Friday, May 24th, 2013 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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Support For NYPD Inspector General Hits 68%, Quinnipiac Poll Finds
BY Celeste Katz — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
Voters want an independent inspector general watching over the NYPD -- but not as much as they crave more surveillance cameras watching over New York City, a new Quinnipiac poll finds.
Creating an IG's office -- an idea that grew out of the controversy over the department's stop and frisk tactics -- pulled 68% support in a survey released today.
Black and Latino voters, who have equated the stops with racial profiling, strongly supported establishing the watchdog post. But overall, only nine percent of voters bought into the argument that an IG would hobble the NYPD and make the city less safe.
“We think our cops have been effective keeping us terror-free, and we think they do a good job overall. But we’re mixed on stop-and-frisk, with a big racial split: white voters are for it; black and Hispanic voters are opposed,” Quinnipiac's Mickey Carroll said.
Minority voters also outstripped whites in calling for more camera surveillance of the city's public spaces. About 80% of white voters want more eyes in the skies, with support hitting 86% among blacks and 88% among Hispanics.
While 62% of the electorate is somewhat or very worried about terrorists targeting NYC again, fully 87% of those polled by Quinnipiac say the recent Boston Marathon bombings haven't caused them to change their daily lives in any way.
Both Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD at large get higher marks for their handling of terrorist threats than for their overall job performance.
The NYPD overstepped its bounds in conducting counter-terror surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey, say 26% of voters, while 32% called the monitoring necessary and 37% had no opinion.
Yet 70% of city voters say the government shouldn't violate civil rights to stop terror attacks, while 24% encourage doing whatever it takes, even if that means infringing on individuals' rights.
Polling Being Conducted to See if Raymond Kelly Is a Viable Mayoral Candidate
A polling call about Ray Kelly
By Azi Paybarah — Thursday, May 23rd, 2013; 10:53 p.m. ‘Capital New York’ / New York, NY
A reader emails to report having received a phone call tonight about a poll that included questions about police commissioner Ray Kelly as a mayoral candidate. According to the reader, the questions came from a firm identifying itself as Opinion Access.
One question, according to the reader, was, "How do you rate job the Ray Kelly is doing as police commissioner: good, fair or poor?"
Another question asked whether the reader who received the call was satisfied with current candidates for mayor.
The caller also provided additional information about Kelly, highlighting his support of stop-and-frisk, which the Democratic candidates say they want to reduce but which Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Kelly say is vital to the city's public safety.
The person who received the call is a registered Democrat and paraphrased how the survey described Kelly as follows:
"Since Ray Kelly was appointed police commissioner in 2002 NYC crime is down 40 percent. Does that make you more or less likely to vote for him?
"And, as police commissioner, Ray Kelly supports the NYPD stop-and-frisk tactics which has been criticized for treating blacks and Latinos [unfairly]. Does that make you more or less likely to vote for him?"
Later, the caller asked the recipient to complete a statement about "the best reasons to vote for Ray Kelly."
Ray Kelly's Secret Mayoral Poll?
By Graham Rayman — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The Villiage Voice’ / Manhattan
As to the question of whether Ray Kelly is running for mayor, only silence emanated from One Police Plaza yesterday. But one of our spies in Brooklyn got an extremely telling call last night from a pollster who asked a series of questions clearly targeted at taking the pulse of the electorate about a Kelly campaign.
The pollster identified herself as an employee of Opinion Access, a polling firm based in Long Island City, Queens. Among the things she asked, annotated:
"How do you rate the job Ray Kelly is doing as police commissioner? Good? Fair? or Poor?" (Classic job approval question. Kelly's approval rating has been year after year in the mid sixties at least, and always higher than Bloomberg's.)
"How do you rate the job Mayor Bloomberg has done? Good? Fair? or Poor?" (Same as above, except it will be used to compare to Kelly's numbers.)
"Are you satisfied with current candidates for mayor?" (Lumps all the other candidates together, suggesting this is a Kelly poll, and backing up what sources told us, that he thinks he has a better message that the rest of the field.)
"Since Ray Kelly was appointed police commissioner in 2002 NYC crime is down 40%. Does that make you more or less likely to vote for him?" (The statistic is accurate, but it's kind of a loaded question, no?)
"As police commissioner, Ray Kelly supports NYPD stop and frisk which has been criticized for mistreating blacks and latinos. Does that make you more or less likely to vote for him?" (Clearly, this is Kelly's potential weak point, and the polling company wants to know how much voters really care about this issue.)
"Please complete this statement: The best reasons to vote for Ray Kelly for mayor of New York City are ... Sir, can you please complete the statement for me?" (They're fishing for other reasons that he could run on and what's most resonant among voters about him.)
"If the election were held tomorrow between two candidates, which would you choose: Kelly vs. Christine Quinn? Kelly vs. Bill Thompson? (Interesting, because the common denominator is Kelly, and the question imagines Kelly making it to a run-off or the general election.)
So, what does it all mean? We'll see for sure on June 10, the final filing date for those who want to run for mayor.
Question and Frisk Search
Stop and frisk, down in city overall, is up big in two Brooklyn precincts
(73 and 75th Precincts)
Brownsville and East New York see big increases. Other neighborhoods also see spike.
By Reuven Blau — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
THE number of police stops soared in two high crime Brooklyn precincts last year while the NYPD has pared back the controversial program citywide amid harsh criticism of racial profiling.
The number of people stopped in the 73rd Precinct in Brownsville jumped by 66% and the number stopped the 75th Precinct in East New York spiked by 45% from 2011 to 2012, according a Daily News analysis.
Those two precincts have for years been near the top of the city when it comes to the four most violent crimes: murders, rapes, robberies and felony assaults.
“We are seeing the next chapter. Good stop-and-frisk should be targeted,” said Eugene O'Donnell, a John Jay College professor and former cop.
“They've identified a pattern, a spike in crime, and they are throwing resources at it.”
Citywide, the number of “stop, question and frisk” detainments dropped by 22%, from 605,328 in 2011, to 532,911 in 2012, police data shows.
Last year, there were decreases at 33 Brooklyn and Queens precincts, with many recording double digit percentage drops. Leading the way was the 90th Precinct in Williamsburg, which recorded a 44% dip, from 17,566 people stopped in 2011, compared with 9,846 last year.
But in Brownsville, there were 22,148 people who were stopped in 2012, compared with 13,338 in 2011.
Similarly, in East New York there were 16,802 people who were stopped in 2012, compared with 24,408 in 2011.
“It seems to indicate that perhaps there's some overuse of the tool,” David Brawley the past of the St. Paul Community Baptist Church in East New York.
There were smaller increases the Bedford-Stuyvesant (6%), Greenpoint (3%) and Bensonhurst (2%).
“Overall, the stop and frisk policy is very troubling,” said Assemblyman Karim Camara (D-Crown Heights), who heads the legislature's black, Hispanic and Puerto Rican Caucus.
“It seems like individuals are being stopped because they fit a racial stereotype, maybe they have a Yankees cap on or a hoodie on.”
The NYPD has steadfastly maintained that stops have been instrumental in recovering illegal guns and driving crime down to record levels.
But marijuana possession was the top charge among those arrested after they were stopped and questioned last year, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.
As in past years, a majority of last year's 532,911 stops — 89% — did not result in an arrest or summons.
But of those who were arrested, 5,307, or 16%, were charged with marijuana, the NYCLU analysis found.
And the same data reveal that 4,061, or 12.6%, were found with a gun or other weapon.
"The Police Department continues, against any possible rational analysis of the data, to insist that the stop and frisk program is both necessary and effective, and to target young black and Latino new Yorkers, who are so innocent of any wrongdoing that they walk away without a summons," said Donna Lieberman, the NYCLU's executive director.
With Mark Morales and Simone Weichselbaum
Why Racism in Numbers Will Bring Down the NYPD in the Stop-and-Frisk Trial
By Philip Bump — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The Atlantic Wire’ / Washington, DC
At some point over the next few weeks, the New York City Police Department is likely to lose a civil trial accusing it of having repeatedly violated the civil rights of city residents — and on a massive scale — by conducting hundreds of thousands of "stop and frisks." The NYPD will probably blame the judge, mostly because it can't blame the numbers.
On Monday, district court judge Shira Scheindlin heard summary arguments in the civil class action suit, Floyd, et. al. vs. City of New York. The "Floyd" in the title refers to David Floyd, who was stopped by NYPD officers in February 2008 as he was helping a neighbor who'd been locked out of the building. During the trial, Floyd described the stop — the second time it happened to him.
"It was again the humiliation," Floyd said. But this time, he added, "it wasn't down the block, it wasn't in another neighborhood. It was on the property that I lived on."
"I felt that I was being told I shouldn't leave my home," he said.
That stop was one of the 540,000 times that year that the police performed a stop-and-frisk procedure. It was one of the 444,000 times that year that the person being frisked was black or Latino. It was one of the 474,000 times that year that the person being frisked was not arrested for having committed a crime. For the next three years, those figures would grow.
After hearing the last arguments from both sides in the case — those representing the class of plaintiffs and those from the city — Judge Scheindlin made her opinion of the evidence at hand pretty clear, as The New York Times reported.
Observing that only about 12 percent of police stops resulted in an arrest or summons, Judge Scheindlin, who is hearing the case without a jury, focused her remarks on Monday on the other 88 percent of stops, in which the police did not find evidence of criminality after a stop. She characterized that as “a high error rate” and remarked to a lawyer representing the city, “You reasonably suspect something and you’re wrong 90 percent of the time.”
“That is a lot of misjudgment of suspicion,” Judge Scheindlin said, suggesting officers were wrongly interpreting innocent behavior as suspicious.
The police reports themselves, categorized as "UF-250" or just 250s, demonstrate how frivolous the rationale provided for a stop can be. According to the department's report for the first quarter of the year, the police made about 100,000 stops. Cops initiated the vast majority of stop-and-frisks because suspects displayed "furtive movements." A large percentage were because the suspect was "casing a victim or location." Other reasons include a "suspicious bulge," "acting as a lookout," and wearing either "clothes commonly used in a crime" or "inappropriate attire for the season." In other words, many of the assessments included on 250s are deeply subjective — and almost impossible to disprove.
The question before Scheindlin is whether or not those loose criteria, combined with the demographics of stop-and-frisks over the years that the NYPD has released data, suggest a deliberate campaign to infringe on the rights of people of color.
In an excellent (and paywalled) report in the New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin explains why the city was pessimistic about its chances even before the trial started. Scheindlin has a long track record of issuing verdicts critical of the NYPD. In fact, the release of 250 data was a settlement stemming from a case, Daniels v. City of New York, which Scheindlin oversaw. More recently, she presided over the case of Ligon v. City of New York, which ended with a surprising verdict. Toobin writes:
She wrote that she was going to decide the city's punishment in the Ligon case (which the city had already lost) at the end of the Floyd trial (which had not even taken place). In other words, it looked as though Scheindlin were scheduling her remedies hearing as if she had already ruled against the city in Floyd. In a footnote, Scheindlin added, "I emphasize that this ruling should in no way be taken to indicate that I have already concluded that the plaintiffs will prevail in Floyd." But the city lawyers in the Floyd case are skeptical that the Judge's mind is open. "It's like she has scheduled our sentencing before she's even found us guilty," one said.
Once Floyd began, the city's case wasn't made any easier by the testimony presented. Scheindlin largely ruled out the ability of the police to present an argument based on efficacy. ("This court is only here to judge the constitutionality," Toobin quotes her as saying. "We could stop giving Miranda warnings. That would probably be exciting for reducing crimes.")
Worse, members of the NYPD stepped forward to present evidence that the department specifically demanded both a certain number of stop-and-frisks and groups of people that should be targeted. New York magazine profiles Pedro Serrano, a beat cop in the Bronx whose concern about the practice prompted him to start taping exchanges with his superior officers. In one, recorded last Valentine's Day, he speaks with Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack.
Serrano: “… So what am I supposed to do? Is it stop every black and Hispanic?” He repeated the question several times.
McCormack: “This is about stopping the right people, the right place, the right location … Take Mott Haven, where we had the most problems. And the most problems we had there were robberies and grand larcenies.”
Serrano: “And who are those people robbing?”
McCormack: “The problem was, what, male blacks. And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem telling you this: male blacks, 14 to 20, 21.”
But the main argument keeps coming back to one basic point: the numbers. The millions of stops in New York City, a large majority of which involved people of color.
A report from the Public Advocate outlined the data for 2012.
* The likelihood a stop of an African American New Yorker yielded a weapon was half that of white New Yorkers stopped. The NYPD uncovered a weapon in one out every 49 stops of white New Yorkers. By contrast, it took the Department 71 stops of Latinos and 93 stops of African Americans to find a weapon.
* The likelihood a stop of an African American New Yorker yielded contraband was one-third less than that of white New Yorkers stopped. The NYPD uncovered contraband in one out every 43 stops of white New Yorkers. By contrast, it took the Department 57 stops of Latinos and 61 stops of African Americans to find contraband.
* Despite the overall reduction in stops, the proportion involving black and Latino New Yorkers has remained unchanged. They continue to constitute 84 percent of all stops, despite comprising only 54 percent of the general population. And the innocence rates remain at the same level as 2011 at nearly 89 percent.
It's not clear when Scheindlin will return her decision. The most interesting result of her doing so likely won't be whose arguments she found most convincing. The interesting part will be the proposed remedy for the thousands of New Yorkers involved in the class action. It's a remedy that will be applied to Floyd and which will include Ligon. And it's a remedy that flows from Scheindlin's work in Davis, with the mandate that the NYPD release data on the stops from October 1, 2003, forward.
That first quarter for which reports are available, the NYPD stop-and-frisked 393 people. Twenty-seven of them were white.
NYPD's Projected $5 Billion Budget / O.T. To Hit $637 Million
Police Commissioner Testifies At City Council Public Safety Committee Budget Hearing
By: Dean Meminger — Thursday, May 23rd, 2013; 7:38 p.m. ‘NY 1 News’ / New York
Usually, when the police commissioner sits before the City Council's Public Safety Committee, there's a heated exchange, but that wasn't the case Thursday, as Ray Kelly testified about the budget for the last time during the Bloomberg administration. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly touched on several issues as he testified before the City Council's Public Safety Committee about the New York City Police Department's projected $5 billion budget for the 2013 fiscal year.
Overtime is projected to hit about $637 million, which would actually be a little more than 2012 figures despite all of the costs and police property damage from the hurricane.
"The department's cumulative costs for Hurricane Sandy now total $189 million, which includes $91 million for overtime, cash and comp time," Kelly said.
The commissioner said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has reimbursed the NYPD for $105 million so far.
Although federal funding for anti-terrorism programs continues to decline, the NYPD still plans to have up to 5,000 public and private-sector surveillance cameras in Lower Manhattan and hundreds of anti-crime cameras across the entire city.
Overall, there will remain about 35,000 uniformed officers, with a total of nearly 55,000 employees in the NYPD.
Although Kelly said that major crime continues to stay at record lows, thefts of smartphones and other personal electronic devices continue to rise, and a recent rash of bias attacks is very troubling for police.
"We had 14 bias events at this time last year, 29 so far this year," Kelly said. "So it's over a 100 percent increase. Twenty-one of them are assaults."
When it comes to the controversial stop-and-frisk tactic, there wasn't any shouting at Thursday's budget meeting, just agreement to disagree for now.
"We, as legislators, have a responsibility to question those practices," said Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, whose district covers parts of Manhattan and the Bronx. "Because we may criticize it and bring it to his attention, we should not be categorized as anti-police or being anti-safe streets. That should be clearly understood."
"I think people who propose legislation that can undermine what we're doing here could run the risk of, certainly, increasing the level of crime," Kelly said.
Many council members said they think the commissioner is way off on that statistic.
Former Executive Protection Unit Det. Leopold McLean Guilty
Former bodyguard for Mayor Bloomberg convicted of attempted murder
NYPD Detective Leopold McLean could face between five and 25 years for the off-duty shot that was fired at his ex-girlfriend's former boyfriend, whom he hit in the buttocks.
By Rocco Parascandola AND Daniel Beekman — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
A cop who worked as a bodyguard for Mayor Bloomberg was convicted of attempted murder Thursday for shooting his girlfriend’s ex in the buttocks.
Longtime NYPD detective Leopold McLean, 48, faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 25 for the 2010 off-duty gunfire outside his gal pal’s Jamaica, Queens, home.
“This is truly a sad day for everyone when a police officer is convicted of breaking the very laws he had sworn to uphold,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Prosecutors said the 19-year NYPD officer confronted his lover’s ex and pointed a black handgun at the unarmed man.
When McLean “stated that he had something for LePaul Gammons,” the victim fled. A shot hit Gammons, 41, in his rear end.
“That’s cold and callous,” said Vivie Gammons, the victim’s mom. “Now you’re going to pay.”
McLean called 911 after the shooting and said he had tried to stop a burglary.
His lawyer said he will appeal. His daughter called him a good cop. “I’m p---ed off,” Chantal McLean said.
Murder rap for Bloomberg cop after shooting gal pal's ex
Mayor’s guard convicted of slay attempt
By CHRISTINA CARREGA — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
A cop once assigned to Mayor Bloomberg’s elite security detail was convicted of attempted murder yesterday for shooting his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend outside her Queens apartment.
The sordid love triangle brought down the stellar career of Leopold McLean, 48, who was guarding Bloomberg’s daughter Georgina at a Knick game in November 2010 when he raced from Midtown to Armonk to Jamaica to protect his girlfriend from her stalking former beau.
Instead of dispatching a unit to Assia Winfield’s home, McLean took matters into his own hands, racing to Queens, then shooting LePaul Gammons, who was unarmed, as he fled.
“This is truly a sad day for everyone when a police officer is convicted of breaking the very laws he had sworn to uphold,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said of the 20-year veteran cop. “But in the pursuit of justice, nobody is above the law.”
Prosecutors said McLean lied about the shooting and tried to pretend he was responding to a burglary.
McLean called 911 to report a burglary to “cover up the shooting,” cleaned his gun and didn’t tell any cops that he fired his weapon, Queens assistant DA Carmencita Gutierrez said.
McLean told jurors he didn’t report the shooting out of fear that it would “bring attention” to him and his high-profile unit.
He said he didn’t know he had shot Gammons.
But the jury acquitted him of tampering with physical evidence and on two counts of falsely reporting an incident.
Cops found no sign of forced entry at the woman’s home.
Sporting a navy-blue suit and tie, McLean held his head down as the foreman read the verdict and his relatives shook their heads in disappointment.
McLean also was convicted of first- and second-degree reckless endangerment.
Gammons said McLean had threatened him once before with a gun, but an Internal Affairs investigation could not substantiate the claim.
McLean, who had been free on $10,000 bail since the Internal Affairs Bureau was alerted by Gammons of the shooting, was remanded by Queens Supreme Court Justice James P. Griffin. McLean was handcuffed and hauled off to Rikers Island — where Gammons currently is being held for a forgery conviction.
McLean is to be sentenced June 13 and faces up to 25 years in prison.
His lawyer, Stephen Worth, said there are “ample grounds to appeal the decision and we plan to do so.”
McLean had been placed on modified duty, pending the outcome of the criminal case, and will go through a departmental hearing to determine his NYPD status.
A portion of the shooting was captured on surveillance video. Gammons was shot along 119th Road as he ran toward Sutphin Boulevard
After the incident McLean was bounced from Bloomberg’s protection detail, suspended and stripped of his gun and badge.
Winfield, a personal trainer and fitness instructor, had a restraining order against Gammons when McLean allegedly shot him in the back and buttocks as he was running away on Nov 15, 2010 outside her house on 153rd St. in South Jamaica.
Detective Convicted of Attempted Murder in Queens
By Unnamed Author(s) — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
A veteran New York City police detective once assigned to the mayor’s security team was convicted of attempted murder and reckless endangerment on Thursday for shooting a man while off duty, the Queens district attorney said.
In November 2010, the detective, Leopold McLean, 48, fired several shots at Lepaul Gammons, then 39, including one that hit him in the buttocks, the district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said.
The shooting followed a dispute and chase near the home of a woman the two men knew.
The woman had an order of protection against Mr. Gammons because of domestic violence, but it had expired the night of the shooting, according to prosecutors.
Detective McLean, who had served with the New York Police Department for 19 years, is to be sentenced in June. He faces a minimum of 5 years in prison and a maximum of 25.
“This is truly a sad day for everyone when a police officer is convicted of breaking the very laws he had sworn to uphold,” Mr. Brown said.
Detective McLean had been suspended from the force without pay. It was not immediately clear what his status was after the conviction, but officers are usually dismissed in such circumstances.
Lt. Daniel Sbarra and Det. Robert Livingston
Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’ Letters to the Editor:
Cops, the law and the lawsuits
As president of the NYPD Lieutenants Benevolent Association, I represent more than 1,750 active lieutenants and 3,000 retired lieutenants. Our members are dedicated to public service and to ensuring the safety of every person in New York City. Your Sunday front page article “Stain on the Badge” is a careless effort to smear the good name of lieutenants and the NYPD.
The story unjustly criminalized Lt. Daniel Sbarra and his Queens Narcotics team and didn’t mention that just days before, they had arrested 38 alleged drug dealers in the Queensbridge Houses who were selling heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, methamphetamine and marijuana. Still, the Daily News condemned them for being the target of 58 lawsuits out of more than 5,000 arrests.
The depiction of Detective Robert Livingston is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the article. The photo shows his tattoo as “EVIL DOG.” A Marine vet, his tattoo says “USMC Devil Dog.”
Lieutenants' Benevolent Association
Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’ Letters to the Editor:
Protecting the WTC
The NYPD did not just this week announce the security plan for the World Trade Center (“Furor Over NYPD’s planned Fort WTC,” May 17).
It has been discussed publicly since 2007 and was the subject of a detailed op-ed in The Post by Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly in 2010.
Contrary to assertions, the plan doesn’t erect a “fortress” around the site, but provides for common-sense security. Pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to enter and move about the site freely, more so than on most city blocks, because the streets will not be open to general traffic. Only vehicles having business at the site will be allowed to enter after screening for vehicle bombs.
The NYPD must take these precautions. The WTC was successfully attacked twice by terrorists: first, with a truck bomb in 1993, followed by its destruction on 9/11.
The iconic building nearing completion, as well as the memorial to the nearly 3,000 who perished there, remain inviting targets to terrorists intent on attacking New York again.
The plan helped us achieve what we all want: the right balance between convenient access and public safety.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Counterterrorism
Anti-gay crime up in New York as city prepares for pride events
By Erinn Cawthon and Sarah Aarthun (CNN News) — Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 ‘LGBT Weekly’
NEW YORK (CNN) — Police in New York are stepping up their presence in neighborhoods with large gay and lesbian communities after a string of recent attacks on residents based on their sexual orientation.
“Hate crimes are down this year, almost 30%, but anti-gay hate crimes are up over 70%,” Commissioner Ray Kelly said Tuesday, hours after the latest incident in which a gay couple walking in the city’s SoHo district were assaulted by two men shouting homophobic slurs. One of the victims suffered an eye injury. Two men, Fabian Ortiz and Pedro Jimenez, were arrested and charged with assault in the third degree as a hate crime, Kelly said.
And late Monday, another man was left unconscious after being struck in the face and head several times when he revealed he was gay to another man.
The suspect, identified as 39-year-old Roman Gornell — “became enraged, and yelled anti-gay expletives,” Kelly said. Gornell has been charged with assault and harassment as hate crimes in the incident.
The rash of violence has caught the attention of city leaders, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who addressed the issue at a news conference Tuesday.
“No person — regardless of what they look like or who they love — should ever walk down the street in fear,” Bloomberg said.
In the past two weeks, five crimes against those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have occurred throughout Manhattan’s West Side, according to the New York City Council.
In the most violent incident, 32-year-old Marc Carson was shot and killed in Greenwich Village early Saturday by a gunman who allegedly made multiple anti-gay comments before the shooting. Elliot Morales faces a charge of second-degree murder as a hate crime in the shooting, authorities said.
In response, police are setting up temporary headquarter command vehicles in LGBT neighborhoods at least through the end of June — the city’s Gay Pride month.
“Investigators say there’s no pattern in these types of crimes,” Kelly said Tuesday. “These types of crimes are outrageous. And we are going to do everything in our power to see to it that they certainly don’t occur but if they do occur we’re going to very aggressively investigate them and bring people to justice.”
Carson’s killing inspired a march Monday by city leaders and members of the LGBT community to the spot where Carson was slain.
After the march, New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn announced a five-point plan for keeping the city’s LGBT residents safe. In addition to an increased police presence in LGBT neighborhoods, the plan calls for lessons in schools that address hate crimes and bullying.
“It was a cold-blooded hate crime that cut short a life full of promise — and brought back awful memories for people who were once afraid to walk down the street with the person that they loved. New York City has zero tolerance for intolerance,” Bloomberg said of Carson’s killing.
Apple Device Theft Up 37 Percent in NYC
By Kristen Meriwether — Thursday, May 23rd, 2013; 5:29 p.m. ‘The Epoch Times’ / New York, NY
NEW YORK—As Apple products like the iPhone and iPad continue to grow in popularity, they also continue to be a hotter target for thieves.
Apple device thefts represent 40 percent of all grand larcenies this year, up 37 percent from last year, according to testimony by New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Raymond Kelly. He added that 27 percent of all robberies involve Apple products, up from 23 percent last year.
“The ever-increasing supply of these products on the market will pose a constant challenge,” Kelly said.
In February the NYPD created a task force to help curb the thefts. Kelly said the measures include adding more officers to the transit system, conducting decoy operations, enlisting cellphone carriers to permanently disable a phone once it has been stolen, and implementing a widespread campaign with the public to register phones.
“We are looking for the way to disable a phone once it is stolen. We have not come to that point yet with Apple, but they know what we want,” Kelly said.
Kelly said they have been in talks with Apple for roughly two months on ways to improve the subpoena process and the ability to track stolen phones with the company’s data.
Kelly reported he would like to see increased cooperation with getting subpoenaed information, such as if the phone is being used, where it is located, and if it has been re-registered, to help the NYPD identify stolen phones. He said Apple has been responsive, but not as quickly as they need.
Queens City Council member Peter Vallone Jr., who chairs the Committee on Finance and Public Safety, is frustrated with the lack of cooperation from the cellphone companies.
“I can’t imagine these companies, that can pinpoint your location anywhere in the world, can’t figure out a way to turn off service on a cell phone,” Vallone said.
He said in his Queens district the problem is more prevalent due to the aboveground subway service. Subway riders take out their cellphones while waiting on the platform, enticing criminals with easy access to their devices. Thieves are also targeting people using their devices near subway doors, snatching the iPhones or iPads seconds before the doors close, leaving the victim unable to give chase.
Cellphone and wireless access now available in 36 of New York City’s busiest subway stations, with more planned this year, will mean the thieves will have even more access to exposed cellphones.
Vallone told Commissioner Kelly that City Council would do whatever it could to pass any helpful legislation, but it was too early to tell what that legislation would be.
Inspector Rodney Harrison launches mentorship program for Harlem youth
By TRUDY TOMLINSON — Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 ‘The Amsterdam News’ / New York, NY
Many New Yorkers do not always have something positive to say when it comes to dealing with the NYPD, especially in the Black community. On the other hand, there are police officers who stand behind the law and behind their communities in an effort to make things better for the young people growing up in today’s society.
One of these officers is Inspector Rodney Harrison, commanding officer of the 32nd Precinct in Harlem. Harrison single-handedly started a personal mentoring program for Harlem high school youths aged 15-18.
“I want to show the kids interested in the program the inside of the police department,” said Harrison. “I allow them to shadow me and see what I do on a daily basis, such as the crime trend, processing prisoners, community meetings, police training and how 911 operates.”
Harrison added that this program is also intended to make these young people think about becoming police officers. He wants to increase the outreach to the youth in the community and give them direction and guidance as they take that next step in their educational and employment pursuits.
According to Harrison, the program is designed for both males and females because “we also need female officers patrolling the streets.” Interested candidates must first go through an interview process over the telephone. If chosen, the mentees are then required to meet with Harrison once or twice a week for an hour at the precinct.
“A lot of people are apprehensive to come into the program because it is associated with the Police Department,” said Harrison. “They don’t want to be labeled as a snitch. What people need to realize is that we as police officers are trying to do a lot of community and social programs on different levels. We aren’t just here to fight crime.”
The program will run on a monthly basis and five new candidates will be chosen at the beginning of each cycle. Upon completion of the program, the candidates will be given a letter of recommendation from Harrison that can be used in applications for future academic and employment pursuits.
100 and 101 Precincts
Heat on Kelly for cam jam
By M.L. NESTEL — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly was grilled yesterday over the delay in installing $300,000 worth of security cameras in the Rockaways — and e-mails obtained by The Post show that the paperwork is on his desk.
Correspondence between the NYPD’s grant department and a Queens assemblyman indicate the ball is in Kelly’s court.
A source said the only thing holding back the cameras is “his John Hancock.”
“The grant remains up in the police commissioner’s office. They are aware of the urgency surrounding it and have made inquiries about it. I expect it back shortly,” John Underwood, who works in the NYPD’s grant unit, wrote Wednesday to Assemblyman Joseph Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park).
The state approved the grant in October 2010, but the cameras never arrived.
At a City Council hearing yesterday, Kelly said City Comptroller John Liu needs to sign off on the paperwork before the cameras can be put in — and even then it could take awhile before they’re installed.
“We’re waiting for the contracts to be registered with the comptroller,” Kelly told the council’s Public Safety Committee.
Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. said, “Frankly, if the NYPD is stymied by the city’s bureaucracy, then I don’t know what chance the average citizen has.”
Bklyn. A.D.A. Alleged to be ‘Out of Control’ (A Must Read)
ProPublica: Rogue Prosecutors Seem Immune from Punishment
By Ted Gest — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The John Jay College of Criminal Justice Crime & Justice News’ / Washington, DC
ProPublica reports a "staggering array of misconduct" by Brooklyn prosecutor Michael Vecchione in connection with a homicide conviction from the 1990s.
Jabbar Collins was convicted of murdering Abraham Pollack and spent the next 15 years in prison. But he eventually gained his freedom through a rare federal petition in 2010, asserting that prosecutors and police had invented, distorted and withheld evidence in his case.
Collins is suing for $150 million.
ProPublica says Vecchione is a prominent example of a troubling aspect of the American criminal justice system: Prosecutors who are implicated in misconduct often seem immune from meaningful punishment.
It has found that New York judges don't routinely refer prosecutorial misconduct to state panels that handle attorney discipline, even when they overturn convictions and upbraid prosecutors for constitutional violations. The city's district attorneys lack the will to punish their subordinates, perhaps out of fear of embarrassment. ProPublica said the pattern is much the same across the country.
To read the full ProPublica article, titled: “A Prosecutor, a Wrongful Conviction and a Question of Justice” , go to:
Bklyn. D.A. Joe Hynes Playing Politics?
Judge Wants Emails About Brooklyn D.A. Television Program
By Sean Gardiner — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
A Manhattan judge has ordered CBS to turn over emails by Friday morning in an attempt to establish who has editorial control over a television series about Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ office or else possibly face an injunction that would postpone the show’s debut episode next week, according a rival candidate.
Attorney and former prosecutor Abe George, who is one of two candidates challenging Mr. Hynes, said that Thursday evening Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Paul Wooten ordered CBS to turn over emails related to the promotion or production of the show by 11 a.m. Friday. Otherwise, the judge said he would hold a hearing later Friday to decide if he’ll issue a temporary injunction stopping the airing of “Brooklyn DA,” which kicks off the first of six, one-hour shows Tuesday at 10 p.m.
A transcript of the hearing confirmed the judge’s ruling.
In court papers filed earlier this week, Mr. George contended that the series is really a “reality TV” show and has been advertised by the television network as “entertainment.” His court papers state that the show has no “legitimate news purpose,” which is necessary to make the show exempt from state finance campaign laws.
Lacking that exception, his legal challenge contends that the show should be considered an “in-kind” contribution to Mr. Hynes’ campaign. New York State law caps such contributions from corporations at $5,000 per candidate. The legal challenge contends airing the one-hour episodes on a major television network in the run up to the September district attorney primary would far exceed that value for the Hynes campaign.
Spokesmen for Mr. Hynes’ campaign, “Friends of Joe Hynes,” and CBS did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.
Earlier this week responding to Mr. George’s filing of this legal challenge, George Arzt, a spokesman for Mr. Hynes’ campaign, said the show does not promote Mr. Hynes but that “this series focuses on the hard work and dedication of the people in the office.” A CBS spokesperson defended the show as a news documentary, not reality TV.
Mr. George told the Wall Street Journal he believes that CBS and Mr. Hynes made a deal to trade “access,” to investigations and even some sting operations, in exchange for promoting the 77-year-old Hynes’ candidacy as he seeks election to his seventh term.
Mr. Arzt called George’s allegations “garbage.”
On Thursday, prior to the judge’s ruling, CBS provided The Wall Street Journal with a copy of the first episode of “Brooklyn DA.” The slick production followed three cases: paintings by well-known artists allegedly stolen by a house painter; a young woman who was allegedly the victim of sex trafficking by a pimp; and the murder in December 2011 of NYPD officer Peter Figoski, which featured moving interviews with the slain officer’s family. The case of the stolen art works did, in fact, show a sting operation conducted by the office’s investigators.
Throughout the entire debut episode, Mr. Hynes was not mentioned once, though one of his top executives, Michael Vecchione, the head of the office’s Rackets Division who has been involved in several controversial prosecutions during his 20 years in the office, was prominently featured, including giving the voiceover to start the show.
CBS’s Brooklyn DA Features Footage of Figoski Family
By Hugh Bassett — Thursday, May 23rd, 2013; 5:38 p.m. ‘The New York Observer’ / New York, NY
CBS’s new show Brooklyn DA will feature interviews with the family of murdered NYPD Police Officer Peter Figoski.
The release of the show comes three months after Figoski’s killer, Lamont Pride was sentenced to life in prison for murdering the father of four in a robbery gone wrong.
The clip includes one of Figoski’s daughter saying “We talked to him that night, and then all of a sudden he’s gone,” while her sister looks at home videos made of their father with tears in her eyes.
The trailer opens with a voice-over saying “there are more than two and half million people living here in Brooklyn” and ends with stop-motion camera footage around the various neighborhoods of the district, the haunting ‘Brooklyn Now’ sung by John Forte in the background.
The artist recorded the song specifically for the show, citing the emotional lyrics as stemming from the original English interpretation of Brooklyn as “broken ground.”
The show has previously been in the news for its perceived favorable coverage of current DA Charles Hynes. One of his opposing candidates, Abe George, even went so far as to sue CBS for giving Hynes free air time during a political campaign. The show’s creator, Susan Zirinsky defended the program, saying that “We do not affect the act the events or the outcome, as journalists we’re just observers.”
New York State
State lawmakers seek to exempt retired cops from new gun restrictions
On Thursday, the New York State Assembly approved a bill that would allow retired police to keep assault weapons and high-capacity magazines they purchased during their time on the force.
By Glenn Blain — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
ALBANY — State lawmakers are trying to carve out a loophole for retired cops in the sweeping state gun control law that Gov. Cuomo has touted as the toughest in the nation.
A bill approved by the state Assembly Thursday would allow retired police officers to keep assault weapons and high-capacity magazines they purchased during their time on the force.
“They are going to have what they retired with, what they trained on,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D-Brooklyn), who sponsored the bill.
Lentol said the bill — which was approved by a 96-15 vote — simply corrects an “oversight” in Cuomo’s original gun law that failed to account for retired cops and federal law enforcement officers, who, despite no longer serving, often take action during a crisis.
“We put this bill forward in order to make sure retired police officers have the firepower they need in the situations where it is necessary,” Lentol said.
Cuomo has not yet weighed in on the bill. His office said he is reviewing it but the state’s gun control advocates do not object.
“Law enforcement personnel are trained in the use of firearms,” said Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. “I don’t think it is going to weaken the intent of the law at all.”
The bill’s opponents are actually critics of the gun law who want to see more dramatic changes to the law.
The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), who said he wants to address concerns from retired cops who are worried about their own self-defense.
“I have walked down the street and seen a guy that we put in jail,” said Golden, an ex-cop. “It is not uncommon.”
But the bill faces an uncertain fate in the GOP-dominated Senate, which is already under fire from conservatives for approving the gun law.
“We believe that a number of amendments need to be made” to the gun law, said Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos.
“But rather than adopting a piecemeal approach as the Assembly is doing, we are in the process of drafting comprehensive legislation to address those issues.”
A larger package of gun law changes would likely face an uphill climb in the Democrat-controlled Assembly.
The gun law was adopted by the Legislature in early January. Among other things, it expanded the state’s ban on assault weapons and set a seven-bullet limit on the number of rounds New Yorkers could load into a magazine.
Gun-rights advocates, who have blasted the law as an infringement on their Second Amendment rights, opposed the new bill, saying it would create a separate class of citizens in New York.
“When you retire from being a police officer you are just an ordinary citizen,” said Tom King of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, which has already filed a federal lawsuit against Cuomo’s law.
“There are just as many normal, everyday gun owners who have just as much training as many of these police officers do,” King said.
NYS Safe Act / Columbia County District Attorney Will Not Prosecute Extra Rounds in Magazine
DA refuses to prosecute gun law violation
By: Dan Levy — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘WNYT News’ / Albany, NY
NEW LEBANON - A Dutchess County man is officially off the hook regardless of whether he did or didn't violate the New York Safe Act. Columbia County's District Attorney Paul Czajka, on Thursday, told a New Lebanon town judge, he's refusing to prosecute the case against 31-year old Gregory Dean.
Columbia County thus becomes the first county in New York to have its district attorney refuse to prosecute a gun law violation. Outside the courthouse Thursday afternoon, Czajka, a former state judge, was being hailed a hero by opponents of the Safe Act who had gathered to protest Dean's arrest.
Originally pulled over because of a burned out light bulb over his license plate, and also charged with driving with a suspended license, Dean wound up in the media spotlight because State Police say the legally registered Smith and Wesson semi-automatic .40 caliber handgun they found in his car had nine bullets in it, two bullets over the legal limited outlined in the New York Safe Act.
"I'm glad it drew media attention," said Jonna Spilbor, Dean's attorney, "The Safe Act is something that I think many of us are up in arms about."
"I make no blanket policy with respect to this crime or any other," Czajka said.
In other words, whether to prosecute future cases, Czjaka insists, will be determined on the individual merits of those cases.
"I think what the DA just did in there was not only a classy move but he took the legs out of the Safe Act for the moment for this particular case," Spilbor asserted.
"I think it's going to send a message to Albany," said Ed Kahle, one of about a dozen protestors outside the courthouse.
Kahle says the grass roots movement seeking repeal of the Safe Act gained significant traction on Thursday.
"I think we're setting the stage for people to start coming forward and saying," Hey, we have to take control of our government, it's our government," Kahle continued.
Joanna Johnson-Smith, the New York organizer for Gun Rights Across American, concurs, adding, "This is a very good day, a very good day, a very good step and we're never going to give up. We're just never going to stop."
Cop Charged in Firebombing of NJ Police Captain's Home
Officer Michael A. Dotro has been arrested in the firebombing of Captain Mark Anderko's home
By Pat Battle and Andrew Siff (NBC News - New York) — Friday, May 24th, 2013; 6:50 a.m. EDT
A New Jersey police officer is accused of firebombing a police captain's home where the captain was inside with his wife, two children and elderly mother, prosecutors said.
Officer Michael A. Dotro, 36, was arrested at his home in Manalapan Thursday. He faces charges of attempted murder and aggravated arson.
Prosecutors said Dotro, who worked with Captain Mark Anderko in the Edison Police Department, intentionally set fire to Anderko's home in Monroe Township at about 4 a.m. Monday. The blaze was extinguished within about 15 minutes but heavily damaged the two-story colonial.
Anderko was inside the house at the time with his wife, two children and 92-year-old mother, prosecutors said. The children's bedrooms were in front of the house, their windows inches away from where the aluminum siding melted from the heat of the flames.
Neighbor Haarika Reddy said the smoke detector couldn't pick up on the fire immediately, but the family dog sensed the flames and woke Anderko's wife, who in turn alerted the rest of the family.
No one was hurt.
Dotro, who has been an Edison police officer for nine years, was suspended from his job with pay. Bail has been set at $5 million.
Lawrence Bitterman, the attorney for Dotro, told NBC 4 New York it was "completely incomprehensible that Mike would be capable of something like this."
Officials did not disclose a motive.
Anderko, who has been on the Edison police force for 24 years, is one of several defendants in a lawsuit filed by another captain in the department, which has been embroiled in controversy for decades and internal lawsuits for the last several years.
The Star-Ledger reported in December that the Edison Police Department's internal affairs unit is accused of failing to pursue officers accused of brutality, and had collected information on civilians and politicians. Dotro, according to the Star-Ledger, was the subject of some brutality complaints.
Both the Middlesex County prosecutor's office and the state attorney general's office, who have been investigating the Edison Police Department, are looking into the arson.
Capt. Bruce Polkowitz, the president of the local police union, said Wednesday he was stunned by the attack on Anderko's home.
"It's unprecedented. I've never heard of anything like this, an attack on a police officer," he said. "Mark is a genuinely good person, a great family man. This whole police department, from a union point of view, we're doing whatever we can to help him out. I spoke to him yesterday, he's as good as can be expected. Our hearts go out to him."
Edison cop charged with attempted murder in firebomb attack on supervisor's home
By Mark Mueller — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The Newark Star-Ledger’ / Newark, NJ
An Edison police officer with a history of disciplinary problems was charged today with five counts of attempted murder in the firebombing of a police supervisor’s house earlier this week, authorities announced tonight.
Michael Dotro, 35, a 10-year veteran of the Edison force, allegedly used an incendiary device to set fire to the Monroe Township home of Edison Capt. Mark Anderko, a top aide to Chief Thomas Bryan, while Anderko and his family slept inside around 4 a.m. Monday.
Anderko, his wife, his two young children and his 92-year-old mother all escaped unharmed. The two-story, colonial-style home was badly damaged, with the greatest concentration of fire at the front of the house where Anderko’s children slept.
Acting Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey, who announced the charges in a statement, said the investigation was continuing and urged anyone with information to reach out to his office or to Monroe police.
Superior Court Judge Vincent LeBlon set bail at $5 million cash.
The officer’s longtime lawyer, Lawrence Bitterman, said he was stunned by the arrest.
“I find it utterly incomprehensible to believe that Mike, who I’ve known in his capacity as PBA representative, could ever be involved in anything like this,” Bitterman said. “I’ve spoken to him, and he adamantly denies any involvement and expresses his condolences to the Anderko family. He is sickened at the thought of someone doing this to a brother officer, or anyone else, for that matter.”
Bitterman confirmed investigators descended on Dotro’s Manalapan home with a search warrant this afternoon. He was arrested there a short time later. Dotro, who earns $118,000 annually, was immediately suspended with pay.
He was expected to be arraigned this afternoon. In addition to the attempted murder counts, Dotro is charged with aggravated arson.
The State Policemen’s Benevolent Association had previously offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. In a statement last night, state PBA President Anthony Weiners said the agency offered the reward even in the face of “rumors” that a police officer was involved.
“The unsettling turn of events today does not alter our mission to hold those accountable for this attack,” Weiners said.
Authorities did not immediately disclose a motive in the case, but the Edison Police Department has been embroiled in a bitter civil war for several years. The strife was the subject of a two-part series in The Star-Ledger in December.
The newspaper reported that the department’s internal affairs unit had gathered information on politicians and other civilians and had allegedly failed to aggressively target officers accused of brutality. Dotro was a defendant in a handful of such complaints.
After publication of the series, the state Attorney General’s Office stepped up oversight of the internal affairs unit, tracking each investigation.
Dotro was no stranger to internal affairs.
He was one of the chief suspects in the 2008 theft of a police car from the department’s secure lot. Though believed to be a practical joke, the theft triggered a homeland security alert, drawing in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Dotro and two other officers were initially planning to take responsibility for the theft but balked when they learned they would not be guaranteed light discipline, The Star-Ledger reported in December. He was not criminally charged.
In 2005, Dotro was at the center of tensions between the department and the township’s Asian-Indian community after arresting a man who accused him of brutality. Amid community protests and headlines, he was cleared.
Three years later, he had a fistfight with his 68-year-old neighbor, Dennis Sassa, who claimed the officer, then 31, punched him a half-dozen times after a dispute about a shed on Dotro’s Manalapan property. Both men filed assault charges in the case. Both were acquitted in municipal court.
Shortly before the fight, Sassa’s shed was set ablaze, with flames spreading to a camper and Sassa’s home. No one was charged in the case.
But the fire drew new interest from investigators looking into the firebombing of Anderko’s house on Monday.
Sassa, who has since moved from Manalapan, said in a telephone interview that three investigators, one of them with the homicide unit of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, visited him Wednesday to ask about his dispute with Dotro.
“They asked me about incidents that occurred at the time, and one of them was the fire with the shed,” Sassa said. “They were particularly interested in that.”
Bryan, the Edison police chief, and union representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trenton police director, councilman call each other liars in public dispute over 'pot shots' at officers
By Jenna Pizzi — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The Times of Trenton’ / Trenton, NJ
TRENTON — The deputy city clerk had to put a stop to a verbal spat that sparked between Police Director Ralph Rivera Jr. and former city police officer and Councilman George Muschal at a city council meeting tonight.
Rivera said Muschal had implied that city police officers have not produced enough revenue by writing summonses. Rivera said he interpreted Muschal’s remarks to mean that the police should write tickets in order to help raise the funds needed to hire more police officers.
Council has been unable to apply for a large federal grant for police hires because it couldn’t afford to provide a portion of the cost, as would be required.
The Community Oriented Policing grant would have covered $1.5 million in salaries and benefits for 12 laid-off police officers, but by a vote of 1-5 Tuesday council decided not to apply, saying that to come up with the $2.27 million in matching funds over three years would have meant a tax increase.
After the vote, Muschal, who voted against applying for the grant, told reporters that he did so because the Trenton police do not respond promptly to calls and don’t do enough police work.
Rivera said he and other officers were furious when they heard those comments.
“I’m quite appalled and saddened,” Rivera said. “Don’t take pot shots at my officers who are risking their lives every day.”
Muschal said that if Rivera wanted the council to reconsider the vote to apply for the grant, he should provide information for the last two months detailing the number of summonses and motor vehicle tickets issued.
“Revenue is revenue for the city of Trenton,” Muschal said.
Rivera said he had no intention of asking the council to reconsider its vote to apply for the grant.
As both men began to raise their voices and called each other liars, deputy city clerk Cordelia Stanton had to ask both men to address their concerns with one another via e-mail so the meeting could continue.
Gun Manufacturers Say Assault Weapons Ban May Push Them Out of Connecticut
By PETER APPLEBOME — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — In a state desperate to maintain and revive its industrial base, Mark Malkowski thinks he should be getting gold stars.
He started a manufacturing company at age 25, and in 10 years built it into an industry leader, with 200 employees, that sells 6,000 of its products every month at roughly $1,000 each. The company, Stag Arms, is currently almost a year behind in fulfilling orders.
But when you are manufacturing AR-15 assault rifles 40 miles from Newtown in a state that has banned their sale, it is not surprising that things are more complicated.
The bitter battle over new gun laws in Connecticut has passed. But two months later, gunmakers like Mr. Malkowski are still weighing their options, including moving from a state long thought of as a cradle of the American gun industry. Meanwhile, supporters of the legislation are balancing their desire to limit guns with the jobs and taxes that the gun industry provides in a country where 300 million guns are in circulation and 5 million are manufactured each year.
PTR Industries of Bristol, which also manufactures military-style rifles, has already announced it will move from Connecticut. Sturm Ruger & Co. has said it plans to keep its headquarters, with a staff of fewer than 50 people, in Fairfield while continuing to expand its manufacturing outside Connecticut.
Mr. Malkowski, 35, whose parents own a business that makes aerospace and gun parts here, says he will most likely take a year to study whether to move to a more gun-friendly state. The issue is also playing out in other states with tough gun laws, like Colorado, where Magpul Industries, which makes high-capacity magazines, has said it will leave the state.
Mr. Malkowski’s roots are in Connecticut, where he grew up and graduated from Southington High School and Sacred Heart University. But at the National Rifle Association convention in early May he got a personal pitch to relocate from Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, and he has received solicitations from more than 50 states or municipalities.
When he came back from a gun industry lobbying trip to Washington in April, he said that virtually everywhere he had gone in Congress, people were pitching the virtues of their states as places to do business.
“Senator Lindsey Graham did it, so did Paul Ryan, Texas, Oklahoma, well, all of them,” he said. “And this is what I came back to when I opened the mail. Indiana, Arkansas, Maine, the Oklahoma House of Representatives; this is from Jackson County, Kansas; this is from Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama. They just keep coming in.”
Although many manufacturers and gun jobs have left Connecticut over the years, the state remains the seventh-largest producer of firearms in the country. It is the home of giants like Colt’s Manufacturing, which employs about 900 people, Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Mossberg & Sons, the oldest family-owned firearms manufacturer in America. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, located in Newtown, gun manufacturers in Connecticut account for 2,899 jobs — 7,340 when related businesses, like suppliers, are included — and have a $1.7 billion economic impact. A study by the same group said the firearms industry accounted for $31.8 billion in total economic activity nationally.
The disparities can look awkward. Connecticut lawmakers have been pushing to create a national park at the historic former site of the Colt’s firearms plant in Hartford — while pushing for sweeping gun legislation. And many gun opponents say they hope the gun manufacturers remain in Connecticut even if the products they produce are banned there.
Ron Pinciaro, executive director of an anti-gun group, Connecticut Against Gun Violence, said he would not want to see Connecticut employees hurt because of the vote.
“I wish they would stay here,” he said, “and I don’t really see that as being contradictory.”
But many in the industry are bitter about the legislation.
“I think companies will continue to leave Connecticut both because it’s a terrible place to be a manufacturer and because of the political environment,” said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the shooting sports foundation. “It’s completely hypocritical to say you can stay and make your products, but they’re so dangerous your employees can’t buy them.”
While the legislation bans the sale of certain weapons, it does not restrict manufacturing. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a particular object of gunmakers’ ire, has already reached out to gunmakers, saying he would like them to stay in Connecticut. But he did not make any new friends when he told CNN in April: “What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible, even if they’re deranged, even if they’re mentally ill, even if they have a criminal record. They don’t care.”
The remark infuriated Connecticut manufacturers, but Mr. Malloy’s spokesman, Andrew Doba, said that the industry’s success in killing expanded background checks helped make Mr. Malloy’s point.
“The governor,” he said, “thinks about jobs and economic development 24 hours a day.”
“On this particular issue, however,” Mr. Doba added, “his focus is first and foremost on public safety. The bill he signed into law will improve public safety and make Connecticut’s communities and families safer.”
Gunmakers like Mr. Malkowski say that rifles account for a tiny percentage of gun crime, so bans on military-style rifles like the AR-15 will have little effect on gun violence while restricting what has become one of the nation’s most popular weapons. The industry now bills them as “modern sporting rifles.”
The gun industry says the term reflects how weapons like the AR-15 are now widely used for target shooting, hunting and self-defense. Critics say it reflects a toxic arms race within the arms industry in a country with 100,000 gun deaths and injuries a year.
In addition to the idea of moving, Mr. Malkowski has produced another option, a new design for the AR-15: It looks the same, uses smaller .22-caliber bullets, rather than the longer, more powerful .223 rounds commonly used in the AR-15 and complies with Connecticut’s new law. He said he already had 300 to 400 orders from Connecticut gun shops.
Beyond bruised feelings, Mr. Malkowski said, Connecticut gun manufacturers have real-world concerns emanating from the legislation in the form of threats by gun buyers to boycott products made in Connecticut. He cites letters, e-mails and Facebook postings from customers who say they will not do business with a gun maker from Connecticut. One says: “If you guys don’t leave Connecticut, you are hypocrites to the Second Amendment, and I will never purchase your products again.”
Mr. Pinciaro said his argument was not with Mr. Malkowski’s product. It is with who gets to use weapons like the AR-15 and what kind of regulations and protections should be in place.
“If Stag Arms wants to manufacture and sell for military and police use, I hope they get 90 percent of the market,” he said. “But when it comes to putting these weapons in the hands of civilians, it’s just been shown too often that they just don’t belong.”
Mr. Malkowski said he would keep an eye on the costs and benefits of moving, potential challenges to Connecticut’s laws and the market reaction to Connecticut-made guns as he considers his future. One of the companies he does business with, Ammunition Storage Components, also of New Britain, is weighing similar offers and issues and could make the same decision he does.
“Connecticut isn’t getting any easier to do business in,” Mr. Malkowski said.
“But we’re trying to step away from the emotional part of this, do what’s best for the company and put the employees and customers ahead of everything else.”
Chicago's Top Cop Calls U.S. War on Drugs 'Wholesale Failure'
By Ted Cox — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘DNAinfo.Com News ’ Chicago, IL
RIVER NORTH — Chicago's top cop called the U.S. war on drugs "a wholesale failure" Thursday and said a "holistic approach" to the problem has worked to snap the ties between drugs and gang violence in the city's roughest neighborhoods.
"The war on drugs in the United States has been a wholesale failure," Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said in a lunch address to the City Club of Chicago in River North.
Advocating a "holistic approach" to a complex problem, McCarthy said the CPD had success in Lawndale by cracking down on drug markets wherever violence occurred, because gangs there are more focused on narcotics distribution. McCarthy said the department has shut down drug markets and subsequently flooded the area with uniformed officers whenever the drug trade produced gang violence on the streets.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Federal judge rejects request to vacate NOPD consent decree
By Ramon Antonio Vargas — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune’ / New Orleans, LA
A federal judge has rejected a request from Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration to reverse her approval of a consent decree mandating widespread reforms for the New Orleans Police Department. U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan ruled on the matter on Thursday.
The city in January asked Morgan to vacate her endorsement of the decree, primarily arguing that former Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone, as point man for the Department of Justice in the decree negotiations, had "ulterior motives" that the mayoral administration only learned about after some of the infamous posts he made on NOLA.com came to light.
In those posts, Perricone, who at one point applied to be NOPD chief, was urging Landrieu to hire a fed for the job using the online pseudonym "legacyusa." He blasted the mayor's choice, Superintendent Ronal Serpas.
The city also unsuccessfully argued that the DOJ tricked the city into a pricey NOPD agreement while cementing a deal on another expensive consent decree ordering reforms at Orleans Parish Prison. New Orleans won't be able to afford both, the mayor's lawyers contended.
It also remained unclear, the city said, whether provisions that the DOJ insisted upon in the consent decree for secondary employment at NOPD, such as private details for officers, complied with federal law.
But, in her 48-page decision, Morgan wrote that she is convinced the 492-point consent decree is "a fair, adequate and reasonable solution for transforming the NOPD into a world class police force," so she denied the city's petition.
Morgan's decision wasn't unexpected. She had already turned down a plea from the Landrieu administration to halt the implementation of the consent decree.
The city, meanwhile, seemed to anticipate an unfavorable ruling in its bid to get Morgan to change her mind on endorsing the consent decree. In February, the city said it would ask the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review Morgan's approval of the consent decree.
Despite best efforts, Landrieu administration couldn't sway judge to vacate NOPD consent decree
By Ramon Antonio Vargas — Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune’ / New Orleans, LA
Days away from having to select a team to monitor the implementation of the NOPD consent decree, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration still had slim hopes that a federal judge would reverse her approval of the expensive agreement mandating widespread changes at the police force. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan ended those hopes by declining to vacate the consent decree, reasoning that it was "a fair, adequate and reasonable solution for transforming the NOPD into a world class police force."
Morgan's decision wasn't unexpected. She had already turned down a separate plea from the mayor's staff to at least temporarily stay the implementation of the agreement. Meanwhile, the city in February indicated that it would seek a review from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals of Morgan's approval of the consent decree.
According to the city, Morgan should have shelved the decree primarily because former Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone was point man for the Department of Justice in the negotiation stage of the agreement. The city said Perricone had "ulterior motives" that it only learned about after some infamous posts he made on NOLA.com surfaced.
In those posts, Perricone, who applied to be Landrieu's NOPD chief, was urging the mayor to hire a fed for the job using the online pseudonym "legacyusa." He incessantly criticized the man Landrieu ultimately hired in 2010, Superintendent Ronal Serpas.
Perricone was outed as online commenter "Henry L. Mencken1951" in March 2012 and subsequently resigned. New Orleans and the Department of Justice sealed the police overhaul deal in July - before Perricone was also linked to "legacyusa" and the city had a better-formed idea of the ex-prosecutor's "hidden agenda."
Morgan wasn't sympathetic. In her ruling, she wrote, "The city knowingly continued to negotiate the terms of the consent decree and ... pressed the court for its approval" well after it was aware of the nature of Perricone's activities.
"The city's behavior belies its assertion that Perricone's comments enabled the United States to unfairly obtain the city's agreement to enter into the consent decree," Morgan said.
Perricone wasn't the Landrieu staff's only argument. The city contended that it was tricked into an NOPD agreement that could cost $55 million over five years while the Justice Department cemented a deal on another consent decree aiming to reform conditions at Orleans Parish Prison, an additional tab that could run more than $20 million, though another federal judge has yet to determine the cost. New Orleans won't be able to afford both, the mayor's lawyers said.
It was also unclear whether provisions the Justice Department insisted upon in the consent decree for secondary employment at NOPD, such as private details for officers, complied with federal law.
Neither argument was effective, in Morgan's opinion. Regarding the OPP consent decree, the city's arguments that the anticipated costs weren't known until it was too late are "patently false," the judge said.
At least five days before the NOPD consent decree was unveiled to the public last summer, the city had been served notice that Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman was going to pursue $22.5 million of "new 'estimated costs'" that would bring OPP's budget to $45 million for 2013. "The city's displeasure regarding the OPP consent decree does not constitute extraordinary circumstances sufficient for relief," Morgan said.
As for the secondary employment issue, Morgan said the city had not provided evidence contradicting a U.S. Department of Labor letter assuring that the secondary employment provisions in the NOPD consent decree satisfied federal law.
A committee tasked with evaluating which firm should get the NOPD consent decree monitor job is scheduled to meet for the final time May 31. That committee is comprised of Justice Department and city representatives.
Obama balances threats against Americans' rights
By LARA JAKES and JULIE PACE (The Associated Press) — Friday, May 24th, 2013; 3:39 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Forecasting the changing nature of threats against the U.S. for years to come, President Barack Obama says "America is at a crossroads." And so, too, is his presidency's counterterrorism policy, which has long struggled to balance protecting the nation from terror attacks while upholding Americans' rights.
The Obama administration this week acknowledged that four Americans have been killed - three of whom were not specifically targeted - in secretive overseas drone strikes against al-Qaida extremists since 2009. And in a wide-ranging speech Thursday, Obama warned that Americans must be vigilant against increasing homegrown threats from within, including from fellow citizens like the surviving suspect in last month's Boston Marathon bombing.
It is an awkward position for the president, a constitutional lawyer, who took office pledging to undo policies that infringed on Americans' civil liberties and hurt the U.S. image around the world.
Instead, he defended on Thursday his continued and expanded use of the spy drones, which have killed thousands of terror suspects and civilians, in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. He hinted in the speech that he would give law enforcement officials new authority to seize suspicious communications within the United States.
And Obama defiantly promised to push forward with his longtime goal of closing the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where 166 terror suspects are being held - but said it's largely up to a resistant Congress to get it done.
Obama acknowledged it's a tough line to walk in striking a balance.
"Now is the time to ask ourselves hard questions - about the nature of today's threats and how we should confront them," Obama told his audience of students, national security and human rights experts and counterterror officials at the National Defense University.
"In the years to come, we will have to keep working hard to strike the appropriate balance between our need for security and preserving those freedoms that make us who we are," he said.
The president outlined a narrower scope of threats against the United States in the years ahead, with the war in Afghanistan winding down and an al-Qaida that has splintered - in part, due to the very attacks he authorized. But as al-Qaida has fragmented, it has given rise to smaller networks and homegrown extremists that pose increased risks to Americans, he said.
Some Republicans criticized Obama as underestimating the strength of al-Qaida and objected to his plans to try to repeal broad executive powers to use military force against the nation's enemies. Congress granted those powers to George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
"I believe we are still in a long, drawn-out conflict with al-Qaida," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a leading voice among Republicans, told reporters after the speech. "To somehow argue that al-Qaida is on the run comes from a degree of unreality that to me is really incredible. Al-Qaida is expanding all over the Middle East, from Mali to Yemen and all places in between."
Obama's address came amid increased pressure from Congress on both the drone program and the status of the Guantanamo Bay prison. A rare bipartisan coalition of lawmakers has pressed for more openness and more oversight of the secretive targeted drone strikes, while liberal lawmakers have pointed to a hunger strike at Guantanamo in pressing Obama to renew his stalled efforts to close the Navy detention center.
The president cast the drone program as legal, effective and necessary as terror threats progress. But he acknowledged that the targeted strikes are no "cure-all" and said he is haunted by the civilians unintentionally killed.
In Pakistan alone, up to 3,336 people have been killed by the unmanned aircraft since 2003, according to a New America Foundation database of the strikes. However, the secrecy surrounding the drone program makes it impossible for the public to know for sure how many people have been killed in strikes, and of those, how many were intended targets.
The Justice Department revealed Wednesday that four Americans had been killed in U.S. drone strikes abroad. Just one was an intended target - Anwar al-Awlaki, who officials say had ties to at least three attacks planned or carried out on U.S. soil. The other three Americans, including al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son, were unintended victims.
"How good, really, is our system for targeting and reducing unintended casualties?" said Elizabeth Goitein, an attorney and co-director of the Brennan Center Justice's Liberty and National Security Program at the New York University law school. "These three American citizens were not targeted, and their deaths were collateral damage."
She added: "The talk about being more transparent and preserving our liberties is talk. It's rhetoric."
In newly public White House guidelines governing when to launch drones, the U.S. will not strike if a suspect can be captured, and attacks may only target an "imminent" threat. Though the White House prefers greater military responsibility for drones, the CIA will play a continued role with strikes in Yemen and control the program in Pakistan.
The president said he was open to additional measures to further regulate the drone program, including creating a special court system to regulate strikes. Congress is already considering whether to set up a court to decide when drones overseas can target U.S. citizens linked to al-Qaida.
In seeking to close Guantanamo, Obama faces many of the same roadblocks that stymied his efforts to shutter the prison when he first took office. Many Republican lawmakers oppose Obama's efforts to bring some of the detainees to the U.S. to face trial.
But a new hunger strike by prisoners protesting their conditions and indefinite confinement has refocused Obama on efforts to close the detention center. He announced a fresh push Thursday to transfer approved detainees to their home countries and lift a ban on transfers to Yemen.
The end of the Yemen restrictions is key, given that 30 of the 56 prisoners eligible for transfer are Yemeni. Obama halted all transfers to the poor Middle Eastern nation in 2010 after a man trained in Yemen was convicted in a failed bombing attempt of an airliner bound for Detroit.
McCain pledged to urge his colleagues to work with Obama to shut the facility, but Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Thursday's speech did not convince him.
"This speech was only necessary due to a deeply inconsistent counterterrorism policy, one that maintains it is more humane to kill a terrorist with a drone than detain and interrogate him at Guantanamo Bay," McKeon said.
Closer to home, Obama also warned of "the daunting challenge of terrorism from within our borders." He said law enforcement authorities would be reviewed, "so we can intercept new types of communication and build in privacy protections to prevent abuse." He did not provide specifics.
Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor, Kimberly Dozier and Richard Lardner contributed to this report.
Friday, May 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’ Editorial:
President Obama dreamily wants to scale back the war on terror
Gitmo and drone strikes won’t end until Islamic jihadist threat does
President Obama declared on Thursday that it’s time for the U.S. to leave behind the global war on terror. He might first try convincing America’s war-waging global enemies to do the same.
Almost a dozen years after 9/11, the President wishfully hopes to demilitarize national security in the age of Islamist radicalism. He judges the country ready for such a step because a long fight has markedly degraded the attacking capacities of Al Qaeda and affiliates.
Even so, Obama dared not utter the word victory in his address at the National Defense University, because plainly the hostiles are still coming our way. Instead, he asserted that the situation has reverted to the pre war era that led up to 9/11.
But his description of those times was horrifying: the bombings of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon (362 dead); the Achille Lauro hijack and murder of disabled New Yorker Leon Klinghoffer; the Berlin disco bombing (3 dead, 230 injured); the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 (259 dead); the first World Trade Center attack (6 dead, 1,000 injured); the Khobar Towers bombing (19 dead, 498 injured); and Africa embassy bombings (291 dead, 5,000 injured).
Those were not the good old days. Those were the days when America failed to recognize, until it was too late, that fanatic Islamists had declared war on the U.S.
Now we know better. There’s no question that another Lockerbie or a third attack on Ground Zero would be an act of war — and Obama would respond as a commander in chief rather than as the chief constable on the terror beat.
Given the facts on the ground, Obama’s depiction of the war on terror as increasingly a war of the past measures up as rhetoric chosen in hope of pushing Congress to help him close the Guantanamo Bay detention center while treating future terrorists as civilian criminals.
He will also use the stance to open negotiations with Congress over amending the law that authorizes him to use military force against Al Qaeda and allied forces. Rewriting the statute would be fine in so far as it gives a President the flexibility to strike at ever-changing enemies. Recasting it to limit a President would be wrong. Obama offered no specifics while, ominously, looking forward to repealing the law in its entirety.
At the same time, the President stepped back from his aggressive use of drones to kill terrorists abroad. Henceforth, he said, he’ll limit strikes to terrorists who are an imminent and continuing threat and who cannot be feasibly captured.
That should work, and it may in the end change little about the targeting. Then again, in one more display of ambivalence, Obama said that he wants to discuss with Congress ways for having a President check with a higher authority, like a court or a review board, before ordering a drone strike.
But, sir, there is no higher authority.
Unifying the President’s address was a viewpoint carried from the day he entered the White House. Obama has believed that in waging war, the U.S. had betrayed values written into the Constitution. He worries now that he too is being tarnished by this false stain, and he sees salvation in announcing the coming end to a war with an enemy who has no intention of quitting.