Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€" Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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Community Safety Act
New York City Council Votes to Increase Oversight of Police Dept.
By J. DAVID GOODMAN â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013; 3:19 a.m. â€˜The New York Timesâ€™
Over the strident objections of the mayor and police commissioner, the New York City Council early Thursday morning approved by veto-proof majorities a pair of bills aimed at increasing oversight of the Police Department and expanding New Yorkersâ€™ ability to sue over racial profiling by officers.
The two bills, known together as the Community Safety Act, passed during a late-night meeting of the Council that began after 11 p.m., lasted more than three hours and in which members also voted to pass the cityâ€™s budget and override a mayoral veto of a law on paid sick leave.
But it was the two policing bills that for months have stirred a heated public debate between its supporters, who are seeking a legal means to change the Police Departmentâ€™s stop-and-frisk program, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, who have warned that the measures would hamstring police officers and lead to a dangerous spike in crime.
Both measures passed the 51-member Council with the votes needed to override a mayoral veto. As that threshold was passed just after 2:20 a.m., scores of supporters who had filled the chamberâ€™s gallery and waited hours through the debate erupted into cheers.
Mr. Bloomberg, who has promised to veto both measures and this week called his opposition to them a matter of â€œlife and death,â€ released a statement after the vote. â€œI will veto this harmful legislation and continue to make our case to Council members over the coming days and weeks,â€ he said.
An attempt to override his veto would extend the protracted clash between the mayor and the Council over policing. The process could take more than two months, putting the override vote only weeks before the mayoral primary.
The legislation has already been a nettlesome issue in the Democratic race for mayor, especially for Christine C. Quinn, the Council speaker, who has faced a growing challenge to her early front-runner status. She supported the measure that would create an independent inspector general for the Police Department, which passed by a vote of 40 to 11, but she opposed the other, on police profiling, which received 34 votes in favor and 17 against.
â€œI worry about having too much judicial involvement,â€ she said before casting her vote, explaining that she did not believe the profiling bill would make New Yorkers less safe.
Despite her earlier stated opposition, she allowed both bills to move forward, and on Monday presided over a so-called discharge vote â€" the first since the current structure of the Council was established in 1989 â€" to bring the legislation out of committee, where it had stalled.
The two bills were first introduced as a package last year by Councilmen Jumaane D. Williams and Brad Lander.
One, known as Intro 1079, would create an independent inspector general to monitor and review police policy, conduct investigations and recommend changes to the department. The monitor would be part of the cityâ€™s Investigation Department alongside the inspectors general for other city agencies.
The law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, leaving the matter of choosing the monitor to the next mayor.
The other bill, Intro 1080, would expand the definition of bias-based profiling to include age, gender, housing status and sexual orientation. It also would allow individuals to sue the Police Department in state court â€" not only for individual instances of bias, but also for policies that disproportionately affect people in any protected categories without serving a significant law enforcement goal.
Mr. Bloomberg has 30 days to veto the bills. If he does so, the City Council then has 30 days from its next full meeting to hold an override vote.
The mayor and the Police Department have lobbied hard against the bills in public and behind the scenes, and they appeared likely to keep up the pressure between the veto and the override vote in an effort to change the minds of supporters.
Mr. Kelly sent a letter on Tuesday to each of the Council members, arguing that the profiling bill could be used to force the removal of surveillance cameras and urging them to vote against it. â€œThe bill would allow virtually everyone in New York City to sue the Police Department and individual police officers over the entire range of law enforcement functions they perform,â€ Mr. Kelly wrote.
Mr. Williams, responding to Mr. Kellyâ€™s letter, said: â€œIf the cameras were put in high crime neighborhoods as a response, thatâ€™s good policing. If he put them there because black people live there, thatâ€™s a problem.â€
At least one Council member received a call from his local police station commander to protest the legislation ahead of the vote.
â€œThey were deeply concerned about 250s and said they would be unable to perform them because of the profiling part of the reform,â€ said Councilman Daniel Dromm of Queens, referring to the police form used for street stops. â€œBut for me, itâ€™s the teeth of the reform; itâ€™s the needed piece.â€ He voted for both bills.
In voting against the two measures early Thursday morning, Peter F. Vallone Jr., the chairman of the public safety committee, said, â€œNew Yorkers went to bed a long time ago, safe in their beds. But they are going to wake up in a much more dangerous city.â€
City Council passes 2 bills to rein in the NYPD's use of stop and frisk
The inspector general bill passed 40-11, and the racial-profiling bill by 34-17 -- getting exactly the number of votes needed to withstand Bloombergâ€™s expected veto.
By Erin Durkin â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013; 8:43 a.m. â€˜The New York Daily Newsâ€™
Defying Mayor Bloomberg and his top cop, Raymond Kelly, the City Council passed two bills Thursday morning to rein in the NYPDâ€™s use of stop and frisk.
The Council voted with veto-proof majorities for the bills to create an inspector general who will oversee the NYPD and to allow people to sue over racial profiling by cops.
The inspector general bill passed 40-11, and the racial-profiling bill by 34-17 -- getting exactly the number of votes needed to withstand Bloombergâ€™s expected veto.
The votes came in a dramatic session that started late Wednesday and spilled into Thursday, and saw supporters and opponents of the bills passionately staking out their positions.
â€œThere have been a lot of bald-faced lies told about this bill,â€ said Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), in a speech urging lawmakers who have never experienced being black, Latino, gay, Muslim or in another profiled group to â€œplease listen to us.â€
â€œWe can have safety and can have police accountability at the exact same time,â€ he said. â€œIf you donâ€™t live there, if you havenâ€™t been going through it ... please side with us.â€
Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Queens) recalled being stopped and frisked as a teen, which he said â€œdehumanizedâ€ him.
â€œI was scared," he said. "Today Iâ€™m not scared ... I have a chance to do something about it.â€
Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Queens) said the bill â€œwill give every person subject to any police policy an automatic right to sue without any allegation of wrongdoing.â€
â€œIt will achieve the ultimate goal of this bill, to put judges in charge of the NYPD,â€ he said. â€œWhen the courts are in charge, we will become Chicago, we will become Detroit. Crime will soar, murder will rise, children will die.â€
And Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) denounced the bills as â€œan outrage.â€
â€œI want to live in a safe city. I want to live in a city that is free from fear. I want to live in a city where my family and my neighbors arenâ€™t terrorized â€" not by police officers but by the violent criminals.â€
In a last-ditch effort to sway Council members, Bloombergâ€™s counsel, Michael Best, wrote in a letter to legislators that despite a series of recent changes, the bills â€œwould seriously impede the ability of the Police Department and the City to protect 8.4 million New Yorkersâ€ and invite an â€œavalanche of new lawsuits against police action.â€
But most Council members rejected those arguments, with many calling them exaggerated and recounting stories of police abuses.
Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) said backers fully support NYPD efforts to keep the city safe.
â€œWe can do that without profiling,â€ he said.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn supported the inspector general bill but opposed the racial-profiling measure, which she said would give too much control over the police to judges.
But Quinn, a Democratic candidate for mayor, agreed to let both come to the floor for votes and supported a rare maneuver to force a vote through a â€œmotion to dischargeâ€ after public-safety committee head Vallone refused to allow his panel to act on the profiling bill.
It was expected that both bills would pass, but supporters waited tensely and counted votes to see whether the profiling bill could get a veto-proof majority -- until the 34th vote was cast about 2:20 a.m.
â€œI am the 34th vote, and I vote aye,â€ said Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Queens), to huge applause in the chamber.
Bloomberg vowed to veto the bills and said heâ€™d try to change minds before an override vote.
â€œThese dangerous pieces of legislation will only hurt our police officersâ€™ ability to protect New Yorkers and sustain this tremendous record of accomplishment," he said. "We have demonstrated why these bills are bad for public safety, and I will veto this harmful legislation and continue to make our case to Council members over the coming days and weeks."
NYC Council Rebuffs Bloomberg in Police Oversight Vote
By Henry Goldman (Bloomberg News) â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013; 2:57 a.m. EDT
The New York City Council approved two bills to protect minorities from overzealous police, setting up a clash with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who says the laws would make it more difficult to fight crime and terrorism.
The council voted 40 to 11 to create an inspector general empowered to review police policies and practices, and 34-17 to allow lawsuits against the city when an officer uses racial profiling as a reason to question an individual. The mayor said he will veto both measures; supporters need 34 votes in the 51-member chamber to override him.
â€œI believe that we must have both safe streets and stronger police-community relations,â€ Council Speaker Christine Quinn said before the votes early this morning. â€œAn inspector general will provide feedback and recommendations to our police commissioner and mayor on how to balance these two goals and ensure one doesnâ€™t impede on the other.â€
Crime has dropped 34 percent since Bloomberg became mayor in 2002, and the city has had 25 percent fewer homicides this year through mid-June compared with the same period in 2012, when it had 417, according to the police data. The numbers show New York to be the safest big city in the U.S., says Bloomberg.
â€œUnfortunately, these dangerous pieces of legislation will only hurt our police officersâ€™ ability to protect New Yorkers and sustain this tremendous record of accomplishment,â€ Bloomberg said in a statement after the bills were passed. He said he will veto the legislation.
Quinn, 46, a Democrat and the mayorâ€™s closest council ally, helped steer the bills to a vote by joining with her colleagues to overrule Peter Vallone Jr., the Democratic chairman of the Public Safety Committee. He had refused to free the measures for consideration. While she supports adding an inspector general, Quinn opposes the racial-profiling measure, saying it will hamper police and encourage frivolous lawsuits.
Police union leader Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmenâ€™s Benevolent Association, said the profiling bill would prevent officers from using gender, skin color or age in describing a suspect. Supporters of the measure deny that.
â€œAllowing someone who is simply questioned by police to sue the NYPD will paralyze law enforcement,â€ Lynch said yesterday by e-mail.
Taking up an issue unrelated to policing, the council voted 47-4 to override the mayorâ€™s veto of a bill requiring employers with 20 or more workers to provide paid sick leave starting April 1. It would be expanded to those with 15 or more employees a year later, in 2015. It initially passed 45-3 on May 8.
The early morning vote, which followed hours of debate on the police bills, concluded at 2:30 a.m., and included a 50-1 vote to approve a $70 billion budget for the 2014 fiscal year beginning July 1.
The votes to boost police oversight took place as civil-liberties advocates in the city of 8.3 million await a decision by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan in a 2008 lawsuit accusing police of disproportionately targeting minority youths to stop, question or frisk them on the street.
Of the 4.3 million stop-and-frisk searches in the past nine years, more than 80 percent were of blacks and Latinos, according to court papers filed by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which backs the plaintiffs. Less than 1 percent of those stops led to recovery of a gun, the plaintiffs said.
New York has been â€œdeliberately indifferentâ€ to the constitutional violations of its police force, attorneys for the four men suing said in a June 12 post-trial filing.
The U.S. Justice Department, while taking no position on the claims against the city, said in a June 12 memo to the judge that it endorsed the use of a court-appointed monitor in the event itâ€™s ruled to be necessary.
â€œThe experience of the United States in enforcing police reform injunctions teaches that the appointment of an independent monitor is a critically important asset,â€ the department said.
Bloomberg, 71, denounced the Justice Department statement during a June 13 news briefing in Queens, saying police are trained to stop people only under appropriate circumstances.
â€œIt just makes no sense whatsoever when lives are on the line to change the rules and hamper the police department from doing their job,â€ he said.
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP. A political independent, he is barred by law from seeking a fourth term. Speaker Quinn is among seven Democrats seeking to replace him next year.
The case is Floyd v. City of New York, 08-cv-01034, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
NYC Council passes plans for new police oversight
By JENNIFER PELTZ (The Associated Press) â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013; 3:51 a.m. EDT
NEW YORK (AP) â€" The most expansive plans in years to impose new oversight on the New York Police Department passed the City Council early Thursday, as lawmakers voted to create an outside watchdog and make it easier to bring racial profiling claims against the nationâ€™s largest police force.
Both passed with enough votes to override expected vetoes, marking an inflection point in the public debate and power dynamics that have set the balance between prioritizing safety and protecting civil liberties here.
Proponents see the legislation as a check on a police department that has come under scrutiny for its heavy use of a tactic known as stop and frisk and its extensive surveillance of Muslims, as disclosed in a series of stories by The Associated Press.
â€˜â€˜New Yorkers know that we can keep our city safe from crime and terrorism without profiling our neighbors,â€™â€™ Councilman Brad Lander, who spearheaded the measures with fellow Democratic Councilman Jumaane Williams, said at a packed and emotional meeting that began shortly before midnight and stretched into the early morning.
Lawmakers delved into their own experiences with the street stops, drew on the cityâ€™s past in episodes ranging from the high crime of the 1990s to the 1969 Stonewall riots that crystallized the gay rights movement, and traded accusations of paternalism and politicizing. In a sign of the national profile the issue has gained, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous was in the audience, while hip hop impresario Russell Simmons tweeted to urge the measuresâ€™ passage.
Critics say the measures would impinge on techniques that have wrestled crime down dramatically and would leave the NYPD â€˜â€˜pointlessly hampered by outside intrusion and recklessly threatened by second-guessing from the courts,â€™â€™ in Mayor Michael Bloombergâ€™s words. He vowed in a statement minutes after the vote to veto the measures and continue urging lawmakers to take his side.
But while itâ€™s too soon to settle how the initiatives may play out in practice if they survive the expected veto, they already have shaped politics and perception.
Besides giving ground to complaints that the NYPD hasnâ€™t been sensitive enough to civil rights and racial fairness, the legislation has put the three-term mayor and his popular police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, in the uncommon position of possibly losing a high-profile fight on public safety. They have gone to lengths to make their criticisms heard, most recently in a Monday news conference at which Bloomberg envisioned gang members lodging discriminatory-policing complaints and Kelly invoked â€˜â€˜al-Qaeda wannabes.â€™â€™
Yet on Wednesday, many council members rebuffed those concerns and approved the measures by wide margins, though the profiling lawsuit bill garnered just exactly the 34 yes votes that would be needed to overcome a potential veto.
â€˜â€˜It just became so polarized,â€™â€™ Eugene O'Donnell, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor who follows issues related to the NYPD, said by phone. â€˜â€˜(The mayor and commissioner) just dug in their heels, for whatever reason, and they ended up with the City Council coalescing around a pretty dramatic set of steps.â€™â€™
The measures follow on decades of efforts to empower outside input on the NYPD. Efforts to establish an independent civilian complaint board in the 1960s spurred a bitter clash with a police union, which mobilized a referendum on it. Voters defeated it.
More than two decades later, private citizens were appointed to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which handles mainly misconduct claims against individual officers. A 1990s police corruption scandal spurred a recommendation for an independent board to investigate corruption; a Commission to Combat Police Corruption was established in 1995, but it lacks subpoena power.
Courts also have exercised some oversight, including through a 1985 federal court settlement that set guidelines for the NYPDâ€™s intelligence-gathering. And the City Council has weighed in before, including with a 2004 law that barred racial or religious profiling as â€˜â€˜the determinative factorâ€™â€™ in police actions, a measure Bloomberg signed.
The new measures are further-reaching than any of that, proponents and critics agree.
One would establish an inspector general with subpoena power to explore and recommend, but not force, changes to the NYPDâ€™s policies and practices. Various law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department, have inspectors general.
The other would give people more latitude if they felt they were stopped because of bias based on race, sexual orientation or certain other factors.
Plaintiffs wouldnâ€™t necessarily have to prove that a police officer intended to discriminate. Instead, they could offer evidence that a practice such as stop and frisk affects some groups disproportionately, though police could counter that the disparity was justified to accomplish a substantial law enforcement end. The suits couldnâ€™t seek money, just court orders to change police practices.
The proposals were impelled partly by concern about the roughly 5 million stop and frisks the NYPD has conducted in the last decade, with more than 80 percent of those stopped being black or Hispanic and arrests resulting less than 15 percent of the time. But proponents also point to the departmentâ€™s spying on Muslims, which has included infiltrating Muslim student groups and putting informants in mosques, as the AP series showed.
The poor, mostly Muslim members of a South Asian advocacy group called Desis Rising Up and Moving â€˜â€˜feel the impact of both issues â€" surveillance, as Muslims â€" and stop and frisk,â€™â€™ which is prevalent in a Queens neighborhood where many members live, said Fahd Ahmed, the groupâ€™s legal director.
Stop and frisk is already the subject of a federal lawsuit brought by four men who claim they were stopped solely because of their race, along with hundreds of thousands of others stopped in the last decade. A judge is considering whether to order reforms to the policy and establish the courtâ€™s own monitoring. City attorneys argued the stops were lawful and not based on race alone.
The NYPD has defended the surveillance and stop and frisks as legal, and critics of the new legislation point to another set of statistics: Killings and other serious offenses have fallen 34 percent since 2001, while the number of city residents in jails and prisons has fallen 31 percent.
Bloomberg has said they could tie the department up in lawsuits and complaints, inject courts and an inspector general into tactical decisions and make â€˜â€˜proactive policing by police officers extinct in our city.â€™â€™
And several council members agreed with him
â€˜â€˜The unintended consequences, potentially, of these bills is when a human, a man or woman, who has (a) badge . will pull their punch and not aggressively pursue a potential perpetrator, and then he or she goes out and commits a crime. Thatâ€™s the fear,â€™â€™ Republican Councilman Vincent Ignizio told his colleagues Thursday.
If the measures ultimately survive, Bloomberg wonâ€™t be in City Hall to see much of the outcome. The term-limited mayor leaves office this year.
Democratic mayoral candidates have generally said the practice needs changing. Some Republicans, meanwhile, have embraced the NYPDâ€™s view.
City Council approves two bills that jeopardize NYPDâ€™s stop-and-frisk
By SALLY GOLDENBERG â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013; 5:20 a.m. â€˜The New York Postâ€™
The City Council passed two bills early this morning that could drastically rein in the NYPDâ€™s use of stop-and-frisk.
Mayor Bloomberg has said he plans to veto both measures, one of which would facilitate lawsuits against the NYPD for those who believe that they were unfairly profiled during a stop-and-frisk, and the other of which would create an inspector general to oversee the department.
But even if Bloomberg uses his veto, both bills passed the 34-vote threshold that will make them veto proof.
The profiling bill passed 34 to 17, while the IG bill passed 40-11.
The profiling bill passed without the support of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn â€" the first time legislation has passed over her opposition in her seven-year tenure.
The mayor, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the Patrolmenâ€™s Benevolent Association â€" the rank-and-file police union â€" plan to spend the next few weeks pressuring council members to vote against overriding Bloombergâ€™s vetoes.
In one of the most heated sessions in recent years, supporters of the bills said they are a necessary step to curtail stop- and-frisk, a practice they say enables racial profiling.
â€œToday, we are striking a blow against a practice which has become a perverse right of passage for all young men of color in the City of New York,â€ said Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn.) â€œIt will do nothing to handcuff or prevent the Police Department from ensuring that all of us are safe.â€
Several members shared stories of being subjected to stop-and-frisk.
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) in opposing the bills fumed, â€œItâ€™s an unnecessary waste of money. Why donâ€™t we take the money weâ€™re going to use to establish the office of the inspector general and hire more cops?â€
Bloomberg warned that the bills would undermine the NYPDâ€™s successful effort to slash crime.
â€œLast year, there was a record-low number of murders and a record-low number of shootings in our city, and this year, weâ€™re on pace to break both of those records,â€ he said in a prepared statement immediately after the council votes.
â€œUnfortunately these dangerous pieces of legislation will only hurt our police officersâ€™ ability to protect New Yorkers and sustain this tremendous record of accomplishment.â€
The profiling bill would create a private right of action for those who feel they were stopped and frisked simply because of their race, ethnicity, sexuality or other identifying factors rather than reasonable suspicion of a crime.
The measure would allow people to sue the city to force changes in policies such as stop and frisk.
Quinn has said she opposes it because it would give state judges too much power over city policing.
The other measure would create an inspector general within the city Department of Investigation with subpoena power. It would prepare public reports on NYPD policy.
The council also passed the $70 billion Fiscal Year 2014 budget, which takes effect Monday, and overrode Bloombergâ€™s veto of a bill that requires private companies provide at least five annual paid sick days beginning next April.
NYC Bar Association Backing City Council Bills To Rein In NYPD Stop And Frisk
The New York City Bar Association came out in support of two bills to rein in the NYPDâ€™s use of stop and frisk that are set to be voted on in the City Council
BY Erin Durkin â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The New York Daily Newsâ€™
The bills, which Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly strenuously oppose, would create an NYPD inspector general and allow people to sue over racial profiling by cops.
The bills are both expected to pass the Council, with the key question being whether they will get enough votes to override Bloombergâ€™s expected veto.
In its report on the controversial profiling bill, the Bar Association wrote:
â€œA private right of action is essential to holding the NYPD accountable for practices that have a disproportionate impact with no legitimate justification.
"Without it, these practices will remain largely immune from legal challenge, as the ability of individuals to sue to enforce rules against discrimination is often the only effective and practical method to enforce civil rights laws.â€
And they said it â€œwill not lead to a flood of frivolous lawsuitsâ€ as Bloomberg and other opponents have warned because the bill does not allow people who think theyâ€™ve been victims of profiling to sue for cash, only to seek a ruling ordering policy changes.
Police unions say they'll yank support for any City Council pols who back 'bias profiling' bill
Byâ€‰ KIRSTAN CONLEY â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The New York Postâ€™
COMMENT: A police union endorsement probably means next to nothing to the politicians; perhaps even something to be avoided! In the last 50 years or so, a police union endorsement has many times ended up being the â€˜kiss of deathâ€™ for many a local politician running for office in New York City. - Mike Bosak
The NYPD detectives and captains unions today threatened to revoke their endorsements of any City Council members who support the â€œbias profilingâ€ bill up for a vote tonight.
â€œAny legislator who supports an irresponsible bill like this is not worthy of the political support of men and woman who risk their lives behind the gold shield,â€ said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association, which represents more than 16,000 active and retired cops.
â€œThis issue is larger than politics. Therefore the DEA will revoke the endorsement of any and all city council members who support this measure,â€œ Palladino told The Post.
The union endorsed 30 candidates, but said the bill under consideration could expose current and former cops to a flood of bias lawsuits and also hamper the NYPDâ€™s efforts to maintain historically low crime rates.
â€œThe bias profiling bill is the single most irresponsible piece of legislation I have ever seen,â€ Palladino said. â€œIt threatens the safety of the public and is in conflict with what detectives represent.â€œ
The captains union was also on board, saying it has prepared endorsements for some candidates but would not follow through if they vote for the bill.
"We plan to formally revoke endorsements for anybody who votes in favor of that bill," said Captains Endowment Association President Roy Richter. "It indicts everyone who wears blue. They're placing the burden of proof on police to prove that they did not act with bias. This bill presumes they're biased."
It was not immediately clear whether unions would representing rank-and-file cops and lieutenants would follow their lead, but they and have already come out in force against the bill.
The Post exclusively reported last week on a campaign against the bill by the CEA and the Lieutenantsâ€™ Benevolent Association.
The captains union placed an ad in The Post showing a blindfolded office standing in Times Square with the caption: â€œHow effective is a police officer with a blindfold on?â€
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg also oppose the proposed bill, saying it would prevent cops from describing a crime suspectâ€™s race or ethnicity and could lead to the removal of security cameras from high crime neighborhoods.
DEA Vice President Paul DiGiacomo said the police department would turn into a â€œreactive department instead of a proactive departmentâ€ if the legislation passes.
â€œThere have been several incidents in the last couple of months where children were shot by stray bullets,â€ he said. â€œThey have been paralyzed and killed. Itâ€™s something Iâ€™d hate to see happen on a regular basis. Crime will have nowhere to go but up because police wonâ€™t be able to do their jobs.â€
Proponents defended the bill as the vote neared.
â€œNew Yorkers are tired of having their civil rights violated and being told patronizingly that itâ€™s for their own good,â€ Priscilla Gonzalez of Communities United for Police Reform said in a statement today.
NYPD Counterterrorism's Probably Illegal Relationship With the Central Intelligence Agency
C.I.A. Report Finds Concerns With Ties to New York Police
By CHARLIE SAVAGE â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The New York Timesâ€™
WASHINGTON â€" Four Central Intelligence Agency officers were embedded with the New York Police Department in the decade after Sept. 11, 2001, including one official who helped conduct surveillance operations in the United States, according to a newly disclosed C.I.A. inspector generalâ€™s report.
That officer believed there were â€œno limitationsâ€ on his activities, the report said, because he was on an unpaid leave of absence, and thus exempt from the prohibition against domestic spying by members of the C.I.A.
Another embedded C.I.A. analyst â€" who was on its payroll â€" said he was given â€œunfilteredâ€ police reports that included information unrelated to foreign intelligence, the C.I.A. report said.
The once-classified review, completed by the C.I.A. inspector general in December 2011, found that the four agency analysts â€" more than had previously been known â€" were assigned at various times to â€œprovide direct assistanceâ€ to the local police. The report also raised a series of concerns about the relationship between the two organizations.
The C.I.A. inspector general, David B. Buckley, found that the collaboration was fraught with â€œirregular personnel practices,â€ that it lacked â€œformal documentation in some important instances,â€ and that â€œthere was inadequate direction and controlâ€ by agency supervisors.
â€œWhile negative public perception is to be expected from the revelation of the agencyâ€™s close and direct collaboration with any local domestic police department, a perception that the agency has exceeded its authorities diminishes the trust placed in the organization,â€ Mr. Buckley wrote in a cover memo to David H. Petraeus, then the C.I.A. director.
The declassification of the executive summary, in response to a Freedom of Information Act suit, comes at a time of intense interest in domestic spying after leaks by a former contractor for the National Security Agency.
It also comes amid lawsuits against the Police Department alleging unconstitutional surveillance of Muslim communities and mosques in New Jersey and New York. And a group of plaintiffs from a 1971 lawsuit over harassment of political groups by the Police Departmentâ€™s so-called Red Squad has asked a judge to tighten guidelines stemming from that case on police investigations involving political or religious activity.
Paul J. Browne, a police spokesman, said that the lawsuits were without merit. He also said that the inspector general had found nothing illegal and that the last embedded C.I.A. official left the police in 2012.
â€œWeâ€™re proud of our relationship with C.I.A. and its training,â€ he said, saying it was partly responsible for the absence of casualties from a terror attack in New York in the years since Sept. 11 and the anthrax attacks. He added that the terrorists â€œkeep coming and we keep pushing back.â€
The C.I.A.-Police Department partnership dates from 2002, when David Cohen, a former C.I.A. officer who became deputy commissioner for intelligence at the Police Department after the Sept. 11 attacks, reached out to his former agency in building up its counterterrorism abilities.
The inspector generalâ€™s office began the investigation in August 2011 after The Associated Press published an article about the C.I.A.â€™s relationship with the Police Departmentâ€™s intelligence division. It was part of a series about New York police surveillance of Muslims that was later awarded a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.
When the classified report was completed in 2011, spokesmen for the C.I.A. and the Police Department said it had concluded that the C.I.A. had not violated a law and an executive order that prohibited it from domestic spying or performance of law-enforcement powers. But the document shows that that conclusion was not the whole story. The inspector general warned in his cover letter that the collaboration raised â€œconsiderable and multifacetedâ€ risks for the agency.
This week, it released an executive summary and cover memo in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit civil-liberties group, which provided it to The New York Times.
â€œThe C.I.A. is not permitted to engage in domestic surveillance,â€ said Ginger McCall, the director of the groupâ€™s Open Government Project. â€œDespite the assurances of the C.I.A.â€™s press office, the activities documented in this report cross the line and highlight the need for more oversight.â€
Dean Boyd, a C.I.A. spokesman, said the inspector general found no legal violations or evidence that the agencyâ€™s support to the Police Department constituted â€œdomestic spying.â€
â€œIt should come as no surprise that, after 9/11, the C.I.A. stepped up its cooperation with law enforcement on counterterrorism issues or that some of that increased cooperation was in New York,â€ he said in an e-mail. â€œThe agencyâ€™s operational focus, however, is overseas, and none of the support we have provided to N.Y.P.D. can rightly be characterized as â€˜domestic spyingâ€™ by the C.I.A. Any suggestion along those lines is simply wrong.â€
The report shows that the first of the four embedded agency officers began as an adviser in 2002 and went on an unpaid leave from the agency from 2004 to 2009. During that latter period, it said, he participated in â€" and directed â€" â€œN.Y.P.D. investigations, operations, and surveillance activities directed at U.S. persons and non-U.S. persons.â€
The official received a Police Department paycheck. He told the inspector general that he â€œdid not consider himself an agency officer and believed he had â€˜no limitationsâ€™ as far as what he could or could not do.â€ C.I.A. lawyers said that officials on unpaid leave who are â€œacting in a personal capacity and not subject to C.I.A. directionâ€ are not constrained by the law barring the agency from domestic security functions, the report said.
Another C.I.A. analyst was detailed to the Police Department in early 2008 and remained on the agencyâ€™s payroll. >From about February to April 2008, he told the inspector general he had received daily files, including the police intelligence divisionâ€™s investigative reports â€œthat he believed were unfiltered.â€
That meant they had not been prescreened to remove information unrelated to foreign intelligence information, like evidence of domestic criminal activity. Later, the report says, the system was changed and police analysts gave him printouts of only those reports deemed to have potential foreign-intelligence information â€" about 10 to 12 a day.
Still, a former Police Department intelligence analyst who now works for the C.I.A.â€™s National Clandestine Service maintained that the embedded C.I.A. official had not had â€œunrestricted or unfiltered accessâ€ to the reports. The inspector general did not clear up the discrepancy.
Meanwhile, the Police Department sent a detective to the C.I.A. from October 2008 to November 2009 to â€œreceive agency operational training to enhance the capabilityâ€ of its intelligence divisionâ€™s counterterrorism efforts in the metropolitan area.
Two other agency officials also worked for a period at the Police Department. One â€œspent considerable time and effort trying to help N.Y.P.D. improve its volatile relationship with the local F.B.I.,â€ and the report said senior agency officials expressed concern that the arrangement had â€œplaced the agency in the middle of a contentious relationship.â€
â€œThe revelation of these issues,â€ Mr. Buckley wrote, â€œleads me to conclude that the risks associated with the Agencyâ€™s relationship with the N.Y.P.D. were not fully considered and that there was inadequate direction and control by the agency managers responsible for the relationship.â€
Report expresses concerns over CIA, NYPD ties
By Ed Payne (CNN News) â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013; 5:05 a.m. EDT
(CNN) -- In the decade following the September 11, 2001, attacks, four CIA officers directly collaborated with the New York Police Department to expand NYPD's counterterrorism capabilities, according to a newly disclosed report.
The CIA inspector general's report -- completed in late 2011, but just declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The New York Times -- raises concerns about the relationship between the organizations.
The investigation found "irregular personnel practices" and "inadequate direction and control" by CIA managers "responsible for the relationship."
"As a consequence, the risk to the Agency (CIA) is considerable and multifaceted," said a memo from Inspector General David Buckley to David Petraeus, who was the CIA director at the time.
"While negative public perception is to be expected from the revelation of the agency's close and direct collaboration with any local domestic police department, a perception that the agency has exceeded its authorities diminishes the trust place in the organization."
CIA agents are prohibited from taking part in domestic spying and the report's release comes in the immediate aftermath of leaks by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
The investigation was launched after an Associated Press story that alleged "inappropriate CIA involvement in the activities of the New York Police Department," the inspector general's report said.
The AP reported that the NYPD Intelligence Division dispatched CIA-trained undercover officers into minority neighborhoods to gather intelligence on daily life in mosques, cafes, bars and bookstores.
It said New York police have used informers to monitor sermons during religious services and police officials keep tabs on clerics and gather intelligence on taxi cab drivers and food-cart vendors, who are often Muslim.
The New York Police Department blasted the report as "fictional," at the time.
A year ago, New Jersey Muslims filed a lawsuit against New York City, accusing police of using unconstitutional tactics to spy on them in the years after September 11.
The NYPD later said the surveillance never produced a lead that linked to a potential terrorist plot.
While the inspector general's report found no reason to order a full investigation into the relationship, it did note that the "risks ... were not fully considered."
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne hailed the cooperation between the agencies.
"We're proud of our relationship with CIA and its training expertise, which is in part responsible for the fact that the 11 years since 9/11 and the anthrax attacks soon thereafter mark the first decade in the last six in which there hasn't been a single casualty of a terrorist attack in New York City," he said in a statement. "Not that the terrorists have stopped trying."
Report: CIA-NYPD collaboration had 'irregular personnel practices'
By Unnamed Author(s) (UPI) â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013; 11:08 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON, June 27 (UPI) -- CIA officers were embedded with the New York Police Department in the 10 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, an agency report said.
The once-classified inspector general's review, completed by the agency's inspector general in December 2011, found that the four CIA analysts were assigned at various times to "provide direct assistance" to local police, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The report also raised concerns about the relationship between the two organizations.
One officer who helped conduct surveillance operations in the United States said he believed there were "no limitations" on his activities because he was on an unpaid leave of absence and exempt from the prohibition against domestic spying by the CIA, the report said.
Another embedded analyst who was on the spy agency's payroll said he was given "unfiltered" police reports that included information unrelated to foreign intelligence, the inspector general's report said.
CIA Inspector General David Buckley found the agency-NYPD collaboration was rife with "irregular personnel practices," lacked "formal documentation in some important instances," and agency supervisors exercised "inadequate direction and control."
The executive summary was declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a non-profit, civil liberties group, which provided it to The New York Times.
"The CIA is not permitted to engage in domestic surveillance," said Ginger McCall, the director of the group's Open Government Project. "Despite the assurances of the CIA's press office, the activities documented in this report cross the line and highlight the need for more oversight."
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said Buckley found no violations or evidence that the agency's support to the Police Department constituted "domestic spying."
The department has slapped with lawsuits alleging unconstitutional surveillance of Muslim communities and mosques in New Jersey and New York.
Police spokesman Paul J. Browne said the lawsuits were meritless and that Buckley's report found nothing illegal. He said the last embedded CIA official left in 2012.
"We're proud of our relationship with CIA and its training," Browne said, saying it was partly responsible for the absence of casualties from a terror attack in New York since Sept. 11, as well as from anthrax attacks.
Terrorists, he said, "keep coming and we keep pushing back."
How the CIA Aided the NYPD's Surveillance Program
By Abby Ohlheiser â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The Atlantic Wireâ€™ / New York, NY
In the years after the attacks on September 11th, 2001, the NYPD had at least four "embedded" CIA officers in their midst. And because at least one of the officers was on unpaid leave at the time, the officer was able to bypass the standing prohibition against domestic spying for the agency and help conduct surveillance for the police force. In his words, he had "no limitations."
The news comes from a FOIA request by the New York Times for a 2011 review by the CIA's inspector general of the embedded analysts. The report, published Wednesday by the paper, criticized the program's â€œirregular personnel practice," "inadequate direction and control,â€ and risks posed to the agency's practice and reputation. The existence of the review is public knowledge â€" it followed the Pulitzer-winning series of reports on NYPD spying on Muslims, which reported on the CIA's assistance to the NYPD, and vice versa:
"Though the CIA is prohibited from collecting intelligence domestically, the wall between domestic and foreign operations became more porous. Intelligence gathered by the NYPD, with CIA officer Sanchez overseeing collection, was often passed to the CIA in informal conversations and through unofficial channels, a former official involved in that process said. By design, the NYPD was looking more and more like a domestic CIA."
As the Times notes, the public statement on the CIA's review of the program stated that no laws had been broken. But the actual document shows that the agency had a much more mixed response to the program, and reveals more details on how the program worked:
"The report shows that the first of the four embedded agency officers began as an adviser in 2002 and went on an unpaid leave from the agency from 2004 to 2009. During that latter period, it said, he participated in â€" and directed â€" â€œN.Y.P.D. investigations, operations, and surveillance activities directed at U.S. persons and non-U.S. persons.â€
C.I.A. lawyers signed off on the arrangement because the officer was on a â€œleave without payâ€ status at the agency and was â€œacting in a personal capacity and not subject to C.I.A. direction.â€ As a result, the official â€œdid not consider himself an agency officer and believed he had â€˜no limitationsâ€™ as far as what he could or could not do,â€ the report said."
Earlier this month, the ACLU sued the NYPD over the domestic spying program, which targeted Muslims. Meanwhile, the CIA itself isn't having the best news day either â€" but at least the Times story wasn't the result of a leak.
Execution of Detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews
Ronell Wilson associate testifies that cop killer said 'I popped them'
Mitchell Diaz, former member of Wilson's crew, provided Wilson with the weapon that killed undercover NYPD detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews.
By John Marzulli â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The New York Daily Newsâ€™
â€œI popped them.â€
Those were the chilling words of cop killer Ronell Wilson shortly after the 2003 execution-style murders of undercover NYPD Detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews, a gang associate testified Wednesday.
Mitchell Diaz, a former member of a violent crew of thugs at the Stapleton housing project in Staten Island, had provided Wilson with the murder weapon â€" a .44-caliber pistol.
The gang had hatched a plan to rob the victims, but Wilson killed them in cold blood. â€œI was shaking,â€ Diaz recalled when he learned of Wilsonâ€™s bloody deed on Staten Island.
Wilson was convicted of capital murder in Brooklyn Federal Court and a jury is deciding whether to resentence him to death or life in prison after the original death penalty was overturned by an appeals court.
Diaz, 29, pleaded guilty to state murder charges for his role and is serving a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
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Fired Police Academy â€˜Bearded Rookieâ€™ P.O. Fishel Litzman
Hasidic ex-cop fired by NYPD over beard to argue in court to get his job back
Fishel Litzman made headlines when the top recruit at the police academy was fired a month before graduation for allegedly ignoring repeated warnings about trimming his beard to within 1 millimeter long under department guidelines. Litzman said the NYPD knew about his religious convictions that prohibit him from cutting his facial hair.
By Rocco Parascandola â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The New York Daily Newsâ€™
A Hasidic NYPD recruit fired for refusing on religious grounds to trim his beard will fight for his job in court, his lawyer said.
Fishel Litzman will appear Thursday in Manhattan federal court as his lawyer, a legal heavyweight experienced in religious rights cases, argues for the former copâ€™s full reinstatement to the NYPD.
â€œHe very much so wants to get his job back,â€ Nathan Lewin said. â€œItâ€™s always been his ambition to be a New York City police officer. He still has a very, very strong wish to serve as a New York City police officer.â€
The 39-year-old Litzman made headlines last June when the top recruit at the police academy was fired a month before graduation.
The NYPD said he had ignored repeated warnings about trimming his beard to within 1 millimeter long under department guidelines.
Litzman, whose beliefs as a Hasidic Jew prohibit him from trimming or cutting his facial hair in any way, said the NYPD knew about his convictions from the start and gave no indication that they would be a problem.
But city Assistant Corporation Counsel Keri Reid McNally said Litzman was told before entering the academy that the facial hair limit would be enforced.
The city also said that beards need to be shaved so that officers can wear gas masks during counterterrorism drills.
Orthodox man takes NYPD to court over beard length
By MICHAEL WILNER â€" Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 â€˜The Jerusalem Postâ€™ / Jerusalem, Israel
WASHINGTON -- Fishel Litzman, a New York police officer in training and an Orthodox Jew, took the NYPD to court on Wednesday for requiring him to trim his beard for service.
Litzman's attorneys are saying that the police department's accommodation, which allows for facial hair up to one millimeter in length, does not satisfy his constitutionally-protected civil right to free religious practice.
"The Police Department is now claiming that Mr. Litzman was dismissed from the Police Academyâ€" where he stood at the head of a class of more than 800â€" because his facial hair prevented him from using a gas mask known as a MSA Millenium respirator," said his attorneys in a statement, noting this was not the reason given when he was originally dismissed.
"This claim is unsound because no officer with any facial hairâ€" even shorter than one millimeterâ€" can use a MSA Millenium respirator."
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post's sister publication in December, The Jerusalem Report, on Orthodox Jews in the police force, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly explained that uniformityâ€" not respiratorsâ€" was the justification for the rule.
"Religion is such an important part of the lives of so many of our officers, and it goes along with the beards, the head wraps, the holidays and so forth," Kelly told the Report. "But the public has a certain image of the police officer, and we need to maintain that philosophy.
"Balance is the goal," Kelly added, "and we try our best to accommodate."
Attention Ray Kelly: NYPD Still Using â€œAccidentâ€ to Describe Traffic Crashes
By Brad Aaron â€" Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 â€˜StreetsBlog.Orgâ€™ / New York, NY
Earlier this year, Commissioner Ray Kelly announced that the word â€œaccidentâ€ would be eliminated from the NYPD lexicon. Not only would the Accident Investigation Squad be rebranded as the Collision Investigation Squad, Kelly said, but â€œaccidentâ€ would be changed to â€œcollisionâ€ on all departmental materials.
In a letter to City Council transportation chair James Vacca, Kelly said what safe streets advocates have long wanted to hear from NYCâ€™s top cop.
The term â€œcollision,â€ which is utilized by other jurisdictions throughout the country, provides a more accurate description. In the past, the term â€œaccidentâ€ has sometimes given the inaccurate impression or connotation that there is no fault or liability associated with a specific event. The term â€œcollisionâ€ will now be utilized in all relevant Department materials, forms and manuals.
From the outside, it appears the department has barely changed its terminology in the three months since Kellyâ€™s announcement. The AIS is now the CIS, but NYPD still uses â€œaccidentâ€ on monthly crash data reports, and on the departmentâ€™s web site.
And in a recent interview with the Times, Highway Patrol chief Inspector Paul Ciorra used â€œaccidentâ€ to describe a typical DWI hit-and-run, though such a crash would be a potential felony.
â€œThese accidents out here, itâ€™s not two drug dealers on a corner that shot each other â€¦ Almost every time here, itâ€™s regular folk; itâ€™s Mr. Jones who had maybe one too many beers, hit someone and fled the scene.â€
Ray Kelly said it himself: words matter. This shift wonâ€™t permeate every level of NYPD right away, of course. But as the supervisor of the Collision Investigation Squad, if anyone else in the department should have adopted the NYPDâ€™s new language, it would be Inspector Ciorra.
We have asked the NYPD Public Information office if or when â€œcollisionâ€ will replace â€œaccidentâ€ on the departmentâ€™s web site and crash data reports.
Photo Op [Face Time] for Ray
Bear, hero NYPD dog kicked in the teeth, returns with new grill
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly joined dozens of police officers of the two- and four-legged variety to honor the pooch kicked in the mouth by a subway brawler the injured dog later subdued.
By Priscila Ortiz AND Shane Dixon Kavanaugh â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The New York Daily Newsâ€™
This pooch took a bite out of crime, and got a new grill.
NYPD police dog Bear received a heroâ€™s welcome Wednesday following surgery for the fractured teeth the dog suffered when a wild subway brawler booted it in the mouth.
Commissioner Raymond Kelly â€" along with dozens of officers and their four-legged partners â€" gave the crime-fighting canine a standing ovation outside the upper East Sideâ€™s Animal Medical Center as Bear left the hospital with handler Officer Vincent Tieniber.
â€œBear is healing nice on his own,â€ said Dr. Stephen Riback, who had to cap two of German shepherdâ€™s teeth and file down another couple choppers.
Bearâ€™s traumatic call occurred on June 18, when the dog, on the job at the NYPD for five years, and Tieniber came to the aid of a fellow officer trying to break up a fight among four woman at the 4 subway station at E. 59th St. and Lexington Ave.
During the fracas, Ravenia Matos-Davis, 21, kicked Bear so hard that she left a sneaker print across the dogâ€™s snout.
The courageous German shepherd grabbed onto the woman's leg and would not let go until Tieniber cuffed her.
Six-year-old Bear is expected to be back on the crime-fighting beat soon.
NBC News Hires Former NYPD, LAPD Chief Bill Bratton As An Analyst
By Alex Weprin â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜Mediabistro.Com Newsâ€™
NBC News has hired former NYPD, LAPD and Boston PD police commissioner Bill Bratton as an analyst for its networks and platforms, including MSNBC and NBC News Digital.
Bratton was one of the most high-profile police chiefs in the U.S. in the 1990s and 2000s, with his anti-crime efforts drawing national attention. His wife, Rikki Klieman, is a legal analyst for CBS News, and a former reporter for TruTV.
Bratton currently works in the private sector, leading consultation firm The Bratton Group and Bratton Technologies, which operates Blue Line, a secure social network for law enforcement.
Bratton appeared on-air for a number of networks following the bombings in Boston. With so many stories related to the issue of law enforcement, TV news organizations have been aggressive in scooping up correspondents and contributors with knowledge in that field.
CBS in particular has drawn acclaim for the stories generated by correspondent John Miller, a former law enforcement official himself.
N.Y.C. Department of Corrections
Rikers Island Security Chief Is Charged With Ordering Brutal Assault on Inmate
By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN and RANDY LEONARD â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The New York Timesâ€™
After the second inmate slashing of the day, guards on Rikers Island were checking inmates for weapons â€" an exhaustive process that involves repeated strip searches and the use of screening devices.
Standing outside a search pen, the new assistant chief for security, Eliseo Perez Jr., locked eyes with an inmate.
â€œThis guy thinks heâ€™s tough,â€ Chief Perez said, according to prosecutors in the Bronx. And then he ordered his subordinates to kick the inmateâ€™s teeth in, the authorities said.
On Wednesday, Chief Perez, who recently retired, and nine current officers and supervisors with the New York City Department of Correction were arraigned on criminal charges in connection with that episode on July 11, which resulted in the beating of the inmate and a coordinated effort to cover up the attack, according to an indictment.
Upon Chief Perezâ€™s order, the inmate, Jahmal Lightfoot, was led into the search pen where five members from an elite correction unit were waiting for him, an assistant district attorney, Lawrence Piergrossi, said at the arraignments in State Supreme Court in the Bronx.
â€œHe was tackled, brought to the ground,â€ Mr. Piergrossi said. â€œHe was repeatedly kicked with his body in a fetal position, covering his head.â€
Mr. Piergrossi held up photos of the inmateâ€™s injuries, which included fractured eye sockets and a broken nose.
A few hours later, when the officers realized the extent of Mr. Lightfootâ€™s injuries, â€œthe cover-up began to unfold,â€ Mr. Piergrossi said.
One correction officer, Alfred Rivera, claimed that Mr. Lightfoot had slashed him with a makeshift razor, prosecutors said. A captain, Michael Pollard, produced â€œa sharp piece of metal wrapped with tape,â€ which the officers claimed was the weapon Mr. Lightfoot had used against Officer Rivera, according to the indictment. But those claims, Mr. Piergrossi said, were untrue.
The charges against Mr. Perez included official misconduct and attempted gang assault.
Norman Seabrook, the president of the union representing correction officers, said that the â€œcharges are excessive â€" simply a witch hunt into the Department of Correction and members of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association.â€
In an interview, Mr. Seabrook said that the use of force against the inmate had been appropriate. â€œHere we have correction officers paraded into court for merely defending themselvesâ€ against an attempted assault, he said.
He disputed that Mr. Lightfoot was beaten. â€œWas he restrained? Absolutely. Did he have to be restrained? Absolutely,â€ he said. â€œThe officers did everything that they were supposed to do.â€
The defendants pleaded not guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by the office of the Bronx district attorney, Robert T. Johnson, after an investigation by the cityâ€™s Department of Investigation.
Mr. Lightfoot, 28, is serving a four-year term in state prison on a robbery conviction. Investigators do not believe that he was involved in the earlier slashings, although he had previously faced repeated disciplinary actions for possession of weapons while at Rikers, the authorities said.
The episode involving Mr. Lightfoot had previously been described by The Village Voice.
Suspended Woodland Park police officer pleads guilty to assault on 12-year-old girl
BY JOHN PETRICK â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The Bergen Recordâ€™ / Hackensack, N.J.
A suspended Woodland Park police officer faces five years in state prison without parole after pleading guilty Wednesday to official misconduct and the attempted aggravated assault of a 12-year-old girl.
Steven E. Vigorito Jr., 41, admitted before state Superior Court Judge Marilyn C. Clark in Paterson that he met the girl when he was 39 after her family brought her to Woodland Park Police headquarters in April 2012 to make a report about her sneaking out of the house with a 17-year-old boyfriend. Vigorito said he took a statement from the girl and knew full well she was 12.
Vigorito said he gave her his phone number during the course of that official meeting and told her to call him. About a week later, on April 25, 2012, she texted him. He responded in a series of what he described as â€œvarious text messages asking her to do sexual things.â€ Among them, he said, was asking her to send a picture of herself.
In exchange for his guilty plea, he will receive five years in state prison on each charge, to run simultaneously. He will not be eligible for parole, will have to register as a Meganâ€™s Law sex offender upon release, be under parole supervision for life and may not be able to have unsupervised contact with children, even his own.
Divorced and with at least two children, the 12-year veteran of the force has been free on $250,000. He will be fired as a result of his guilty plea and can never serve again as a police officer. Clark revoked his bail and ordered that his sentence be served outside Passaic County, where his being a former Woodland Park patrolman put him at risk of mistreatment in jail. The Passaic County Jail warden will determine where he will be transferred, according to Clark.
Officials have said that the girl told her mother about the officerâ€™s advances and that the mother immediately reported it to the Woodland Park police. They, in turn, contacted the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office.
Detectives then set up a sting by posing online as the girl, and text messages between them were rapidly exchanged. The messages became more and more explicit, prosecutors said at the time of Vigorito's arrest. The officer also sent a picture message of himself exposing his genitals while in uniform, authorities have said. He was arrested after he then propositioned the â€œgirlâ€ for sex.
Vigorito was charged in an indictment by a Passaic County grand jury with attempted aggravated sexual assault, attempted sexual assault and attempted endangering the welfare of a child. The indictment added two additional charges of official misconduct and an additional count of luring in connection with two victims who have since come forward, according to a prosecutor at the time of the indictment.
In one instance, the indictment states, Vigorito used his official capacity to persuade a 17-year-old girl to exit her house at 3 a.m. and give him a hug. The indictment says he later texted the juvenile with a sexually explicit reaction to the hug. In the other instance, the alleged victim was an adult, and all the indictment states is that Vigorito used his official capacity to get the woman's phone number. Authorities would not elaborate, at the time.
All outstanding charges will be dismissed, in exchange for his guilty plea Wednesday. He faces sentencing by Clark Sept. 6.
The victim and her family attended the court proceedings. Afterward, her father, whose identify is being concealed so that his daughter, the victim of a sex crime, can maintain her privacy, said: â€œIâ€™m proud of my daughter for coming forward and doing the right thing and stopping it from happening again â€" and I think it would have.â€
Defense Attorney Patrick Caserta, of Wayne, remarked after the sentencing, â€œMy heart goes out to the victimâ€™s family, as well as my clientâ€™s family. Itâ€™s a tragic situation and there is little that can be said to explain it, or give it any meaning.â€
Connecticut / Illegal Aliens
Conn. sets limits on giving immigrants over to ICE
By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN (The Associated Press) â€" Wednesday, June 26th, 2013; 6:30 p.m. EDT
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signed a law setting limits on turning immigrants over to federal authorities for possible deportation.
State authorities will honor requests to detain only immigrants who have felony convictions, belong to gangs, show up on terrorist watch lists, are subject to deportation orders or meet other safety risks.
Supporters say Connecticut is the first state to adopt such a law since a federal program for sharing arrestee fingerprints with immigration authorities was enacted. They say the law was needed to ensure immigrants cooperate with police without fear they will be turned over to immigration authorities.
The Secure Communities information-sharing program was activated statewide last year.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say their agency focuses on convicted criminals and other public safety threats and the federal government sets the priorities.
Unanswered gun-violence research questions abound
By Zach Rausnitz â€" Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 â€˜FierceGovernmentSecurity.Comâ€™
Basic information about gun possession, distribution and related issues is lacking, and that hampers public health efforts to address gun violence, says a report from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.
One of President Obama's 23 executive orders issued in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify the most significant research problems surrounding gun violence. The CDC then requested that the IOM and NRC develop a potential research agenda on the public health aspects of gun violence, and they issued a report, dated June 5, that provides it.
"There is a pressing need to obtain up-to-date, accurate information about how many guns are owned in the United States, their distribution and types, how people acquire them, and how they are used," the report says. Without good data, questions about the occurrence of gun violence, risk factors, and the effectiveness of prevention efforts may be impossible to answer.
Federal laws and regulations deserve some of the blame for the scarcity of data surrounding guns, the report says, as the government is restricted in its ability to collect and share certain information related to guns. The CDC and the Health and Human Services Department also face restrictions on conducting gun research.
The report gathers dozens of different questions related to gun violence that would be worth investigating if solid data existed. For example: When guns are used in self-defense, how often do they actually prevent injury to the crime victim?
Other potential research questions include:
â€¢ What attributes of guns, ammunition and gun users affect whether a gunshot injury will be fatal or not?
â€¢ What characteristics differentiate mass shootings that were prevented from those that were carried out?
â€¢ What types of weapons do youths obtain and carry?
â€¢ What are key differences between urban and rural youth with regard to risk and protective factors for gun-related violence?
â€¢ For gun owners, what is the probability of thwarting a crime versus committing suicide or sustaining an injury from their guns?
â€¢ How effective are background checks at the point of sale in deterring acquisition of guns by those who are legally disqualified from owning one?
â€¢ To what extent does enforcement of laws requiring removal of guns from the homes of people with a history of domestic violence reduce homicide and injury?
â€¢ Is there a relationship between long-term exposure to media violence and subsequent gun-related violence? Do violence-prone individuals disproportionately expose themselves to media violence?
US targets makers, distributors of synthetic drugs
By ALICIA A. CALDWELL (The Associated Press) â€" Wednesday, June 26th, 2013; 4:52 p.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies served hundreds of search and arrest warrants across the U.S. Wednesday in what officials described as the largest ever crackdown on those who make and distribute synthetic designer drugs.
DEA Chief of Operations James Capra said drug and other agents served 150 arrest warrants and 375 search warrants and seized bank accounts in 35 states as part of a seventh-month investigation. Capra said U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have helped authorities seize more than 1,000 kilograms (2,000 pounds) of drugs used in synthetic marijuana, bath salts and other substances that can mimic cocaine, LSD and other drugs.
The drugs, often marketed as herbal incense or other seemingly innocuous products, are marketed to teenagers and young adults in a growing industry that has netted millions of dollars from traffickers, Capra said. Use of synthetic drugs has led to increases in emergency room visits around the country and routinely leads to a dangerous psychosis, he added.
"What they (traffickers) care about is lining their pockets on the backs of young people," Capra said.
Untold millions in profits have ended up in Middle Eastern countries, he said.
"The bad guys need money to fund their operations," said Derek Maltz, who heads DEA's special operations division. "The bad guys need money to ... buy their explosives, to buy their guns."
Neither Maltz nor Capra would name the countries or any criminal or terror groups that might be profiting from the sales of the synthetic drugs, citing an ongoing investigation
Agents from Homeland Security Investigations, an arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, were also part of the investigation, which had previously led to more than 75 arrests and the seizure of nearly $15 million in cash and assets. Agents in Arizona also recovered a stash of weapons during operations Wednesday.
Bulger lawyer wonders why FBI agents should be believed
By Shelley Murphy â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The Boston Globeâ€™ / Boston, MA
A Justice Department agent testified Wednesday that a corrupt FBI agent fabricated some reports in James â€œWhiteyâ€ Bulgerâ€™s informant file to protect the gangster from prosecution, but he rejected defense arguments that the entire file was falsified.
In his fourth day on the stand, James Marra, an agent with the inspector generalâ€™s office, said Bulgerâ€™s disgraced FBI handler, John J. Connolly Jr., â€œfabricated some reports, but I have no reason to believe that Mr. Connolly fabricated all of the reports that were in that file, nor do I have information that other agents fabricated reports.â€
Marra said Connolly had often talked of Bulger as â€œone of the most valuable informants in the battle against the LCN,â€ referring to La Cosa Nostra.
But Marra faced aggressive cross-examination at Bulgerâ€™s racketeering trial in US District Court in Boston as defense attorney Henry Brennan focused intensely on Bulgerâ€™s corrupt relationship with the FBI. Brennan questioned why any of the agents who authored the informant reports should be believed, given that many of them were later implicated in wrongdoing.
Bulger, 83, who was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., two years ago after 16 years on the run, is charged in the sweeping racketeering indictment with participating in 19 murders in the 1970s and 1980s, extortion, money laundering, and illegally possessing guns.
The defense contends that Bulger was never an informant and that Connolly opened a file on him to cover up the fact that he was meeting regularly with the South Boston gangster to pocket payoffs and leak information that protected his sprawling criminal enterprise.
Brennan suggested that Connolly, who was lauded for his stable of top echelon informants, credited Bulger with information he gleaned from other informants.
Connolly, who listed Bulger as his informant from 1975 to 1990 and authored most of his informant reports, is serving a 40-year prison term for a murder that Bulger has been accused of participating in. And Connollyâ€™s former supervisor, John Morris, who is slated to take the stand Thursday, admitted taking $7,000 in bribes from Bulger and was granted immunity for his crimes.
Still, many more agents accused of bribery or obstruction of justice have never been investigated.
â€œYou learned Mr. Bulger was paying a number of people in the Boston FBI?â€ Brennan asked.
Marra agreed that was true, telling jurors that Bulgerâ€™s longtime partner Stephen â€œThe Riflemanâ€ Flemmi, also an informant, struck a plea deal with the government in 2004 and accused a number of agents of taking gifts or payoffs and leaking information to Flemmi and Bulger.
Marra said he did not investigate those agents because the statute of limitations for such crimes had expired. However, there is no statute of limitations for murder, and Marra was part of the team that prosecuted Connolly, leading to his 2008 conviction in Miami for the 1982 slaying in Florida of Boston businessman John Callahan.
During questioning by the prosecution, Marra testified that one agent, Lawrence Sarhatt, who interviewed Bulger while he was an informant, was never implicated in wrongdoing. Sarhatt, then the special agent in charge of the FBIâ€™s Boston office, questioned Bulger for hours in 1980 after the State Police accused the FBI of tipping off Bulger to a State Police investigation.
â€œHe is fully aware that the [Massachusetts State Police] is aware of his informant role with the FBI,â€ Sarhatt wrote after the meeting. â€œHowever, he is not concerned with his personal safety because no one would dare believe that he is an informant. It would be too incredible. Notwithstanding this notoriety, he indicated to me that he wants to continue the relationship with the FBI.â€
After Wednesdayâ€™s court session, Shawn Donahue, whose father, Michael, was allegedly killed by Bulger in 1982, said he was disgusted that allegations of corruption by other agents were not investigated.
â€œDozens of people have been murdered, and they wonâ€™t investigate because of statute of limitations?â€ Donahue said. â€œThatâ€™s what I find disgusting. I want to know everything.â€
Report calls for changes in DC police departmentâ€™s handling of sexual assault complaints
By ERIC TUCKER (The Associated Press) â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013; 12:18 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON â€" A report on the District of Columbia police departmentâ€™s handling of sexual assault complaints recommends providing officers with expanded training, giving victims the right to be accompanied by an advocate during police interviews and appointing an outside expert to ensure policies are being implemented properly.
But the report from the law firm of Crowell & Moring LLP also says the department has made significant progress over the last five years in its response to alleged sex crimes.
The report is to be discussed at a round-table discussion before the D.C. Council on Thursday.
The Council sought the study after a highly critical report earlier this year from Human Rights Watch concluded that D.C. police were routinely dismissive of sexual assault complaints and had failed to adequately investigate a large number of them.
The report says that while the Human Rights Watch report was a â€œcatalyst for positive changeâ€ and identified key areas for improvement, it relied on flawed methodology, reached unsubstantiated conclusions and omitted facts that would have put its findings in a more balanced context. Human Rights Watch has said it stands by its report and that its research was solidly done.
â€œThe Human Rights Watch Report brought sexual assault investigations in D.C. under intense scrutiny. This was important because sexual assaults often go unreported, and are difficult to investigate and prosecute. The terrible experiences described by victims in the report should not be ignored,â€ the report states. â€œOn the other hand, the report was flawed, and did not accurately reflect the present situation in D.C.â€
Police Chief Cathy Lanier said in a statement Wednesday that the findings of the Crowell & Moring report â€œreinforced our conclusionsâ€ about the Human Rights Watch study.
â€œHRWâ€™s report was based on a flawed methodology and written in such a way â€" such as omitting key facts favorable to the Department or repeating the concerns of eight victims more than 100 times to create the impression of many more complaints â€" as to present a deliberate bias against the department,â€ Lanier said in a statement.
She said the department has worked hard to reform its practices over the last five years.
Sara Darehshori, senior counsel with the U.S. program at Human Rights Watch, said she disagrees with the police departmentâ€™s criticism of the report and said her group had no reason to be biased.
â€œAt the end of the day what matters is that the victims in D.C. get improved treatment,â€ she said, adding that sheâ€™d be pleased if the report served as a catalyst for that.
The report makes a series of recommendations, including suggesting that the Council pass legislation giving victims the right to have an advocate present during police interviews and at hospital exams. The report also says detectives, as well as nurses who treat sexual assault victims, should receive better training and learn from each other. And it says an independent expert adviser should be retained to review police practices and to make sure policies are being correctly implemented.
Law firm study calls Human Rights Watch report on police rape cases flawed
By Peter Hermann â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The Washington Postâ€™ / Washington, DC
A human rights group that accused D.C. police of failing to investigate scores of sexual assault complaints made faulty assumptions and used incomplete data, according to an independent report set for release Thursday.
The confidential report, produced for the D.C. Council by the law firm Crowell & Moring, concluded that police have accounted for all but five of 170 reports that Human Rights Watch had alleged were missing or had been filed in a way that ensured they would never be properly investigated.
The report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, credits the rights group with casting a â€œspotlight on an aspect of law enforcement that is not often discussed,â€ because of the intimate nature of the crimes. It calls the Human Rights Watch analysis a catalyst for positive change.
Investigators â€" led by two former prosecutors â€" urged D.C. police to improve the way they communicate with victims and notes that mistakes were made in some of 1,500 cases handled in the period studied by the rights group, October 2008 through September 2011 .
Detectives falsely classified eight cases, police told Crowell & Moring, and closed some cases prematurely. But the independent review, sought by council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), who chairs the public safety committee, largely backs the long-stated position of Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier.
The law firm criticized the rights group for filling its report with 100 separate stories and quotes from eight women, scattering their statements throughout the 196 pages, creating the impression that they â€œrepresent a majority or large percentage of Âcases.â€
Wellsâ€™s committee will meet Thursday for a roundtable discussion with representatives of the law firm, who will present their findings. There will be no public testimony, although police officials and the author of the rights watch report, Sara Darehshori, will be present. Council members will decide later whether legislation is needed to implement any reforms.
Wells said that the allegations were inflammatory and that it was â€extremely important to bring in a third party that has unquestioned ability to sort this out on behalf of the city. .â€‰.â€‰. I feel assured of the police departmentâ€™s ability to respond to sexual assaults.â€
Lanier said in a statement that the review has â€œreinforced our conclusionsâ€ that the investigation reflected â€œa deliberate bias against the department.â€ She added, â€œOver the past five years, MPD and the Districtâ€™s entire criminal justice and victimsâ€™ services system have been working together to improve the response to our investigation of sexual assaults.â€
Human Rights Watch urged the council to press for external oversight to ensure Âchanges are made. Darehshori said there are outstanding issues, and she isnâ€™t satisfied that all sexual assault reports have been accounted for. â€œIt doesnâ€™t seem to vindicate the police department,â€ she said.
Human Rights Watch released its report in January. Titled â€œCapitol Offense,â€ it portrayed D.C. police as callously disregarding rape victims and what the group alleged was a coordinated effort to play down the crimes. It raised questions of confidence for the police, which Lanier said could undermine her efforts to persuade women to talk to officers in what is considered one of most underreported crimes.
Among the more serious allegations leveled by Human Rights Watch was that it found 170 sexual assault cases in which women sought medical treatment and said they requested police, but no police report or other documentation could be found. That represented more than a third of the 480 cases reviewed by the group.
The rights group, without access to victimsâ€™ names, tried to match the hospital reports to public police reports, which are supposed to be filed within 24 hours of a complaint. But Crowell & Moring agreed with police that this methodology was flawed.
A victim can go to the police before going to the hospital, and she has up to 96 hours to seek what is called SANE exam, short for sexual assault nurse examiner. That means the rights group could have missed police reports taken outside the 24-hour window it used.
The report said police retraced the rights groupâ€™s steps, but using victimsâ€™ names. Of the 170 reports Human Rights Watch said were missing, Crowell & Moring said it concluded that in 19 cases, women sought medical attention in the District for incidents that occurred in other jurisdictions; 24 women told nurses that they had called police when they hadnâ€™t; and victimsâ€™ names were duplicated in six of the cases. In an additional eight cases, no hospital exam was given despite assertions by the rights group.
Crowell & Moring said police found documentation for all but five of the remaining sexual assault complaints.
â€œWe determined that not only were investigations conducted in most of those cases, but many of the investigations resulted in arrests,â€ the report said. But: â€œIn some cases, the investigation was admittedly inadequate.â€ D.C. police said they have reopened three of those cases.
Florida (Police Perverts of the Month)
Theyâ€™re Floridaâ€™s horniest! Cops in Lakeland police department snagged in massive sex scandal: report
Nearly a dozen cops, including high-ranking officers, have been named in an explosive investigation detailing cases of sex and sex assault involving a single female employee. In one instance, the alleged sex occurred in a car outside the funeral for a slain Lakeland police officer.
By Philip Caulfield â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The New York Daily Newsâ€™
It's a glimpse inside Florida's Perv PD.
Nearly a dozen cops and high-ranking officers at the Lakeland Police Department had sex or engaged in sexual behavior â€" some of it forced â€" with a female employee over the past seven years, an investigation found.
The explosive 59-page report by State Attorney Jerry Hill found that officers at the central Florida department engaged in a jaw-dropping list of horndog offenses including: having sex with the woman while on duty; arranging trysts at police headquarters, in squad cars and city buildings and, in one case, inside a church; trading X-rated texts with the woman and fondling her while at work.
A fireman named in the report even admitted to having sex with the woman in car outside the funeral reception for a cop killed on duty in 2011.
The allegations were first reported in Lakeland newspaper The Ledger. Lakeland is about 40 miles east of Tampa.
Some of the alleged sex acts were forced on the woman and amounted to sexual harassment, according to statements she gave to investigators.
But the state attorney's office said there wasn't enough evidence to file criminal charges, so none of the cases would be headed to court.
The allegations were the latest blow to a force that's come under fire recently for sloppy and abusive policing.
Last week, several state officials slammed the department after a woman said a cop ordered her to lift her shirt and shake her bra to prove she wasn't hiding any drugs during a routine traffic stop.
The incident was recorded by the police officer's dashboard camera and made news across the country.
In a scathing letter to the LPD Tuesday, Hill said, "Perhaps this investigation sheds some light on the serious shortcomings of your department in the areas of traffic stops, search and seizure, thoroughness of investigations, preparedness for trial and complying with Florida Public Records law," according to The Ledger.
City Manager Doug Thomas and Police Chief Lisa Womack addressed the report at a press conference Wednesday.
"The conduct alleged is an embarrassment to all the professional, hard-working members of the Lakeland Police Department and the city of Lakeland as a whole," Womack told reporters.
"I demand professional, ethical and accountable behavior from all of my employees. I am extremely disappointed."
In all, ten officers and one Lakeland fireman were named in the report.
They were Capt. John Thomason, the police department's chief spokesman, Lt. Al Wilson, Sgt. Bryan McNabb, Sgt. Rusty Longaberger, Sgt. David Woolverton, Detective Rick Gries, Officer George Vidal and Officer Scott Hutton, former cops Steve Sherman and Rawn Haynes and Fire Inspector David Bivens.
Bivens told investigators he had sex with the woman several times while in uniform, including once in her car while it was parked outside the funeral reception for slain cop Arnulfo Crispin, 25, who was shot to death on duty in 2011.
Sherman, who resigned from the department earlier this year, admitted to having sex with the woman inside the Without Walls Church, a mega church in Lakeland, as well as at a cemetery, The Ledger reported.
The woman told investigators that Woolverton sexually assaulted her in her office in 2008 and 2009.
Woolverton denied the charges, but admitted to having sex with the woman in his police car a few years earlier.
Thomason was the highest-ranking officer named in the report.
He admitted to sending a photo of his penis to the woman, but said they never had sex.
Detroit to terminate police command union contract when it ends
By Tammy Stables Battaglia â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The Detroit Free Pressâ€™ / Detroit, MI
The City of Detroit has given the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association notice that its contract is being terminated when it ends July 6.
In a letter to union president Mark Young dated Monday, attorney Lamont Satchel, the cityâ€™s director of labor relations, pointed out the contract will be terminated when it expires.
Bill Nowling, spokesman for Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, said this morning the letter was expected and is required by the union contract as Orr restructures the city.
â€œThe letter itself is more of an administrative action because for your average employee, it doesnâ€™t change anything July 7 from July 6,â€ Nowling said.
Orrâ€™s administration is not required to renegotiate pay and benefit terms as city employee contracts expire. Under the emergency manager arrangement, Orr can replace the union contracts with â€œcity employment terms,â€ or CETs, that include adjustments to pay and benefits for employees. Nowling said adjustments, if any, are unknown at this time.
Orr met with the cityâ€™s creditors earlier this month and laid out his plan to settle the insolvent cityâ€™s liabilities of up to $20 billion. Orr must reach agreements with all the cityâ€™s creditors to avoid declaring bankruptcy for the city.
Orrâ€™s restructuring also includes a 10-year, $1.25-billion spending plan to deliver better services to city residents. He also met with union officials about the restructuring plan, which is expected to reduce city-provided healthcare for retirees and current workers and make other cuts to labor costs.
â€œThis is a machine with many moving parts on it,â€ Nowling said today. â€œWhat weâ€™re able to get in concessions from our creditors will adjust what money we have to spend on city services and employees.â€
Nowling said Orr expects to sit down with union representatives before issuing CETs for each organization.
â€œWeâ€™re going to sit down and meet with all the unions when we decide what terms we need to have,â€ Nnowling said. â€œA lot of itâ€™s going to be driven by this restructuring.â€
Nowling acknowledged the unknowns are difficult for city employees.
â€œWe have to make some very difficult and painful choices,â€ he said. â€œBut they have to be done in order for the city to be able to restructure and provide services. We canâ€™t sustain the path weâ€™re on. Unfortunately because of the decisions or lack of decisions made in previous administrations, weâ€™re at the point where weâ€™re at today that we have to make some really tough decisions.â€
Immigration Enforcement / Illegal Aliens
Bill to Expand U.S. Database to Verify Hires
By JULIA PRESTON and ASHLEY PARKER â€" Thursday, June 27th, 2013 â€˜The New York Timesâ€™
WASHINGTON â€" The sweeping immigration measure advancing rapidly in the Senate goes far beyond much-debated border security measures and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants with a crucial requirement that could affect every American who takes a new job in the future.
The provision, a linchpin of the legislation, would require all employers in the country within five years to use a federal electronic system to verify the legal eligibility to work of every new hire, including American citizens.
The verification plan has united an unusual array of supporters â€" including Democrats protective of workersâ€™ rights and Republicans normally skeptical of government intrusion â€" who say it is essential for preventing illegal immigration in the future because it would remove the jobs magnet that attracts migrants to this country.
But there has been little debate up to now about the provision to expand the federal system, which is known as E-Verify, and critics of the measure as well as some proponents worry that most Americans are unaware of the mandateâ€™s broad scope. The system relies on imperfect federal databases that contain errors, and when it goes national, some Americans are likely to face unexpected bureaucratic headaches and could even lose new jobs.
â€œI donâ€™t think people really understand that this creates a regulation not just for every employer, or for every immigrant, but also for every citizen in this country,â€ said David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group that favors limited government and opposes mandatory employee verification.
Now, with the bill headed for a final vote in the Senate as early as Thursday, the E-Verify mandate has become the focus of intense last-minute deal making.
Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, has demanded a separate vote on an amendment that would make the requirements even tougher by ordering employers to comply sooner and tightening antifraud measures. Sponsors of the overhaul, which seems headed for passage, are negotiating with Mr. Portman, hoping to win his support to maximize the Republican votes in the final tally.
One American who has been watching the progress of the E-Verify provisions with a growing sense of dread is David Borris, the owner of Helâ€™s Kitchen Catering, a small business in Northbrook, Ill. While he agrees with the path to citizenship in the bill, Mr. Borris said he worried that the requirement to check all new employees with E-Verify would bring a host of costly and time-consuming troubles.
Mr. Borris said he needed to spend his time finding new customers who are planning banquets and bar mitzvahs, and perfecting the eggplant timbale that is a signature dish of his service.
â€œBusinesses like mine donâ€™t have the resources to be catching up with bureaucratic snafus,â€ he said. Mr. Borris is a leader of the Main Street Alliance network, one of many small business organizations opposing the E-Verify mandate.
On Wednesday, talks were still under way between Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate to try to hold a vote on a several additional amendments, which would likely include the proposal on E-Verify that Mr. Portman offered, together with Senator Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana.
The measure would speed up the dates when employers would have to start using the system. It would also increase the use of photograph technology to eliminate a flaw in the system, which can fail to detect unauthorized immigrants who present employers with valid documents belonging to someone else.
â€œNo matter how many miles of fence we build and how many agents we station on the border, I truly believe people will come to this country illegally as long as they believe America offers a better life and a better job,â€ Mr. Portman said on the Senate floor. Speaking on Wednesday, the senator said, â€œI believe strongly that if we do not have a stronger employee verification system at the workplace, this legislation is not going to work.â€
Even without Mr. Portmanâ€™s vote, the overhaul bill appears almost certain to pass. It gathered new momentum Wednesday, when the Senate voted 69 to 29 to formally add a border security plan by two Republican senators, Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, to the legislation. Fifteen Republicans supported the proposal, which would cost roughly $40 billion and create what some senators have described as a â€œborder surge,â€ adding 20,000 new border patrol agents and erecting 700 miles of fencing at the southern border, among other measures.
In the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved, 22 to 9, a stand-alone bill that includes a nationwide E-Verify mandate similar to the one in the Senate legislation.
The need for worker verification to prevent unauthorized immigrants from taking jobs was one of the early agreements the eight senators who wrote the overhaul bill came to, aides said. The E-Verify mandate is one of the hard â€œtriggersâ€ in the legislation: under its terms, the system must be in use nationwide before any immigrants who had been here illegally can apply for permanent resident green cards, a crucial step on the path to citizenship.
Up to now the E-Verify system, which is run by Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, has been mostly voluntary and has earned surprisingly few detractors. With more than 411,000 employers currently participating, the system is reporting an accuracy rate of 99.7 percent in confirming that newly hired employees were authorized to work.
Of more than 20.2 million workers run through the system in 2012, only 0.26 percent turned out to be legally authorized after an initial erroneous denial, according to official figures. The system identified 221,155 new hires who did not have legal documents to work in this country. Officials said those figures proved the system was effective.
But under the proposed immigration changes, the system would quickly grow to include all of the nationâ€™s 7.3 million employers and more than 156 million workers. â€œAs you expand it out to the entire work force, even if the agency has worked hard to increase their accuracy, there is still a real problem with errors,â€ said Emily Tulli, a lawyer at the National Immigration Law Center, a legal assistance organization in Los Angeles.
The system matches identity information provided by newly hired employees against Social Security and Homeland Security records. Errors can occur when, for example, a newlywed adopts a spouseâ€™s name and forgets to advise Social Security or when an employer misspells a foreign name.
In many cases, it takes a trip to a Social Security office to fix mistakes in the records. If the error is not speedily resolved, the worker can lose the job.
Homeland Security officials insist those cases are rare, and say they are confident the system can handle the expansion. A recently added tool improves accuracy by allowing employers to match a photo in the E-Verify system with a document presented by the new employee. Another tool allows people to check themselves before starting a job search.
A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, Peter Boogaard, said new employees would not be providing any more personal information than was already required on standard hiring forms. â€œSo mandatory verification will likely go unnoticed by the majority of Americans,â€ Mr. Boogaard said.
But Mr. Borris, the caterer, is unconvinced. His full-time staff of 25 employees grows during busy times with about 80 seasonal workers, including many Latinos. He has one staff member to fill out employee forms, handle his payroll, manage his e-mail list and make all-important choices about which customers will get holiday gifts. Most companies now using the voluntary program have human resources staff, he said.
â€œThat error rate is just a small number unless itâ€™s your business or your brother or your sister,â€ Mr. Borris said.