a second roommate was also arrested on a warrant.
Although officers asked no questions about political activities, Mr. Broesler said they were drawn to what was on the coffee table. “We had May Day literature and they were leafing through them,” he said.Mr. Broesler described himself as a regular last year at Zuccotti Park and said he participated in occupations at the New School and New York University.“Why would they be going to activists’ houses and using pretexts to get in just before May Day when they could have picked me up at any point in the past?” he asked.
- New York Magazine published a long exposé about low morale in the NYPD because of the quota system for stop and frisks, summonses, and arrests for minor offenses. Police officers reported that the department's obsession with numbers drives police officers to make rushed and bad judgments, resulting in cases like the shooting death of Ramarley Graham in February over a bag of marijuana.
- Associated Press won the Pulitzer Prize for its series of articles about the NYPDs years of secret spying on ordinary Muslim and Middle Eastern Americans in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Numerous columns praised the series and award while a NY Post editorial said that the Pulitzer Prize committee had engaged in "NYPD-bashing."
- Ten Democrats in the US House of Representatives, including a member of the party’s leadership and lawmakers who oversee intelligence and homeland security matters, criticized New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his “underhanded and unprofessional” response to criticism of the New York Police Department’s spying programs.
- New York Times editorials criticized the NYPD's continuing marijuana arrest crusade and stop and frisk crusade, emphasizing that both were concentrated in black and Hispanic neighborhoods targeting people when they "take out the garbage, check the mail, duck out to the store for a quart of milk."
- Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch wrote a column expressing outrage about the NYPD's marijuana arrests for "Making Criminals Out of Young People."
- "The Human Cost of Zero Tolerance," a signed editorial by Brent Staple of the NY Times, reviewed the multitude of disastrous civil and collateral consequences that follow from the criminal records generated by arrests for marijuana possession and other petty offences -- including loss of jobs, student loans, housing, credit and even child custody.
- The NY Daily News reported that top supervisors of an elite NYPD anti-gun unit repeatedly referred to black suspects with harsh racist language while treating white suspects much more civilly, especially in Staten Island.
- Police tried to trick a Brooklyn Bodega clerk into selling beer to an 18 year old. When he wouldn't make the sale, police arrested and jailed him anyway, and the DA's office prosecuted. A video tape has vindicated the clerk, but not before he plead guilty for fear of going to jail on Rikers Island.
- The Police Reform Organizing Project released a report with quotes from 70 current and former NYPD officers and supervisors describing the enormous pressure put on them by NYPD commanders to make petty arrests, stop and frisks, and write summonses for minor offense. For example:
“I grew up in the South Bronx, and in the summer we’d throw a football in the street at night…. The cops would roll by and say, ‘Fellas, just keep it quiet.’ Now we need to make the number, so we write all those kids summonses for dis con—disorderly conduct. And they grow up hating cops.” -- An 18-year veteran lieutenant quoted by New York Magazine.
APRIL 2012 EXCERPTS AND LINKS FOR SCANDALS OF THE NYPD
IN THEIR OWN WORDS “They Got Bandanas On, Arrest Them”: How "Productivity Goals" Drive Harsh and Unjust Policing, by Police Reform Organizing Project, April 2012
["In Their Own Words" is a report from the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) collecting 70 quotes from current and former NYPD officers and supervisors about the constant pressure put on them by top commanders at the NYPD to meet the Department's quotas for petty arrests and summonses. All the quotes are documented with links to the sources. For example:
“Next week, 25 [summonses] and 1 [arrest], 35 [summonses] and 1 [arrest] and until you decide to quit this job to go to work at a Pizza Hut, this is what you’re going to be doing till then.” - A 41st Precinct Patrol Supervisor speaking to rank and file officers during roll call.
"Our primary job is not to help anybody, our primary job is not to assist anybody, our primary job is to get those numbers and come back with them.…” - Officer Adhyl Polanco speaking about the pressure on officers to make arrests.
“It quite often happens with people laying down on the seats - sure, it could be an empty train, but you stop them and if they don’t have their ID, you have your collar….” – Officer quoted in an article about arrests for minor violations such as “sitting improperly on a subway seat.” The officer acknowledged that there were a lot of “petty arrests” on the subway and that officers are under pressure from supervisors to “bring in one collar” each month.
“Ninety percent of the stress on our job is internal…. Crime is down as much as you can get it, you’re doing as much as you can with fewer people, and if you ask for more, what you’re going to get is corruption, people fudging numbers, locking people up just to do it. And that’s where the city is now. Everybody’s attention is so focused on the numbers nobody cares about each other. You can’t. The human element is gone. It’s why so many cops are so miserable.” - A 20-year veteran of the NYPD quoted by NY Magazine
“I grew up in the South Bronx, and in the summer we’d throw a football in the street at night…. The cops would roll by and say, ‘Fellas, just keep it quiet.’ Now we need to make the number, so we write all those kids summonses for dis con—disorderly conduct. And they grow up hating cops.” -- An 18-year veteran lieutenant, speaking about how the Department’s quota system harms on community relations.
“Listen up. The borough’s putting together a new rookie unit. It’s some kind of mobile outfit, which may sound cool; but rumor is they’ll only write summonses. They want ten bodies from our command, and since the flavor of the week is now collars, that’s how we’re making the cut. So, those with no collars, you better start humpin. Any questions?” -- A Sergeant quoted by Professors John Eterno and Eli Silverman in their book "The Numbers Game."
“A lot of us didn’t want to bang everyone.…These people have a hard enough time in the situation they’re living in without making it worse by hitting them with a summons, having them travel to Manhattan for Criminal Court, and the bosses get upset..." -- A former police officer from the 73rd Precinct in Brownsville, Brooklyn quoted by the NY Times.
“Occupy Wall Street: NYPD Sued By City Council Members Over Response To Protests” By Jennifer Peltz, Associated Press, April 30, 2012
Four lawmakers sued the city Monday over its handling of the Occupy Wall Street protests, saying police conduct is so problematic that the force needs an outside monitor. The city and police violated demonstrators' free speech rights, used excessive force, arrested protesters on dubious charges and interfered with journalists' and council members' efforts to observe what was going on, the four City Council members and others say in the federal civil rights suit.
“City Council members demand fed monitor for cops” By Robert Gearty, April 30, 2012
Four City Council members are demanding a federal monitor for the NYPD because of alleged police brutality at Occupy Wall Street protests. In a suit filed Monday in Manhattan Federal Court, the lawmakers also seek unspecified monetary damages.
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez of Manhattan said his rights to observe the protests were violated when he was bloodied and arrested as police cleared Zuccotti Park last November. "The NYPD has to be more accountable," he said at news conference on the steps City Hall. "The City Council has the right to be observers, and this is something that has been violated on a number of occasions."
"22,000 Were Arrested For It, And It Was Perfectly Legal" by Dax-Devlon Ross, Dominion of New York, April 30, 2012
Why did it take almost 30 years to stop the NYPD from arresting thousands of poor, mostly black, people under three void laws?
In January 2004, Eddie Wise was sitting in the holding pen of Bronx Civil Court, waiting to be arraigned after his latest arrest, when he spotted Lisa C. Cartier Giroux, a lawyer he knew from Bronx Defenders, a non-profit organization that represents the indigent. Wise got Giroux’s attention and, from his holding pen, began proclaiming his innocence. Earlier that month, the 44-year-old homeless African-American man had been arrested on Fordham Road in the Bronx. His arrest report accused him of “engaging numerous pedestrians in conversation with his hand out requesting money.” The exact charge facing Wise, who concealed his slight build beneath hoodies and baggy jeans and covered his cornrows with a do-rag, was a violation of New York’s law against loitering “in a public place for the purpose of begging”....
Giroux listened to Wise and agreed to look into it. When she went back to Bronx Defenders, she ran a quick computer search and learned something surprising. Wise’s hunch that he had been illegally arrested was right, albeit for a different reason than he suspected. The loitering law Wise had been arrested under some twenty times in two years had been ruled unconstitutional nearly 15 years earlier. Back in 1990, a group of fed-up panhandlers from Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan’s East Village had convinced a court that if the Salvation Army could loiter while soliciting funds, on the street or door-to-door, so could they. The court struck the law down....
Five months after meeting Wise, Giroux was able to get all his loitering charges thrown out, including two he accumulated after they met. But now that Wise knew he had been falsely arrested, he wasn’t satisfied with the dismissals. He wanted the city to pay for having abused his rights. Giroux handed Wise’s case over to McGregor Smyth, who runs Bronx Defenders’ civil unit. Smyth in turn enlisted his fellow Yale Law graduate Katie Rosenfeld, who worked at Emily Celli Brickerhoff & Abady, one of the country’s leading civil rights firms.
Attorneys at Bronx Defenders had heard of arrests like Wise’s and seen a few other clients complaining about them. Most were also poor African-American men. The attorneys didn’t know how many had been wrongly arrested under the void loitering law or whether race had anything to do with it. But the lawyers suspected that the problem was far bigger than Wise and the handful of other people they had met. Together, they started working on a scheme to stop the city from enforcing the void law.
"Stop Making Criminals Out of Young People" by Edward Koch, April 26, 2012
[Edward Koch was the 105th mayor of New York City for three terms, from 1978 to 1989. He previously served for nine years as a congressman.]
In 1977 in New York, personal possession and use of marijuana were decriminalized. So why were 525,000 people arrested for such possession and use since then?... According to The New York Times in its editorial of April 2, “Under the 1977 law, possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana is a violation, subject to a $100 fine for the first offense. But possession of any amount that is in public view is a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine. Civil rights lawyers say that many of those stopped by city police were arrested after officers told them to empty their pockets, which brought the small amount of drugs into view”....
This is an outrage.... Even if the public display is otherwise inadvertent or the foolish act of a person, particularly a young person, it should not constitute a criminal act. The issue has heated up because as The Times editorial pointed out, “80 percent of those arrested in the city are black and Latino, despite substantial data showing that whites are more likely to use the drug.”
The answer is obvious. The state legislature should make public possession of a small amount for personal use a violation instead of a misdemeanor. Violations are not listed as crimes. Let’s stop making criminals out of our young men and women, giving them criminal records which will prevent them from getting jobs and ruin their lives.
"Cops Bust Bodega Worker Ismael Duran for Not Selling Booze to Minor" By Victoria Bekiempis, Village Voice, April 25, 2012
If you sell alcohol to a minor, you can get arrested. And if you do not sell alcohol to a minor, you can apparently also get arrested. No, really.
The Daily News tells the story of Ismael Duran, a father of three who immigrated to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic three years ago. Duran works at the Giselle Mini Mart in Brownsville. When 18-year-old undercover cop Anthony Harriott tried to buy Smirnoff Ice, Duran checked his I.D. and refused, as Harriott is a minor.
Another customer, 51-year-old Stanfiel Collymore, bought the Smifnoff Ice and then gave it to Harriott outside, the News reports.
The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office claims that Collymore agreed to take Harriott's money in front of Duran -- but the clerk's lawyer counters that he was busy with other customers...
Duran got slammed with charges of selling alcohol to a minor and unlawfully dealing with a child....
Duran, unaware that video surveillance present in the store clearly supports his claims of innocence.... fearing time in Rikers', he pleaded guilty and paid a fine.
The Bodega Association of the United States is pressuring prosecutors to vacate the plea. The Voice reached out to the New York Police Department and the Brooklyn D.A. to see what's up. We'll update if we hear back.
The AP's Well-deserved Pulitzer Prize, by Len Levitt, Huffington Post, April 24, 2012
The Associated Press's expose of the NYPD's widespread and legally questionable spying on Muslims, deservedly and importantly, received a Pulitzer Prize.... The AP described how the police, with the help of a former top CIA official, created a surveillance program that monitored Muslim neighborhoods, businesses, schools and mosques, despite little or no evidence that they were linked to terrorism or any other crime.
The articles appear to belie the department's justification for the spying, which has become the mantra of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg: "We only follow leads."
The articles also caught police spokesman Paul Browne in yet another lie: "There is no such thing as the Demographics Unit." Documents provided to the AP and NYPD Confidential, specifically identified the Intelligence Division's Demographics Unit as having mapped and profiled various Muslim communities.
The AP's articles also underscored the lack of trust and cooperation between the NYPD's spying efforts and the FBI's counter-terrorism work. And they confirmed what this column has reported for the past decade: dangers result from a lack of civilian oversight over the NYPD's spying program, turning its Intelligence Division into a mini-CIA.
The AP's articles also raised the still-unanswered question of whether the NYPD's spying program has broken the law and violated the department's longstanding Handschu guidelines, which had limited the department's surveillance of lawful activity.
In September, this column obtained Intelligence Division documents, dating from 2006, revealing that the NYPD had targeted virtually every level of Muslim life in New York City. It had used undercover detectives or confidential informants to infiltrate and compile information on 250 mosques, 12 Islamic schools, 31 Muslim student associations, 263 places it calls "ethnic hotspots," such as businesses and restaurants as well as 138 "persons of interest." To this reporter, the detail in these documents resembled the files complied on citizens of East Germany by the notorious Stasi, its feared secret police.
NYPD Confidential published the first document on Sept. 5, 2011, then sent it to the AP, which published it a couple of days later. The AP then reported that the NYPD had master-minded a so-called Moroccan Initiative. This spying catalogued the daily lives of Moroccans in the city, monitoring them at places like restaurants, grocery stores and barbershops. Sometimes, police officers interviewed them using pretexts like ongoing criminal investigations or the search for a lost child.
The AP continued its ground-breaking work with a report that the NYPD had spied on Muslim student groups on college campus throughout the northeast, and, most notably in Newark, New Jersey, where they collected license plates of worshippers, monitored them on surveillance cameras and cataloged sermons through a network of informants...
The articles also prompted a rare public criticism of the NYPD by the FBI. Michael Ward, the head of the Bureau's Newark office, criticized the spying as counter-productive, saying it created "additional risks," and jeopardized relationships agents had sought to build in the Muslim community since 9/11.
Meanwhile, NYPD Confidential reported that in 2008 the NYPD launched its "Somali Project," spying on the small Somali community in Buffalo. This effort began even though the department's liaison in western New York, Erie County Undersheriff Richard Donovan, told the NYPD that he was unaware of any crime trends attributed to Somalis in the Buffalo area.
An Intelligence Division "briefing report" described how an Intel captain, lieutenant and sergeant "conducted vehicle surveillance" of five Somali locations that appeared to be mosques. "New license plate information [NJ registration] as obtained of a new vehicle observed at a subject location and photos taken," the report said.
The Buffalo News subsequently reported that the NYPD never shared their information on the Somali Project with the Buffalo area's Joint Terrorist Task Force, a cooperative effort that includes the FBI, state and local law enforcement officials.
Last month, NYPD Confidential reported how in 2006 the NYPD searched for a terrorism link to the accidental small-plane crash of Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle by instructing its informants and undercovers in at least five mosques and Islamic Centers around the city and in New Jersey to gauge reaction to the crash.
At the At Taqwa Mosque in Brooklyn, a confidential police informant reported that a congregant seemed upset by news of the crash, and police moved to get a record of his phone calls. "Phone dump will be conducted of subject's phone for that day and time period," stated an Intelligence Division document.
Bloomberg and Kelly maintain that the police spying on Muslims is not illegal
Corruption Case Shines Light On NYPD, by Tom Hayes, Associated Press, April 23, 2012
NYPD badges out, Kelvin Jones and the other armed men turned up out of nowhere at a New Jersey warehouse and began barking orders.... The men herded about a dozen employees into a tiny back office and tied them up.
By then, it was obvious something was amiss. "We were kind of shocked," one worker recalled. "We were like, why is the NYPD coming in here like this?" Another blurted: "You're not cops."
But Jones was indeed an NYPD officer. In fact, he had held an elite undercover position. Two with him were also part of the NYPD. A third was a former officer. But these were hardly "New York's Finest." What they'd set up to look like a police raid was instead a brazen, $1 million robbery.
Eventually, the 30-year-old Jones would face trial. And his case, though largely overlooked, isn't isolated. In the past two years, prosecutors have accused officers of planting evidence in drug investigations, of running illegal guns, of robbing drug dealers, of routinely fixing traffic tickets as favors.
Still, Jones stands out because of his background as an undercover operative for the NYPD's Intelligence Division. The department credits the unit with thwarting numerous terror and other threats against New Yorkers. Recent stories by The Associated Press have detailed how the unit also sought to infiltrate and monitor mosques, Muslim student organizations and left-wing political organizations — even beyond city limits — using methods that critics say infringe on civil rights, though the department denies it.
How Jones became an undercover and the exact nature of his assignment weren't made public at his trial in Newark in 2010, and police officials won't discuss it. But court documents offer hints: They show the NYPD authorized the Caribbean-born Jones to use the aliases Michael Kingston and Kelvin Johns. And in a handwritten journal, he made cryptic references to assignments in cities far from New York. That was before he was demoted to ordinary patrol — a transfer that still gave him access to an internal police database he used to help hatch the warehouse holdup....
While not commenting directly on Jones, the NYPD insists it carefully vets candidates for undercover work, especially those assigned to Intelligence Division.
"Three in Elite NYPD Anti-Gun Unit Accused of Treating Black Suspects Like 'Animals'. Explosive charges in federal discrimination lawsuit" By John Marzulli, New York Daily News, April 16, 2012
Top supervisors of an elite NYPD anti-gun unit allegedly handled white suspects with kid gloves while treating blacks like “animals” deserving of a bullet to the head, the Daily News has learned.
The explosive charges appear in sworn depositions from three members of the firearms suppression unit: two current NYPD detectives and a retired first-grade detective. Their testimony, part of a federal discrimination lawsuit, details how Capt. James Coan and Lt. Daniel Davin created a hostile environment for both their black detectives and suspected minority-group gun traffickers, said the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Eric Sanders. Davin used the N-word to address black suspects, while Coan considered the unit’s minority-group targets almost subhuman, the depositions indicate.
“Capt. Coan would tell the field team . . . ‘They are f-----g animals. You make sure if you have to shoot, you shoot them in the head. That way there’s one story,’ ” said the retired detective. The ex-cop, identified only as Undercover 7988, said Coan’s racist rant came before every search warrant executed in Brooklyn’s Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York from 2008 to 2010. “They didn’t care if it was kids in there, they didn’t care if it was women in there, naked women,” the detective said. “. . . They treated them as if they had no rights whatsoever. It was disgusting."
In contrast, search warrants on predominantly white Staten Island were handled without kicking in doors, said the undercover. The two detectives still on the job testified that Davin hurled the N-word at suspects — and at one of them. “On a search warrant which I was present with him and several members of the team, while working in firearms, he called one of the perpetrators a n----r,” said Detective Al Hawkins. On another occasion in 2005, Hawkins recalled, he walked into an apartment where Davin was instructing white officers, “If you have to shoot a n----r, do what you gotta do.” “I just walked out of the room and shook my head,” Hawkins said.
The accused captain and lieutenant remain on the job, although in different positions. The detectives testified last month in a discrimination lawsuit brought by Detective Debra Lawson in Brooklyn Federal Court. She alleges minority-group members in the unit were passed over for good assignments and career advancement. The unidentified undercover, before his retirement, had also filed a discrimination complaint against Davin. The lieutenant was “reinstructed” about his offensive comments in 2010, according to court papers. Detective Gregory Jean-Baptiste, who was demoted from second-grade to third-grade detective after clashing with Davin, testified that the lieutenant called him a “black bastard.”
Score one for NYPD-bashing. New York Post Editorial, April 16, 2012
The Associated Press yesterday picked up a Pulitzer for its year-long, non-stop hit-job on the NYPD’s counterterrorism efforts.
OUTSIDE WHILE BLACK, Youtube, April 15, 2012
[Video of young black men just given "Disorderly Conducts" tickets for standing in front of a boarded up building. The young men talk about what the police just did and how the police usually treat them. ]
“What’s Eating the NYPD?” By Chris Smith, New York Magazine, Apr 8, 2012
More worrisome, to the functioning of the department and the maintenance of public safety, now and in the future, was the anger rumbling just below the surface of the NYPD — and, on a couple of occasions, bursting out into plain view. In September, cops contributed to a Facebook discussion on the raucous West Indian Day parade that labeled marchers “animals” and “savages.” In October, scores of cops converged on the Bronx County courthouse as sixteen of their colleagues were arraigned on ticket-fixing charges, waving signs reading JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS.... The accumulation of woes and discontent made it look as if Commissioner Ray Kelly was suffering from something more than third-term drift. It looked as if he were losing control of his department....
The collective NYPD mood is surprisingly dark. There’s
something different about the current discontent. The complaints
aren’t about the old standby, low pay; they’re about the systems the
NYPD uses... The disaffection from the public and anger at the
department ... are widespread, stretching across boroughs and ranks
— and cops say that the acrimony is a by-product of the
numbers-obsessed systems that Kelly has perfected. The commissioner
inherited CompStat, the innovative marriage of computer-analyzed
crime stats and grilling of field commanders. But in the Kelly era,
CompStat has filtered through every facet of the department, and
making a good show at those meetings has become an obsession. Few
cops talk openly about the NYPD’s troubles: Some are wary of the
media, some fear punishment from the department. “The job is getting
smaller all the time — more demands, less autonomy, less respect,” a
recently retired Bronx detective says mournfully. “The aggressive
management culture has been really effective, but it’s also
“Ninety percent of the stress on our job is internal,” a twenty-year veteran says. “Crime is down as much as you can get it, you’re doing as much as you can with fewer people, and if you ask for more, what you’re going to get is corruption, people fudging numbers, locking people up just to do it. And that’s where the city is now. Everybody’s attention is so focused on the numbers nobody cares about each other. You can’t. The human element is gone. It’s why so many cops are so miserable.”
...Two cops — Adrian Schoolcraft of Brooklyn and Craig
Matthews of the Bronx — have taken the rare path of filing lawsuits
alleging that they were persecuted for complaining about statistical
manipulation and quotas. Schoolcraft says he was handcuffed by
fellow cops and committed to a hospital psychiatric ward for six
days. Others play along, saying they have come to know what’s
expected. “You show up to someone who had their iPhone snatched, but
you don’t put it over the air because you don’t know if it’s gonna
be a crime yet,” a Manhattan cop says. “We have to bring the victim
back to the station, where he’s gonna be waterboarded by the
sergeant: ‘Are you sure you didn’t drop your phone?’ Next thing you
know, it’s lost property. ‘Hey, maybe I left it on the train! Maybe
it fell out of my pocket when I got punched in the face!’ ”
"Police Organizing Reform Project (PROP) Video Stories of Police Stops and Frisks, Youtube, April 5, 2012
Three minute Video of ordinary New York stopped and frisked by the police, disproportionally young people of color and other vulnerable individuals.
"Police Organizing Reform Project Narratives of Police Stops, Summonses, and Arrests, April 5, 2012
PROP has collected accounts from people stoped, frisked, searched, ticketed, arrested and just harrassed by the NYPD. This is an ongoing project. For example:
"AP investigative series on NYPD [is awarded]” The Associated Press, Apr 4, 2012
“Dead Board Awakening?” By Len Levitt, Huffington Post, April 4, 2012
Contrary to the New York Times headline: "New Powers to
Prosecute New York City Police Officers," the CCRB [Civilian
Complaint Review Board] has gained no new powers. Police department
judges will remain the judges of accused cops. Kelly will remain the
final arbitrator, accepting or rejecting the judges'
recommendations. The minuscule difference is that if Kelly
overrules a trial judge, he must explain his reasons in writing.
“NYPD Sgt. Sentenced for Drug Conspiracy” By North Country Gazette, April 4, 2012
In February of 2010, Jimenez and Rivera met with a
second government informant whom Jimenez and Rivera believed to be a
large-scale cocaine distributor. During the meeting, Rivera — who
was armed with an NYPD-issued 9mm handgun — told the second
informant that if stopped by the police, “I just show my I.D. and my
shield … they always say, ‘Get out of here.’”
“Did the NYPD Suffocate a Mentally Ill Woman to Death While Trying to Cuff Her?” By James Thilman, The Gothamist, April 3, 2012
A disoriented [woman] suffocated in her Jamaica, Queens home as officers attempted to handcuff her — they had been called to the home by her family, who had requested medical attention. Francis was apparently frightened and confused when officers arrived at her home and pleaded for them to leave .... Francis's parents have filed suit ... requesting the release of evidence surrounding their daughter's death.
"We were stonewalled for weeks only to have details
leaked to the Wall Street Journal by anonymous sources. Why were
those details not made available to the family?" asked the family's
attorney, Steve Vaccaro, "Only when we announced this press
conference did IAB return our call wanting to speak to the family."
“NYPD's 'Stop, Question and Frisk' policy is Racial Profiling, Critics Say” By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN Radio National Correspondent, April 3, 2012
Every time a cop car slows down near him, Djibril Toure worries that he's about to be stopped and questioned. Not because he did anything wrong -- the 39-year-old businessman and activist was born and raised in New York, attended Cornell University and said he's never committed a crime....
Toure, who is black, lives in Brooklyn's Bedford Stuyvesant
neighborhood, a predominantly African-American section of the city
with a history of high crime rates. He said he's been stopped and
questioned by police more than a dozen times since the late 1990s,
and he believes it's because of the way he looks. "I felt a
combination of angry and humiliated," Toure said. "There was no
reason for them to stop me. I hadn't done anything. "Honestly, it
makes young people mistrustful of the police. I think it makes them
feel like the police are their enemy."
Ten House Democrats, including a member of the party’s leadership and lawmakers who oversee intelligence and homeland security matters, have criticized New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his “underhanded and unprofessional” response to criticism of the New York Police Department’s spying programs.
The Associated Press has reported for months that the NYPD systematically spied on Muslims neighborhoods, using informants and undercover officers to serve as “listening posts” in mosques and businesses in New York and New Jersey. Police documented the details of sermons, even when they were innocuous and peaceful, and infiltrated Muslim student groups on college campuses. NYPD officers catalogued where Muslims ate, eat and prayed — with no mention of criminal activity — and targeted Mosques using techniques typically reserved for criminal investigations. In a March 22 letter to Bloomberg, members of Congress called for an end to the NYPD’s out-of-state spying. Lawmakers said they were troubled by the tactics and by the city’s response to concerns.
“Stop and Frisk, Continued,” New York Times Editorial, April
The Bloomberg administration and its police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, have been disturbingly dismissive of complaints about the city’s program of stops, frisks and arrests that is ensnaring hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each year. Civil rights lawsuits may now force the administration to examine this policy, which has largely focused on minority neighborhoods and has created anger and distrust among black and Hispanic New Yorkers who feel that the police view them as suspects, not citizens.
The latest suit, filed last week by the New York Civil Liberties Union in federal court on behalf of 13 plaintiffs, focuses on private rental buildings whose owners have given the police permission to patrol the halls.
According to the complaint, thousands of residents in buildings enrolled in the Clean Halls program are subject to being stopped and illegally ticketed or arrested for trespassing in their own buildings if they fail to produce identification when they take out the garbage, check the mail, duck out to the store for a quart of milk. Young people growing up in these buildings, lawyers say, are routinely searched without legal cause and detained. The lawsuit, which charges the city with violating the Fourth Amendment and the Federal Fair Housing Act, is similar to one filed two years ago against the New York Police Department and the city’s public housing agency, which is alleged to have employed a similar patrol system.
oversight” By Brian Fishman, New York Daily News, Monday, April 2,
The NYPD essentially asks Americans to trust in their good judgment. That is not good enough in a democracy — particularly because Commissioner Raymond Kelly has shown poor judgment on related issues, especially by appearing in an inflammatory video suggesting that a broad swath of American Muslims are waging an underground war on the United States.
The New York State Legislature showed good sense when it exempted people convicted of low-level marijuana possession from having to submit DNA to the state database, unless they have been convicted of a previous crime. Still, the state must do more to curb the arrests of tens of thousands of people each year in New York City for minor possession of marijuana, despite a 1977 state law that decriminalized it.
State data show that the New York Police Department arrested more than 50,000 people last year for low-level possession, with about 30 percent having no prior arrest record. More than 11,700 of those arrested were 16- to 19-year-olds; nearly half had never been arrested before and 94 percent had no prior convictions.... Civil rights lawyers say that many of those stopped by city police were arrested after officers told them to empty their pockets, which brought the small amount of drugs into view.
The Bronx Defenders, a public defender agency in that borough, reported last week that it had examined the cases of 518 people arrested for low-level possession in 2011 and concluded that 40 percent of them were unlawfully arrested or charged.
Marijuana arrests declined after passage of the 1977 law, but that changed in the 1990s. Between 1997 and 2010, the city arrested 525,000 people for low-level, public-view possession, according to a legislative finding. Lawmakers and civil rights lawyers are rightly outraged that more than 80 percent of those arrested in the city are black and Latino, despite substantial data showing that whites are more likely to use the drug. Bills pending in both the Senate and the Assembly could help reduce the inequity in the law by making public possession of a small amount a violation instead of a misdemeanor.
- A repeated Freedom of Information act suit finally forced the NYPD to reveal a two-year old, 85 page report confirming the charges of police officer Adrian Schoolcraft, as revealed in 2010 in a series of award-winning articles in the Village Voice, by reporter Graham Rayman.
- Reuters reported that more than 100 retired police commanders told researchers that intense pressure for annual crime reductions had led police officials to manipulate statistics.
- In addition to other media, Reuters and the NY Post reported that: "The NYPD kept hidden a report for nearly two years that validated a whistleblower officer's claims -- showing that officers misplaced, misclassified, altered and rejected crime reports in Brooklyn's 81st Precinct." The NYPD completed the report in June 2010 substantiating accusations made by officer Adrian Schoolcraft, but has still not released it.
- The Village Voice reported that the Mayor and the NYPD continued to refuse to answer any questions about this report or about anything having to do with Adrian Schoolcraft and his tape recordings showing routine police abuses and illegal practices by NYPD supervisors and commanders.
- Associated Press reported that members of the FBI openly criticized the NYPD surveillance of Muslims.
- A number of prominent officials expressed serious concern and criticism of the NYPD's surveillance of ordinary Muslim Americans. Among those concerned were U.S. Attorney General, Eric H. Holder Jr; Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Gov. Chris Christie and Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark.
- Associated Press reported that NYPD Infiltrated and spied upon liberal political groups.
- A police officer, "William Eiseman — who had been assigned to train new officers — pleaded guilty to lying to cover up unjustified street stops and seizures and illegally searching cars." His punishment for illegally searching and arresting people, though not for training others to do the same, was 12 weekends in jail.
- Prosecutors in Queens have been intercepting unrepresented suspects on their way to court and directing them into an interrogation room without attorneys. The NYCLU pointed out that this is unconstitutional and unethical.
- Gothamist and other media reported that a NYPD sergeant, a 19-year veteran, reported that police systematically downgraded and misclassified serious crimes to pad crime stats. He tape recorded a conversation with a victim to back up his allegations and showed his commanders. He was then punished.
- 18 months after it began, and nearly a year after it was promised, the NYPD and Commissioner Kelly have not released a report by a panel of former federal prosecutors who studied the integrity of the department’s internal crime-reporting system. In other words, the report about the suppression of crime data has been suppressed.
- The NYCLU filed a federal lawsuit against the NYPD charging that police have made thousands of unjustified stops inside privately owned buildings. Residents of these privately-owned buildings report that "taking the garbage out or checking the mail can result in being thrown against the wall and humiliated by police.”
- The Guardian (UK) and other media reported that data from NY State reveals that the NYPD did not reduce illegal marijuana arrests since Commissioner Kelly's announcement in September. A study from the Bronx Defenders found that illegal arrests increased in the months following Kelly's announcement.
MARCH 2012 EXCERPTS AND LINKS FOR SCANDALS OF THE NYPD
"New York Police Officers Defy Order To Cut Marijuana Arrests: Nearly half of people charged with marijuana posession were reportedly not displaying the drug when they were stopped" By Alice Brennan, The Guardian, March 30 2012
Police officers in New York are "manufacturing" criminal offenses by forcing people with small amounts of marijuana to reveal their drugs, according to a survey by public defenders....
The Bronx Defenders teamed up with attorneys from the law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton to review police records and personal accounts from 517 people arrested for marijuana possession in the borough in the months before and after the Kelly order. According to the survey, the percentage of illegal stop-and-frisks increased from 31% before the order to 44% after the order. Similarly, the percentage of manufactured misdemeanors increased from 33% to 44%. One in three respondents said police had forced them to take the marijuana out of pockets or from under clothes and produce it into public view.
"Welcome To NYC: Cop Accidentally Shot Japanese Tourist" By Ben Yakas, The Gothamist, March 30 2012
Early yesterday morning, it was reported that an NYPD officer accidentally shot a woman in the downstairs Brooklyn apartment where a drug raid had been going on. It turns out that plainclothes narcotics Officer Mosquera Washington had accidentally grazed a 25-year-old Japanese tourist who was sleeping on a couch in the apartment below....
The Wall Street Journal claims that the officer had his gun drawn when he entered the apartment, and it just fired accidentally. The bullet went through the floor and grazed the sleeping tourist in her left arm.
"Data Shows Percentage of Wrongful Marijuana Arrests Rose After Kelly's Order: Bronx Public Defenders" By Ailsa Chang, March 29, 2012
Public defenders in the Bronx said more than 40 percent of the marijuana arrests they investigated in their borough between May and October 2011 show violations of constitutional rights and problems with evidence. Many of these unlawful arrests, defense lawyers said, were made after an internal NYPD order was issued directing all officers to follow the law when making marijuana arrests. Scott Levy, who heads the project, said their data demonstrates Kelly’s order did nothing to change police conduct, at least in the Bronx....
“For our clients, it’s very disheartening to see the disconnect between what they’re seeing reported in the news about the Kelly order and what they’re actually experiencing on a daily basis — the behavior that they actually see from police officers in their neighborhood,” Levy said.
"Ex-Spitzer Adviser on Jury Reportedly Derailed NYPD Rape Case" By Joe Coscarelli, NY Magazine, March 30, 2012
[this is actually a Manhattan DA scandal -- the DA failed to notice a juror who socially knew DA Cyrus Vance and former NY Governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and who then derailed the rape case against a NYPD officer who sexually assaulted a young teacher while on duty.]
NYPD Officer Michael Pena was convicted this week of sexually assaulting a young teacher on her first day of work. And yet an eight-man, four-woman jury could not come to a decision on the rape charges against him, resulting in a mistrial and partial verdict. This, despite the victim's testimony that "it hurt," multiple eyewitness accounts, and Pena's semen in her underwear, led the Daily News to ask on its front page yesterday, "What does a woman have to do to prove she was raped?" Today, the paper reports that three jurors, led by former Eliot Spitzer confidant turned tell-all author Lloyd Constatine, focused "on really odd points" during deliberations, like the victim's inability to recall the color of a car near where she was attacked. "If she doesn't remember these details," one juror said, "how does she know she was penetrated."
"Who Is On The Secret NYPD Press Email List?" By Jake Dobkin, The Gothamist, March 29 2012
The NYPD's Department of Public Information (DCPI) accidentally CC'd their entire email list on a routine press release. Normally this list of about 230 email addresses is BCC'd. This list is very interesting, because it tells who the NYPD is informing about major crimes— a who's who list of the "credentialed" NYC media establishment. This is not an easy list to get on. Even after we received our Press Passes, it took Gothamist more than a month of daily phone calls (and a few requests by our lawyer) before we were added. The NYPD wouldn't tell our lawyer, Norman Siegel, what the precise qualifications for being on the list were, and still hasn't— that's something Norman has been discussing with them for the last several weeks. Coincidentally, this is also the same information that we'd requested with a Freedom of Information Act request a few months ago. The NYPD said they'd let us know about that... in July.
"Trayvon Martin and the NYPD's Stop-and-Frisk Fixation" By Dan Collins, Huffington Post, March 29 2012
You don't have to be a die-hard [Police Commissioner]
Kelly critic to feel that this would be a good time to put in his
papers, accept the accolades for crime and terror-fighting that he's
bound to receive, and move on. People who stay in difficult,
high-responsibility jobs for a long time tend to acquire critics at
a faster rate than new friends. It's harder and harder for them to
give up tactics that they feel have worked well in the past. They
run out of new tricks. It's not something that's unique to the
police chief. His boss, Michael Bloomberg, is in the same zone. But
having a police commissioner who's been in the job too long is in
some ways more dangerous for the city than having a mayor who's
overdue for a change. I don't know exactly what to do about the
stop-and-frisk controversy. I just know that Kelly's not the guy to
In 2011, there were 50,684 marijuana possession arrests, the top arrest in New York City and second highest number of marijuana arrests in City history, despite a directive issued to police officers by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly last year, ordering them to end such arrests.... "For a mayor who celebrates diversity as a key staple of the city, he sure has a horrible way of demonstrating his appreciation for certain communities in our City," said Kassandra Frederique, policy coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance. "Black and Latino New Yorkers cannot walk down the street without fear of being stopped, frisked, illegally searched, and then falsely charged and arrested for something that was decriminalized over 30 years ago. This is costing us millions of dollars as taxpayers. It's an insult, and must end now."
"New York Police Dept. Is Sued Over Stops in Private Buildings" By Al Baker, New York Times, March 28, 2012
A civil rights group [the New York Civil LIberties Union] filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday accusing the New York Police Department of illegally stopping tens of thousands of people in privately owned buildings across the city.... Police officers routinely arrest people on criminal-trespass charges with no justification, the suit says, creating what some residents describe as a police state in which they feel compelled to carry identification while performing mundane tasks like picking up mail or doing laundry.
And the practice has isolated many residents because
friends and relatives are leery of visiting for fear of being
stopped by the police, the suit says. The latest suit, filed on
behalf of 13 plaintiffs by the New York Civil Liberties Union in
Manhattan Federal Court, claims that residents and their guests are
subject to arbitrary enforcement practices that violate
antidiscrimination provisions of the federal Fair Housing Act, as
well as their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search
Abdullah Turner, 24, was arrested on a trespassing charge as he waited on the sidewalk outside a building in the Bronx where a friend had stopped to drop off a sweater, the suit said. He never entered the lobby, the suit says. “I don’t come out at night — not because I’m afraid of getting hurt, but because of the police,” Fawn Bracy, 50, a plaintiff and a resident of the Bronx, said on Wednesday at a news conference in Manhattan.
“NYCLU Sues Over NYPD Program That Allows Cops To Stop Tenants Inside Buildings" By Joe Kemp, New York Daily News, March 28, 2012
A civil rights group filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the NYPD, claiming cops have made thousands of unjustified stops inside privately owned buildings. The class-action suit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union in Manhattan Federal District Court claims that many residents feel under seige by cops enforcing Operation Clean Halls.
The 20-year-old program — which includes a written agreement between cops and the landlords of about 16,000 buildings in the city — allows officers to enter and stop individuals who appear suspicious.... But several residents say the invitation inside has led to many officers harassing them while getting the mail, doing laundry or even making a run to the store. “For residents of Clean Halls buildings, taking the garbage out or checking the mail can result in being thrown against the wall and humiliated by police,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU.
“I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched the police throw my son and his friends against the wall,” said Fawn Bracy, 51, who shares her E. 163rd St. apartment in the Bronx with her 17-year-old son. “They can’t even go out to play basketball without being harassed by the police.”Bracy said her friends and family quit visiting her over a year ago, because they are often stopped by police and accused of trespassing.The lawsuit demands the NYPD change itspolicies to reduce the number of unjustified stops and arrests, along with awarding compensatory damages to several residents.
"NYPD Cop Arrested For Beating Man Into Coma At Inwood Nightclub" By Kirstan Conley, New York Post, March 28, 2012
An NYPD cop has been arrested for viciously beating a man into a coma at a troubled Inwood nightclub, police said. The Internal Affairs Bureau arrested rookie Ariel Frias, 27, this morning on misdemeanor assault charges in the Jan. 8, off-duty beating of Edwin Veloz at Mamajuana Café on Dyckman Street. The beating left Veloz with brain damage, court records show.... Dramatic video allegedly shows the cop and a pal punching the victim out cold.
"CCRB Gets [Limited] Power To Actually Prosecute NYPD Officers" By John Del Signore, The Gothamist, March 28, 2012
According to the Citizens Union, from 2002 to 2010, the CCRB [Civilian Complaint Review Board] recommended that 2,078 officers receive the most severe penalty, but that recommended punishment was given to only 151 officers....
The Civilian Complaint Review Board [CCRB] has been given the power to prosecute NYPD officers suspected of wrongdoing, according to an agreement reached by the City Council, the Mayor, and the NYPD Commissioner....
CCRB's incisors still aren't razor sharp. According to the City Council, the Police Commissioner will still have the power "to remove CCRB’s authority to prosecute such cases".... The CCRB must now establish a unit of qualified and experienced attorneys and support staff; funding for that will be taken up at the next City Council meeting.
"Activists Decry NYPD Monitoring Of Liberal Political Groups" By Tom Hays, Associated Press, March 28 2012
NEW YORK -- A coalition of politicians and civil rights activists criticized the New York Police Department on Wednesday for monitoring political groups that they say pose no threat to New Yorkers.... "We need some checks on the police department," said City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who has called for the federal government to monitor the department....
The NYPD's Intelligence Division has been the subject of a series of Associated Press articles that illustrated how the department monitored Muslim neighborhoods, catalogued people who prayed at mosques and eavesdropped on sermons around the city and beyond.
Documents obtained by the AP show that the unit also kept close watch on political groups with no links to criminal activity. One document reveals that in 2008, an undercover NYPD officer traveled to New Orleans to attend the People's Summit, a gathering of liberal groups organized around their shared opposition to U.S. economic policy and the effect of trade agreements between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
“NYPD Sergeant Says Police Manipulated Crime Stats In Queens (with Video) ”By Christopher Robbins, March 26, 2012
An NYPD sergeant and 19-year veteran of the force says that cops systematically downgraded and misclassified serious crimes in Queens' 100th Precinct to pad crime stats, then transferred him to a graveyard shift in retaliation. "I just couldn't take it anymore," Sergeant Robert Borrelli told ABC of the pressure to manipulate crime statistics. "There came a point I finally broke and I'm like, you know, this has to stop." Sergeant Borrelli turned in hundreds of incident reports from the Precinct in the Rockaways to the NYPD's quality assurance bureau, and was told that only four of them were misclassified, and all due to "typical administrative errors"....
Borrelli taped a conversation with a crime victim, who
tells him she was urged to rush through the act of filling out a
police report — "keep it short and sweet,"— and also a conversation
with quality assurance officer who assure him that there was in
fact, egregious misclassifications. A police source tells the Post
that Borrelli's instance on accurate record-keeping is likely
responsible for the 100th Precinct's 144% jump in burglaries, 66%
rise in felony assaults, and 31% increase in robberies. “You could
correlate when he started looking at the [complaints] to the
increase in crime in this precinct."
“Whistleblower NYPD Cop Robert Borrelli Claims He Has Proof of Bogus Crime Statistics. Sergeant taped conversation with theft victim to back up his allegations” By Rocco Parascandola, New York Daily News, March 26, 2012
An NYPD sergeant who complained his precinct was fudging crime statistics taped a conversation with a victim to back up his allegations. A Queens woman who reported her ex-boyfriend stole two flat-screen TVs told Sgt. Robert Borrelli that officers urged her not to write down what was taken.... Borrelli has told internal investigators that supervisors at the 100th Precinct cooked the books by classifying felonies as misdemeanors that wouldn’t affect the command's crime rate....In addition to the conversation with the waitress ripped off by her ex, Borrelli recorded conversations with investigators from the Quality Assurance Division in which he reported that crimes were not being documented.
“Gothamist Guide: How To Really Get An NYPD Press Pass” By Jake Dobkin, The Gothamist, March 26, 2012
Gothamist had to work tirelessly for nearly eight years to obtain official NYPD-issued press credentials. During that time, we learned a few things that might come in handy if you have to go through the process.
“Cop: I Was Punished For Blowing Whistle On Crime Stats” By Rocco Parascandola, New York Daily News, March 25, 2012
An NYPD whistleblower says he’s been transferred to the graveyard shift at Bronx Central Booking in retaliation for raising red flags about crime reports at his old Queens precinct.
Sgt. Robert Borrelli told internal investigators that cops in the 100th Precinct in the Rockaways routinely downgraded crimes to keep the crime rate artificially low — and turned over the shady paperwork as proof.
The department’s Quality Assurance Division opened a probe last May, sources said, and already upgraded some of the crimes from misdemeanors to felonies — a development that Borrelli says earned him the unwanted transfer and shunning from fellow brothers in blue....
Borrelli told Quality Assurance Division investigators
that the crime report shenanigans flourished under now-retired
Deputy Inspector Thomas Barrett and continued under current precinct
commander Capt. Scott Olexa. “There is this constant pressure to
change crime reports,” Borrelli told the Daily News. “The numbers
are what the numbers are. I’m not going to change a report to make
it something it is not. “It’s wrong, and it has to stop.”
“After Detective’s Firing, Tensions Linger in Bell Case” By Al Baker, NY Times March 25, 2012
The dismissal of the undercover detective who fired the first of the 50 police bullets when Sean Bell was killed more than five years ago may close the final chapter of that drawn-out story.
But on the Queens streets near the site of Mr. Bell’s shooting, residents expressed anger, and resentments that remain unresolved. Some said it had taken far too long for the New York Police Department to punish the detective, Gescard F. Isnora. Others [observed that] ... the dismissal came just as the killing of a black teenager in Florida was stirring memories of the Bell case... [Police Commissioner] Kelly decided to accept the recommendation of an administrative judge who presides over police disciplinary cases that Detective Isnora be terminated, and he forced the retirements of three other officers who were involved in the shooting of Mr. Bell, 23, outside a club on Nov. 25, 2006, his wedding day.
On the blocks in Jamaica, Queens, near where Mr. Bell died, there was no shortage of opinions about Mr. Kelly’s decision. “It’s long overdue,” said Reina Alvarez, 30, a teacher from Rosedale. “It took too long for those guys to lose their jobs.” Rodney Travis, 31, who lives two blocks from where the shooting occurred, asked: “Why now? I don’t get it. It takes so long to get justice?”
Mr. Travis, a nurse’s aide, said that he did not think the police had changed their tactics since the Bell shooting, and that officers stop and frisk a lot of local residents. “I lived in this neighborhood a long time and there’s a lot of harassment,” Mr. Travis said. “It’s a regular thing over here. It’s not easy living in a neighborhood like this.”
Marion Spady, 45, a carpenter sitting outside a deli on Sutphin Boulevard, said that in light of the killing of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch member in Sanford, Fla., Mr. Kelly’s announcement was timed to “soothe people’s minds.” “A lot of people out here feel the New York City police force is overstepping their boundary with a lot of us; Sean Bell; frisking,” Mr. Spady said. “They did this to try and get the media off them.”
“Sean Bell killing: NYPD forces out four officers” By Dalina Castellanos, LA Times, March 25, 2012
More than five years have passed since New York police officers rained 50 bullets upon Sean Bell and two friends the day before Bell's wedding, killing the would-be bridegroom.
On Friday, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly fired Det. Gescard Isnora and fellow detectives Marc Cooper and Michael Oliver, and Lt. Gary Napoli will resign, after a department administrative trial that found they acted improperly that night in November 2006, the Associated Press reported.
“Young White Men Say Stop & Frisk Targets” By Simone Weichselbaum, New York Daily News, March 24, 2012
The 90th Precinct ranked fifth on the New York Civil Liberties Union’s top-10 list of precincts where the NYPD stopped, questioned — and sometimes frisked — the most in 2011. The NYCLU broke down the 17,566 stops by race, finding that whites in Williamsburg made up 10% of the [stop and frisk] reports.... The latest U.S. Census figures showed that whites make up about 59% of the 90th Precinct....
NYCLU stats showed that 88% of the Williamsburg stops involved blacks and Latinos.
“Protesters Speak Out Against NYPD Tactics At OWS Rally (Video)” By Lindsey Christ, NY 1 March 24, 2012
“Occupy Wall Street Demonstrators March To Protest Against Police Violence. Hundreds of demonstrators march from Zuccotti Park to Union Square chanting anti-police slogans” By Ryan Devereaux, The Guardian, March 24, 2012
Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators marched to protest against police violence and demand the resignation of New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly on Saturday afternoon.... One protester appeared to suffer an injured ankle and a plainclothes officer was seen blocking the camera of a New York Times photographer as he attempted to document an arrest....By early evening, there had been 14 arrests.
City councilman Jumaane Williams, a supporter of the
Occupy movement, was on hand for the march and attempted to
de-escalate confrontations between police and the protesters. "My
primary job is to make sure everybody's rights are protected and
nobody is harmed," Williams said. "I think we're seeing the
frustration and anger raised on both sides, the protesters and the
police and I blame that squarely on the mayor and the commissioner,"
he added. "They refuse to address the issues that we're trying to
discuss. They refuse to acknowledge there's a problem with the
culture within the NYPD."
"Family Of Ramarley Graham, Unarmed Black Teen Killed By NYPD, Rallies For Justice In The Bronx" (PHOTOS), By Huffinton Post, March 23, 2012
The family of Ramarley Graham, the unarmed Bronx 18-year-old shot and killed by an NYPD officer in February, says they will hold rallies and marches every Thursday for 18 weeks to demand justice, CBS reports....
Security footage from the February incident shows
Ramarley Graham entering his grandmother's home and police following
him shortly thereafter. Cops said they had witnessed Graham
participate in a drug deal and thought he had a gun. They illegally
entered the home without a search warrant.
Many have attributed Ramarley's death to the NYPD's aggressive "stop-and-frisk" progam, which disproportionately targets low-income minority neighborhoods, and to the NYPD's penchant for arresting low-level marijuana offenders. In 2011, the NYPD stopped and frisked more than 500,000 New Yorkers, 87 percent of them black or Latino.
“NYPD Infiltrated Liberal Political Groups, According To New Documents” By Associated Press, March 23, 2012
Undercover NYPD officers attended meetings of liberal political organizations and kept intelligence files on activists who planned protests around the country, according to interviews and documents that show how police have used counterterrorism tactics to monitor even lawful activities… In April 2008, an undercover NYPD officer traveled to New Orleans to attend the People's Summit, a gathering of liberal groups organized around their shared opposition to U.S. economic policy and the effect of trade agreements between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
“Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer Among Those Blasting NYPD For Providing 'Muddled' Data On Cop Stops. Outcry comes in response to NYCLU report listing nabes where controversial practice is widely used” By Simone Wechselbaum, NY Daily News, March 22, 2012
“The data doesn’t back up the rhyme or reason to random stop and frisk,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, whose borough counted one precinct on the NYCLU list. “We want the stops to be constitutional,” Stringer said. “We don’t want one group being targeted.”
"High-Ranking Police Officer Clashes With Demonstrators" By Al Baker And Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, March 22, 2012
Baton in hand, he was part of a group of New York City police officers seen in a video patrolling a recent Occupy Wall Street protest. The only visible sign of his true identity was his age - his weathered, mustached face was much older than those of most beat officers. A dark, heavy jacket hid the four gold stars on his uniform, and the nameplate pinned to his white commander's shirt read Esposito - as in Chief of Department Joseph J. Esposito, the highest uniformed ranking officer in the city's Police Department. Chief Esposito was jabbing protesters with a baton and yelling at them to stay on the sidewalk.
In the video, posted on the Web site of The New York Daily News on Wednesday, Chief Esposito is seen jabbing two protesters in a span of a few seconds, while shouting orders at them (in the recording, he appears four segments in, at 1:19). First, using his baton, he pushes a young man wearing a baseball cap. That young man throws a glance his way, but follows the orders. According to The Daily News, the video came from a protest on Saturday, along Dey Street in Lower Manhattan.
Chief Esposito then moves on to another protester: A man dressed in a hooded jacket adorned with metal studs whose face is not visible. The chief, holding his baton at both ends, delivers a blow at shoulder level, knocking him back. When the man lurches forward, the chief delivers what appears to be a more aggressive second blow, aiming up and striking the man high on the shoulders, and possibly the face, as his head jerks back from the force. ''On the sidewalk,'' Chief Esposito yells repeatedly.
Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman, told The Daily News that ''the video speaks for itself.'' Mr. Browne did not immediately respond to questions from The New York Times about the encounter or about the chief's conduct and his prominent role at the protest.
“As NYPD’s Mission Widens, So Does Its Rift With FBI, Sometimes With Security Consequences” By Associated Press, March 21, 2012
The relationship between the FBI and the NYPD — particularly the NYPD Intelligence Division — is among the most studied collaborations in all law enforcement. In the New York media, the fighting and personalities are frequently covered like a dysfunctional celebrity marriage, with perceived betrayal and reconciliation spilling into the news.
The dispute is not trivial. At its core, it is based on fundamental disagreements between the nation's largest police force and the nation's premier counterterrorism agency. As the NYPD has transformed itself into one of the nation's most aggressive intelligence agencies and has spied on Muslims in ways that would be prohibited for the FBI, the rift has widened.
The result is that, in America's largest city, the NYPD and FBI are at times working at cross-purposes. Documents show that the NYPD conducted surveillance on mosques outside its jurisdiction, recording license plates of worshippers as they came and went. On its own, the NYPD has tried its hand at counterintelligence, the clandestine world that within the United States is run by the FBI under a presidential order....
The FBI, for example, says it was neither involved with nor aware of a 2007 NYPD intelligence operation that photographed and catalogued every mosque in Newark, N.J., and eavesdropped inside Muslim-owned businesses there. The FBI also did not know that the NYPD was in Paterson, N.J., collecting license plates outside a mosque and taking pictures as people arrived for Friday prayers. "They think their jurisdiction is the world. Their jurisdiction is New York City," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the state's former top federal prosecutor, said recently. "My concern is this kind of obsession that the NYPD seems to have that they're the masters of the universe."
"NYCLU Rips Grilling of Repless Susps in Qns [suspects without lawyers].” By Thomas Zambito, New York Daily News, March 20, 2012
“Any program where legally trained prosecutors intercept unrepresented suspects on their way to court and direct them into an interrogation room is unconstitutional and unethical,” said NYCLU lawyer Taylor Pendergrass. “The program should be ended immediately.”
“Occupy Wall Street Marchers Demand Police Commissioner's Resignation At NYPD Headquarters” By NY1 News, March 20, 2012
After police arrested dozens of Occupy Wall Street participants over the weekend, protestors marched to New York City Police Department headquarters today to demand the resignation of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "On Saturday night, as I simply sat in a park, I was violently arrested with my friends and watched as blood-thirsty cops stomped on their faces, knelt on their necks, pulled them by their hair and slammed them into windows," said Occupy Wall Street protestor Jen Waller.
“Top 10 Spots Where Cops Have Stopped, Questioned, And Frisked: New York Civil Liberties Union analyzes NYPD data” By Simone Weichselbaum, NY Daily News, March 19, 2012
Cops flooded high-crime city neighborhoods last year in Brooklyn and Uptown stopping and questioning hundreds of thousands of people - but gentrifying communities were also hammered with the controversial policing practice. The New York Civil Liberties Union gave The News an early look into its upcoming report analyzing NYPD’s stop and frisk program -- boiling down the department’s 2011 684,000 stops to the top ten precincts where the policy is used the most.
“Watch Ray Kelly And City Councilmember Lock Horns” By John Del Signore, The Gothamist, March 16, 2012
Remember that "heated" and "combative" City Council meeting with Ray Kelly we told you about? Now there's video, thanks to Azi Paybarah at Capital New York. The video, which might as well be titled "Ray Kelly Being A D*ck," shows that tense moment in yesterday's hearing where Kelly refused to answer Councilmember Robert Jackson's question about NYPD spokesman Paul Browne's credibility. In case you can't make it out, Kelly's initial response is to mutter "I won't even bother."
"For Detained Whistle-Blower, a Hospital Bill, Not an Apology" By Jim Dwyer, New York Times, March 15, 2012
It was not until 6 in the morning on Nov. 1, 2009, that
Officer Adrian Schoolcraft finally had access to a telephone. The
night before, he had been brought to the psychiatric emergency room
at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center on the orders of his police
"At City Council Hearing, Police Commissioner Fights Back" By Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, March 15, 2012
For the last few weeks and months, Raymond W. Kelly, the police commissioner of New York, had taken his lumps over various issues, from his department’s handling of Occupy Wall Street to its surveillance practices and its reliance on stop-and-frisk tactics.... Mr. Kelly rebuked Councilman Jumaane Williams, who has accused the Police Department of racial profiling. Mr. Kelly suggested that it was he, and not the elected officials before him, who best represented the hope of the city’s African-American clergy who are concerned about seemingly intractable violence.
Mr. Williams has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of the street-stop policies, which are being challenged in court. And at one point, Mr. Williams disputed the commissioner’s contention that the stop-and-frisks were succeeding in their stated purpose of intercepting armed criminals and discouraging people from carrying guns.... When Mr. Williams cited the results of a recent gun buyback program in his district — in which the authorities pay cash for guns with the tacit understanding that participants will not be prosecuted for possessing them — Mr. Kelly seemed slightly disdainful of the efficacy of such buybacks, even though they are a stalwart of the department’s gun-control strategy, and Mr. Kelly had earlier during his testimony cited such programs as successes.
“NYPD Stop-And-Frisk: NYC Councilmen Peter Vallone And Jumaane Williams Debate The Pros And Cons” By Christopher Mathias, The Huffington Post, March 14, 2012
New Yorkers are divided on the issue of NYPD stop-and-frisks. An effective tool in curbing crime and keeping guns off the streets? Or an invasion of civil liberties that disproportionately targets minorities? A new Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday shows 49 percent percent of New York voters disapproving of the practice, with 46 percent approving. Broken down by race, white voters approve 59 - 36 percent, while disapproval is 68 - 27 percent among black voters and 52 - 43 percent among Hispanic voters … Below Councilman Williams argues against NYPD's current use of stop-and-frisks, while Councilman Vallone -- who, it should be noted, is the Chair of the City Council's Public Safety Committee -- defends it.
“An Officer Had Backup: Secret Tapes” By Jim Dwyer, New York Times, March 13, 2012
One night in October 2009, a team of police officers,
led by a deputy chief, raided the home of a police officer named
Adrian Schoolcraft, and dragged him out of his bed and to the
psychiatric emergency room at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. He
was held for six days in a locked ward. No judge was involved. There
was no hearing. The decision to take him to the hospital was made
solely by armed men who happened to be his superior officers in the
Police Department with a vested interest in shutting him up.
“Poll: Most New Yorkers Say Muslims Treated Fairly” By Chris Hawley, Associated Press, March 13, 2012
The poll showed New Yorkers are more divided about the
policy of "stop-and-frisk," in which police can stop and question
people exhibiting suspicious behavior, such as moving furtively or
acting like lookouts. Of the 684,330 street stops last year, 87
percent of those targeted were black or Hispanic. The poll found
that 46 percent of New Yorkers approve of stop-and-frisk, while 49
“Bronx DA’s office convenes grand jury over cops shooting unarmed teen Ramarley Graham. Will determine whether to bring criminal charges” By Kevin Deutsch, New York Daily News, March 13, 2012
The Bronx district attorney's office has convened a grand jury to weigh possible criminal charges against cops involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen, sources said. Ramarley Graham was killed by Officer Richard Haste in his parent's Williamsbridge apartment Feb. 2 after cops thought they spotted him with a gun and chased him there. After bursting into the apartment, Haste confronted the teen in the bathroom and fired the fatal shot as Graham's grandmother and 6-year-old brother looked on.
Only a bag of marijuana was found near Graham's body.
“NYPD Treating Protesters Like Muslims” By Joe Coscarelli, New York Times, March 12, 2012
It's no longer a secret that Muslims anywhere near New York City have been extensively tracked and cataloged by the NYPD, whether or not they pose a threat to security. Today, the New York Times reports that Occupy Wall Street protesters ... are being treated in much the same way, at least according to their lawyers. "Not only are the police disrupting people's rights to free expression," said an attorney for a group of demonstrators who were arrested — but not prosecuted — while buying coffee on a planned "day of action" last year. "They are taking preemptive steps by arresting people who might be just thinking about exercising their rights."
“A Crack in the FBI's Wall of Silence” By Len Levitt, Huffington Post, March 12, 2012
The New Jersey FBI head who publicly criticized the NYPD's widespread spying on Newark's Muslims had the green light from FBI headquarters for a rare rebuke of NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, sources said.... "They didn't say, 'Don't do it.' They could easily have stopped it," said one of his former Bureau colleagues.
At a news conference last week, Ward said that the NYPD's spying on Muslim businesses and mosques has damaged relations between the FBI and Newark's Muslims, making it more difficult to protect the public. "There's no correlation between the location of houses of worship and minority-owned businesses and counterterrorism" work, Ward said. By generating distrust, the NYPD operation created "more risk," he said.
“NYPD Report Confirms Manipulation of Crime Stats” By Chris Francescani, Reuters, March 9, 2012
A New York Police Department whistleblower's report that his precinct was systematically underreporting crime - an act that resulted in a suspension and time in a psychiatric ward - has been validated by an internal department investigation. The report, completed in 2010 but not made public, comes amid growing scrutiny of the NYPD and its declining crime statistics. Those stats have helped build a narrative that New York City has become, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg likes to say, "the safest big city in America."
In September of 2009, Officer Adrian Schoolcraft of the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn met confidentially with NYPD investigators and provided evidence - including secret audio recordings he had made - that more than a dozen crime reports had been manipulated. He charged felonies had been downgraded, crime reports taken were never filed, and in still other cases, crime victims were discouraged from filing complaints at all. Weeks later, on Halloween night, he was taken from his apartment in handcuffs to the psychiatric ward of Jamaica Hospital, where he claimed he was held against his will for six days....
Reuters has viewed a copy of the internal NYPD report, which determined there was a "concerted effort to deliberately underreport crime in the 81st Precinct".... "When viewed in their totality," investigators wrote in the internal report, "a disturbing pattern is prevalent and gives credence to the allegation that crimes are being improperly reported in order to avoid index-crime classifications"....
Schoolcraft's allegations, along with similar charges in the past year from other officers at other precincts, as well as police union officials and former cops, have ratcheted up the pressure on NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly to address what many current and former cops say is an open secret within the department: crime statistics are being manipulated.
"This is absolutely unconscionable," said retired NYPD Captain John Eterno, co-author of "The Crime Numbers Game: Management by Manipulation," a critical look at the NYPD's widely replicated "CompStat" program.
"This is the underbelly of the program: the (crime) numbers are being gamed, plain and simple, and the numbers are being gamed because the (police district) commanders are under tremendous pressure to make the numbers look good. This is happening all over the city," Eterno said.
Eterno and co-author Eli Silverman surveyed 400 retired NYPD captains during the research for their book. More than 100 said they were "aware of manipulation that was unethical," he said.
“NYPD Officer Guilty of Lying About Drug, Gun Bust” By Jennifer Peltz, Associated Press, March 8, 2012
In June, Eiseman — who had been assigned to train new
officers — pleaded guilty to lying to cover up unjustified street
stops and seizures and illegally searching cars. Besides the
fake claim about how the officers learned about the guns and drugs
in the August 2007 incident, Eiseman pretended he'd smelled
marijuana smoke to justify stopping that man in the first place,
prosecutors said. He also admitted to fabrications in two other
“No Word Yet on Review of Police’s Crime-Tracking System” By Al Baker, New York Times, March 8, 2012
It has been 14 months since Police Commissioner Raymond
W. Kelly, in January 2011, appointed a panel of former federal
prosecutors to study the integrity of the department’s internal
crime-reporting system. Many people wonder when the Crime Reporting
Review Panel will issue its findings, or even if it already has and
the commissioner has not disclosed them.
“Holder Disturbed by Reports on New York Police Surveillance of New Jersey Muslims”, By Al Baker, New York Times, March 8, 2012
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Thursday that he found “disturbing’’ recent disclosures about the New York Police Department’s surveillance of Muslim communities in New Jersey. Mr. Holder’s remarks are the strongest comments to date from the federal Justice Department about the Police Department’s counterterrorism programs, which have generated increasing controversy and criticism, including from the governor of New Jersey and the head of the Newark office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, said
during the hearing that Gov. Chris Christie and Mayor Cory A. Booker
of Newark were each apparently unaware of the monitoring efforts in
New Jersey being carried out by New York City police officers.
“Attorney General (AG) disturbed by NYPD Muslim spying program in NJ”, Associated Press, March 8, 2012
Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday he's disturbed by what he's read about the New York Police Department conducting surveillance of mosques and Islamic student organizations in New Jersey. Holder said the Justice Department is reviewing the matter, including letters from New Jersey officials complaining that they were kept in the dark about the surveillance.
The attorney general's remarks came at a subcommittee hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee when asked by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., how one law enforcement agency could spy on another state's residents without notifying authorities. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker were apparently "unaware of this large-scale investigation," Lautenberg said.... "At least what I've read publicly, and again, just what I've read in the newspapers, is disturbing," Holder said. "And these are things that are under review at the Justice Department."
The New York police monitored Muslims in New Jersey at businesses and their mosques in a surveillance operation that was disclosed recently by The Associated Press in a series of news stories.
Religious leaders of different faiths are joining with New Jersey Muslims in demanding reassurance from authorities that no one is being spied on because of their faith. At an event in Jersey City featuring mosque, synagogue and church leaders Thursday, several speakers expressed solidarity with Muslims who felt that reports of the New York Police Department conducting surveillance of mosques and Muslim student groups in New Jersey and elsewhere had crossed the line beyond acceptable counter-terrorism methods.
“Nightclub Owners Sue NYPD Over Padlocking Businesses Under Nuisance Law, Say Cops Abuse Statute To Shut Them Down” By Barbara Ross, Daily News, March 8, 2012
Angry Hispanic nightclub and restaurant owners say the NYPD is harassing them and filed a federal lawsuit Thursday to get the cops off their backs. Railing against “Padlock Kelly” and holding up banners that read “Latinos Are Americans Too,” about 100 demonstrators staged a noisy protest outside police headquarters to send a message to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly....
The NYPD targets Hispanic business owners because they are “the most vulnerable” and ignores underage drinking that goes on in richer neighborhoods of the city, Mateo charged. “You don’t go to Fifth Ave. in Manhattan and padlock. You don’t do it on Park Ave.,” said state Sen. Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn.) “You shouldn’t do it in Washington Heights.”...
Caesar Brito, who owns the Luna Nightclub on Webster Ave. in the Bronx, said cops raided him last October without warning. They “threw everybody out,” he said. “There were 74 people there who had paid to be at a party. We had a big band performing." Brito said it took him three weeks, a lawsuit against the city, and $20,000 in legal fees before he could reopen. Ultimately the only violation that stood up was that his public assembly permit had expired, he said.
“NYPD, Mayor's Office Bizarrely Mum On NYPD Tapes Revelations” By Graham Rayman, Village Voice, March 8, 2012
Well, so far, two days after the Voice disclosed the results of a secret NYPD investigation which vindicated Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft's allegations about the downgrading of crimes, the NYPD has been officially silent, but for one brief comment from its spokesman. The mayor's office hasn't said a word either.
Thus far, the extent of what the NYPD has said is
contained in a single paragraph in a New York Daily News article
from Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the department spokesman.
There's a serious 'through the looking glass' element to his
remarks: Browne told the News "it is not unusual for internal
reports to stay private. He also said the report, prepared by the
Quality Assurance Division, shows Schoolcraft's accusations were
“2010 NYPD Investigation Validates Whistleblower Officer's Claims About Underreported crimes” New York Post Staff Writers, March 8, 2012
The NYPD kept hidden a report for nearly two years that validated a whistleblower officer's claims -- showing that officers misplaced, misclassified, altered and rejected crime reports in Brooklyn's 81st Precinct, according to a new report. NYPD completed a report by June 2010 addressing accusations made by officer Adrian Schoolcraft, the Village Voice reports. The previous year, Schoolcraft argued that the Bed Stuy precinct's cops were pressured to lower the number of reported serious index crimes -- such as robberies, assaults and auto theft. He's been suspended without pay for 27 months and forced to undergo psychiatric evaluation.
According to the Village Voice, the 95-page report investigators uncovered "a disturbing pattern ... incidative of a concerted effort to deliberately underreport crimes in the 81st Precinct." Police sources told The Village Voice that investigators found similar practices being carried out in other precincts. An NYPD spokesman did not respond to The Village Voice report.
“NYPD Cops Who Beat Jateik Reed Not Being Investigated By Bronx DA; Charges Against Reed Dropped (VIDEO)” Huffington Post, March 8, 2012
[Video of several NYPD officers beating a man (Jateik Reed) with sticks and feet]
Bronx DA Johnson's office had refused to conduct an investigation of the officers unless Reed agreed to forfeit some basic rights. Reed's attorney, Gideon Oliver, explained to Gothamist why he advised his client against this:
“Telling the Truth Like Crazy” By Jim Dwyer, New York Times, March 8, 2012
One summer day in 2009, a woman walked into the police
station house of the 81st Precinct, in Brooklyn, to report that her
car had been stolen. She was well into her second day of trying to
file a report, having already spoken to five or more officers in two
precincts and was waiting, exasperated, for a lieutenant to turn up
as he had promised.
“Get A McDonald's Happy Meal For Every Third Stop And Frisk! (Wink!)” Gothamist, March 6, 2012
In an obvious parody that we really wish was real, a website claiming to be affiliated with McDonald's and the NYPD is promising a free Happy Meal for every person who is stopped and frisked three times without charges.
- In 2011 the NYPD made a record 684,330 recorded stop and frisks, a 14% increase over 2010. More than 99.9% of the stops did not find a gun.
- In 2011, the NYPD made 50,860 lowest-level marijuana possession arrests, more than in any year in over a decade, more than NY City made in total from 1978 through 1996, and more than for any other crime whatsoever.
- In 2011, one out of seven arrests in NYC was for lowest-level marijuana possession. 86% of the people arrested were blacks and Latinos, even though young blacks and Latinos use marijuana at lower rates than young whites. The NYPD arrests blacks for marijuana possession at 7 times the rate of whites.
- The NY Daily News reported that a police Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit (SNEU) shot and killed Ramarley Graham, 19, in the bathroom of his home. They broke into his apartment because one officer believed he had seen a suspicious bulge when Graham was on the street. The teenager had only a small bag of marijuana. Numerous commentary linked the killing to the NYPD's marijuana possession arrest crusade.
- A federal court ordered NY City to pay $15 million for illegally arresting people on false anti-loitering charges
- Members of the NY State legislature actively discussed legislation to monitor, investigate and police the NYPD because it has shown repeatedly that it is unable to regulate itself.
- Associated Press reported in a multi-part series that for years the NYPD has been conducting surveillance operations on Muslim students in several states and at numerous college and universities.
- CBS news and other media reported that officer Craig Matthews, a 14-year veteran, revealed that Bronx police precincts have enforced "a strict quota system that requires officers to produce a minimum number of arrests, summonses and street stops each month."
- The NY Daily News reported that the NYPD arrests 5 public students a day, 94% of them black or Latino, and that black students were 6 times more likely to be arrested than white students.
- 30 organization have united under the name Communities United for Police Reform, or CPR, to more effectively challenge the NYPD stop and frisks and other racially-biased policies, and to work for greater civilian oversight and control of the police department. The police department has said this is not necessary.
- Four police officers were accused of drinking on the job and sexually assaulting a waitress in Washington Heights. An attorney for one officer said his client did not assault the waitress, but admitted that the officer did take her panties.
- Associated Press reported that the US Attorney General announced that he is to begin an investigation of the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims -- a practice not permitted under federal law.
FEBRUARY 2012 EXCERPTS AND LINKS FOR SCANDALS OF THE NYPD
"Attorney General: Review Beginning in NYPD Muslim Spying Case," By J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press and USA Today, Feb 29, 2012
Months after receiving complaints about the New York Police Department's surveillance of entire American Muslim neighborhoods, the Justice Department is just beginning a review to decide whether to investigate civil rights violations. The announcement bothered some Democrats, who said they were under the impression the Justice Department had been reviewing the matter since last late last year.
Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that the NYPD has built databases pinpointing where Muslims live, where they buy groceries, what Internet cafes they use and where they watch sports. Dozens of mosques and student groups have been infiltrated, and police have built detailed profiles of Moroccans, Egyptians, Albanians and other local ethnic groups. The NYPD surveillance extended outside New York City to neighboring New Jersey and Long Island and colleges across the Northeast.
Holder told Congress that police seeking to monitor activities by citizens "should only do so when there is a basis to believe that something inappropriate is occurring or potentially could occur." ... Holder did not suggest that a Justice Department investigation of the NYPD was imminent.... That surprised Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., one of the first lawmakers to ask the Justice Department to scrutinize the NYPD's operations. "They very definitely gave me the sense that they were farther along in their investigation than just reviewing some mail," Holt said....
The AP has reported that some of the NYPD's activities — such as its 2006 surveillance of Masjid Omar, a mosque in Paterson, N.J. — could not have been performed under federal rules unless the FBI believed that the mosque itself was part of a criminal enterprise. Even then, federal agents would need approval from senior FBI and Justice Department officials.
At the NYPD, however, such monitoring was common, former police officials said. Federal law enforcement officials told the AP that the mosque itself was never under federal investigation and they were unaware the NYPD was monitoring it so closely. According to secret police files obtained by the AP, the NYPD instructed its officers to watch the mosque and, as people came and went from the Friday prayer service, investigators were to record license plates and photograph and videotape those attending. The file offered no evidence of criminal activity.
The FBI also would be prohibited from keeping police files on innocuous statements that imams made during sermons, which the NYPD did. In addition, the FBI would not be allowed to keep police files on Muslim students for discussing academic conferences online and would not be allowed to build databases of Americans who changed their names to ones sounding Arabic, which the NYPD did....
Since late August, 34 members of Congress, Muslim civil rights groups and most recently Ivy League universities and New Jersey officials have asked the Justice Department to investigate the NYPD's intelligence division. The Obama administration has pointedly refused to endorse or repudiate the NYPD programs, which the AP reported Monday are at least partly funded under a White House federal grant intended to help law enforcement fight drug crimes.
"Our examination of this has been limited at least at this point to the letters that have come in," Holder said. "We're only beginning our review. I don't know if federal funds were used."
Holder said there were 17 or 18 Justice Department investigations about how police around the country interact with citizens. "I'm not saying that will be something we would do here, but if we think that there's a basis for it, we will do that," Holder said.
Federal investigations into police departments typically focus on police abuse or racial profiling in arrests. Since 9/11, the Justice Department has never publicly investigated a police department for its surveillance in national security investigations.
“Coalition Says Unfair, Ineffective NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Policy Has To Change:
In 2011, the NYPD recorded an 684,000 stop-and-frisk encounters with the public” Daily News, February 29, 2012
As the choir of Bethany Baptist Church in Harlem sang to a packed crowd of Sunday morning worshipers, the Rev. Kris Erskine waited in the narrow church vestibule to greet his invited speaker, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Stringer was there to urge change in a Police Department policy that has stirred growing fury — and not merely in the city’s black and brown communities. That policy is called stop-and-frisk.
“I heard from my church members all the time about their
sons being grabbed, thrown on the ground and searched for no
reason,” Erskine said. “Something has to be done about this.”
In 88% of the cases, the people stopped were innocent.
Only 6% of stops result in any kind of arrest, and many of those are
for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
“NYPD Detective Douglas Strong Admits To Taking La Parilla Waitress's Panties”
Huffington Post, February 29, 2012
An NYPD detective currently under investigation for drinking on-duty and sexually assaulting a waitress has admitted to snatching the woman's panties. Detective Douglas Strong's lawyer describes the incident, "She falls asleep and he covers her up with a blanket. He did not have sex with her. He did not have intercourse with her. Apparently, he did take her panties."
Strong is one of four officers being probed for
allegedly boozing on the job at Parilla steakhouse in Washington
Heights, after video footage surfaced of the officers enjoying a
four hour lunch break with wine. The officers were placed on
modified duty and stripped of their guns and badges. But adding to
the department's headache is the more serious allegation that a
waitress fell asleep at the restaurant and woke up to Strong
inappropriately touching her. She also claims that she witnessed a
large sum of cash being handed off between the officers.
“Pot Busts Are Up — And Jeffries Pushes Decriminalization Bill” By Kyle Thomas McGovern, New York Times, February 29, 2012
Low-level marijuana arrests in the 88th Precinct have nearly tripled — and fort Greene’s assemblyman said the numbers prove his point about the need for major drug reform. Police officers at the 88th Precinct made 26 misdemeanor marijuana arrests in January, up from 10 such collars during the same period last year, according to District Attorney Charles Hynes. The arrest spike came even as such low-level pot busts have leveled off citywide, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.
“Columbia University to Investigate NYPD's Muslim Spy Scheme" By Victoria Bekiempis, Village Voice, February 29, 2012
Columbia University plans on investigating reports that
the New York Police Department, which spied on Muslims at
Northeastern universities, targeted students at the Ivy League
institution, according to The Associated Press (via Wall Street
Journal.) At a university meeting Tuesday, Provost John H.
Coatsworth said that Columbia and the college's own police
department were working to figure out the extent of the NYPD's spy
scheme. They weren't sure how much the NYPD investigated Columbia,
the AP says.
Months after receiving complaints about the New York Police Department's surveillance of entire American Muslim neighborhoods, the Justice Department is just beginning a review to decide whether to investigate civil rights violations.
“Bronx Residents Sound Off On Charges By Veteran Cop That 42nd Precinct Uses An Illegal Quota System: Police Officer Craig Matthews filed federal lawsuit against city and NYPD brass” By Daniel Beekman, Daily News, February 27, 2012
A veteran NYPD cop made waves last week when he claimed his Bronx precinct is ruled by an illegal quota system. But some residents in the 42nd Precinct have long suspected that stop-and-frisk quotas are being used, they told the Daily News.
Officer Craig Matthews filed a federal lawsuit in which he contends the precinct supervisors set minimum numbers that were expected of each officer in a given 30-day period: 15 summonses, 1 arrest and 2 street stops.
Darrell Vega, 21, applauded Matthews’ action. "I believe it," said Vega, walking near the 42nd Precinct station house. "The cops do it to me all the time. They stop and frisk me. They tell me I look suspicious because I have my hands in my jacket.
“Ray Kelly Calls Stop-And-Frisk Criticism "Pandering" By Christopher Robbins, The Gothamist
February 27, 2012
Shawn Portuguez wouldn't make it to his 3 p.m. trim at a barbershop in the Lower East Side because he was in handcuffs. "They said I crossed the street three times, so that's why they stopped me," Portuguez said as he stood waiting for the two NYPD officers to check his information on Thursday. "I just left my apartment for the first time today." Police took Portuguez away after he was told he had an outstanding warrant, but a DCPI spokesman says no arrest record exists for the encounter.
87% of the 684,330 people stopped by the NYPD last year under the department's stop-and-frisk program were black or Latino, a statistic that has Manhattan Borough President and likely mayoral candidate Scott Stringer calling for the NYPD to take a different approach. "We question whether this policy works…and we question why we're just targeting a certain segment of our city," Stringer said yesterday at a rally to end stop-and-frisk in its current form.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly called Stringer's comments "pandering" in an interview with Rep. Peter King this morning, pointing again to a 50% drop in murders over the course of the "Bloomberg decade" to 5,430 killed. Referring to those numbers, Kelly said, "Of course the vast majority of those lives…are people of color, young men of color," which appears to allude as to why the NYPD stops a disproportionate amount of blacks and Latinos.
"You can say, 'our policy is justified because this is where crime happens,' " Kirsten John Foy, aide to the Public Advocate said in a press conference earlier this month. "But you can't say this isn't about race and then say most of 'them' commit the crimes." Councilman Jumaane Williams had a more succinct word for that sort of rationalization: "That's bullshit."
It's possible that Portuguez received a summons for whatever transgression was on his record, a DCPI representative told us, but he wouldn't be able to access that information. When the police run a suspect's information, they learn if the suspect has an outstanding warrant or not: the reason isn't specified. "He could owe money on a ticket or he could be a murderer," the officer who detained Portuguez said. "Or they could have turned him loose at the 7th Precinct," the DCPI rep noted. "There's just no record that he was arrested on that occasion."
"All of us believe that there is a constitutional way to do stop and frisk," Stringer said yesterday. "None of us are suggesting that the police never interact with the community…There's constitutional ways to do it, and there has to be a standard."
“Police Monitoring and a Climate of Fear” By Michael Powell, New York Times, February 27, 2012
The counterman and his cook, as the New York Police Department’s Intelligence Division describes them in a secret report on Newark, are “persons of Jordanian descent.” There is another way to describe them: they are American citizens in the throes of a rather un-American fear of speaking. “I talk, they keep coming,” the counterman says, wagging his head, apologetic. Our conversation has finished. “They” are undercover New York City officers.
“They” are undercover New York City officers. Last week, The Associated Press broke the news that the Intelligence Division of the New York police had extended its writ hundreds of square miles east and west, carefully detailing mosques, dollar stores and restaurants, from Konak’s Turkish Cuisine in Farmingville, on Long Island, to this luncheonette on the western edge of Newark. They carefully recorded names, license plates and nationalities.
Another Associated Press report found that undercover city officers kept a close eye on Muslim students at Yale, Columbia, Syracuse, Rutgers, New York University, Brooklyn College and public state universities. One officer took a white-water rafting trip with students; he reported they prayed five times a day. College presidents are often more interested in high finance than political dudgeon, but several spoke out this time. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey also talked of his disquiet, and Senator Robert Menendez called for an investigation.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly sounded aggressively uninterested in apology. “Everything the N.Y.P.D. has done is legal,” the mayor said.
As for the complaints of Yale’s president? “I don’t know,” Mr. Bloomberg said, “why keeping the country safe is antithetical to the values of Yale.”
New York’s politicians, with a few exceptions, galloped in behind. Senator Charles E. Schumer defended the police, as did Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
The Daily News columnist Mike Lupica scored with Mr. Kelly, who gave the back of his hand to New Jersey’s political class. “As far as I can tell, it was a knee-jerk response,” the commissioner told him. “Maybe it was just political instincts at work.”
MR. LUPICA, a tough-guy typist, offered a coda. Of Mr. Kelly, he opined, “not only should he not apologize for doing that, he should tell any politician who doesn’t like it” to bug off, though he puts it more crudely.
The New York Post as ever went three yards beyond. It published an arsonist’s bonfire of a cartoon. It showed three hook-nosed, bearded and turbaned terrorists, one of whom is calling The A.P. to complain of police spying.
“Good Stop and Frisk Video Testimony “Exclusive: Stopped, Frisked and Speaking Out” By Lindsey Groot, New York Times, February 27, 2012
The Police Department stopped and questioned more than 684,000 people last year. Close to 90 percent were black and Latino. Civil liberties groups have protested, but rarely do we hear from the men who are so frequently stopped, virtually all of them guilty of nothing except having the same skin color as someone for whom police are looking. Filmmakers Lindsey Groot and Robin Antonisse talked to four victims of “stop-and-frisk” in this exclusive video.Lindsey Groot and Robin Antonisse are two Dutch filmmakers who joined The Local for a fortnight in February as part of a journalistic exchange program.
“NYPD: 4 Detectives Suspected Of Drinking On The Job” CBS, February 25, 2012
The officers allegedly went to the steakhouse and drank while on duty. One of them may have sexually assaulted a waitress or paid her for sex in a back room.
“Stop-and-Frisk Critics Unite Under One Police Reform Campaign” By Sam Levin, Village Voice, February, 24, 2012
Criticism of the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk practices have come from a wide range of elected officials and advocacy groups across the city. Now, in an effort to bolster the campaign for increased police accountability, dozens of organizations are joining forces under the umbrella of one campaign that aims to make the topic of police reform a major one in the upcoming mayoral election.
The new coalition, Communities United for Police Reform, or CPR, is officially launching this month with a "Week of Action" starting Sunday and has already brought together, thus far, around 30 organizations that support the cause....
This latest push to bring stop-and-frisk reform talk into the forefront also has strong support from some in the City Council, notably vocal NYPD critic Councilman Jumaane Williams -- who is proposing legislation that would require cops to give out business cards when they stop people.....
"A lot of our organizations have relationships with each other and have been doing work around police reform accountability for years," said Yul-san Liem, a member of an organization called the Justice Committee, which is one of the steering committees of CPR. "At this point...we recognize that it's an epidemic," she said of stop-and-frisk. "It's time to come together in a very coordinated multi-sectored way to demand that the problem be changed."
The glaring statistics are a major motivating factor for the effort, she said. "All of the organizations in CPR feel like the new stop-and-frisk statistics are an outrage." This kind of diverse, unified effort -- that is bringing together research, outreach, education, and policy experts -- is unprecedented in the push for police accountability in the city, Liem said. "This is the first time this kind of work is so tightly coordinated across sectors." Stop-and-frisk is the central target of the campaign, though Liem said there are many other related concerns such as the NYPD's policies relating to the homeless and police treatment of LGBT New Yorkers.
At a press conference on education this afternoon, Runnin' Scared stopped Councilman Robert Jackson -- who is very likely to run for Manhattan borough president -- and asked him his thoughts on the campaign. "What it does is it helps to bring focus to the issue. It helps bring transparency and hopefully will bring more accountability," Jackson said, adding that this kind of effort is especially important given the latest controversy around the NYPD spying on Muslim student groups. After we asked him how he thought this campaign could impact the 2013 mayoral elections, he said, "It will become an issue, and I think that mayoral candidates are going to have to speak up and ask for transparency and accountability and not in essence spying on people just because of their religions. That's a no-brainer."
Liem said that influencing elections is an important part of the new campaign. "We want...New Yorkers to demand that this be a big issue in the coming 2013 mayoral race. We will be letting folks know where candidates stand on the issue, demanding that candidates speak up about the issue. We are in this for the long haul."
“Councilman Jumaane Williams wants police to cough up business cards after stop-and-frisks” By Reuven Blau, Daily News, February 24, 2012
A Brooklyn City Councilman with a history of run-ins with police will introduce a bill next week that will require cops to produce a business card every time they do a stop-and-frisk. There’s a lot of inherent tension when a police officer stops someone,” he said Thursday. “There’s a lot of mistrust in the community. I think a lot of that can be eased by officers identifying themselves so people know what’s happening.” Williams’ business card proposal is part of a three-part bill aimed at protecting New Yorkers from unlawful police searches. In addition to barring race-based profiling, it also makes it a no-no to profile potential perps based on age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status and other characteristics.
Also, the bill would require cops to alert a target that they have the right to refuse to give consent to a search. Williams’ business card proposal has been standard operating procedure for uniformed police in Portland, Ore., for two years. Similar rules are also in place for state cops in Colorado and Arkansas, and for police in Minneapolis, Williams said.
“Bronx Police Precinct Accused of Using Quota System” By Al Baker, New York Times, February 23, 2012
A police station house in the Bronx has a strict quota system that requires officers to produce a minimum number of arrests, summonses and street stops each month, a civil rights group claims in a federal lawsuit that contends the system has turned officers against one another.
So regimented are the demands for numbers that supervisors in the 42nd Precinct began keeping color-coded charts to track officers’ productivity, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
Black ink used on those charts — known as officer activity reports — means that an officer is meeting quotas; silver ink means that only some of the quotas are being met; and red ink denotes officers’ meeting no quotas at all, according to the lawsuit, which the New York Civil Liberties Union filed on behalf of Officer Craig Matthews, a 14-year veteran.
Officer Matthews contends that the quota system has created animosity among officers at the station house. Since December, an officer has been posted at the locker room to keep officers who oppose the system from damaging the lockers of those who hew to it.
This assignment is among the odder ones. And it is often a busy one, according to the complaint. Lockers have been flipped and plastered shut, said Christopher T. Dunn, of the civil liberties group. Some, he said, have been dislodged and hauled off to the showers, where they have been drenched in water.
“NYPD Officer's Federal Lawsuit Says Bronx Precinct Used Illegal Arrest Quotas” By Colleen Long, Associated Press, February 23, 2012
Matthews said in the suit that the quota system in the 42 precincts pitted police officers against each other, straining professional relationships. Officers who complied with quotas had their lockers overturned, tossed in the showers, or plastered shut, the suit said. The practice of "locker flipping" escalated so much that on-duty officers are assigned to protect the locker room around the clock. The suit said Matthews' civil rights were violated.
“NYCLU Files Federal Lawsuit On Behalf Of NYPD Officer, Alleged Victim Of Retaliation Suit: Officer Craig Matthews Harassed Over Reporting Illegal Quota System” CBS News, February 23, 2012
Officers who fail to meet the quotas are highlighted in red ink on the reports and subject to a wide range of retaliation, according to the lawsuit. Officer Craig Matthews, a 14-year veteran of the NYPD, repeatedly reported it to the precinct’s commanding officers, according to the lawsuit.
In retaliation, the NYCLU says Matthews has been given punitive assignments, has been denied overtime and leave, has been separated from his longtime partner, has been given poor evaluations, and has been subjected to constant harassment and threats. “Quotas lead to illegal arrests, summonses, and stop-and-frisks, and they undermine trust between the police and residents,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, lead counsel in the case. “Officer Matthews chose to expose this abusive system, and in response his supervisors have made his life miserable. We believe quotas are a problem throughout the NYPD, and we’re confident the courts will put a stop to this unlawful retaliation.”
The lawsuit, filed on Matthews’ behalf in Manhattan federal court, asks the court to declare that the NYPD’s retaliatory actions violate the officer’s free speech rights under the First Amendment and the New York Constitution.
The NYCLU says it will soon will file a separate complaint seeking to have the quota system declared illegal under New York Labor Law. Together, the two actions seek to stop all alleged retaliation against Matthews.
“NYCLU Lawsuit Challenges Punitive Quota System in Bronx Precinct” by NYCLU, February 23, 2012
The New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal lawsuit challenging the repeated retaliation against a veteran police officer who has disclosed the use of an illegal quota system for arrests, summonses and stop-and-frisk encounters in the 42nd Precinct in the Bronx.
According to the lawsuit, supervisors in the Bronx precinct have developed a detailed quota system, which includes regular color-coded computer reports used to track compliance with quotas. Officers who fail to meet the quotas are highlighted in red ink on the reports and subject to a wide range of retaliation. Recognizing that the quota system is illegal and abusive, Officer Craig Matthews repeatedly reported it to the precinct’s commanding officers. In retaliation, he has been given punitive assignments, denied overtime and leave, separated from his longtime partner, given poor evaluations, and subjected to constant harassment and threats.
“Police Unit Faces Scrutiny After Fatal Shooting in the Bronx” By Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, February 22, 2012
The police officers in the Street Narcotics Enforcement Units could be called the grunts in New York’s antidrug efforts. Untrained in undercover work, they are limited to making arrests after they witness a drug deal, often observed from afar through binoculars. No drug dealer is too small time, and they arrest customers, too. They take vans with them to suspected drug locations, hoping to fill them with prisoners.
One man who was in their sights on Feb. 2 was Ramarley Graham, 18, of the Wakefield section of the Bronx. Something about how he moved his hands near his waist led the officers to suspect he might be armed, according to the Police Department’s account of the events that transpired. And when Mr. Graham slipped away, the officers in the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit of the 47th Precinct did not let it go — or wait for backup. They trailed him as he returned to his building, the door locking behind him. After a delay, the officers got inside and kicked their way into Mr. Graham’s apartment. In the bathroom, one officer fatally shot Mr. Graham in the chest. He was apparently unarmed, and a bag of marijuana was in the toilet bowl next to him.
The Bronx district attorney and the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau are investigating the shooting, but in interviews, more than a half-dozen police officials — from detectives to commanders — picked apart the decisions made that day by the members of the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit, known as S.N.E.U., and raised troubling questions about their actions. Most prominent, the police officials questioned the team’s aggressiveness and its decision to pursue Mr. Graham on its own. Why, as they milled outside the locked front door to his building, did the officers go in after him without waiting for a specialized team trained to take down doors and clear rooms? They also questioned why the unit’s officers used a narrow tactical radio frequency to alert their colleagues in the van that Mr. Graham might be armed, rather than issue a warning on a more heavily trafficked channel that would have drawn other police units to the scene. A detective with experience in narcotics work suggested that the better approach would have been to use “caution and slow things down.” “We’re not chasing after Pablo Escobar here,” said the detective, who, along with others interviewed, spoke anonymously because he had not been authorized to speak to the news media.
Officials in the district attorney’s office, who are considering whether to seek criminal charges against the officer for the fatal shooting, were struck from the start by what they felt were the inexperience and the limited training that the unit’s officers had, according to a law enforcement official who was briefed on the early stages of the investigation. The Police Department has acknowledged that the officer who shot Mr. Graham, Richard Haste, had never received the classroom instruction required of officers in the street narcotics unit. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly has stripped Officer Haste, 30, who joined the department in 2008, and his sergeant, Scott Morris, of their guns and badges and has placed them on modified duty....
After the shooting, Mr. Kelly ordered a review of the Street Narcotics Enforcement Units, which for much of the past two decades have been making thousands of arrests each year with little attention or controversy. As street-corner drug deals have declined in some areas of the city, many of the 76 police precincts have disbanded their Street Narcotics Enforcement Units; there are only 36 left. Sergeant Morris had been leading the unit in the 47th Precinct for at least two years, one person familiar with the team said.... For young officers, the units are considered a stepping stone along the path to a detective’s shield. But because the units’ officers are not trained investigators, they lack authorization for undercover work and are prohibited from buying drugs in so-called buy and bust operations. Instead they focus on visible sidewalk transactions....
Officers from the unit’s van jumped out and tried to stop Mr. Graham, according to Mr. Kelly. A surveillance video from Mr. Graham’s building shows him sauntering up to the front door. He looks over his shoulder before entering, and as the door closes behind him, officers in police windbreakers come running. One officer repeatedly kicks the door, the video shows, but could not break in. A lawyer for the Graham family, Jeffrey Emdin, said Mr. Graham had not been fleeing the police, but had returned home to drop off his keys with his grandmother and change his clothes before heading back out to meet a group of women. The officers were eventually let in by a tenant, according to Mr. Kelly. Officer Haste and others went to the second floor and kicked open the door to Mr. Graham’s apartment....
Several current and retired officers had different opinions about whether the officers’ decision to enter the home was correct. One option, some said, would have been to seek assistance from a specialized police unit, like the Emergency Service Unit, whose members are trained to clear homes of armed people barricaded inside..... “Once the door is shut and he tries to kick the door and fails, that’s when your hot pursuit really ended,” said Robert E. Brown, a former police captain and a criminal defense lawyer.... Mr. Leader, the retired sergeant, said, “If you think he has a weapon, call for emergency services, call for the big boys, call for backup.”
“Cops Arrest Five Public School Kids Each Day” By Ben Chapman, Daily News, February 22, 2012
The New York Civil Liberties Union said the arrests are “unfair” and introduce minority children into the criminal justice system unnecessarily. “Children are being sent to the precinct instead of the principal’s office for misbehaving,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman.
The numbers cover Oct. 1 to Dec. 30, 2011, and were released by the police to comply with a city law enacted last year. Cops arrested 279 students -- about five a day in 55 days of classes. They also issued 532 summons to students for offenses ranging from assault to loitering -- nine a day. Nearly 94% of the students arrested were black or Hispanic, and 75 % were male. Black students were almost six times more likely to be arrested than white students, according to the data, Lieberman said.
“Stop-and-Frisk Opponents Set Sights on Mayoral Race” By Kate Taylor, New York Times, February 21, 2012
Two dozen advocacy and grass-roots organizations, seeking to make police conduct an issue in the 2013 mayoral campaign, said Tuesday that they were forming a coalition to raise awareness of what they consider racially discriminatory practices by the New York Police Department.
Leaders of the groups involved, which include the Legal Aid Society, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said they planned to pressure political candidates to take positions on controversial practices, like stop-and-frisk, that disproportionately affect low-income minorities.
“We will make it impossible to run for citywide office in New York City without taking a position on stop-and-frisk,” Udi Ofer, the advocacy director at the New York Civil Liberties Union, said, adding that the coalition, called Communities United for Police Reform, would also inform voters about “which candidates stand which way on this issue.”
Robert Gangi, the director of the Police Reform Organizing Project at the Urban Justice Center, a member of the coalition, said he believed that there was unlikely to be significant change in policing under the current administration, and so advocates were focused on the elections. “It’s basically to exploit the opportunity of the campaign to make it more and more a part of the citywide debate,” he said of the coalition.
As one of its first steps, the coalition is supporting legislation, set to be introduced in the City Council as early as next week, that would strengthen the Police Department’s prohibition against profiling. Other bills set to be introduced soon would create an inspector general’s office in the department and require the police to notify people of their right, in many instances, to refuse to be searched....
Jumaane D. Williams, a city councilman from Brooklyn who is working with the new coalition, said he hoped to introduce the legislation on profiling and searches at the Council meeting next Wednesday. The Police Department has a ban on profiling, but the proposed law would strengthen it, prohibiting practices that may not be intentionally discriminatory but which have the effect of being so. “I think these bills go a long way to start making the N.Y.P.D. accountable to the community that they serve,” Mr. Williams said.
The coalition also plans to go after other police practices that have a disproportionate effect on minority and low-income people, including arrests for marijuana possession, and patrols in which officers go up and down the stairwells of public housing projects, arresting people or giving them tickets for trespassing if they cannot produce proof of residence.
“NYPD monitored Muslim College Students” By Chris Hawley, Associate Press, February 20, 2012
One autumn morning in Buffalo, N.Y., a college student
named Adeela Khan logged into her email and found a message
announcing an upcoming Islamic conference in Toronto. Khan clicked
"forward," sent it to a group of fellow Muslims at the University at
Buffalo, and promptly forgot about it.
In recent months, the AP has revealed secret programs
the NYPD built with help from the CIA to monitor Muslims at the
places where they eat, shop and worship. The AP also published
details about how police placed undercover officers at Muslim
student associations in colleges within the city limits; this
revelation has outraged faculty and student groups.
The AP first reported in October that the NYPD had
placed informants or undercover officers in the Muslim Student
Associations at City College, Brooklyn College, Baruch College,
Hunter College, City College of New York, Queens College, La Guardia
Community College and St. John's University. All of those colleges
are within the New York City limits.
“At Funeral of a Teenager Shot by the Police, Demands for Accountability” By Al Baker, New York Times, February 18, 2012
More than two weeks after an unarmed teenager was fatally shot by a police officer in the Bronx, hundreds of friends, relatives, activists and elected officials packed a church for his funeral.
“Funeral for unarmed teen shot by cops is held at Bronx church” By Henrick Karoliszyn, Daily News, February 18, 2012
“Stop-and-Frisks Hit Record in 2011” By Michael Howard Saul, Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2012
New York City police officers stopped and questioned 684,330 people last year, a record number since the department started producing yearly tallies of the tactic. The total marked a 14% increase over 2010, according to statistics viewed by The Wall Street Journal on Monday.
NYPD Street Stops Soar 600% Over Course of Bloomberg Administration, New York Civil Liberties Union, February 14, 2012
The NYPD stopped and interrogated people 684,330 times in 2011, by far the highest total since the Police Department began collecting data on its troubling stop-and-frisk program in 2002. This represents a 603 percent increase in stop-and-frisks since that year, the first year of the Bloomberg administration, when there were only 97,296 stops.
Of those subjected to NYPD street stops in 2011, nearly nine out of 10 were completely innocent, meaning they were neither arrested nor issued a summons. About 87 percent were black or Latino.
“Last year alone, the NYPD stopped enough totally innocent New Yorkers to fill Madison Square Garden more than 30 times over,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “It is not a crime to walk down the street in New York City, yet every day innocent black and brown New Yorkers are turned into suspects for doing just that. It is a stunning abuse of power that undermines trust between police and the community.”
Under the Bloomberg administration, the NYPD has conducted more than 4.3 million street stops. About 88 percent of those stops – nearly 3.8 million – resulted in no arrest or summons.
“These numbers make clear that illegal stops-and-frisks have become an epidemic in New York City,” said Darius Charney, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is currently litigating Floyd v. City of New York, a federal class action lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices. “And the only antidote is meaningful, independent oversight of the Department.”
“I have been stopped, questioned and frisked four times,” said Joseph Midgley, a Picture the Homeless civil rights leader. “Each time I was standing in a public place, committing no crime. Each time, I was asked for an ID, my pockets were searched and I was asked if I had anything illegal on me, which I did not. Each time, the police found nothing illegal, and I was not charged, nor given a ticket. It made me feel profiled, pre-judged and judged. Now that I am homeless, the police harassment has only gotten worse. This form of discriminatory policing is an outrage and should be stopped now.”
According to the NYCLU’s analysis of NYPD stop-and-frisk data, each year for the past eight years, four out of the five precincts with the most stops are predominantly black or Latino. The precincts with the fewest stops are predominantly white or Asian.
The new 2011 figures represent a 14 percent increase over 2010, when police officers stopped New Yorkers 601,285 times.
“These new numbers about the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy confirm that the program has not met its objectives and sparks distrust of law enforcement in communities of color,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. “If the goal is to get guns off the street, the program’s failure to find guns in 99.9 percent of all cases speaks for itself. If the goal is to make arrests, the lack of an arrest in 94 percent of all cases is equally troubling. Last year nearly 700,000 stops were conducted, the most ever, and 85 percent of those were of black or Latino New Yorkers. It’s time for us to work with communities to get guns off the street, not against them. The NYPD can’t hope to build bridges if it keeps burning them.”
“OWS Protesters Sue Cop Over Pepper Spray” By Robert Gearty, Daily News, February 13, 2012
A high-ranking cop who pepper-sprayed penned-in Occupy Wall Street protesters has been zapped with a lawsuit by two women who were in the line of fire. Chelsea Elliott and Jeanne Mansfield are suing Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna in Manhattan Federal Court for blasting them in the face with pepper-spray during a protest last Sept. 24 near Union Square.
The incident was caught on video, and 1.5 million people watched it on YouTube, prompting outrage and drawing attention to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Bologna was docked 10 days of vacation for violating NYPD regulations.
“NYPD Commissioner Orders Reviews of Street Narcotics Teams in Wake of Bronx Shooting” By Ailsa Chang, WNYC, February 09, 2012
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has ordered a citywide audit of all street-level narcotics teams after investigators discovered the cop who shot an unarmed Bronx man was not qualified for the detail he was assigned to the day of the incident.
Officer Richard Haste, who shot Ramarley Graham in his bathroom last Thursday, had been part of a street-level narcotics enforcement (SNEU) team, but had not yet received SNEU training or plainclothes training before the assignment, according to police spokesman Paul Browne.
Since the discovery, supervising officers told WNYC that all precinct commanders were ordered, to give the Internal Affairs Bureau, which investigates misconduct and corruption within the department, the names of all members of their street-level narcotics teams. Internal Affairs is checking which officers have not received the required training.
Graham, 18, was followed on foot by Officer Richard Haste and Sgt. Scott Morris into his home after officers reported seeing what might have been a gun protruding from his waistband. No weapon was found after Haste shot Graham. Instead, police discovered a bag of marijuana in the toilet....
Supervising officers and patrol cops said the department is cracking down on training requirements now because of Graham's death, but they added it has been common practice for years to assign officers to plain clothes teams and street-level narcotics units before the officers receive proper training.
SNEU training is offered regularly within the department, and officers said they see their supervisors assign colleagues to SNEU units, with the understanding that the officer will eventually complete the required training. But members of the department also said sometimes an officer will be in a SNEU unit or plainclothes team for months before he ever receives that training. Police officers said plainclothes training takes about three to four days and involves instruction about street confrontations, such as tactics to use during hand-to-hand combat. SNEU training takes about a week.
“Albany Wants More Oversight of City Police” By Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, February 9, 2012
The debate over whether the New York Police Department is capable of policing itself will now move to Albany, where lawmakers have proposed the creation of a permanent inspector general to investigate the Police Department. State Senator Kevin S. Parker, a Brooklyn Democrat, introduced a bill on Monday that called for the city’s Department of Investigation to appoint an inspector general to oversee the Police Department. Mr. Parker said the department needed “an independent watchdog to ensure the integrity of the department like other state and federal law enforcement entities.”
The bill comes amid a rough patch for the city police. Last week, a narcotics officer shot and killed an unarmed Bronx teenager. This week, a veteran officer in Brooklyn pleaded guilty in federal court to gun trafficking charges after he was caught in a sting operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The city’s Department of Investigation, which seeks out corruption among many of the municipal agencies, generally leaves the task of monitoring the Police Department to the police’s own Internal Affairs Bureau. But a number of recent corruption cases involving police officers have been uncovered by outside investigators, including the F.B.I., which has underscored concerns about the department’s ability to monitor itself. And while there is also an oversight agency under the mayor, the Commission to Combat Police Corruption, it has no subpoena power and a tiny staff.
“An effective inspector general could play an important role in identifying concerns and making recommendations for change,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has called for the appointment of such an inspector general in the past. Ms. Lieberman said that there had recently been “an alarming parade of scandals involving the N.Y.P.D,” which demonstrates “a clear need for meaningful oversight of N.Y.P.D. practices and policies.”
State Senator Kevin S. Parker, a Brooklyn Democrat, introduced a bill on Monday that called for the city’s Department of Investigation to appoint an inspector general to oversee the Police Department. Mr. Parker said the department needed “an independent watchdog to ensure the integrity of the department like other state and federal law enforcement entities.
“NYPD Marijuana Crusade Led to Cops Killing a Teenager in the Bronx” By Tony Newman, AlterNet, February 8, 2012
An 18-year-old teenager, Ramarley Graham, was killed in his home in the Bronx last week by plainclothes cops. A member of the narcotics unit shot the unarmed teenager in his bathroom. While details of the tragedy are still unfolding, it appears that the teen had a small amount of marijuana on him, so walked home to get away from the cops because he didn’t want to be arrested.
The cops followed him, broke into his home and killed him in his bathroom while he was trying to flush a small amount of marijuana down the toilet. The police officer who shot Graham said he believed the young man had a gun. He did not – no weapons were found. The bottom line is that an 18-year-old is dead because of the insane marijuana arrest crusade by the NYPD.
“City to Award $15M to New Yorkers Unlawfully Arrested for Loitering” By Ailsa Chang, WNYC, February 07
About 20,000 New Yorkers who were illegally arrested by the NYPD for loitering will get $15 million as part of a class action settlement approved Monday by a Manhattan federal judge. After New York state and federal courts struck down anti-loitering laws in the 1980s and 1990s on First Amendment and other constitutional grounds, the police continued arresting people under these voided statutes for more than two decades. The settlement culminates two cases that had been consolidated in 2008. The first case, filed in June 2005, challenged enforcement of a law against "loitering for the purpose of begging."
"Special Prosecutor Sought In NYPD Beating” By Jim Fitzgerald, The Associated Press, February 6, 2012
Our position is that Bronx DA Robert Johnson's office cannot conduct a real and independent investigation because that office has a symbiotic relationship with the Police Department and could not be impartial," said defense attorney Gideon Oliver.
“Focus on Police Treatment of Witness After Shooting” By Al Baker, New York Times, February 4, 2012
After a police officer fatally shot an 18-year-old man in his Bronx apartment on Thursday, the man’s grandmother, a witness to the shooting, was taken into custody and held against her will for several hours, a friend of the family said on Saturday.
“The Way To Curb Police Abuse: As The NYPD Finds Itself Mired In Yet Another Controversy, We Look At How Other Big Cities Control Corruption VIDEO” By John Farley, MetroFocus, February 3, 2012
Public discontent with the NYPD’s practices seems to have reached its fever pitch with the “Third Jihad” episode, as New Yorkers emerge from a year already fraught with NYPD scandals, including: A marked uptick in the number of stop-and-frisks, Collaboration with the C.I.A. to spy on Muslim communities, Infiltration of Shiite mosques to gain information on Iranian terrorists, The cases of the so-called “rape cops” and “pimp cop”, Allegations of rampant ticket fixing, Reports of excessive force used on Occupy Wall Street protesters and the arrest of credentialed journalists covering them, Drug planting and allegations of a widespread culture of corruption in the NYPD’s drug units, The racially charged detainment of City Council Member Jumaane Williams, The arrest of five officers on gun trafficking charges.
The idea that the NYPD has been militarized and turned into Bloomberg’s “own army” in the years since 9/11 was widely discussed in the press last year.
“NYPD cops involved in shooting of unarmed man placed on modified duty” By Joe Kemp, Daily News, February 3, 2012
Two cops were placed on modified duty Friday, a day after one of them fatally shot an unarmed Bronx teen inside his apartment, police said. Ramarley Graham, 19, was hit once in the chest as the teen ran into the bathroom of the Williamsbridge apartment about 3 p.m. Thursday, police said.
“Unarmed Bronx Teen Fatally Shot In The Chest By Cops. Police Say Gunned Down After Being Chased By Plainclothes Officers” By Rocco Parascandola, New York Daily News, February 2, 2012
An unarmed Bronx teen was fatally shot by cops after they chased him into his family’s apartment building on Thursday, police said. Ramarley Graham, 19, was hit once in the chest after an officer fired his gun during a confrontation in the Williamsbridge apartment about 3 p.m., police said. No gun was found at the scene, cops said.... G
“They chased him into the house,” said the teen’s mother, Constance Malcolm, 39, who witnessed the shooting. “Nobody deserves to be shot in their own home.” Moments before the shooting, officers from the NYPD’s Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit spotted Graham on the street adjusting his waistband and thought he had a gun, a police source said.
“In City Finances, a Subtle Star, Uncredited” By Jim Dwyer, New York Times, February 2, 2012
With great élan, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Thursday that the city did not need to raise taxes later this year. No one jumped up to argue that point. Taxes, however, are not the only way to trim the public hide.
A few hours after Mr. Bloomberg spoke, a team of police officers set up in SoHo for one of their twice-daily exercises in shooting fish in a barrel: nabbing drivers going south on Broadway just below Houston Street in Manhattan.
During the morning and evening rush, there is a virtually unlimited supply of law-breaking drivers who encroach on a lane reserved for buses. A relatively new traffic configuration limits cars to a single lane from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., a change that is announced on signs hanging over the lane, and to which the drivers must adjust immediately after they have crossed Houston.
So police officers, crooking a single finger, have ordered scores of drivers to the curb for breaking the law and issued them a fine for $130. Whatever the virtues of bus lanes, and there are many, this one is a trap — a lucrative one. One police officer, giving a summons at that spot recently, conceded that traffic would be backed up to 14th Street if some drivers did not make their way into that Broadway bus lane....
No mayor for decades has been able to resist the lure of raising revenue with fines, the tax that dares not say its name. During one blitz in the 1990s, the city was ticketing electric pony rides outside stores on Myrtle Avenue in Queens. Around the same time, a driver in the Bronx discovered that the police had figured out a way to abruptly trigger a red light near the Bronx Zoo. They needed to bring fresh supplies of ballpoint pens every day to keep up with the workload of drivers caught running the surprise light.
(When news broke of that snare, the man who blew the whistle on it, James Schillaci, was arrested within hours on a 13-year-old traffic warrant, and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the mayor at the time, blistered him with invective. Under the next mayor, Mr. Bloomberg, the city had to pay the man $290,000 to settle his harassment suit, offsetting much of the revenue generated by the red-light trap.)
In any event, the march of time and fines is unmistakable: in 2002, the city collected $380 million in parking fines. The mayor’s budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 calls for $518 million, a modest increase from the current $513 million. These revenues are part of a larger bundle of fines for violations of codes covering areas like sanitation, health and taxis. That sum will reach $802 million, up from $786 million this year and $457 million 10 years ago....
[On parking tickets] the city clears 80 cents or more on the dollar, a 2003 study by the Independent Budget Office found.... The revenue from traffic tickets issued by the police is shared between the state and the city. And of course, it’s not just about the money. If the city is going to have a reasonable mass transit system, bus lanes must be protected from cars.
But whether it makes sense at that spot on Broadway just below Houston has made more than a few government officials wonder.
“It goes against the intent of bus lanes because it causes congestion,” said one senior official in state government who regularly works with the Police Department. As it happens, that official was himself caught in the trap. Having managed to wiggle out of the ticket, he declined to be named.
“The cops have to write a certain number of parkers, and a certain number of movers,” the official said. “They can fill the quota in an hour. It’s easy quota-filling, and it’s easy money.”
- A virulently anti-Muslim film, "The Third Jihad," was shown to a thousand officers as part of an NYPD training.
- The NYPD top spokesperson, Paul J. Browne, first denied and then revealed that the department and Commissioner Kelly helped make the anti-Muslim film, and then showed it on a continuous tape loop for months.
- The NY Daily News reported that the NYPD finally discovered that a 7 year veteran police officer had been working as pimp. Over the years the officer had been the subject of nine investigations including for menacing people and "official misconduct."
- The NYPD was sued for illegally searching and detaining many livery cab drivers, who are overwhelmingly black and Latino.
- A new book -- The Crime Numbers Game: Management by Manipulation, by two criminologists, one a former NYPD captain -- presented overwhelming evidence documenting the NYPD's routine downgrading of arrests from felonies to misdemeanors. The authors found that under Raymond Kelly and Michael Bloomberg, the NYPD has manipulated the arrest and crime statistics in order to show crime decreasing.
- The NY Daily News reported that the NYPD refused to reveal ordinary crime statistics for the 81st precinct, where officer Adrian Schoolcraft had accurately testified that crimes were being downgraded or not reported. The NYCLU filed a suit to obtain the statistics.
- Numerous residents in the 79th precinct told reporters that they are afraid of the police. The president of the precinct's advisory board said: “Everyone complains to me about the Police Department, that when you call, you become the victim, so you don’t want to call.”
- The NY Times investigated some of the 1400 arrests a year the NYPD makes for "the most minor crime: sitting improperly on a subway seat." Many of the arrests, made in empty trains at 2 AM or later, were of tired workers going home who fell asleep. People were arrested because a foot, arm or bag extended into or over another seat.
- Police continued to assault reporters as seen in a NY Times video when "A linebacker-size officer grabbed the collar of Mr. Devereaux, who wore an ID identifying him as a reporter. The cop jammed a fist into his throat, turning Mr. Devereaux into a de facto battering ram."
- Jim Dwyer of the NY Times reported that a Belgian college student visiting NYC with his family was walking from the subway to the Cloisters museum in Washington Heights when NYPD officers arrested him at gun point for a crime which, it turned out, had not actually happened. He wound up as the only white person in a jail cell with 10 people arrested for possessing marijuana.
JANUARY 2012 EXCERPTS AND LINKS FOR SCANDALS OF THE NYPD
The Crime Numbers Game: Management by Manipulation, by John A. Eterno and Eli B. Silverman, CRC Press, January 31, 2012 (BOOK)
Presenting a story of police reform gone astray, this book stunningly demonstrates how integrity succumbed to a short-term numbers game...
In the mid-1990s, the NYPD created a performance management strategy known as Compstat. It consisted of computerized data, crime analysis, and advanced crime mapping coupled with middle management accountability and crime strategy meetings with high-ranking decision makers.....
The Crime Numbers Game: Management by Manipulation brings together the work of two criminologists — one a former NYPD captain — who present the first in-depth empirical analysis of this management system — exposing the truth about crime statistics manipulation in the NYPD and the repercussions suffered by crime victims and those who blew the whistle on this corrupt practice.
[The Crime Numbers Game: Management by Manipulation]:
- Documents and analyzes a wide array of data that definitively demonstrates the range of manipulation reflected in official New York City crime statistics
- Explores how the consequences of unreliable crime statistics ripple throughout police organizations, affecting police, citizens, and victims
- Documents the widening spell of police performance management throughout the world
- Reviews current NYPD leadership approaches and offers alternatives
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“Muslims, Using a Brush Far Too Broad” By Michael Powell, New York Times, January 30, 2012
I stood last week on City Hall’s plaza, as a gray wet January day pressed in, and thought: How completely isolated they look.
A few dozen Muslim New Yorkers had trooped there to protest police trainers’ showing of an inflammatory video that depicted most Islamic leaders as deceitful and suspect. Their anger was to be expected; the sense of betrayal was more striking. “The police are mapping us, they are following us, they are listening to us,” said Amna Akbar, a lawyer and law professor. “They are treating us like we are suspects when we are New Yorkers just living our lives day to day.”
Politicians can be hounds to the hunt after news conferences. A video that slanders 600,000 New Yorkers may be expected to send them tripping down the steps to splutter with outrage.
Not this day. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was en route to Queens, where he would explain, not so helpfully, that the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, had visited more mosques than most Muslims. (The mayor did not add that undercover officers and informers had visited the most mosques of all.) A few City Council members offered strong words of support, but no Council leader was in sight.
“When the Police Say One Thing, the Facts Another” By Jim Dwyer, New York Times, January 26, 2012
In 2010, more than 1,400 New York City police officers and supervisors who had gone for biological and chemical warfare training were shown a film of bombings, murders and menace. The narrator says: “This is the true agenda of much of Islam in America. A strategy to infiltrate and dominate America.”...
New York’s police commissioner and mayor have both disavowed the film, but the official story about the Police Department’s involvement and use of it has been contaminated with official falsehoods. (The police first said that only a few officers were shown the film and that the department had not cooperated with the filmmakers; it turned out that 1,400 officers saw it and that the commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, gave a 90-minute interview for the project.)
No one has given a straight, plausible story to explain how a piece of agitprop wound up being screened in a police training facility for months. Mr. Kelly was quoted in The Daily News as saying Wednesday that the showing of the film had been the work of a well-intentioned sergeant who had acted in “good faith.”
Over the last decade, the Police Department has acquired vast new powers to infiltrate areas of public life that previously had been far off limits. Before 9/11, the secret monitoring by the police of events where people expressed their opinions or gathered to worship was as tightly limited as the use of deadly force. In 2003, Mr. Kelly and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg were granted permission by a federal judge to expand the powers to conduct surveillance....
Yet Mr. Kelly is not going to be police commissioner forever, and “trust me” is not a policy that can work forever. Last year, The Associated Press published articles about the surveillance of Muslim communities in New York that it said was done under the supervision of a police demographic unit; the department denied the existence of such a unit, but The A.P. published documents with that very name in the title.
There is growing recognition that official police accounts of street clashes are often contradicted by objective evidence. In the fall, after women were pepper-sprayed by a deputy police inspector during an Occupy Wall Street march, the deputy police commissioner for public information, Paul J. Browne, said the women had tried to stop officers from rolling a mesh net. Videotapes showed that to be untrue....
The Police Department ... cannot risk the distortions of more fictions, of deliberate dishonesty or honest confusion. The police have to make it their business to get it right and to do it in the sunshine so that the whole world knows.
“In Shift, Police Say Leader Helped With Anti-Islam Film and Now Regrets It” By Michael Powell, New York Times, January 24, 2012
The New York City police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, through a top aide, acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that he personally cooperated with the filmmakers of “The Third Jihad” — a decision the commissioner now describes as a mistake. The film, which says the goal of “much of Muslim leadership here in America” is to “infiltrate and dominate” the United States, was screened for more than 1,400 officers during training in 2010. Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne told The New York Times on Monday that the filmmakers had relied on old interview clips and had never spoken with the commissioner. On Tuesday, the film’s producer, Raphael Shore, e-mailed The Times and provided a date and time for their 90-minute interview with the commissioner at Police Headquarters on March 19, 2007. Told of this e-mail, Mr. Browne revised his account.
“In Police Training, a Dark Film on U.S. Muslims” By Michael Powell, New York Times, January 23, 2012
This is the feature-length film titled “The Third Jihad,” paid for by a nonprofit group, which was shown to more than a thousand officers as part of training in the New York Police Department. In January 2011, when news broke that the department had used the film in training, a top police official denied it, then said it had been mistakenly screened “a couple of times” for a few officers.
A year later, police documents obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Law reveal a different reality: “The Third Jihad,” which includes an interview with Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, was shown, according to internal police reports, “on a continuous loop” for between three months and one year of training.
“Tense Relations With Officers in a Crime-Ridden Precinct” By Liz Robbins, New York Times, January 15, 2012
Residents ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s said that they occasionally felt harassed by the police or that they had often witnessed officers stop and frisk teenagers in the complex. One woman recounted seeing officers every morning in the courtyard, sitting as cold as stone, not engaging in conversation. One 42-year-old man wondered aloud whether in his precinct officers would shoot first and ask questions later.... “Everyone complains to me about the Police Department, that when you call, you become the victim, so you don’t want to call,” said Alberto Ramos, 56, the president of an advisory group for the precinct.
“Suit on Police Treatment of Livery Riders Is to Proceed” By Al Baker, New York Times, January 15, 2012
The men are represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union, which, after interviewing a dozen livery cab drivers from Brooklyn last spring, found that officers — acting under the Taxi/Livery Robbery Inspection Program, or TRIP — were routinely detaining and searching livery passengers without suspicion of any unlawful activity.
“Responding to Report of Armed Intruders, Police Kill Resident Holding a Gun” By Al Baker, New York Times, January 14, 2012
What was learned thereafter was that uniformed officers had not shot a robber, but another resident of the home, Duane Browne, 26, about 14 minutes after the first 911 call.The police said Mr. Browne was the half-brother of Mr. Ogarro, the target of the robbery.
“NYPD aims to give 'vice' cop the boot” Rocco Parascandola, Joe Kemp, Larry Mcshane, January 13, 2012
NYPD Internal Affairs investigators amassed wiretap and surveillance evidence against a seven-year veteran cop suspected of moonlighting as a pimp, the Daily News has learned. Officer Monty Green was taped “discussing prostitution-related activities,” according to an NYPD Internal Affairs investigative report.
“Hiring Freeze Hinders a Fight Against Police Misconduct” By Al Baker, New York Times, January 12, 2012
There were some head-spinning developments on Wednesday at the Civilian Complaint Review Board’s first monthly meeting of 2012. On the one hand, the board’s chairman, Daniel D. Chu, announced that financing for a new program to empower board lawyers to prosecute police officers in certain misconduct cases will continue to flow. Last summer, Mr. Chu had issued a sober warning that financing to keep the program — known as the Administrative Prosecution Unit — running was set to run out by the end of December.
On the other hand, there is a vacancy for the program’s sole lawyer position, and a hiring freeze on city agencies imposed by City Hall precludes filling that job, officials said.
“Vow to Fight Police Misconduct Faces Skepticism” By Al Baker, New York Times, January 12, 2012
After a year that saw a steady drumbeat of police corruption cases and increased scrutiny of several New York Police Department practices, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pledged on Thursday to add four lawyers to the two-person legal staff at the agency responsible for monitoring the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.... But Mr. Bloomberg’s plans were met by skepticism among those who view the entity, the Mayor’s Commission to Combat Police Corruption, as a flawed watchdog. Tiny, with a modest budget, it has no subpoena power and relies on the department’s good will for relevant information. Even its chairman, Michael F. Armstrong, who was the counsel to the Knapp Commission on police corruption in the 1970s, has acknowledged the commission’s limitations.
Richard Aborn, the president of the Citizens Crime Commission, said, “If we were to have effective oversight of the N.Y.P.D., it would have two elements, independence and transparency, and you only achieve independence if you have subpoena power and funding that cannot be eliminated.”
“An Arrest for a Crime That, It Turned Out, Never Happened” By Jim Dwyer, New York Times, January 10, 2012
Just before he was loaded into the police car, Aaron Vansintjan said, one of the officers looked at him.
“He said, ‘I’m embarrassed,’ ” Mr. Vansintjan said.
That was no obstacle to a bad situation’s getting more perplexing by the minute.
Mr. Vansintjan, 21, a student at McGill University in Montreal, and his family, who live in Belgium, had come to New York for Christmas week.
He wound up arrested one afternoon at gunpoint, taken to the 34th Precinct station house, held for several hours and accused of lying about a crime that he not only had nothing to do with, but that hadn’t even taken place.
“This,” Mr. Vansintjan said with some understatement, “is no way to treat a tourist.”
.... When he was in the holding cell, he was the only white; the 10 others were all being held on pot charges. “If I weren’t white,” he said, he might have been held overnight.
“NYPD Won’t Divulge Key Crime Stats” By Barbara Ross, January 09, 2012
The New York Civil Liberties Union says the NYPD has refused to hand over crime statistics for a Brooklyn precinct mired in a stats-tampering controversy -- and they want a judge to intervene.
The NYCLU asked the courts to order police brass to release 11 years of statistics for Bedford-Stuyvesant’s 81st Precinct, where the commanding officer was transferred and disciplined and four others hit with departmental charges after a cop alleged stats were manipulated.
The litigation is the latest twist in a scandal set off by Officer Adrian Schoolcraft, who was handcuffed, put into a psychiatric ward for a week and suspended without pay after he claimed his superiors were fudging numbers. He is suing the city for $50 million. In court papers, the NYCLU said the Police Department has released biannual internal “quality assurance” audits since January 2000 for every precinct except the 81st.
"Relax, if You Want, but Don’t Put Your Feet Up" By Joseph Goldstein And Christine Haughney, New York Times, January 6, 2012
It is perhaps the most minor crime New Yorkers are routinely arrested for: sitting improperly on a subway seat. Seven years ago, rule 1050(7)(J) of the city’s transit code criminalized what was once simply bad etiquette: passengers putting their feet on a subway seat. They also cannot take up more than one seat if it interferes with other passengers’ comfort, nor can they block movement on a subway by doing something like standing too close to the doors.
Police officers handed out more than 6,000 tickets for these violations in 2011. But a $50 ticket would have been welcome compared with the trouble many passengers found themselves in; roughly 1,600 people like Mr. Peppers were arrested, sometimes waiting more than a day to be brought before a judge and released, according to statistics from district attorneys’ offices.
In some instances, passengers were arrested because they had outstanding warrants, or did not have photo identification. Some arrests were harder to explain, with no apparent cause other than the seat violation. In at least one case, the arrest led to deportation....
In interviews, public defenders who represent many of the passengers arrested say their clients tend to be among the working class, often kitchen workers who are exhausted as they begin or end long shifts at Manhattan restaurants. Lawyers say many of the cases originate on the F train at the Rockefeller Center stop.
In a recent decision, a Brooklyn judge, Noach Dear, dismissed the case of a man cited for taking up more than one seat on an A train at 3:10 a.m. on Dec. 24. “There appears to be a disconnect between the code’s goals and its enforcement,” Judge Dear wrote in his decision. He said that he and other Brooklyn judges had found these arrests happened “late at night or early in the morning when subways are generally at their least crowded levels.”
Some cases have cost the city. In November, court records show, New York City paid $150,000 to Juan Castillo, a diabetic, who was arrested for putting his feet on a subway seat after he briefly lifted his leg to inject himself with insulin while riding a Manhattan-bound F train to work. Police officers put him in jail and refused to give him access to his insulin for 30 hours, Mr. Castillo said in court papers. He ended up hospitalized for two days.
The city is now defending itself against a lawsuit brought by Abdi Omar, a 30-year-old messenger who was arrested on Sept. 1 at 10:40 p.m. and charged with having his feet on a subway seat. Mr. Omar said that an officer told him after removing him from the train that there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest, which he denied. When Mr. Omar refused to be fingerprinted without proof of a warrant, officers sent him to Bellevue Hospital Center for a psychiatric evaluation, according to Mr. Omar’s suit. Ultimately, it says, the police never produced a warrant for Mr. Omar; he contested the seat summons and won....
Many defense lawyers question if the Police Department has taken these cases too far.
Michael Weaver, 20, a construction worker, was heading home to Harlem after having Thanksgiving dinner with his girlfriend’s family. As he rode an empty E train, Mr. Weaver said, he nodded off and his right knee and thigh leaned on the empty seat next to him. Just before 1 a.m., he said, he was jolted awake by a police officer who accused him of taking up more than one seat.
After he spent the night in a cell with two dozen men, he appeared before Judge Toko Serita. The judge offered to dismiss the case if he stayed out of trouble for six months.
“This is one of those cases that makes people lose faith in our criminal justice system,” Joel Schmidt, the Legal Aid lawyer representing Mr. Weaver, said at his arraignment. “Makes me wonder what our police officers are really doing at 1 o’clock in the morning.”
In late November, the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, ordered every precinct in his domain to read a statement. Officers, the commissioner said, must “respect the public’s right to know about these events and the media’s right of access to report.” Any officer who “unreasonably interferes” with reporters or blocks photographers will be subject to disciplinary actions. And recent events suggest that the commissioner should speak more loudly. Ryan Devereaux, a reporter, serves as Exhibit 1A that all is not well. On Dec. 17, Mr. Devereaux covered a demonstration at Duarte Square on Canal Street for “Democracy Now!,” a news program carried on 1,000 stations. Ragamuffin demonstrators surged and the police pushed back. A linebacker-size officer grabbed the collar of Mr. Devereaux, who wore an ID identifying him as a reporter. The cop jammed a fist into his throat, turning Mr. Devereaux into a de facto battering ram to push back protesters.
- New York City police officers stopped and questioned 684,330 people last year, a record number since the department started producing yearly tallies of the tactic. 87% of the people stopped were black or Latino.
- The New York Times reported that New York "police officers, detectives and commanders" told of "departmental pressure to keep crime statistics low" by not reporting crime or by downgrading charges to minor offenses.
- The president of the National Latino Officers Association said "For police officers it’s gotten to the point of what’s the most diplomatic way to discourage a crime report from being taken.”
- Reporters at the NY Times quoted a school teacher from Queens and others who said that police officers at police stations would not take their information when they try to report crimes.
- A 14 year veteran police officer from the Bronx filed suit alleging the 42nd precinct's illegal arrest quota system had turned cop against cop.
- News stories reported that Facebook pages of white NY police officers described black residents in Brooklyn as "animals" and "savages." The NYPD first learned of what its officers were doing from a reporter.
-Patrick V. Murphy, former NYPD Commissioner and widely-admired police leader and innovator, died at the age of 91. Murphy took over the NYPD following the scandals revealed in the Knapp Commission in 1972, and substantially increased police training and supervision. He believed in "good arrests" not high numbers, and in his 70s became an opponent of the drug war and an advocate for drug decriminalization.
DECEMBER2012 EXCERPTS AND LINKS FOR SCANDALS OF THE NYPD
“Police Tactic: Keeping Crime Reports Off the Books” By Al Baker and Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, December 30, 2011
Crime victims in New York sometimes struggle to persuade the police to write down what happened on an official report. The reasons are varied. Police officers are often busy, and few relish paperwork. But in interviews, more than half a dozen police officers, detectives and commanders also cited departmental pressure to keep crime statistics low.…
But of nearly as much concern to people in law enforcement are crimes that officers simply failed to record, which one high-ranking police commander in Manhattan suggested was “the newest evolution in this numbers game.”
It is not unusual for detectives, who handle telephone calls from victims inquiring about the status of their cases, to learn that no paperwork exists. Detectives said it was hard to tell if those were administrative mix-ups or something deliberate. But they noted their skepticism that some complaints could simply vanish in the digital age....
Jill Korber walked into a drab police station in Queens in July to report that a passing bicyclist had groped her two days in a row. She left in tears, frustrated, she said, by the response of the first officer she encountered ... Katherine Davis said that when a man climbed through her living room window, the police did not take an official report...
Detective Louis A. Molina, president of the National Latino Officers Association, said that for some officers, the desire of supervisors to keep recorded crime levels low was “going to be on your mind,” and that it “can play a role in your decision making.” “For police officers,” he added, “it’s gotten to the point of what’s the most diplomatic way to discourage a crime report from being taken.”
Some public officials have said they have received more complaints from constituents that their reports of crime were not being recorded. State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn said his office had to contact “local precincts directly to make sure that criminal complaints were filed and processed appropriately.”
“CITY ROOM; Major Crime in the City Is Up Slightly This Year, but Not by Bloomberg's Calculation” By Kate Taylor, Al Baker, New York Times, December 29, 2011
With only a few days left in the year, major crime in New York City has risen in 2011 - up less than 1 percent from the previous year, but up nonetheless, according to the latest Police Department data. But that is not how the city sees it. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg held a news conference at City Hall on Wednesday to herald what he said was the 21st consecutive year that the number of major felony crimes had gone down. His logic was rooted in a state law that created strangulation as a new class of crime. The law, which went into effect in late 2010, offered three definitions of strangulation (none resulting in a person's death); first- and second-degree strangulation were felonies, and third-degree strangulation was a misdemeanor. The city's theory is that many crimes now classified as second-degree strangulations would have been treated as misdemeanors or less before the new law took effect.
“NYPD Scandals, Controversies and Lawsuits In 2011 (SLIDESHOW)” Huffington Post, December 25, 2011
A recent 60 Minutes interview with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly portrayed a robust and healthy NYPD, larger than the FBI and capable of shooting down aircraft. What it didn't portray, however, was an NYPD plagued with scandals, controversies, lawsuits and some very bad press— all of which has contributed to seriously low morale among rank-and-file cops. A veteran Bronx officer told The New York Daily News, "The morale in the whole department is in the crapper," adding, "You can't be a police officer no more. You're a robot. You're under the microscope. You're under video surveillance. We feel like the perpetrators now, the way we're being displayed."...
2011's seen officers accused of rape, making false arrests, exchanging drugs for sex, slapping dogs, and illegally trafficking guns, among other alarming accusations. Here's a look at a rough year for New York's finest.
4 Officers Investigated For Drinking On Job
Officer Pleads Guilty To Gun Smuggling
NYPD Monitored Muslim Coeds All Over Northeast
NYPD Officer Suspected Of Moonlighting As A Pimp
The Rape Cops
The Gunpoint Rape Cop
The Ticket-Fixing Scandal
Pepper-Spraying Protesters For No Good Reason
Racist Cop Ruins Lives On Staten Island
Planting Drugs On Innocent People
Cops Give Junky Crack, Force Her To Perform Sex Acts
Racially Profiling A City Councilman
Cops Caught Trafficking Guns, Cigarettes, Slot Machines
NYPD Spy Unit Targets Mosques, Muslim Businesses
Racist Facebook group
Held For No Reason
“Patrick V. Murphy, Police Leader Who Reformed New York Force, Dies at 91” By Al Baker, New York Times, December 17, 2011
Patrick V. Murphy, the son of a New York City policeman who rose to lead the Police Department in the early 1970s, steering it through one of its rockiest periods as he instituted reforms to root out corruption in the ranks, died Friday at a North Carolina hospital.
“Why Is the N.Y.P.D. After Me?” By Nicholas K. Peart, New York Times, December 17, 2011
WHEN I was 14, my mother told me not to panic if a police officer stopped me. And she cautioned me to carry ID and never run away from the police or I could be shot. In the nine years since my mother gave me this advice, I have had numerous occasions to consider her wisdom.
One evening in August of 2006, I was celebrating my 18th birthday with my cousin and a friend. We were staying at my sister’s house on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan and decided to walk to a nearby place and get some burgers. It was closed so we sat on benches in the median strip that runs down the middle of Broadway.
We were talking, watching the night go by, enjoying the evening when suddenly, and out of nowhere, squad cars surrounded us. A policeman yelled from the window, “Get on the ground!” I was stunned. And I was scared. Then I was on the ground — with a gun pointed at me. I couldn’t see what was happening but I could feel a policeman’s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet.
Apparently he looked through and found the ID I kept there. “Happy Birthday,” he said sarcastically. The officers questioned my cousin and friend, asked what they were doing in town, and then said goodnight and left us on the sidewalk. I was stunned. And I was scared. Then I was on the ground — with a gun pointed at me. I couldn’t see what was happening but I could feel a policeman’s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet. Apparently he looked through and found the ID I kept there. “Happy Birthday,” he said sarcastically.
“Critiques Persist of Police Marijuana Arrests” By Al Baker, New York Times, December 15, 2011
Under nearly a decade of governance by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, police officers in New York City have taken into custody far greater numbers of people on low-level marijuana charges than in the past.
Those arrest numbers grew in tandem with another expanding practice: Officers stopping people on city streets to question and sometimes frisk them. Civil rights advocates say that it is minorities, and men, who are disproportionately subject to the streets stops in New York.
“Discipline NYPD cops who wrote hateful Facebook messages about West Indian Day Parade: City politicians : Cops described parade-goers as 'animals' and 'savages'” By Trevor Kapp, New York Daily News, December 6, 2011
The anger followed the exposure of pages of Facebook postings describing the annual West Indian Day Parade in inflammatory words — with repeated references to parade-goers as “animals” and “savages.”
“Online Insults Lead to Calls for Inquiries of N.Y.C. Police” By Al Baker, New York Times, December 6, 2011
Mr. Kelly did not break his silence even as derision swirled around the Facebook conversation, which had been followed by as many as 1,200 people and included references to “savages” and “animals.” Throughout the day, Mr. Kelly’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, repeated a one-line response to requests for an interview with the commissioner: “The Internal Affairs Bureau has undertaken an investigation of the matter.”
“N.Y.C. Police Maligned Paradegoers on Facebook” By William Glaberson, New York Times, December 5, 2011
They called people “animals” and “savages.” One comment said, “Drop a bomb and wipe them all out.”
Hearing New York police officers speak publicly but candidly about one another and the people they police is rare indeed, especially with their names attached. But for a few days in September, a raw and rude conversation among officers was on Facebook for the world to see — until it vanished for unknown reasons.
It offered a fly-on-the-wall view of officers displaying roiling emotions often hidden from the public, a copy of the posting obtained by The New York Times shows. Some of the remarks appeared to have broken Police Department rules barring officers from “discourteous or disrespectful remarks” about race or ethnicity.
The subject was officers’ loathing of being assigned to the West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn, an annual multiday event that unfolds over the Labor Day weekend and that has been marred by episodes of violence, including deaths of paradegoers. Those who posted comments appeared to follow Facebook’s policy requiring the use of real names, and some identified themselves as officers.
“When the Police Go Military” By Al Baker, New York Times, December 3, 2011
RIOT police officers tear-gassing protesters at the Occupy movement in Oakland, Calif. The surprising nighttime invasion of Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, carried out with D-Day-like secrecy by officers deploying klieg lights and a military-style sound machine. And campus police officers in helmets and face shields dousing demonstrators at the University of California, Davis with pepper spray.
Is this the militarization of the American police?
Police forces undeniably share a soldier’s ethos, no matter the size of the city, town or jurisdiction: officers carry deadly weapons and wear uniforms with patches denoting rank. They salute one another and pay homage to a “Yes, sir,” “No, sir,” hierarchical culture.
But beyond such symbolic and formal similarities, American law and tradition have tried to draw a clear line between police and military forces. To cast the roles of the two too closely, those in and out of law enforcement say, is to mistake the mission of each. Soldiers, after all, go to war to destroy, and kill the enemy. The police, who are supposed to maintain the peace, “are the citizens, and the citizens are the police,” according to Chief Walter A. McNeil of Quincy, Fla., the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, citing the words of Sir Robert Peel, the father of modern-day policing.
Yet lately images from Occupy protests streamed on the Internet — often in real time — show just how readily police officers can adopt military-style tactics and equipment, and come off more like soldiers as they face down citizens. Some say this adds up to the emergence of a new, more militaristic breed of civilian police officer. Others disagree.
What seems clear is that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and the federal Homeland Security dollars that flowed to police forces in response to them, have further encouraged police forces to embrace paramilitary tactics like those that first emerged in the decades-long “war on drugs.”
Both wars — first on drugs, then terror — have lent police forces across the country justification to acquire the latest technology, equipment and tactical training for newly created specialized units.
“There is behind this, also, I think, a kind of status competition or imitation, that there is positive status in having a sort of ‘big department muscle,’ in smaller departments,” said Franklin E. Zimring, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley. “And then the problem is, if you have those kinds of specialized units, that you hunt for appropriate settings to use them and, in some of the smaller police departments, notions of the appropriate settings to use them are questionable.”
Radley Balko, a journalist who has studied the issue, told a House subcommittee on crime in 2007 that one criminologist found a 1,500 percent increase in the use of SWAT (special weapons and tactics) teams in the United States in roughly the last two decades.
The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally bars the military from law enforcement activities within the United States. But today, some local and city police forces have rendered the law rather moot. They have tanks — yes, tanks, often from military surplus, for use in hostage situations or drug raids — not to mention the sort of equipment and training one would need to deter a Mumbai-style guerrilla assault.
Such tactics are used in New York City, where Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly (whose department has had armored vehicles for decades) has invoked both the 19th-century military strategist Carl von Clausewitz and the television series “24” in talking about the myriad threats his city faces — both conventional and terrorist....
IN truth, a vast majority of Mr. Kelly’s 35,000-member force are not specialized troops, but rank-and-file beat cops. But that did not stop Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg from sounding like Patton at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week, when he boasted, “I have my own army in the N.Y.P.D.,” suggesting his reasons for preferring City Hall to the White House.
More disturbing than riot gear or heavy-duty weapons slung across the backs of American police officers is a “militaristic mind-set” creeping into officers’ approach to their jobs, said Timothy Lynch, director of the criminal justice project at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. “It is in the way they search and raid homes and the way they deal with the public,” he said.
The more the police fail to defuse confrontations but instead help create them — be it with their equipment, tactics or demeanor — the more ties with community members are burned, he said. The effect is a loss of civility, and an erosion of constitutional rights, rather than a building of good will.
“What is most worrisome to us is that the line that has traditionally separated the military from civilian policing is fading away,” Mr. Lynch said. “We see it as one of the most disturbing trends in the criminal justice area — the militarization of police tactics.”...
Now the Occupy movement and highly publicized official responses to it are forcing the public to confront what its police forces have become.... Police officers are not at war, said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum.... Rather, they must approach any continuing Occupy protests, now or in the spring, with a respect for the First Amendment and a realization that protesters are not enemies but people the police need to engage with up the road.
“You can have all the sophisticated equipment in the world, but it does not replace common sense and discretion and finding ways to defuse situations,” Mr. Wexler said. “You can’t be talking about community policing one day and the next day have an action that is so uncharacteristic to the values of your department.”
“Detective Who Led Ticket-Fixing Inquiry Faces Internal Charges”By Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, December 2, 2011
An investigation into ticket-fixing has already led to indictments against 16 New York City police officers and implicated some 600 others. Now it is creating problems for one more: the Internal Affairs Bureau detective who was the driving force behind the inquiry.
- Veteran journalist Michael Powell reported that "New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers. Reporters with The Associated Press and The Daily News were arrested while taking notes."
- The NY Times said that "At least since the Republican National Convention of 2004, our police have grown accustomed to forcibly penning, arresting, and sometimes spraying and whacking protesters and reporters."
- 90% of the summer school students arrested by the NYPD were young people of color, mainly blacks and Latinos.
- A report from the Citizens Crime Commission found: "Seven narcotics investigators are convicted of planting drugs on people to meet arrest quotas. Eight current and former patrol officers are charged with smuggling guns into the state. Another is charged with making a false arrest, apparently as a favor for his cousin. Three more are convicted of robbing a perfume warehouse."
- The Citizens Crime Commission said none of these cases was discovered by the NYPD, but by external agencies and investigators. It called for more independent oversight and control of the NYPD -- as is common in other large U.S. cities. Mayor Bloomberg thinks this is unnecessary.
- A college student from Pittsburgh on a class trip was arrested and held by the NYPD for 36 hours because she had left her ID back in her hotel, only a few blocks away.
- In announcing his verdict, a NY Supreme Court Judge criticized the "cowboy culture" of NYPD narcotics police who had testified in his court. a number of whom had planted drugs on innocent people. The Judge described a widespread "culture of corruption endemic in its drug units" and said "even this court was shocked ... by the seeming pervasive scope of misconduct."
NOVEMBER2012 EXCERPTS AND LINKS FOR SCANDALS OF THE NYPD
“In Police Trial, Ruling Urges Firing of Detective in Sean Bell Case” By Al Baker, New York Times, November 30, 2011
A Police Department administrative trial has found that a New York City detective who fired his weapon during the 50-bullet fusillade that killed Sean Bell hours before his wedding five years ago did so outside of departmental guidelines, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.
“NYPD Stopping And Frisking Record Number: NYCLU” By Rocco Parascandola, John Doyle, November 29, 2011
The NYPD is on pace to stop a record number of New Yorkers this year as part of its controversial stop, question and frisk initiative, the New York Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday. "Entire neighborhoods in NYC are turning into Constitution- free zones," said Donna Lieberman, the group’s executive director. "A walk to the subway or corner deli should not carry the assumption that you will be confronted by police, but that is a disturbing new reality for many New Yorkers," she added.
“NYCLU: Over 90 Percent Of Summer School Arrests Involved Students Of Color” By Dean Meminger, NYCLU, November 29, 2011
The New York Civil Liberties Union took a close look at New York City Police Department statistics and the ethnicity of the 63 public school students who were arrested between July and September of this year. "Of the people who were arrested, 68 percent were African-American children. The total number of students of color accounted for over 90 percent," said Donna Lieberman of the NYCLU… High school students who spoke with NY1 do not view school safety officers in a positive light and said the officers often treat them like criminals. One student said he spent several days in jail after being accused of stealing a cellphone. "Ah man, now I got this on my permanent record," he said. "You see them girls over there laughing, it's not a laughing matter if they see their record and they don't have a good record because of the school system." School safety officers include about 5,100 peace officers who do not carry guns, as well as 200 regular NYPD officers who do. "Too aggressive with students. They need to tone it down," said a student. "It is basically with the Hispanics and African-American students. You don't see them doing it to the Caucasian and Chinese students."
“1 Student A Day Arrested In Public Schools” Ben Chapman, Tracy Connor, New York Daily News, November 28, 2011
Of the arrests, 68% of the students were black and 25% were Latino.
The civil liberties group [NYCLU] noted that blacks make up about 29% of the school system’s 1.1 million students and an estimated 37% of summer school students.
“We see an enormous racial disparity,” Lieberman said.... The report only covered officers who are part of the School Safety Division — not precinct cops.
“Police and the Press”, By Editorial Page, New York Times, November 25, 2011
In many countries, using a camera or taking notes can get you into trouble. That is not supposed to happen in New York City. Yet as police cleared Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan on Nov. 15, a number of journalists were roughed up and arrested. Many were prevented by police from documenting what happened that night.
“Reporters Meet the Fists of the Law” By Michael Powell, New York Times, November 21, 2011
Over several days, New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers. Reporters with The Associated Press and The Daily News were arrested while taking notes. A radio reporter was arrested as she recorded several blocks from the park...
At least since the Republican National Convention of 2004, our police have grown accustomed to forcibly penning, arresting, and sometimes spraying and whacking protesters and reporters.
On Monday, The New York Times and 12 other organizations sent a letter of protest to the Police Department. “The police actions of last week,” the authors said, “have been more hostile to the press than any other event in recent memory.” Their letter offered five examples. I’ll mention one: As the police carried off a young protester whose head was covered in a crown of blood, a photographer stood behind a metal barricade and raised his camera. Two officers ran at him, grabbed the barrier and struck him in the chest, knees and shins. You are not permitted, the police yelled, to photograph on the sidewalk....
A majority of the city’s working reporters do not possess police passes. Leonard Levitt is a veteran reporter who writes the prodigiously well-sourced NYPD Confidential. “The police want to accredit as few reporters as possible, and they make it exceedingly hard for nonmainstream reporters to get press passes,” he said. Mr. Levitt has tried to renew his pass for a year. “Needless to say,” he noted, “they are resisting.”
There is another problem: a police pass has become a ticket for a quick removal. My Times colleague Colin Moynihan stood on that darkened square last Tuesday morning when a police spokesman shouted, “Who has press credentials?” Many reporters and photographers dutifully raised their hands. With that, the police removed the “credentialed” reporters, under threat of arrest, to a press pen, out of sight of the square. Only shouts and yells could be heard.
“Reporters Say Police Denied Access to Protest Site” By Al Baker, New York Times, November 15, 2011
As New York City police cleared the Occupy Wall Street campsite in Zuccotti Park early Tuesday morning, many journalists were blocked from observing and interviewing protesters. Some called it a “media blackout” and said in interviews that they believed that the police efforts were a deliberate attempt to tamp down coverage of the operation.
The city blog Gothamist put it this way: “The NYPD Didn’t Want You To See Occupy Wall Street Get Evicted.” As a result, much of the early video of the police operation was from the vantage point of the protesters. Videos that were live-streamed on the Web and uploaded to YouTube were picked up by television networks and broadcast on Tuesday morning.
"They Like Transparency, Until They Don’t,” New York Times Editorial, November 13, 2011
Too often news organizations, advocacy groups and others
have had to turn to the courts to pry public information from the
city. In recent years, the New York Civil Liberties Union had to
sue to get stop-and-frisk data from the police, details on the race
of people shot by officers and shooting reports since 1997. Most
recently, the group has filed a suit on behalf of an online
columnist asking for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s calendar.
The department has argued that the commissioner’s whereabouts are
secret for security reasons. Civil liberties lawyers note that the
president’s schedule appears daily on the White House Web site, so
why not Mr. Kelly’s?
“3 Officers to Face Discipline for Detaining City Officials at Parade” By Joseph Goldstein, New York Times” New York Times, November 10, 2011
The Police Department will discipline three officers for an episode in which a city councilman and another city official were detained and handcuffed after the West Indian American Day Parade in September, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The department’s Internal Affairs Bureau found that there was “sufficient evidence to partially substantiate” the complaints by the councilman, Jumaane D. Williams, and the city official, Kirsten John Foy, according to letters that the two men received from the bureau’s chief, Charles V. Campisi. Mr. Williams said he believed racial bias fueled the episode, in which he and Mr. Foy, an aide to the public advocate, were stopped by police officers after walking down a sidewalk that had been closed because of the parade. Despite identifying himself as a councilman, Mr. Williams said, he was handcuffed. Mr. Foy was pushed to the ground by a police officer and also arrested, a video of the episode showed. Mr. Williams and Mr. Foy are black.
“Experts Say N.Y. Police Dept. Isn’t Policing Itself” By Al Baker, New York Times, November 2, 2011
Seven narcotics investigators are convicted of planting drugs on people to meet arrest quotas. Eight current and former patrol officers are charged with smuggling guns into the state. Another is charged with making a false arrest, apparently as a favor for his cousin. Three more are convicted of robbing a perfume warehouse. But beyond the fact of criminal charges against those sworn to protect the public, they all had another thing in common: Each case was uncovered by an outside agency, not the Internal Affairs Bureau of the New York Police Department, the unit responsible for unearthing and investigating officers’ wrongdoing.
This spate of unrelated corruption prosecutions, and what some see as the Internal Affairs Bureau’s spotty record of uncovering major cases involving crooked officers, raise questions about the department’s ability to police itself, said nearly a dozen current and former prosecutors who have handled corruption cases, as well as some current and former Internal Affairs supervisors and investigators.
Several of them blamed a lack of effective outside oversight of the department’s anticorruption program, characterizing the monitoring as weak at best in recent years, with monitors having neither the political will to press the department nor support from City Hall. They also cited low starting salaries for new officers, poor morale, recruits drawn from a smaller pool of qualified candidates and a hidebound Internal Affairs Bureau bureaucracy...
A new study by the Citizens Crime Commission in New York, provided by Richard Aborn, its president, shows that other major municipal police departments are overseen by agencies that do have subpoena power and can focus more broadly on misconduct.
“Occupy Brooklyn Holds March Against NYPD’s ‘Stop And Frisk’” By Elizabeth Flock, Washington Post, November 1, 2011
The Brooklyn offshoot of Occupy Wall Street began a march late Tuesday afternoon against the New York Police Department’s policy to “stop and frisk,” marching from the city’s Tilden housing projects to NYPD’s 73rd and then 23rd precincts. Some protesters chanted “Stop and frisk has got to go! We say no to the new Jim Crow!” while others yelled, “Stop and frisk don’t stop the crime; stop and frisk is the crime.” A 9-year-old girl reportedly carried a sign that read: “This system has no future for our youth. Revolution does.”
“Dismal Tale of Arrest for Tiniest of Crimes” By Jim Dwyer, November 1, 2011
Early in the morning on Oct. 22, a Saturday, Ms. Zucker, 21, and her friend Alex Fischer, also 21, were stopped by the police in Riverside Park and given tickets for trespassing. Mr. Fischer was permitted to leave after he produced his driver’s license. But Ms. Zucker, on a visit to New York City with a group of Carnegie Mellon University seniors looking for jobs in design industries, had left her wallet in a hotel two blocks away. She was handcuffed. For the next 36 hours, she was moved from a cell in a Harlem precinct station house to central booking in Lower Manhattan
"Brooklyn Judge 'Shocked' By 'Cowboy Culture' Of Narcotics Cops" by Oren Yaniv, New York Daily News, November 1, 2011
A Brooklyn judge declared himself shocked by the "cowboy culture" of narcotics cops Tuesday when he convicted a detective of planting crack on an innocent couple. "Having been a judge for 20 years, I thought I was not naïve regarding the reality of narcotics enforcement," said Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach. "But even the Court was shocked, not only by the seeming pervasive scope of the misconduct, but even more distressingly by the seeming casualness by which such conduct is employed."
He found Detective Jason Arbeeny guilty of eight counts of falsifying records and official misconduct in an explosive bench trial that revealed the police practice of "flaking" - nabbing blameless people to pad arrest quotas and earn overtime.
The judge noted that several witnesses said narcotics officers were expected to make 60% of their arrests for felonies and that cops would spread collars around so they could all meet the quotas.
The judge even said that paled in comparison to the "mindset in Narcotics that seemingly embraces a cowboy culture where anything goes in the never-ending war on drugs"....
Most troubling, Judge Reichbach said, was the "casualness" of arresting innocents, which emerged at trial.... Alluding to movies about police corruption, he said some of the testimony painted the Brooklyn South Narcotics squad "as a cross between 'Training Day' and 'Prince of the City.'"
"Detective Is Found Guilty of Planting Drugs" Tim Stelloh, New York Times, November 1, 2011
The New York Police Department, already saddled with corruption scandals, saw its image further tainted on Tuesday with the conviction of a detective for planting drugs on a woman and her boyfriend....
Before announcing the verdict, Justice Reichbach scolded the department for what he described as a widespread culture of corruption endemic in its drug units.... "Even this court was shocked, not only by the seeming pervasive scope of misconduct but even more distressingly by the seeming casualness by which such conduct is employed.”
...there had been conflicting testimony during the trial about the existence of quotas in the department’s drug units.... In the department’s Brooklyn South narcotics unit, for instance, drugs seized as evidence are not counted or sealed until they reach the precinct and can be handled by multiple officers along the way, Justice Reichbach said, adding that such unacceptable practices “pale in significance” to the “cowboy culture” of the drug units. “Anything goes in the never-ending war on drugs,” he said, “and a refusal to go along with questionable practices raise the specter of blacklisting and isolation.”
- Newspaper and TV news reported that NYPD narcotics officers had planted drugs on innocent people and then arrested and charged them to meet arrest quotas. Police officers who did this testified about others who also did so. All said the practice, which narcotics cops call "flaking," was common and widespread.
- Al Baker of the NY Times reported that the NYPD commander, whose pepper-spraying of peaceful protesters became a youtube sensation, was transferred to a post near his home, substantially reducing his commute.
- After repeatedly requesting the information, the NYCLU filed a law suit requiring the NYPD to release the daily schedule of police Commissioner Kelly, as is done routinely for the NY Governor and the US President.
- The NY Times reported on the growing militarism of police departments such as the NYPD which "adopt military-style tactics and equipment, and come off more like soldiers as they face down citizens."
- Manhattan's Borough President called for a federal investigation of NYPD's stop and frisk practices.
- 16 New York police officers were arrested on ticket-fixing charges, with more to officers to be charged.
- A Pulitzer-prize winning columnist for the Miami Herald (Florida) wrote of "an appalling amount of forgetting" about the protections of the Fourth Amendment regarding unreasonable searches, and that "New York City has become the epicenter of the amnesia."
OCTOBER2012 EXCERPTS AND LINKS FOR SCANDALS OF THE NYPD
"Stop And Frisk’ Becomes Tactic For Abuse” By Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald, October 29, 2011
The right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures, shall not be violated . . . — Fourth Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States Just in case you forgot.
Federal agents recently arrested a New York City cop on charges of violating the civil rights of an African-American man. Officer Michael Daragjati allegedly stopped the man in April and threw him against a parked van to search him. No drugs or weapons were found, but Daragjati reportedly became angry the man questioned his rough treatment and requested the officer’s name and badge number. So Daragjati ran him in on a charge of resisting arrest. Later, talking on the phone to a friend, he bragged that he had “fried another nigger” and that it was “no big deal.” This was overheard by the feds.
“Lawyer for accused NYPD cop Jose Ramos mocks Bronx prosecutors” By Rocco Parascandola, New York Daily News, October 29, 2011
Ramos was the only one of the 16 not to leave court to the cheers of 500 officers gathered in support and anger on a chilly fall morning. The rest were all freed, most without any bail.
“Unsealed Indictments Shed Light on Procedures for Ticket-Fixing by Officers” By Al Baker, New York Times, October 28, 2011
A police union trustee in the Bronx, Officer McGuckin went through the usual procedure: he called a union delegate at the 48th Precinct, Officer Christopher Scott, who a day later called in a favor to an officer who could get his hands on the ticket to have it destroyed.
“16 Cops Arraigned In NYPD Tix-Fix Scandal” By Douglas Montero, October 28, 2011
Sixteen cops connected to an NYPD ticket-fixing scandal pleaded not guilty today after the probe that uncovered the massive scandal began when a Bronx police officer was accused of having ties a drug dealer. The cops stood before a judge in Bronx Supreme Court as hundreds of fellow officers turned up to the Bronx courthouse in a show of support.
The officers, both in plainclothes and in uniform, lined up inside and outside the courthouse in support of their fellow officers. Prosecutors said the tickets would either be physically removed from the precinct station house after they'd been written or doctored them so that they would be dismissed. In some cases, the cops who fixed tickets called cops who'd written the summonses and told to lie under oath so that the cases would be dismissed, prosecutors said.
"No ‘Highway Therapy’ for Pepper-Spray Commander" by Al Baker And Rob Harris, New York Times, October 27, 2011
When imperfect police officers are caught and punished, they sometimes receive a form of discipline known colloquially behind the Blue Wall of Silence as “highway therapy.”
If an officer who works in the northern Bronx and lives in Rockland County, for instance, breaks some departmental rule, he might be sent to work in a command in the far reaches of eastern Queens, such as the 105th Precinct, on the Nassau County line. There are lots of highways and roads to navigate, the thinking goes, and lots of time for an officer to reflect.
But such reasoning has seemingly not factored into the punishment given to Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, the New York Police Department commander who pepper-sprayed protesters during the opening days of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations last month.
A week after Inspector Bologna, 57, was hit with internal disciplinary charges for running afoul of departmental rules regarding the use of pepper spray, a law enforcement official said he opted to accept the department’s proposed penalty: the loss of 10 vacation days.
And he was summarily transferred to a job on Staten Island, the official said, which happens to be where Inspector Bologna, a veteran of nearly 30 years on the city’s police force, lives. Such moves are approved by Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, who police officials say oversees all transfers.
The commute for him in his new assignment, thus, will be shorter than for his former job as a commander in southern Manhattan. On Staten Island, he will be working at the department’s headquarters for the borough, the official said.
"8 City Officers Charged in Gun Smuggling Case" by William K. Rashbaum And Joseph Goldstein, Colin Moynihan, New York Times, October 26, 2011
Eight current and former New York police officers were arrested on Tuesday and charged in federal court with accepting thousands of dollars in cash to drive a caravan of firearms into the state, an act of corruption that brazenly defied the city’s strenuous efforts to get illegal guns off the streets.
The officers — five are still on the force, and three are retired — and four other men were accused of transporting M-16 rifles and handguns, as well as what they believed to be stolen merchandise across state lines, according to a complaint filed in the case in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
The current and retired officers, most of whom at one time or another worked in the same Brooklyn station house, were arrested at their homes before sunrise by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and investigators from the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, officials said....
In recent weeks, testimony at the trial of a narcotics detective has featured accusations that he and his colleagues in Brooklyn and Queens planted drugs or lied under oath to meet arrest quotas and earn overtime, leading to the arrests of eight officers, the dismissal of hundreds of drug cases because of their destroyed credibility and the payout of more than $1 million in taxpayer money to settle false arrest lawsuits.
Two other officers, in unrelated federal cases, have been charged in recent weeks with criminal civil-rights violations accusing them of trumping up charges against innocent victims. In one case, on Staten Island, a white officer is accused of falsely arresting a black man and then bragging about it using a racial slur. And in the coming days, 16 officers are expected to face charges in a ticket-fixing scandal in the Bronx.
"Narcotics Cops Showered Junkie With Crack And Forced Her To Perform Sex Acts In Return: Testimony” By Oren Yaniv, New York Daily News, October 24, 2011
NYPD narcs showered a junkie with crack and forced her to perform sex acts in return, she testified in the latest embarrassing revelation to emerge from a police corruption trial.
In one incident, Melanie Perez recalled on the stand last week, a cop called her to his home, made her smoke drugs then pulled down his pants and demanded oral sex.
"What was I going to do?" she testified in Brooklyn Supreme Court. "I did it."
The damning account came during the bench trial of Jason Arbeeny, one of eight undercovers charged in a scandal that rocked the Brooklyn South Narcotics squad.
The trial has already yielded troubling testimony on officers "flaking" - planting drugs on innocent victims - to meet arrest quotas and get overtime pay.
Perez also testified that the sexually demanding officer, whom she knew only as Frank, had later introduced her to a colleague, Sean Johnston, who also gave her narcotics on several occasions.
"He gave me a nice piece for Christmas," she said. "It was crack and it was kickin'."
"Cop Morale Low After String Of NYPD Scandals Puts Department Under Fire" By Rocco Parascandola, Bob Kappstatter, John Doyle AND Rich Schapiro, New York Daily News, October 23, 2011
It's a tough time to be one of New York's Finest. With the NYPD facing a blizzard of damning incidents in recent months, cops and police brass say morale among the force is perilously low.
"The morale in the whole department is in the crapper," a veteran Bronx cop told the Daily News. "You can't be a police officer no more," he said. "You're a robot. You're under the microscope. You're under video surveillance. We feel like the perpetrators now, the way we're being displayed."
A ticket-fixing scandal has hung over the department like a black cloud for the past two years. But the negative press has intensified in recent months with the emergence of several new scandals.
A spate of false drug busts - known as "flaking," cop talk for planting cocaine on innocent victims - led to the arrests of eight cops and a sweeping NYPD shakeup.
Earlier this month, NYPD Officer Michael Daragjati was hit with federal civil rights charges for falsely arresting a black man on Staten Island because of his race.
And a series of apparently strongarm police tactics in dealing with the Occupy Wall Street protesters - most notably, NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna's use of pepper spray on two women - has left the department with a very public black eye.
"Everybody is really shaken," said a Bronx cop who has been on the force for 10 years. "A lot of guys are afraid to do their jobs, but that's what happens. One or two guys can tarnish the whole department."
Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said, "Morale is as bad as I've ever seen it."...
A narcotics cop said he was the target of jeers while making arrests last week. "You planted the drugs! You put it on him!" onlookers hollered at him, the cop recalled. "You just have to ignore it," the 15-year-veteran noted.
The growing malaise has even reached the upper echelons of the NYPD. Roy Richter, head of the Captains Endowment Association, said the flaking controversy in particular has made it difficult for honest cops to do their jobs.
"I've had conversations with my members who expressed their frustrations about how it's a difficult time for executives in the Police Department," Richter said.
“Cop Slapped Dog Out Third-Story Window” Douglas Montero, New York Post, October 24, 2011
A brave 7-pound pooch trying to protect three little kids in his family was heartlessly slapped out a third-story window by a cop on a failed drug raid, a lawsuit charges.
“Cornel West Arrested at 'Stop And Frisk' Protests” By Eric Randall, The Atlantic Wire, October 21, 2011
It's been a busy week for Princeton's Cornel West, who was arrested in D.C. on Sunday, and was just arrested again in New York this afternoon.
“Protesters of Police Stop-and-Frisk Practice Are Arrested” By Noah Rosenberg, New York Times, Noah Rosenberg, October 21, 2011
About 30 people, including the civil rights campaigner and Princeton professor Cornel West, were arrested Friday outside a police station in Harlem during a protest of the police practice known as stop-and-frisk.
“NYPD's Stop-And-Frisk Policy Demands A Federal Probe: It's Race-Based And Ineffective” By Scott Stringer, New York Daily News, October 20, 2011
The appalling case of Michael Daragjati - the NYPD officer charged by the Brooklyn U.S. attorney with falsely arresting a black man on Staten Island because of his race - is a chilling reminder that racism must be battled every day. Daragjati's alleged conduct and racist commentary after illegally stopping, frisking and arresting the unidentified John Doe should sicken us all. Yesterday, I [Scott Stringer] joined with state Sen. Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn) in calling for a federal investigation into current stop-and-frisk practices. In 2000, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded that the NYPD street-stop program amounted to racial profiling.
Eleven years and millions of stops later, the city is still waiting for a street-stop policy that is designed to identify true threats. As a federal court in Manhattan found last month, serious questions remain about racial disparities in current stop-and-frisk practices; about the constitutionality of stops that do not result in arrest and about the role quotas may have played in driving the fourfold increase in stops over the past decade. A new investigation that focuses on each of these issues would help to answer these questions and chart a road map for reform.
“Racist NYPD Cop Ruined My Life And Ended My Major-League Dream, Jared Williams Says” By John Marzulli, New York Daily News, October 19, 2011
Jared Williams was a star center fielder for Wagner College with dreams of becoming a major-leaguer when he crossed paths with NYPD cop Michael Daragjati. Williams' field of dreams ended on an October night in 2005 when he and two pals were arrested by the officer - falsely, he insists - outside a Staten Island bar.
“Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly's Schedule Should Be Made Public, NYCLU Says In Lawsuit” By Rocco Parascandola, Daily News, October 18, 2011
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly's schedule should be made public, the New York Civil Liberties Union said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday. Requests for Kelly's schedule have been routinely denied throughout his tenure. Inquiries filed under the Freedom of Information Law are typically met with an explanation that revealing his whereabouts would threaten his security. But the NYCLU, filing on behalf of Leonard Levitt, a former Newsday reporter who covers the NYPD in an online column, scoffed at the explanation and said police can easily withhold sensitive information and still release his schedule.
“Lawsuit Seeks Release of Police Commissioner’s Schedule” By Al Baker, New York Times, October 18, 2011
The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan by the New York Civil Liberties Union, characterized Mr. Kelly as “the most important appointed” official in city government, and said that details of whom he meets with remained largely shrouded in secrecy.
Other high-placed officials, including the president, publicly disclose portions of their schedules, the suit said, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last month began posting a detailed version of his daily schedules online.
“There is no good reason for Commissioner Kelly to withhold this information from the public,” Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the civil liberties group, said in a statement. “If it’s safe for the leader of the country to disclose his schedule, then it’s safe for the N.Y.P.D. commissioner to do the same.”
“Commander Who Pepper-Sprayed Protesters Faces Disciplinary Charge” By Al Baker, New York Times, October 18, 2011
Inspector Bologna’s actions on Sept. 24, when he sprayed several penned-in women, were captured on video and spread widely on the Internet. It became a defining moment in the protests.
Four days later, Mr. Kelly said the Internal Affairs Bureau would look into the inspector’s actions. At the same time, the Manhattan district attorney’s office opened an investigation. On Monday, one woman who was pepper-sprayed, accompanied by her lawyer, met with prosecutors and urged them to bring criminal charges against the inspector.
“A Story of Drugs and the Police” By Jim Dwyer, New York Times, October 18, 2011
For anyone interested in watching the spasms of history
repeating themselves, the current round of corruption cases
involving police officers and drugs could serve as a down payment on
the 21st century’s contributions. You have to wonder when society
will get tired of sending police officers to use all their wiles in
the hunt for dealers, and then be shocked when some of them wind up
pumping their informers with drugs — confiscated, of course, from
other dealers — or craving arrests so much that they frame innocent
“The Drugs? They Came From the Police” By Jim Dwyer, New York Times, October 14, 2011
The first time he saw the chewing-tobacco can, Steve
Anderson, a former undercover police officer, testified, it was in a
book bag on the floor of a car that he and other undercover officers
were using in a buy-and-bust operation. According to Mr. Anderson,
the stuff inside that can -- ''various
narcotics,'' he said -- was used by undercover officers to frame
people for phantom drug sales.
Mr. Anderson added a new dimension to the saga by
spelling out how innocent people were caught in webs of lies told by
some officers. At a Queens nightclub in 2008, Mr. Anderson said, he
bought three bags of cocaine from a waiter and a disc jockey. He
then gave two of them to another officer who was having trouble
meeting his quota and was in jeopardy of losing his undercover
assignment. That officer took the drugs,
went back and arrested four people who had nothing to do with the
Justice Gustin Reichbach, who is hearing the case
without a jury, said he understood why Mr. Anderson would swap an
arrest to help a fellow officer who was falling short of his
targets, but pressed him on what he had done to innocent people.
''What was your thought in terms of saving his career at the cost of
these four people who had seemingly no involvement in the
transaction?'' Justice Reichbach asked.
“Planting Drugs On Innocent People: NYPD's 'Shocking' Scandal: An ex-detective testifies that he and his colleagues frequently fabricated drug cases to meet arrest quotas” The Week, October 14, 2011
In bombshell testimony at a corruption trial, a former
narcotics detective said members of the New York Police Department
routinely planted drugs to justify arresting innocent people,
the New York
The NYPD did not respond to the newspaper's request for comment.
Here's what you need to know about this "shocking"
“We Fabricated Drug Charges Against Innocent People To Meet Arrest Quotas, Former Detective Testifies” By John Marzulli, New York Daily News, October 13, 2011
A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a
corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate
drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.
The bombshell testimony from Stephen Anderson is the first public
account of the twisted culture behind the false arrests in the
Brooklyn South and Queens narc squads, which led to the arrests of
eight cops and a massive shakeup.
"Ex-Narc Admits Guilt" By William J. Gorta, New York Post, October 13, 2011
A Queens narcotics cop caught on video framing four men in a bar has pleaded guilty to a drug-sale charge, been sentenced to two to four years in prison -- and agreed to testify against other cops.
Ex-Detective Stephen Anderson revealed his deal last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court when he testified against a cop on unrelated charges.
Anderson told Justice Gustin Reichbach that in January 2008, he gave two bags of cocaine to undercover Officer Henry Tavarez, the trial transcript shows.
The drugs were to help Tavarez, who was struggling to prove himself in the unit, pretend that the four men in an Elmhurst, Queens bar had sold him coke.
Anderson, when asked about his feelings about the frame-up, said, “The corruption I observed . . . was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators.”
Anderson said he saw undercover cops lying about such drug sales by innocent people “multiple times.”
Charges against the four men were later dropped. Anderson was busted in 2009, but his plea deal only came to light yesterday.
He was testifying against Jason Arbeeny, a narcotics cop from Brooklyn South charged with falsifying public documents and business records.
“Former Detective: NYPD Planted Drugs on People to Meet Drug Arrest Quotas. According to a former officer who testified at trial yesterday, New York City police regularly planted drugs on innocent people to meet quotas.” By Kristin Gwynne, Alternet, October 13, 2011
The NYPD has been under fire in recent months for illegal searches resulting in thousands of low-level marijuana arrests, mostly of people of color. As corrupt as this practice is, testimony from Stephen Anderson, a former NYPD narcotics detective, shows it's just the tip of the iceberg.
According to Anderson, who testified at trial Wednesday, New York City police regularly planted drugs on innocent people to meet quotas. Anderson should know. He was arrested in 2008 for planting cocaine on four men in a bar in Queens. His statements are the first glimpse into a culture of set-ups at the Brooklyn South and Queens Narc squads where eight corrupt cops were arrested.
Anderson says his own stunt was a tactic to help officer Henry Tavarez meet his buy-and-bust quota. But the incident was not limited to a handful of men. According to Anderson, “It was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators.”
Anderson's case suggests the set-ups are a response to the pressure bosses force on police to make drug arrests.
"Tavarez was ... was worried about getting sent back [to patrol] and, you know, the supervisors getting on his case," Anderson said at the corruption trial of Brooklyn South narcotics Detective Jason Arbeeny.
Having just made two legitimate arrests himself, "I had decided to give him [Tavarez] the drugs to help him out so that he could say he had a buy," Anderson testified.
"As a detective, you still have a number to reach while you are in the narcotics division," Anderson added.
Clearly, the NYPD was requiring officers to fill quotas. The problem, it seems, was not lazy officers, but a lack of the guilty. The undue attention officers place on drug arrests is cause for alarm. This is not the first allegation of widespread corruption at the NYPD. Disturbing data uncovered by the Drug Policy Alliance and Queens College sociology professor Dr. Harry Levine shows many incidences of abuse of police authority. In fact, the evidence was so strong and stunk of such wrongdoing that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly actually issued an internal memo last month, ordering officers to stop charging people based on improper searches.
"We Fabricated Drug Charges Against Innocent People to Meet Arrest Quotas” Hyper Vocal, October 13th 2011
A former NYPD narcotics detective admitted in court that the practice of planting drugs on innocent civilians to meet quotas was a pretty common one....
Stephen Anderson testified at the corruption trial of Brooklyn South narcotics Detective Jason Arbeeny, courtesy of a cooperation agreement. The New York Daily News reports that he had helped police officer Henry Tavarez meet his buy-and-bust numbers by fabricating cocaine possession charges against four men arrested in a Queens bar in 2008. Tavarez’s numbers were low and he was worried about the potential ramifications.
“Tavarez was worried about getting sent back [to patrol] and, you know, the supervisors getting on his case,” Anderson told the court. “I had decided to give him [Tavarez] the drugs to help him out so that he could say he had a buy.”
Justice Gustin Reichbach asked Anderson if he observed this practice — commonly referred to as “flaking” — taking place “with some frequency,” to which he replied “yes, multiple times.” Anderson kept most of his legitimate busts to himself, because, as he explained, “as a detective, you still have a number to reach while you are in the narcotics division.”
Then, the judge questioned Anderson about any concern he had for his victims, to which Anderson responded that there was very little reflection going on at the time because the practice was so common among supervisors, investigators and undercover police....
Anderson and Taverez’s scheme was exposed when security cameras caught them framing Jose Colon and his brother Maximo. New York paid the siblings $300,000 in a false arrest suit settlement. A federal judge presiding over the suit said the NYPD’s plagued by “widespread falsification” by arresting officers....
Arbeeny is one of eight cops, including Anderson, arrested for false arrests and planting drugs on innocent civilians.
“In This Case, a Protest With Focus” By Jim Dwyer, New York Times, October 11, 2011
Mr. Anderson testified this month in the trial of Jason Arbeeny, who worked in Brooklyn and is accused of planting drugs on two people who had never been arrested. Although he testified that he did not know Mr. Arbeeny or have any knowledge of wrongdoing by him, Mr. Anderson's description of the narcotics units was offered by prosecutors as evidence of what they say is a conspiracy to cover up its lawlessness by routinely falsifying records and keeping stashes of narcotics.
BEFORE OCTOBER 2011
“Pepper Spray and a Police Dept. Whose Power Grows Unchecked” By Jim Dwyer, September 29, 2011
All senior commanders know that at high altitudes in the Police Department, the laws of municipal gravity are suspended. Above the rank of captain, civil service rules have no force: police inspectors, chiefs and their deputies all serve at the pleasure of the commissioner, who must keep the mayor happy. Mr. Kelly created a counterterrorism force and an intelligence division to do for the city what the federal government was incapable of in September 2001: provide protection. Yet it has done so in a bubble of isolation from ordinary democratic processes. It exists in a world apart.
“NYPD ticket-fixing probe: Grand jury votes to indict 17 cops in scandal that's rocked police dept.” By Rocco Parascandola, Daily News Staff Writers, September 23, 2011
A BRONX grand jury indicted 17 cops yesterday in a massive ticket-fixing scandal that stretched from precinct houses to 1 Police Plaza, sending shock waves through the NYPD.
Grand jurors shook their heads and frowned in disgust as they heard the startling evidence of cops routinely quashing tickets, sources told the Daily News.
The accused officers - including a large number of union delegates - were stunned as they absorbed the reality of their imminent arrests following a two-year probe....
More than 500 cops were linked to the scandal and it was expected dozens of officers beyond those indicted could face some sort of departmental discipline.
The indicted cops face charges that include perjury, bribery, obstruction, grand larceny and official misconduct, the sources said.
The News has reported the cops involved helped cover up an assault charge and a domestic assault case, with one cop even taking profits from drug proceeds.
At least eight union officials were facing charges.
“NYPD's Demographics Unit Eyed 250-plus Mosques, Student Groups” By Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, Huffington Post, September 6, 2011
The records reveal the extent of an undercover effort that initially studied more than 250 mosques in New York and New Jersey and identified hundreds more "hot spots" in a hunt for terrorists. Many showed obvious signs of criminal behavior, but the police explanations for targeting others were less clear. A Bangladeshi restaurant, for instance, was identified as a hot spot for having a "devout crowd." The restaurant was noted for being a "popular meeting location for political activities."
Two mosques, for instance, were flagged for having ties to Al-Azhar, the 1,000-year-old Egyptian mosque that is the pre-eminent institute of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world. Al-Azhar was one of the first religious institutions to condemn the 2001 terrorist attacks. President George W. Bush's close adviser, Karen Hughes, visited Al-Azhar in 2005 and applauded its courage. Al-Azhar was also a sponsor of Obama's 2009 speech reaching out to the Muslim world. The list of mosques where undercover agents or informants operated includes ones that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has visited and that area officials have mentioned as part of the region's strong ties to the Muslim community. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stood beside leaders of some mosques on the list as allies in fighting terrorism.
“NYPD Arrests, Suspends Off-Duty Officer Michael Pena On Rape Charges” CBS, August 19, 2011
An off-duty New York City police officer is behind bars after being accused of raping a woman Friday morning in Manhattan. Michael Pena, an officer since 2008, has been suspended without pay after the alleged incident in which a 25-year-old teacher said she was raped in Inwood.
“Uruguayan soccer fans accuse NYPD of using excessive force against crowd in Copa America celebration” By Jose Bayona, July 27, 2011
A joyous soccer celebration in Queens went awry Sunday and fans are now accusing cops of using excessive force. After the final match of the Copa America in Argentina, hundreds of Uruguayans in Jackson Heights exulted in the streets over their team's victory. Minutes later, dozens of police officers from the 115th Precinct arrived at 37th Ave. and 84th St. and began pushing back the crowd, leading to scuffles, witnesses said. "I couldn't call 911. They were the same people abusing us," said Silvana Sislian, 46, manager of La Gran Uruguaya Bakery on 37th Ave.
LAW SUITS AND OTHER RELEVANT INFORMATION
“National Police Oversight Models” By Richard Aborn, president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City
The last few years have also witnessed a rising concern over NYPD practices and continued allegations of supervisory level misconduct. Allegations of an excessive stop and frisk policy, ticket-fixing, manipulation of crime reporting, multiple allegations of retaliation against police department whistleblowers, allegations of an unlawful detention policy and a repeated course of conduct demonstrating an unwillingness to comply with proper demands for data have once again brought into focus the question of sufficient, independent, oversight of the NYPD.
The NYPD is the largest police department in the country, dwarfing its nearest rivals in Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Even if those forces were combined, the result would only be 29,107 officers compared to the NYPD's 34,817 officers [UCR]. Yet in each of those cities the enabling act creating civilian oversight provides the elements required for a vigorous independent oversight mechanism. From Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority and Police Board, to Los Angeles' Board of Police Commissioners and Inspector General, to Philadelphia's Police Advisory Commission and Integrity and Accountability Office, each of these agencies has the elements allowing them to administer an independent oversight process, beyond the reach of the police force. Most importantly, each has either subpoena power or the right to demand access to information relevant to its tasks. This is a central function of any meaningful oversight mechanism.
The review that follows examines the different ways the
top five next largest U.S. police departments conduct civilian
oversight. Three core elements are found in each (with the exception
of Houston): transparency; independence; and compulsory power to
demand documents, data, access to personnel and other information.
Police accountability Legislation
Legislation to end police practices with a “disparate impact”, prevent police officers from deceiving New Yorkers into consenting to searches, force police officers to hand out personal cards to people stopped and explain their reason for the stop, create an inspector generals office, and improve police practices of reporting demographic information on arrests and summonses.
“NYCLU v. New York County District Attorney (Seeking access to records concerning the D.A.'s Trespass Affidavit Program)”
This lawsuit challenges the refusal of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to disclose public records concerning a program that allows NYPD officers to regularly patrol privately owned apartment buildings. Landlords can enroll their buildings in the District Attorney’s Trespass Affidavit Program, which permits police officers to patrol the premises. The NYCLU has received numerous reports that police officers make unconstitutional, suspicionless stops – and even trespassing arrests – of TAP building residents and their invited guests.
City of New York (Challenging aspects of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk
This lawsuit seeks an injunction requiring the NYPD to seal all records, including personal information in the Department’s stop-and-frisk database, of people who were stopped and frisked by police officers, arrested or issued a summons, and whose cases ended either in dismissal or only the payment of a fine for a noncriminal violation.
Blair v. City of New York, et al. (Challenging NYPD's racially biased stop-and-frisk practices)
This case challenges the NYPD’s unlawful and unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policies and practices.
The plaintiff, Leonardo Blair – a Jamaican-born black man – was stopped, arrested and jailed without justification in November 2007 while walking from his car to his home in the Bronx. The lawsuit maintains that the arresting officers violated Blair’s constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The suit also challenges the legality of a database the NYPD maintains with the names and addresses of every person stopped and frisked by the police, even though more than 90 percent of those people have done nothing wrong.
Mr. Blair, 28, immigrated to the United States in 2006 and resides here on an optional practical training visa. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in May 2007 and landed a job writing for the New York Post.
Levitt v. NYPD (Seeking access to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly's daily schedule)
The NYCLU filed the lawsuit, an Article 78 petition, in State Supreme Court of New York County on Oct. 18, 2011 on behalf of journalist Leonard Levitt, who has reported on the NYPD for decades. In February 2011, Levitt requested under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) copies of Commissioner Kelly’s schedule that would reveal the identity of people he had met with since January 2002. He sought this information after having reported about previously unknown meetings that Kelly had held at the Harvard Club in New York City.
The NYPD entirely denied Levitt’s FOIL request in May. The NYCLU appealed the NYPD’s denial in June 2011. The NYPD denied the appeal asserting that disclosing Commissioner Kelly’s schedule over the past decade would endanger both the commissioner and the people with whom he had met.
Battle v. City of New York (Challenging NYPD practice of searching innocent livery cab passengers)
This lawsuit challenges the NYPD’s unlawful practice of detaining, questioning and searching innocent New Yorkers – particularly blacks, Latinos and other non-whites – while they are passengers in livery cabs.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, maintains that the NYPD uses its Taxi/Livery Inspection Program (TRIP) to expand the reach of its unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices. The lawsuit does not challenge safety stops of livery cars but seeks to halt the NYPD’s practice of using these stops to detain, question and search passengers who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.
The plaintiffs in the case were riding in livery cabs and were detained, questioned and searched even though the livery drivers told officers there was no problem and even though the officers did not suspect the plaintiffs of any wrongdoing. The lawsuit asks the court to declare that the NYPD’s actions violate constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. It seeks an injunction to end abuses of the TRIP program and to require new training and close supervision of the program. The City of New York, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and individual police officers are named as defendants.