Monday, June 24th, 2013 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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Showdown at City Hall over NYPD oversight legislation
By Jillian Jorgensen — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The Staten Island Advance’ / Staten Island
The New York City Council will take a procedural vote on a pair of NYPD oversight bills today, setting up an yes or no vote this week -- and Mayor Michael Bloomberg will once again voice his opposition this morning.
The Community Safe Act -- which is comprised of one bill establishing an NYPD inspector general, and another beefing up racial profiling prohibitions -- is set to bypass the committee process through a procedure known as the motion to discharge. The vote on the motion to discharge will come Monday, setting up the Council for a vote on the bill itself sometime during a busy week that will also see a vote on the city's budget.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn supports the inspector general bill, but does not support the racial profiling bill.
Bloomberg is vehemently opposed to both -- meaning either will need a veto-proof vote in the Council to survive. He, along with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, has argued the bill won't allow police to describe suspects adequately. The bill's lead sponsors, Councilman Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander, say it will do no such thing.
Williams, Lander, and other supporters -- including Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore), the only Staten Island Council member supporting the bills -- rallied on the front steps of City Hall this morning, along with a slew of activists.
Bloomberg, Kelly, and city district attorneys will hold their own press conference at 11 a.m. at One Police Plaza, "updating" New Yorkers on the bills and voicing their opposition.
Council to push for full vote on NYPD Inspector General bill
By Unnamed Author(s) — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘AM New York’ / New York, NY
The City Council is set to fast track two of its bills Monday that aim to curb problems associated with the NYPD's controversial stop and frisk policy.
Several council members, including Jumanee Williams and Melissa Mark-Viverito, will rally in front of City Hall before voting to bypaass the Public Safety Commitee's approval on the police Inspector General bill and another piece of legislation that would ban racial profiling .
The committee's chair, Councilman Peter Vallone, refused to bring the bills for a vote despite the majority support of the council.
Under the proposal, an independent watchdog, who would have a seven-year term, would monitor all of the NYPD's policies and make recommendations how the department could police better. Vallone took the same stance as the police commissioner and mayor, who has vowed to veto the measure, and contends the NYPD doesn't need the additional scrutiny.
Civil rights groups, however, say the police need more oversight, especially when it comes to stop and frisk. Studies by the New York Civil Liberties Union show the majority of stops yield no arrests or convictions and target minorities.
City Council Will Vote On NYPD Bills' Discharge This Morning
By John Surico — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The Villiage Voice’ / Manhattan
Outside of City Hall at 10am today, Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Brad Landers--the two main co-sponsors of the Community Safety Act--will announce the legislature's anticipated vote on discharging the historic NYPD bills to the Council floor. If passed, the bills will move to the final phase of the discharge process (which we highlighted two weeks ago): a City Council vote; one that could establish an inspector general for the NYPD and, in the wake of stop-and-frisk, allow people to sue the boys in blue based on racial discrimination.
The discharge is an attempt by Williams and Landers to evade Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who stands in opposition to the bills through his leadership of the committee on Public Safety. The process set forth two weeks ago is unprecedented in City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's tenure on two levels.
First, it's the only time a discharge vote has come out of the Council under her leadership--it's been used as a threat numerous times but never actually acted upon. Second, as a legislator and mayoral candidate, she has voiced her support for an inspector general, contrary to Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Ray Kelly and Republican rival Joe Lhota, but not for the racial bias lawsuits clause. Quinn's modus operandi states that she only allows bills out on the floor that she supports. This will be her first exception.
A source with knowledge of the Council has informed the Voice that the discharge vote will most likely be granted, given that it has thirty-three sponsors as of today. That puts the bill over the majority threshold by seven votes.
NYPD Surveillances of Muslims
Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’ Editorial:
More Overreach by the N.Y.P.D.
The revelation in 2011 that the New York City Police Department was spying on law-abiding Muslims rightly attracted scrutiny from the Justice Department, which announced last year that it intended to review the program. The disclosure also raised troubling questions about whether the city was violating a federal court order that bars it from retaining information gleaned from investigations of political activity unless there are reasonable indications of potential wrongdoing. The purpose of that order was to discourage unjustified surveillance and prevent police from peering into people’s private affairs and building dossiers on them without legitimate cause.
Now comes a new federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Muslim citizens and organizations saying they have been subjected to illegal surveillance that has disrupted Muslim houses of worship, made it difficult for congregants and their spiritual leaders to worship freely, and inhibited Muslims from openly associating with lawful Muslim charities and civic groups and exercising First Amendment rights.
One striking case in the complaint involves Masjid At-Taqwa, a mosque in Brooklyn, where the Police Department is alleged to have installed a surveillance camera, clearly marked with the department’s insignia and pointed at the mosque door. This seems curious because the mosque’s longtime leader, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, was said in the complaint to be a clergy liaison for the N.Y.P.D. Community Affairs Bureau and a member of the Majlis Ash-Shura, also known as the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York.
The camera, which the complaint says was moved across the street but remains in use, raised fears among congregants that they were being targeted for deportation. Many refrained from attending communal prayer; some left the congregation. Concerned that their religious pronouncements might be misquoted by informants, the mosque’s spiritual leaders began recording sermons so that they would be able to defend themselves. They have said they avoided meeting with congregants individually because they feared the congregants might be informants.
Meanwhile, according to the complaint, a police informant who visited this and other mosques tried to lure congregants into inflammatory conversations that would then have been reported to the police. According to court documents, the informant tried the same strategy with a Muslim charity that distributed food to the needy. The group, which apparently did nothing illegal, lost credibility in the community once people learned that it had been a target of police scrutiny.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has responded to such complaints by insisting that the department’s surveillance program is perfectly legal and implying that critics are undermining public safety. This is the same response he offers when challenged on the stop-and-frisk program. This arrogant approach tries to discredit legitimate criticism while justifying further overreach by a department with a history of abusive behavior. It is up to the courts to determine whether the Muslim surveillance program and the stop-and-frisk program are constitutional. What already seems clear is that these surveillance policies create suspicion and mistrust, which does not help the Police Department or anyone else.
‘One Police Plaza’
The NYPD's Muslim Spying: Kelly's Lame Game
By: Leonard Levitt – Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘NYPD Confidential.Com’
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
If Police Commissioner Ray Kelly thinks he has problems with the Stop and Frisk lawsuit, wait until the lawsuits filed over the NYPD’s pervasive spying against Muslims get rolling.
A second lawsuit was filed last week by two civil liberties groups, the ACLU and its local off-shoot, the NYCLU, alleging that the NYPD routinely violated “the civil rights of Muslims across New York City by operating an unconstitutional religious profiling and suspicionless surveillance program.”
A first lawsuit, filed by civil rights lawyers affiliated with the Handschu guidelines that prohibited the NYPD from monitoring political activity without a prior indication of criminal activity, was filed in February.
And last March, a coalition of Muslim Student Associations and heretofore silent grass-roots Muslim organizations produced, with the support of the CUNY School of Law, a 54-page report that described the spying’s chilling effect on Muslim New Yorkers who, the report said, have come to distrust their friends, classmates, religious leaders and the NYPD.
Unlike Kelly’s Stop and Frisk policies — which since 2002 have resulted in 5 million stops, primarily of young black men, and which have gained media and political traction, including a last-minute White House intervention with the threat of an outside monitor — the city’s reaction to the NYPD’s Muslim spying has been muted, to say the least.
Since the Associated Press first reported the pervasive spying in August 2011, the city’s mainstream media, as well as the public, has remained largely silent.
And Commissioner Kelly has remained unbowed.
Refusing to be interviewed by the AP reporters, he instead attacked their stories in both the Post and the Daily News and to anyone else willing to listen, such as his proxy, the discredited former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who criticized the Pulitzer-prize winning series in the Wall Street Journal.
Kelly reprised this tactic during the Stop and Frisk trial when he refused to testify but then publicly criticized the presiding judge, Shira Scheindlin.
Asked recently what he would do differently about the NYPD’s spying on Muslims in light of the AP’s revelations he said, “Nothing.”
Mayor Bloomberg has also placed himself four-square behind the spying. According to last week’s lawsuit, “Bloomberg has stated, ‘We’re doing the right thing, We will continue to do the right thing.’ He has asserted that criticism of the NYPD’s targeting of Muslims for surveillance was ‘just misplaced’ and ‘pandering.’”
Neither the Post nor the Times reported a word of last week’s lawsuit. The News wrote a few paragraphs. Only the Wall Street Journal, in its expanding New York City edition, thought the subject important enough to run a full-blown article.
Meanwhile, the myth of Kelly’s much-hyped 15 plots that the NYPD supposedly stopped singlehandedly has been shown to be just that — a myth.
Kelly also acknowledged earlier this year that his vaunted overseas detective agency has not produced a single lead about a potential terrorist attack.
All that his entire Muslim spying operation has unearthed are three mopes, two of whose cases the FBI wanted no part of.
ET TU, PALATUCCI? It turns out that Giovanni Palatucci, a WW2 police commissioner in Italy, credited by Jewish organizations with saving 5,000 Jews during the Holocaust, was a Nazi collaborator. He may have sent thousands of Jews to concentration camps.
The Anti-Defamation League has long made a big deal of Palatucci.
Following the 2001 World Trade Center attack, the ADL fell in love with the NYPD — in particular, its revamped and expanded Intelligence Division.
In 2007, it presented its first Giovanni Palatucci award to David Cohen, the 35-year CIA veteran who has served as the Intelligence Division’s Deputy Commissioner.
ADL head Abraham Foxman said at the ceremony honoring Cohen that he was feted because of his anti-terrorism efforts.
“Commissioner Cohen works against forces of hatred and extremism to make New York City safe for all people of all backgrounds to live, work and worship,” Foxman said at the time.
Cohen has been the master-planner of the NYPD’s spying directed against Muslims throughout the city and beyond.
Kelly also spoke at the ceremony. He cited Cohen’s intelligence work during the 2004 Republican National convention — at which the NYPD announced with great fanfare its first “lone-wolf” terrorism arrest for plotting to bomb the Herald Square subway station.
The perpetrator was Matin Siraj, a Muslim man with an IQ considered borderline-retarded, who was egged on by an informant to whom the police paid $100,000, and whose co-defendant, James El Shafay, had recently been released from a mental institution.
El Shafay then testified against Siraj. He was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
No word yet on whether the ADL will ask Cohen to renounce his Palatucci award.
CITY OF HYPOCRITES? Attempting to gather some law-and-order creds while appealing to her liberal base, Christine Quinn announced a few weeks back that she would keep Kelly as police commissioner while supporting an outside monitor for the police department.
Even the dumbest New Yorker realized that this didn’t make much sense.
Last week Quinn threw out a new line. She said she would keep Kelly as commissioner but fire him if he did not scale back Stop and Frisk.
Kelly, meanwhile, mocked Attorney General Eric Holder’s claim that disclosure of the Obama administration’s pervasive phone and internet spying of Americans damaged efforts to fight terrorism.
“I don’t think it ever should have ever been made secret,” Kelly said of the spying program following whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s revelations that no American’s phone numbers were off-limit to the National Security Administration.
“I think the American public can accept the fact if you tell them that every time you pick up the phone, it’s going to be recorded and goes to the government,” he added.
Kelly’s pals on the Post editorial page made the mistake of taking him at face value, and ripped what the Post termed his “careless remarks.”
They compared Kelly’s call for more oversight of the NSA with calls for an outside monitor of the NYPD — both of which are anathema to the Post.
The people at the Post apparently don’t know Kelly very well. If they did, they would realize that Kelly’s policies reflect little more than his personal antagonisms.
His criticism of the Obama administration’s phone and internet secrecy has less to do with principle than with pique: specifically his pique at Holder’s last minute intervention and threat in the Stop and Frisk Trial of an outside monitor.
When it comes to principles, Kelly has only one: power.
Edited by Donald Forst
Bill Bratton Named Most Innovative Figure In Criminal Justice (Eat Your Heart Out Ray)
Criminal Justice Reform and Risk-Taking
Many officials engage in a trial-and-error process as they look for ways to improve practice.
By Greg Berman — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The National Law Journal’ / New York, NY
Who is the most innovative figure in criminal justice?
According to a national survey of court administrators, elected prosecutors, police chiefs and corrections officials, the answer is Bill Bratton, who over the years has served with distinction as the leader of police departments in New York, Los Angeles and Boston.
Why did the survey respondents choose Bratton? Perhaps it is because Bratton fits the general description of a ground-breaking criminal justice leader as defined by the survey: someone who uses research to guide decision-making, who is willing to take risks and who is able to respond to failure by analyzing what isn't working and then responding accordingly.
Seemingly every day, leaders in fields such as business, technology and medicine earn newspaper headlines for breakthrough discoveries. In contrast, the field of criminal justice isn't generally known for innovation. This makes a certain amount of sense. After all, many criminal justice agencies are effectively paramilitary organizations — not typically breeding grounds for creative thinkers. And the justice system in general reveres tradition — our courts were established to exalt process and precedent, not new ideas.
In an effort to take a snapshot of the current state of criminal justice reform, the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance commissioned researchers at the Center for Court Innovation to survey the leaders of criminal justice agencies across the country. The result is the first-ever study to take an in-depth look at how criminal justice leaders think about innovation.
More than 600 officials, with an average of more than 26 years of experience in the field, responded to the survey. While Bratton is, of course, a remarkable leader, he is not the only one of his kind. Nine out of 10 respondents reported that they regularly looked to research and data to guide policymaking. This represents a significant change from the days of decision-making based on anecdote, when leaders often made choices based on their gut instincts. In general, there was a strong link between research and innovation: Leaders who reported greater use of research also reported higher levels of innovation at their agencies.
More than two-thirds of the respondents reported that they had been personally involved in a program or initiative that did not work. Ironically, this is a sign of the health of the field: It may happen under the radar, but criminal justice agencies are actively involved in a trial-and-error process as they look for new ways to improve practice.
When asked to identify specific new programs that they were excited about, the criminal justice leaders pointed to a broad range of initiatives, including problem-solving courts, evidence-based sentencing reforms and technological tools, including the Compstat approach pioneered by Bratton.
Although criminal justice reform is alive and well, the survey did highlight several significant barriers to ongoing innovation. These include budget cuts, the resistance of frontline staff to new thinking and a lack of cost-effective tools to spread information. Despite the existence of the Internet, criminal justice leaders are still relying on expensive and old-fashioned tools — conferences, word-of-mouth — to learn about new ideas.
Notwithstanding these obstacles, the findings from the innovation survey suggest that the state of criminal justice reform is healthy. For many years, the field of criminal justice was haunted by the idea that "nothing works" — that it was impossible to change the behavior of offenders and that chronic crime and disorder were simply a fact of life in large American cities. As the innovation survey makes clear, these ideas have now been well and thoroughly debunked as criminal justice reformers from coast to coast have embraced change and launched an array of new initiatives designed to reduce crime and improve the lives of defendants.
Greg Berman is director of the Center for Court Innovation.
Bill Bratton turns coy on returning to NYPD
By MARIANNE GARVEY, BRIAN NIEMIETZ AND LACHLAN CARTWRIGHT — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton is playing a one-man game of good cop, not-interested cop.
One minute, the 65-year-old power player is schmoozing to succeed Raymond Kelly as the 42nd commish. The next, he’s telling Confidenti@l he doesn’t know if it’s a job he could afford.
“I’m happy in the private sector. It’s a pretty good lifestyle, and I’m pretty busy,” Bratton told us, flat-out denying he’s lobbying for the spot. “I’d have to take quite a pay cut for that.”
He adds, “It’s a little bit early to be thinking about that, anyway. We still have a little thing known as the mayor’s election that has to be gone through first.”
But according to a source, “He is definitely interested in the job again.”
Bratton should have more time on his hands now that he no longer occupies the chairman’s seat at international security company Kroll. Though he’s still on its advisory board, sources tell us Bratton stepped back last year because he’s planning on becoming commissioner again.
“There’s been a feeling at 1PP (Police Plaza) that he’d come back if asked,” says one insider. “He’s still taking the credit for the crime strategies that are in place today.”
Bratton has made a point of staying in the public eye. On a recent trip to Washington, he stood on the dais next to President Obama — not behind him — where New York media outlets would photograph him rallying supporters of the immigration bill.
It seems Bratton has also been trying to curry favor with mayoral candidates. Last summer, he held private meetings with Bill de Blasio and William Thompson and discussed his desire to return to service. He followed that up this year with an interview in the U.K.’s Telegraph in which he entertained the thought of — guess what? — being commissioner.
“If it were to be offered again, then I would be strongly tempted to take it. I’m flattered that, you know, 16 years later, they’re still comfortable with the idea of my coming back. I think I should have another go in the public sector,” he said.
Another source reasons Bratton could be flip-flopping because this isn’t the New York City of 20 years ago.
“He’s got big shoes to fill,” says the source. “The Police Department is a lot different today than it was when he was first appointed in 1994, because of terrorism and the constant threat to New York.”
Of the leading mayoral candidates, only Republican John Catsimatidis and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a Democrat, have said they would like to keep Kelly on as commissioner. Last week, Quinn indicated that offer was conditional on changes to the city’s stop-and-frisk policy.
Kelly, widely regarded as one of the best commissioners the city has had, has not indicated what his plans might be. Odds are he’s heading into a key job in the private sector.
NYPD Expanding Surveillance a/k/a ‘Watch & Record Everybody’
NYPD expands surveillance net to fight crime as well as terrorism
By Chris Francescani (Reuters) — Friday, June 21st, 2013; 11:56 a.m. EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Having developed one of the most sophisticated surveillance networks in the United States, the New York Police Department is now expanding its use, giving local precinct commanders new powers to fight street crime with high-tech tools previously used only in counterterrorism operations.
"The technology, having been inspired and engineered with a sense of urgency after 9/11, has obvious applications to conventional crime fighting," said Paul Browne, chief NYPD spokesman. "That is in the process of being expanded citywide, for what - after all - is our primary mission, which is to fight crime."
New York is among a handful of big U.S. cities that have been developing extensive surveillance networks in recent years using federal anti-terrorism funding. New York's network was initially modeled after London's so-called 'Ring of Steel,' the most extensive surveillance camera network anywhere.
There are no legal restrictions against using the surveillance network for traditional crime fighting, though much of the network has been built with Homeland Security grants. But the sheer scope and sophistication of the system worries people like Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
"There is no outside monitoring of the use of this system at all...no protections now - none, zero," said Dunn, whose group filed a lawsuit on Tuesday accusing the police of violating religious freedoms and constitutional guarantees of equality in its monitoring of Muslim communities.
The development comes amid recent disclosures about the National Security Agency's secret surveillance of phone and email traffic. With New York mayoral elections coming up in November, policing issues have become a point of contention among the candidates.
The NYPD is already facing litigation over its surveillance of Muslims and over so called stop-and-frisk tactics that critics say discriminate against minorities.
Last summer, the department introduced what it calls its ‘Domain Awareness System,' or DAS, developed in partnership with Microsoft and funded by a combination of city funding and U.S. Homeland Security grants. To date the system has cost a total of $230 million, Browne said.
The system's customized software ties together much of the NYPD's wide-ranging resources - from surveillance cameras, license plate readers and radiation detectors to 911 calls, criminal records and other city databases - and displays the information on a user-friendly ‘dashboard.'
As part of a pilot program, commanders are accessing the DAS system ‘dashboard' from desktops inside some precinct houses.
Eventually - department officials declined to provide a timeline - the NYPD will begin rolling out mobile terminals that house the DAS dashboards to each of the city's 76 precincts, and equipping each patrol car and beat cop with a mobile device that can call up the dashboard from anywhere, said NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Counterterrorism Richard Daddario.
The department has also doubled the number of public and private surveillance cameras in the network from 3,000 in lower Manhattan to 6,000 citywide, Daddario said. About one third of the devices are police cameras and the rest are existing surveillance cameras that private businesses allow the police to tap into.
The NYPD is also deploying more license plate readers, which now capture photographs of every single car that travels in or out of the city. About 120 license plate readers are perched above bridges and tunnels and city traffic lights, with plans to increase the number of fixed readers to 200, Browne said. Another 100 or so mobile license plates readers attach to the hood of squad cars. Browne said the department has a database containing more than 16 million plates.
Where previously the readers would alert police to cars associated with individuals on NYPD terrorism watch lists, they are now alerting police to violent fugitives, homicide suspects, and even drivers with expired license plates, Browne said.
When a license plate reader sends an alert, analysts at headquarters communicate the information to cops on the street. With the push of a button, the DAS system's dashboard can geo-spatially map each location in the city where a plate reader has spotted the car in the past five years, said Jessica Tisch, the NYPD's director of counterterrorism policy and planning, who demonstrated the dashboard for Reuters recently.
Some civil liberties lawyers believe such a system is tantamount to an end run around the Fourth Amendment.
"A comprehensive license-plate reader system is akin to attaching police GPS devices to our cars, since the system allows the police to track movements throughout the city," said Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in U.S. vs. Jones that police need a warrant to install such a device on a person's car. "The public would never stand for routine GPS tracking by the police, but this system is moving us towards that very situation," Dunn said.
Asked to respond to such criticism, Daddario said "We'll see how the law evolves, but I don't think that in any case the (DAS system) violates anyone's expectation of privacy."
NYPD officials say they have been working with Microsoft developers to fine-tune the software underlying the system, moving through six versions of the program since its inception.
While earlier versions could search hours of footage from multiple cameras in seconds to spot and isolate individuals wearing, for instance, the color red, the new version of the software can isolate a specific article of clothing. Instead of just a person wearing red, analysts can now isolate a person in a red baseball cap or blue pants.
A portion of the surveillance network includes so-called smart cameras - custom-built NYPD cameras that are equipped with video analytics software that can detect certain suspicious activities or behaviors, like unattended packages or a car that circles a certain city block repeatedly.
The NYPD has also begun incorporating hundreds of its so-called VIPER cameras, which are deployed in public housing complexes throughout the city, into the DAS system. The cameras can pan, tilt and zoom, and can be operated remotely from a precinct desktop.
City privacy guidelines require the NYPD to destroy surveillance video after 30 days, and license plate reader and metadata after five years.
Police officials declined to discuss terrorism-related cases that were cracked using the DAS system, but have pointed to several violent crimes they solved using a combination of technology and traditional detective work.
In January, for example, the driver of a big black car tried to grab a 13-year-old girl off the street on her way to school in Queens, and later in the day a 14-year-old girl reported a similar incident, Browne said.
The DAS system allowed police to cross-reference a grainy surveillance camera image of the car, a sketch based on the girls' accounts, data on late-model black Cadillac Escalades, license plates and ownership records.
They narrowed it down to one suspect, a livery cab driver with a mugshot in the system. Police drove to his last known address, and sitting in the driveway was a black Cadillac Escalade with missing center wheel caps - the only key detail the young witnesses had remembered, Browne said. The suspect was charged with two counts of luring a child to commit a crime, two counts of child endangerment, and two counts of harassment. A pretrial hearing is set for later this month.
(Reporting By Chris Francescani; Editing by Arlene Getz and Claudia Parsons)
NYPD Communications Div. 911 Call System, Known as ICAD
Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’ Editorial:
Answer the question
The Bloomberg administration still will not give a straight and complete explanation of how the 911 system failed
After a series of reports documenting failures in the 911 emergency dispatch system, the front page of the June 11 Daily News asked, “How Safe Are We?”
The question had special urgency because one glitch delayed getting an ambulance to 4-year-old Ariel Russo by 4 minutes and 18 seconds after she had been struck by a careening SUV in Manhattan. It remains inexcusably unanswered by the Bloomberg administration.
Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway appeared before a City Council committee Friday, summoned there to explain what went wrong in the moments that preceded Ariel’s death. He provided no honest accounting.
Instead, he filibustered, clouded the issues with half-facts and sought to play the victim by castigating The News for publishing the headline question, one of vital interest to New Yorkers, along with an image of a 911 dispatcher’s screen. His umbrage was but a theatrical deflection.
The central issue remains the 4 minutes and 18 seconds that passed without action between the time the NYPD called for an ambulance and the time when one was sent.
The dispatcher has told associates the call did not show up on her screen and that it appeared only after she handed off to a relief dispatcher. That would indicate a technical failure in a newly installed, bug-prone computer system.
Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano and, now, Holloway instead blame human error.
But his responses to Council questions were as clear as mud. He said technicians had “re-created” the call and properly transmitted the data. There was no telling what Holloway meant by a re-creation or that the information “arrived.”
Did it show up on the dispatcher’s screen as it should have, as well as on the screens of several dozen other dispatchers, as well as on a huge central monitor, blinking white after three minutes?
All that was supposed to have happened.
To no avail, committee Chairman Peter Vallone pressed Holloway: “All right, well, if the technology worked, there were 24 blinking screens that were ignored. And by the way, it’s been 17 days. If you interviewed one person a day, you’d be almost done now. I don’t know why we’re holding a hearing and we don’t know the answers to these questions.”
While insisting that “the technology worked,” Holloway also said: “The one conclusion that we have reached in this investigation, as far as the technology is concerned, is that the . . . system sent the incident as the technology is designed to do. The part of the investigation that we don’t know is, was this time longer than it should have been? And if so, why?”
There in his own words is the heart of the matter. So the question remains as valid today as it was June 11: How safe are we?
Question and Frisk Search
The moment to curb stop-and-frisk
Two City Council bills must earn passage this week
By George Gresham , Benjamin Todd Jealous AND The Rev. Al Sharpton — Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
The history of the civil rights movement must never be taken for granted; the sacrifices made over the course of generations can never be forgotten. By disregarding the rights of certain New Yorkers through discriminatory policing, our city dishonors the legacy of the struggle for equality.
The city’s stop-and-frisk policy — which has run amok over the course of many years — not only ignores civil rights by disproportionately and indiscriminately stopping mostly black and Latino young men. It makes New York less safe, diverting resources to an ineffective strategy and reducing trust in the Police Department.
This week, we can begin to change that. The City Council has the opportunity and the obligation to support both civil rights and effective policing by approving bills to create a strong, clear ban on discriminatory profiling by police and to establish an independent inspector general to oversee the NYPD.
The Council is poised to vote within days. It must make the right choice.
All New Yorkers want and deserve to be safe, and good policing is an integral part of maintaining safety and reducing violence. But arbitrarily stopping hundreds of thousands of law-abiding people each year — simply because of their race, sexual orientation or immigration status — does not truly address safety or violence. It only exacerbates divisions within our city and harms police-community relations, ultimately making us all less safe.
Despite the heated rhetoric from some corners about how stop-and-frisk is responsible for keeping New Yorkers safe, and about how curbing it will somehow lead to more violent crime, there is simply no evidence to support that theory.
Despite the whopping 600% increase in the use of stop-and-frisk during the first 10 years of the Bloomberg administration, the number of New Yorkers victimized by gun violence remained essentially unchanged.
There were 1,892 people shot in 2002, when just 97,296 stop-and-frisks occurred, and 1,821 people shot in 2011, when there was a record 685,724 stops.
The excessive and suspicion-less stops have also failed to recover guns. Fewer than 1% of all stops lead to the recovery of a gun.
Meanwhile, nearly 90% of those stopped are black or Latino, and about 90% of those stopped are neither arrested nor given a summons, because they are doing nothing wrong.
Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Ray Kelly and other opponents continue to deny problems with the policy and defend it with hyperbole, using alarmist rhetoric and falsehoods about the bills’ impact to incite fear. New Yorkers are consistently seeing through their fear mongering defenses.
Bloomberg and Kelly’s resistance to stopping this discrimination, in fact, is chillingly similar to the opposition to ending segregation throughout this nation several decades ago.
Their defiance has now placed the city in jeopardy of having an independent monitor appointed to oversee compliance with court orders in the pending stop-and-frisk lawsuit. Kelly’s response to the Justice Department’s support for a monitor — that the city was not given a fair chance to address the problem — is especially puzzling.
This issue has evoked outrage and heated discussion for well over a year, and no truly substantive reforms by City Hall or the NYPD have occurred.
New York City must now take a strong stand to ensure no resident is targeted by the police simply because of a defining characteristic that has nothing to do with criminal suspicion.
It’s a false choice that we must sacrifice civil rights for safety. Data and evidence show us that violating civil rights has been ineffective in protecting New Yorkers from gun violence.
We should progress together as a unified city, improving safety for New Yorkers in all communities.
Gresham is president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. Jealous is president and CEO of the NAACP. Sharpton is founder and president of the National Action Network.
Bill Bratton: There will always be stop-and-frisk
By Azi Paybarah — Friday, June 14th, 2013 ‘Capital New York’ / New York, NY
No matter what the New York City Council or the federal courts do to curb stop-and-frisk, the New York Police Department will still utilize some form of the controversial tactic, said former NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton after a breakfast hosted by the Manhattan Institute this morning.
"They will put more oversight, more guidance, more training; it's all for the good," Bratton told reporters. "At the same time, they can't do away with it."
"One of the mayoral candidates is campaigning on the idea that he's going to do away with stop-question-and-frisk. He's out of his mind," he continued. "Quite clearly he knows nothing about stop-question-and-frisk. Stop-question-and-frisk is constitutionally protected by the Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio." Bratton called it "the most basic tool fundamental of American policing."
"So, while you may have more oversight and training, which is always good, more guidance, more reporting requirements, it doesn't change the fundamentals that are always involved in stop-question-and-frisk," he added.
The only mayoral candidate to call for ending stop-and-frisk entirely is City Comptroller John Liu.
During the panel discussion hosted by the Manhattan Institute, the conservative think tank where the strategy of proactive policing was first developed, Bratton said the problems associated with stop-and-frisk are due to a "political decision" to reduce the size of the police force, which has occurred over the course of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure in City Hall.
"Budget decisions were made to reduce the size of the police force from 41,000 to about 34-, 35,000," he said, which he estimated makes for "a loss of about 80 officers per precinct."
To counter the loss of officers, Bratton said police commissioner Ray Kelly has relied on a strategy of deploying new recruits and cops from low-crime precincts to higher-crime areas, a plan called Operation Impact.
When the force was larger, Bratton said cops "were not flying all over the city," and they "could begin to understand good guys from bad guys."
Bratton compared Kelly's approach to the tactics previously used by American forces in Iraq.
"Basically, like [Gen. David] Petreaus did in Iraq, he surges," Bratton said. "He surges large numbers of these kids into those high-crime areas."
Bratton said he wasn't prepared as a young officer to be in a high crime area, and said the guidance young cops get from their supervisors in this situation is inadequate.
"They are not closely supervised," Bratton said. "So, if they make a mistake in how they do a stop-and-frisk, if they're disrespectful, if they don't have the appropriate cause, who's there to correct them?"
"So, the unintended consequence of Operation Impact is the stop-question-and-frisk controversy," he told the crowd.
Critics say the problem with stop-and-frisk is that too many innocent, mostly black and Latino men, are questioned by police. There is now a federal class-action lawsuit in front of Manhattan judge Shira Scheindlin, who has ruled against the NYPD in past decisions. The U.S. Justice Department submitted a memo this suggesting an outside monitor may be a sufficient remedy, if Scheindlin finds the department at fault.
At the same time, the New York City Council is considering a law to create a new inspector general for the NYPD, in part as a response to the complaints about stop-and-frisk.
Only two mayoral candidates attended the breakfast, held on West 44th Street.
Republican Joe Lhota, who was a top aide to Rudy Giuliani, spent much of the breakfast leaning back in his chair and nodding his head, at Bratton's supportive statements about the importance of pro-active policing.
Independence Party mayoral nominee Adolfo Carrion Jr., who is also the former White House director for Urban Policy, was also in attendance. After the event, Carrion told me proactive policing was necessary to keeping New York safe. He also said he was "not surprised" but rather "disappointed" in U.S. Attorney Eric Holder's court filing indicating his conditional support for the creation of a monitor for the NYPD. "I think they should have waited, because I think it colors the conversation. You hold back and you wait for the judge's decision. You don't have to say 'if the judge decides one way, I will do this.' Because you're prejudicing the discussion and you're creating an environment of bias."
As for the City Council's plan to create an office of inspector general, Carrion was more blunt: "I think it's a stupid idea."
NYPD: Let dirt bikers go ‘flee’
By KIRSTAN CONLEY and NATASHA VELEZ — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
Wary police officers have stopped chasing after speed demons on illegal dirt bikes because cops are worried they’ll accidentally kill the riders, sources said.
Officers have backed off ever since a cop accidentally ran down and killed biker Eddie Fernandez while he was fleeing police in The Bronx in August 2012, the sources said.
Police will still pursue perps who commit crimes and try to flee on dirt bikes, the sources said.
But many officers have decided it’s not worth chasing after riders just because they’re on an illegal bike.
Beat cops explained that their patrol cars just can’t keep up with the dirt bikes and their riders — sometimes traveling in huge packs — who drive the wrong way on streets, dangerously pop wheelies, and zip onto sidewalks and into parks and alleyways while trying to elude police.
“It was difficult before, but since [the death], it’s even more difficult,” one police source told The Post.
“No one wants to kill them. They don’t deserve to die.”
Another police source said, “Some of them look for cops because they want to be chased. For a lot of these guys, it’s part of the fun.”
But the bikers aren’t getting a free ride. The police said they’re developing newer and safer ways to catch them.
“We’re working on ways to stop them while making sure no one gets hurt,” one source told The Post.
Some cops want the department to offer rewards to tipsters who can say where the illegal bikes are stored so police can seize them.
Although the NYPD doesn’t keep stats on annual bike seizures, the department’s property clerk is currently storing 332 illegal off-road vehicles that have been removed from the streets. That includes 283 impounded dirt bikes and another 49 seized quads and three-wheelers.
24th Precinct P.O. Jessenia Guzman
NYPD officer reprimanded for briefly speaking Spanish under little-known department rule
Police Officer Jessenia Guzman said she was written up after speaking a single Spanish sentence. The NYPD has defended the policy.
By Jennifer Fermino — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
NOTE TO COPS: No se habla español aqui!
An NYPD officer was issued a “memo of reprimand” after she was caught speaking Spanish while on duty — a violation of an English-only workplace rule for city cops, the Daily News has learned.
Police Officer Jessenia Guzman, a Bronx native with a bloodline to the Dominican Republic, says she was written up on May 14 for uttering a single sentence in Spanish. Guzman, 40, was working the switchboard at the 24th Precinct stationhouse on the upper West Side when she ran afoul of the little-known rule.
“It was just natural,” Guzman said, recalling the brief interaction with a colleague. “She walked by. She was going to get coffee. She said something. I responded (in Spanish). That was it.”
It seemed so inconsequential that she said she doesn’t even remember what the brief exchange was about.
Hours later, Guzman was called into a supervisor’s office and given the reprimand. It said she was “required to communicate department business in the language of English,” according to a copy obtained by The News.
“This policy is in place to allow proper supervision of personnel,” the memo signed by Lt. Richard Khalaf read.
The NYPD — which routinely touts the diversity of its force — defended the policy on Sunday.
“We’re a 24/7 operation,” said Inspector Kim Royster, an NYPD spokeswoman. “We should be speaking one voice, which is English.”
One in three NYPD officers is Hispanic. Police officials say there’s been a surge in foreign-born recruits in recent years, with one in five coming from countries outside the United States. More than 50 languages are spoken by NYPD employees.
The English-only reprimand will remain in Guzman’s personnel file for the remainder of her NYPD career. She’s been on the force 13 years.
Upcoming Death Sentence Hearing in the Execution of Hero Detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin
NYPD officers' widows to testify over killer's gesture
By JOHN RILEY — Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 ‘New York Newsday’ / Melville, L.I.
Jurors at Ronell Wilson's upcoming death penalty trial will be allowed to hear claims that after his first trial, he may have stuck his tongue out at the widows of the two police officers he was convicted of murdering, a federal judge ruled Friday.
Wilson's notorious gesture -- allegedly directed at the widows of detectives James Nemorin of Baldwin Harbor and Rodney Andrews of Middle Village, Queens -- came after a jury in 2007 decided he should be executed. The ruling was overturned, and a retrial starts Monday.
Prosecutors say that "the victims' widows will testify that Wilson looked in their direction and stuck out his tongue at them, understanding the act to be 'intentional and patently offensive,' " wrote Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis. "This is strong evidence that Wilson . . . has no remorse for his crimes."
The gesture was widely reported at the time. Garaufis said he would not allow prosecutors to call a retired detective who observed the scene, or a sketch artist who made a drawing of it, but said the widows themselves were the best source of reliable testimony.
"As the intended targets of Wilson's act, these witnesses were in the best position to observe and ascertain the meaning of Wilson's gesture," the judge said in a seven-page ruling. "They can readily testify as to how they interpreted Wilson's conduct, which directly reflects on his intent."
News reports in 2007 reflected different interpretations of the gesture and who it was directed at, raising questions about how persuasive the evidence will be.
According to a New York Times account, for example, Nemorin's widow said at a post-verdict news conference that she "wasn't looking at" Wilson, and Andrews' widow said she "didn't realize that he stuck his tongue out."
Nemorin, 36, and Andrews, 34, were murdered during an undercover gun buy in Staten Island in 2003. Wilson was sentenced to death in 2007, but it was overturned in 2010 because prosecutors improperly commented on Wilson's decision not to testify, and because Garaufis failed to give jurors a required instruction.
Garaufis last year rejected a claim that Wilson couldn't be executed because he is "retarded." In February, federal prison guard Nancy Gonzalez, 29, of Huntington Station, was charged with conceiving a child with Wilson while he was jailed in Brooklyn.
Wilson, 31, will get life in prison unless jurors unanimously agree on the death penalty. Wilson is expected to argue that his crimes were the product of a difficult upbringing, he is still loved by his family and he is not a future danger to society.
The trial is expected to last at least a month.
NYPD ‘Collision Investigation Squad’
Police Unit Taking Closer Look at Deadly Crashes
By J. DAVID GOODMAN — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
The woman’s body lay under a sheet on the darkened Brooklyn sidewalk, one all-white Adidas sneaker, one black sock. About 20 feet away, her other shoe mixed with the debris around a mangled Ford Fusion.
Minutes before, the car tore onto the sidewalk, striking the woman before slamming into a corner fence post, spinning airborne into a thick sycamore and finally coming to rest against the chain links of a local baseball field.
It was the second bloody scene of a recent Saturday midnight shift for Detective Robert Saporito of the Collision Investigation Squad. Both involved pedestrians. Only one survived.
“On the midnight, you get a lot of speed,” Detective Saporito said. “A lot of death.”
For thousands of New York City detectives, violence is usually synonymous with crime. But for the two dozen tasked with investigating the city’s serious traffic crashes, the first question at any roped-off crime scene is determining whether a crime has taken place.
With the murder rate at a historic low, the Police Department has quietly moved to examine more of these crashes, focusing new attention and resources on another manner of violent death in the streets — the victims walking, riding bicycles or in a vehicle.
The specialized squad came under the department’s scrutiny last year, and some feared that its work would be curtailed. Instead, it has been bolstered with more detectives, high-tech mapping tools and a new mandate to investigate roughly three times as many crashes this year as last.
“When the city was focused on crime, this wasn’t a priority,” said Inspector Paul Ciorra, the head of the Highway Patrol division, which oversees the collision squad. “This is a high priority now.”
The tens of thousands of people riding on Citi Bikes have only heightened the potential need for detectives trained in analyzing complex crash scenes.
“For big cities, they’re on the leading edge of the curve,” said Roy E. Lucke, a retired Chicago-area traffic officer and the director of transportation safety programs at Northwestern University. Most cities think of traffic deaths as somehow less worthy of investigation, he said. “Our mantra has always been, ‘Tell me how they’re less dead,’ ” he said.
And unlike violent crime, which afflicts certain areas of the city more than others, deadly car crashes tear across the broad spectrum of neighborhood, wealth and class. Many create headlines: a hit-and-run in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that killed a man, a pregnant woman and, a day later, their prematurely delivered son; a 6-year-old boy run over on his way to school in East Harlem. In the first, detectives caught the driver, Julio Acevedo, after he fled, charging him with manslaughter; in the second, the police issued summonses but filed no criminal charges.
Until recently, the Collision Investigation Squad — whose members readily rattle off physics equations and discuss throw weights and friction coefficients like an odd hybrid of Sherlock Holmes and Bill Nye the Science Guy — was called only to fatal crashes or those in which emergency room doctors deemed a victim likely to die.
The policy created difficulties in some recent cases — eight in 2011, according to Inspector Ciorra — in which a person survived for a time but died days later. By the time detectives returned to the scene, video images had been taped over, skid marks washed away, crash debris scattered.
The squad’s policy was the subject of a City Council hearing in February 2012 and a federal lawsuit filed last June over the death of a pedestrian, Clara Heyworth, who was struck by a vehicle on a Brooklyn street in 2011. She died from her injuries a day after the crash, and the investigation into her death did not begin until days later. The suit alleges a “systematic failure” by the Police Department to investigate serious crashes.
Amid the criticism, the department took a hard look at the unit and, this year, revamped its approach and its policy. Now, whenever a paramedic lists a patient as critical, Collision Investigation Squad detectives respond.
The city’s prosecutors welcomed the change, which they said had already generated more cases. “It’s been needed,” said Gayle Dampf, the head of vehicular crimes for the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. “It definitely helps the prosecutor’s case.”
The changes were reflected in the new title of the unit, for decades known as the Accident Investigation Squad and renamed this year.
“Everybody calls it an accident,” said Officer Matthew Center, a technician trained to use new robotic surveying equipment to map crash scenes. “But you find out that there may be criminality involved.”
At the Queens Highway Patrol command off the Grand Central Parkway, the painted door at the end of the first-floor hall still bears the old name, but the new approach was apparent among the four-man overnight staff: Detective Saporito, his sergeant based on Staten Island, and two officers from the Collision Technician Group — a newly formed, 12-person crime scene unit for traffic accidents.
The first call came in just after midnight.
Detective Saporito, wearing slacks and a Jets T-shirt, had been discussing a formula — “If it’s a skid, it’s the square root of 30 df” — when two words leapt from the crackling radio in the cramped detective room: “A.I.S. requested.”
The detective stopped midsentence to listen. “Hit and run, please advise, hit and run,” the dispatcher relayed.
Detective Saporito changed in the back of the room, the same space — now cramped with desks — where his father, a mounted police officer in the 1970s, once fit a horse for a friend’s send-off party.
Now in a blue shirt and tie, he raced in an unmarked Chevy sport utility vehicle — lights flashing, siren whooping intermittently — to the southern edge of Prospect Park, where a 24-year-old man, hanging out with his girlfriend, had been hit while crossing from a Wendy’s. The driver fled; the victim was taken to Kings County Hospital Center in critical condition.
It was the sort of episode that detectives are increasingly called to investigate. And, in this case, at least one crime was clear: leaving the scene.
Two small pools of blood marked the spot on Flatbush Avenue where the man came to rest. Napkins from the fast-food restaurant stuck to the pavement, near a spreading field of plastic debris.
“He blew out one of his headlight covers,” Detective Saporito said, shining light on reflective orange pieces among the larger bits of black plastic. “A ped struck, you have this. It’s not a lot to go on.”
He conferred with his supervisor, Sgt. Edward Flaherty, as an officer mapped contours of the scene, the shape of the debris field and the blood stain. Once the job of two officers equipped with a tape measure, a pencil and a clipboard, now one officer carries a computerized staff, topped by a geodic orange prism, that sends readings back to a motorized Leica device. The data are used to create a more precise map that can help reconstruct the crash.
The location of the shattered plastic — a good distance from the crosswalk — provided a key clue to Detective Saporito. “He’s going outside the crosswalk when he gets tagged,” he said.
Finding the driver in a hit-and-run case can be a daunting task. The ubiquity of cameras on storefronts — such as this Wendy’s — means the squad has a good record in such cases. But more than half of the drivers still evade capture.
The random nature of traffic crashes adds to the difficulty of investigations. “These accidents out here, it’s not two drug dealers on a corner that shot each other,” Inspector Ciorra said, sitting at his desk that had a copy of “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand, a bottle of Purell hand sanitizer and pictures of his children.
“Almost every time here, it’s regular folk; it’s Mr. Jones who had maybe one too many beers, hit someone and fled the scene,” he said. “That guy is not from the area. There’s nothing to bring him back, no nexus.”
Not every traffic crash leads to criminal charges, which can be hard to explain to a family that has lost a loved one, detectives in the unit said. It has fueled complaints by pedestrians and cycling advocates, who accuse the police of failing to charge drivers in devastating accidents.
Inspector Ciorra, who starts every shift by reading Streetsblog, a Web site often critical of the department, pays attention to the complaints.
“Our goal in every one of these cases is to put someone in cuffs,” he said. But without an underlying crime — like drunken driving or leaving the scene — detectives have difficulty establishing the probable cause needed to inspect the car’s black box, where information about the driver’s behavior is stored. Speed alone is not enough, he said.
Detectives want to get information from the box in every crash, he said, and a small lime-green reader can extract data on things like speed, seat belt use, braking and steering. But only in about 40 percent of cases will the device work with a given car’s computer system, often because the manufacturer will not allow access to the data.
“That’s where these guys don’t understand,” Inspector Ciorra said of the squad’s critics.
After speaking with a manager at the Wendy’s, who promised to preserve video from a camera near the accident site, another call came in just after 2 a.m. The dispatcher said the pedestrian did not survive.
“I’m going 98 from Flatbush,” Detective Saporito said as he headed to the next scene: Shore Parkway and Bragg Street, near Floyd Bennett Field and Knapp Street Bagels, a deli where police officers often stop for lunch.
A woman’s body lay on Bragg Street, the smashed Ford Fusion a dozen paces down on a Shore Parkway service road.
“Hit the tree,” Sergeant Flaherty told Detective Saporito, as they stood near the wreck.
“Oh, he definitely hit the tree,” the detective responded. Bits of bark were embedded in sharp metal folds by the rear door of the dark-colored 2012 sedan, now smashed into a curve that matched the old tree’s wide girth.
“He’s got a doughnut,” the sergeant added, looking at the right rear tire. “You’re not supposed to go more than 50 on the doughnut.”
More damning for the driver, Steven Calandrillo, 25, who was found unconscious and taken to nearby Lutheran Hospital, was what first responders said was the smell of alcohol on his breath. He was later charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, drunken driving and speeding.
The police found a passport on the woman and later identified her as Karin Eberts-Ayub, a 53-year-old who lived a few miles away in Gravesend. She had been standing on the sidewalk.
The circumstances of her death were despairingly familiar to Detective Saporito and Sergeant Flaherty, who have responded to as many as four such crashes across four boroughs during an eight-hour overnight shift.
Sergeant Flaherty used a cellphone found in the car to call the driver’s mother and tell her about the crash, while Detective Saporito spoke on his phone with an officer at the hospital, who was securing a blood sample to be tested for alcohol.
“Call me back as soon as they get blood,” he said. “I have the D.A. on standby.”
81 Pct. Adrian Schoolcraft (Just in Case You Missed it!)
Judge in Whistleblower Cop Case Blocks City Move to Fire Him
By Graham Rayman — Thursday, June 20th, 2013 ‘The Villiage Voice’ / Manhattan
A federal judge has blocked the city from taking whistleblower cop Adrian Schoolcraft to a departmental trial in an effort to fire him.
After reporting allegations of police misconduct in Brooklyn's 81st Precinct Schoolcraft was dragged from his apartment on Oct. 31, 2009 by police and forced into the Jamaica Hospital psych ward.
The NYPD's decision a couple of months ago to pursue their disciplinary case against the officer came as something of a surprise.
In 2009 and 2010, Schoolcraft was charged with a couple of dozen counts for leaving work early, for failing to respond to department summonses, for failure to obey an order, for being AWOL, etc. Back in early 2010, when he refused to show up for work, and at any point thereafter, the NYPD could have tried him and fired him.
Instead, he has become a unique case in the history of the NYPD disciplinary process: an officer suspended without pay for nearly four years. City rules allow the department to summarily dismiss any officer who is AWOL for more than five days
For whatever reason, the department decided to hold off--possibly because firing a whistle blowing officer wouldn't have looked so good. And so the case has been in limbo for three years.
Last January, Schoolcraft, who had previously said he would never return to the NYPD, asked to be reinstated but assigned to non-enforcement duties. In response, the NYPD rejected that request and notified him of its intent to take him to trial, and even set a trial date for this week. His lawyers opposed the move, arguing the trial would prevent him from having a fair trial on his federal lawsuit.
The city, meanwhile, argued that under the law the administrative trial had to be held before his lawsuit went to trial. "It is plaintiff alone who chose to bring this Section 1983 action despite the fact that his administrative trial, and the issues surrounding it, have not been resolved," the city's motion says. "Thus, the argument that he will have to divert resources to both cases simultaneously is certainly not a surprise to plaintiff and his counsel, nor is it a sufficient basis to stay the administrative trial."
The motion also revealed some of the city's thinking on police forcing Schoolcraft into the psych ward: "City defendants believe there was probable cause for plaintiffs detention and classification as an emotionally disturbed person ('EDP') on October 31, 2009," the brief says.
Meanwhile, the tentative trial date set for September seems ever more untenable, especially since not one witness has been deposed by the plaintiffs in nearly three years.
28 Precinct Escaped Prisoner
Cops search for ‘hood’-ini career drug thug after suspect slips cuffs
By KIRSTAN CONLEY — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
A slippery drug suspect pulled a Houdini act — escaping cops while handcuffed, police sources said.
Career criminal Lawrence Mason, 52, of Queens, was being collared for drugs near West 116th Street and Lenox Avenue at around 1:05 p.m. Saturday when he made the getaway with his hands still bound, the sources added.
Mason’s hands were secured behind his back when he dashed into the subway system, the sources said.
Although it’s unclear exactly how he escaped custody on the sidewalk, the sources said suspects often let their knees buckle to become dead weight so they can break cops’ grip on them and scramble away.
That’s one of the tricks Vincens Vuktilaj, 18, used last month when he escaped custody after an arrest for snatching chains from elderly women uptown, police sources said.
Vuktilaj led cops on a wild, barefoot chase through subway tunnels in Harlem until cops tackled him five hours later.
Mason likely ran through the tunnels along the tracks for the southbound 2 or 3 train, cops said.
He is 5-foot-6, about 140 pounds, with long, kinky, black hair. He was wearing a black baseball cap, tan work boots, a black t-shirt and dark blue jeans.
Mason has been jailed at least 14 times, mostly for drugs, sources said.
Unjustified: The behind-the-scenes account of how a Nassau cop shot an innocent man
BY GUS GARCIA-ROBERTS AND SANDRA PEDDIE — Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 ‘New York Newsday’ / Melville, L.I.
Meat of the article; desired to read the article in its entirety, go to:
An off-duty Nassau County police officer unlawfully shot and beat an unarmed cabdriver in Huntington Station after a night of drinking in 2011, according to an NCPD Internal Affairs Unit report.
The report, obtained by Newsday, found that officer Anthony DiLeonardo recklessly escalated a roadside verbal dispute when he shot at cabdriver Thomas Moroughan five times with a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson, striking him once in the left arm and once in the chest, as the cabdriver's girlfriend sat beside him in the front passenger seat.
The Internal Affairs Unit report said a doctor who treated DiLeonardo at Huntington Hospital after the Feb. 27, 2011 shooting noted that he was slurring his words, smelled of alcohol and was hostile. However, fellow officers did not perform a sobriety test on DiLeonardo, who refused the doctor's request for blood and urine tests.
Despite the Internal Affairs investigators finding a year ago that DiLeonardo committed unlawful acts including assault, criminal use of a firearm and driving while ability impaired, he has not been criminally charged and remains a Nassau County police officer.
The Internal Affairs Unit reported its findings on July 31, 2012 to Police Commissioner Thomas Dale. It recommended 19 departmental charges for what it found to be 11 unlawful acts and eight departmental rules violations by DiLeonardo.
The Internal Affairs Unit recommended five departmental charges be brought against Nassau police Officer Edward Bienz, DiLeonardo's barhopping companion that evening, based on the investigation's findings of two unlawful acts and three counts of violating department rules.
Both off-duty officers were found to have engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer and were unfit for duty by reason of intoxicants, among other violations of department rules. Like DiLeonardo, Bienz remains a Nassau County police officer.
The report does not address whether the officers should be charged criminally for their conduct, and it does not indicate whether the recommended departmental charges were ever brought.
Payroll records reviewed by Newsday show that DiLeonardo was paid $110,316 in 2012, the year after the shooting, after making just over $118,000 in each of the previous two years. Bienz was paid $145,877 in 2012, an increase from the $139,903 he made in 2011 and $133,025 in 2010.
The more than 350 pages of Internal Affairs Unit investigative findings and evidence contradicts the story DiLeonardo told investigators that he emptied his gun to prevent Moroughan from running him down with a Toyota Prius cab.
Suffolk County police arrested Moroughan the day of the incident on charges of felony assault and misdemeanor reckless endangerment. Three months later, a judge granted a motion by the Suffolk district attorney's office to drop the charges, citing evidence that the officers had been drinking, and the disputed version of events.
But law enforcement officials have never publicly disclosed that a Suffolk County crime scene analyst had raised doubts that the altercation happened the way DiLeonardo said it did.
New York's powerful police unions have secured for their members one of the toughest officer privacy laws in the nation. Known as the 50-a law, it allows law enforcement agencies to keep hidden from the public any record used to judge an officer's performance, including officer misconduct investigations.
Newsday found the Internal Affairs investigation into the Moroughan shooting in court records from a $30 million civil lawsuit Moroughan filed in U.S. District Court in Central Islip against the Nassau and Suffolk police departments, both counties and 18 named officers and supervisors. The Nassau Police Department Internal Affairs report is the result of a yearlong investigation, ordered by Acting Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, and includes materials from the Suffolk County district attorney's office and the Suffolk County Police Department.
The investigation is a rare window into how Long Island's two biggest law enforcement agencies confidentially handle officer misconduct investigations.
It details the effort to find out what really happened in Huntington Station, across the street from Henry L. Stimson Middle School, in a tense few minutes around the time that Saturday night becomes Sunday morning. Investigators knew the incident left in its wake two injured off-duty officers, a wounded cabbie with no known criminal history and a windshield dotted by three bullet holes. But with different stories emerging, why an argument turned into a shooting was difficult to determine.
The Internal Affairs report concludes that:
•DiLeonardo fired at Moroughan and approached his cab with gun in hand as the cabbie tried to retreat, then beat him about the head with the butt of his gun numerous times. The finding contradicted statements by DiLeonardo that Moroughan revved his engine and tried to run down DiLeonardo, who said he only drew his weapon when the cab was coming toward him.
•Moroughan signed a sworn statement Suffolk County homicide detectives wrote for him while he lay in a hospital bed on morphine, with two bullets still inside him and with a broken nose. Moroughan said the Suffolk detectives did not allow him to consult with an attorney before signing it. The statement helped exonerate DiLeonardo and incriminate Moroughan, and was later shown to include events that were contradicted by the department's own investigation.
•Though DiLeonardo did not mention drinking in his initial post-shooting statement, he later told Suffolk district attorney investigators that he'd had eight to 10 drinks, and Nassau Internal Affairs investigators that he had six drinks, over a roughly 4 ½-hour period before the shooting. At least 13 Nassau and Suffolk County police officers responding after the shooting later said they either did not notice any sign that DiLeonardo was intoxicated, or that they smelled alcohol but could not identify where the smell was coming from. None of them reported asking DiLeonardo if he had been drinking, and officers did not ask DiLeonardo to submit to a sobriety test.
•Within 12 hours of the shooting, Nassau County's Deadly Force Response Team cleared DiLeonardo of wrongdoing, allowing him to continue making arrests after two weeks of paid sick leave. However, a Suffolk County crime scene analyst later reported the events couldn't have occurred as DiLeonardo had described, and a Suffolk district attorney investigator determined that the shooting was "unjustified."
•The Nassau County Police Department didn't begin its Internal Affairs investigation until 99 days after the shooting. The investigators assigned to the case noted that it was an "unusual" investigation because it started so long after the incident and relied on materials from other law enforcement agencies.
Professor Maria Haberfeld, chair of the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, said the fact that DiLeonardo and Bienz kept their badges, given what investigators found, means there is "something profoundly wrong."
Haberfeld said, "This is very strange to me. A person who is armed and behaves in a way that is not responsible should not be kept on the job."
Commissioner Dale, in a statement emailed to Newsday, wrote of the shooting, in part:
"No criminal wrongdoing was found. However, I have an active internal affairs investigation open regarding this incident, and there is a pending civil trial in Suffolk County. These two factors prevent me from commenting further about this issue at this time. It is important to note that departmental sanctions can be as punitive as criminal proceedings."
Dale declined to answer questions about the shooting.
Nassau Police Department spokesman Kenneth Lack, after being informed that Newsday had obtained the Internal Affairs report, and that it indicated it had been completed on July 31, 2012, said: "Commissioner Dale became aware of the civil trial and wanted Internal Affairs to monitor the court proceedings in case additional facts and circumstances presented themselves in order to bring this case to conclusion."
Dale, who joined the NCPD in January 2012, is battling the police union for the authority to discipline department employees, rather than have police trials go to a mediator.
F.B.I. (Just in Case You Missed it!)
The F.B.I. Deemed Agents Faultless in 150 Shootings
By CHARLIE SAVAGE and MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT — Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
WASHINGTON — After contradictory stories emerged about an F.B.I. agent’s killing last month of a Chechen man in Orlando, Fla., who was being questioned over ties to the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, the bureau reassured the public that it would clear up the murky episode.
“The F.B.I. takes very seriously any shooting incidents involving our agents, and as such we have an effective, time-tested process for addressing them internally,” a bureau spokesman said.
But if such internal investigations are time-tested, their outcomes are also predictable: from 1993 to early 2011, F.B.I. agents fatally shot about 70 “subjects” and wounded about 80 others — and every one of those episodes was deemed justified, according to interviews and internal F.B.I. records obtained by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
The last two years have followed the same pattern: an F.B.I. spokesman said that since 2011, there had been no findings of improper intentional shootings.
In most of the shootings, the F.B.I.’s internal investigation was the only official inquiry. In the Orlando case, for example, there have been conflicting accounts about basic facts like whether the Chechen man, Ibragim Todashev, attacked an agent with a knife, was unarmed or was brandishing a metal pole. But Orlando homicide detectives are not independently investigating what happened.
“We had nothing to do with it,” said Sgt. Jim Young, an Orlando police spokesman. “It’s a federal matter, and we’re deferring everything to the F.B.I.”
Occasionally, the F.B.I. does discipline an agent. Out of 289 deliberate shootings covered by the documents, many of which left no one wounded, five were deemed to be “bad shoots,” in agents’ parlance — encounters that did not comply with the bureau’s policy, which allows deadly force if agents fear that their lives or those of fellow agents are in danger. A typical punishment involved adding letters of censure to agents’ files. But in none of the five cases did a bullet hit anyone.
Critics say the fact that for at least two decades no agent has been disciplined for any instance of deliberately shooting someone raises questions about the credibility of the bureau’s internal investigations. Samuel Walker, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska Omaha who studies internal law enforcement investigations, called the bureau’s conclusions about cases of improper shootings “suspiciously low.”
Current and former F.B.I. officials defended the bureau’s handling of shootings, arguing that the scant findings of improper behavior were attributable to several factors. Agents tend to be older, more experienced and better trained than city police officers. And they generally are involved only in planned operations and tend to go in with “overwhelming presence,” minimizing the chaos that can lead to shooting the wrong people, said Tim Murphy, a former deputy director of the F.B.I. who conducted some investigations of shootings over his 23-year career.
The F.B.I.’s shootings range from episodes so obscure that they attract no news media attention to high-profile cases like the 2009 killing of an imam in a Detroit-area warehouse that is the subject of a lawsuit alleging a cover-up, and a 2002 shooting in Maryland in which the bureau paid $1.3 million to a victim and yet, the records show, deemed the shooting to have been justified.
With rare exceptions — like suicides — whenever an agent fires his weapon outside of training, a team of agents from the F.B.I.’s Inspection Division, sometimes with a liaison from the local police, compiles a report reconstructing what happened. This “shooting incident review team” interviews witnesses and studies medical, ballistics and autopsy reports, eventually producing a narrative. Such reports typically do not include whether an agent had been involved in any previous shootings, because they focus only on the episode in question, officials said.
That narrative, along with binders of supporting information, is then submitted to a “shooting incident review group” — a panel of high-level F.B.I. officials in Washington. The panel produces its own narrative as part of a report saying whether the shooting complied with bureau policy — and recommends what discipline to mete out if it did not — along with any broader observations about “lessons learned” to change training or procedures.
F.B.I. officials stressed that their shooting reviews were carried out under the oversight of both the Justice Department’s inspector general and the Civil Rights Division, and that local prosecutors have the authority to bring charges.
The 2,200 pages of records obtained by The Times include an internal F.B.I. study that compiled shooting episode statistics over a 17-year period, as well as a collection of individual narratives of intentional shootings from 1993 to early 2011. Gunfire was exchanged in 58 such episodes; 9 law enforcement officials died, and 38 were wounded.
The five “bad shoots” included cases in which an agent fired a warning shot after feeling threatened by a group of men, an agent fired at a weapon lying on the ground to disable it during an arrest, and two agents fired their weapons while chasing fugitives but hit no one. In another case, an agent fired at a safe during a demonstration, and ricocheting material caused minor cuts in a crowd of onlookers.
Four of the cases were in the mid-1990s, and the fifth was in 2003.
In many cases, the accuracy of the F.B.I. narrative is difficult to evaluate because no independent alternative report has been produced. As part of the reporting for this article, the F.B.I. voluntarily made available a list of shootings since 2007 that gave rise to lawsuits, but it was rare for any such case to have led to a full report by an independent authority.
Occasionally, however, there were alternative reviews. One, involving a March 2002 episode in which an agent shot an innocent Maryland man in the head after mistaking him for a bank robbery suspect, offers a case study in how the nuances of an F.B.I. official narrative can come under scrutiny.
In that episode, agents thought that the suspect would be riding in a car driven by his sister and wearing a white baseball cap. An innocent man, Joseph Schultz, then 20, happened to cross their path, wearing a white cap and being driven by his girlfriend. Moments after F.B.I. agents carrying rifles pulled their car over and surrounded it, Agent Christopher Braga shot Mr. Schultz in the jaw. He later underwent facial reconstruction surgery, and in 2007 the bureau paid $1.3 million to settle a lawsuit.
The internal review, however, deemed it a good shoot. In the F.B.I.’s narrative, Agent Braga says that he shouted “show me your hands,” but that Mr. Schultz instead reached toward his waist, so Agent Braga fired “to eliminate the threat.” While one member of the review group said that “after reading the materials provided, he could not visualize the presence of ‘imminent danger’ to law enforcement officers,” the rest of the group voted to find the shooting justified, citing the “totality of the circumstances surrounding the incident,” including that it involved a “high-risk stop.”
But an Anne Arundel County police detective prepared an independent report about the episode, and a lawyer for Mr. Schultz, Arnold Weiner, conducted a further investigation for the lawsuit. Both raised several subtle but important differences.
For example, the F.B.I. narrative describes a lengthy chase of Mr. Schultz’s car after agents turned on their siren at an intersection, bolstering an impression that it was reasonable for Agent Braga to fear that Mr. Schultz was a dangerous fugitive. The narrative spends a full page describing this moment in great detail, saying that the car “rapidly accelerated” and that one agent shouted for it to stop “over and over again.” It cites another agent as estimating that the car stopped “approximately 100 yards” from the intersection.
By contrast, the police report describes this moment in a short, skeptical paragraph. Noting that agents said they had thought the car was fleeing, it points out that the car “was, however, in a merge lane and would need to accelerate to enter traffic.” Moreover, a crash reconstruction specialist hired for the lawsuit estimated that the car had reached a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour, and an F.B.I. sketch, obtained in the lawsuit, put broken glass from a car window 142 feet 8 inches from the intersection.
The F.B.I. narrative does not cite Mr. Schultz’s statement and omits that a crucial fact was disputed: how Mr. Schultz had moved in the car. In a 2003 sworn statement, Agent Braga said that Mr. Schultz “turned to his left, towards the middle of the car, and reached down.” But Mr. Schultz insisted that he had instead reached toward the car door on his right because he had been listening to another agent who was simultaneously shouting “open the door.”
A former F.B.I. agent, hired to write a report analyzing the episode for the plaintiffs, concluded that “no reasonable F.B.I. agent in Braga’s position would reasonably have believed that deadly force was justified.” He also noted pointedly that Agent Braga had been involved in a previous shooting episode in 2000 that he portrayed as questionable, although it had been found to be justified by the F.B.I.’s internal review process.
Asked to comment on the case, a lawyer for Agent Braga, Andrew White, noted last week that a grand jury had declined to indict his client in the shooting.
In some cases, alternative official accounts for several other shootings dovetailed with internal F.B.I. narratives.
One involved the October 2009 death of Luqman Ameen Abdullah, a prayer leader at a Detroit-area mosque who was suspected of conspiring to sell stolen goods and was shot during a raid on a warehouse. The F.B.I. report says that Mr. Abdullah got down on the ground but kept his hands hidden, so a dog was unleashed to pull his arms into view. He then pulled out a gun and shot the dog, the report says, and he was in turn shot by four agents.
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a lawsuit against the F.B.I. The group was concerned in part because the handgun had no recoverable fingerprints and because of facial injuries to Mr. Abdullah. It also contends that the dog may have been shot instead by the F.B.I. agents and the gun thrown down in a cover-up.
A report by the Michigan attorney general’s office, however, detailed an array of evidence that it says “corroborates the statements of the agents as to the sequence of events,” including that bullet fragments in the dog’s corpse were consistent with the handgun, not the rifles used by the F.B.I. agents. Such an independent account of an F.B.I. shooting is rare. After the recent killing of Mr. Todashev in Orlando, both the Florida chapter of the same group and his father have called for investigators outside the F.B.I. to scrutinize the episode.
James J. Wedick, who spent 34 years at the bureau, said the F.B.I. should change its procedures for its own good.
“At the least, it is a perception issue, and over the years the bureau has had a deaf ear to it,” he said. “But if you have a shooting that has a few more complicated factors and an ethnic issue, the bureau’s image goes down the toilet if it doesn’t investigate itself properly.”
Crime-Lab Woes Snarl Courts
Massachusetts Drug Offenders Demand Release After Chemist's Tampering Charge
By JENNIFER LEVITZ — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
BOSTON—Massachusetts courts are being inundated by drug offenders who are demanding release from prison after a chemist at a state crime lab was charged with tampering with test results.
The development is the latest in a string of problems at crime labs across the country that have raised questions about oversight and prompted criminal-justice systems from Massachusetts to Texas and Colorado to wrestle with what to do with those convicted on the basis of evidence tested at troubled labs.
Former state chemist Annie Dookhan was indicted in December on 27 charges, including falsifying test results, inflating her credentials and obstruction of justice at a Massachusetts Department of Public Health laboratory where she worked from 2003 to 2012, analyzing drugs seized in criminal arrests.
She has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Her lawyer is seeking to have the obstruction-of-justice charges dismissed, saying she never tried to interfere with criminal trials.
Meanwhile, as of early June, 746 people charged with or convicted of drug crimes had filed motions for new trials as a result of the charges against Ms. Dookhan, according to the Massachusetts Court System. About 300 people have been released from custody, including one man who was accused of murder in May after being let out of jail. He has pleaded not guilty.
More releases could follow. A task force appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick is conducting a file-by-file review of 34,000 individuals whose "cases were potentially impacted by Annie Dookhan," said Heather Johnson, the governor's spokeswoman.
The scandal is "unprecedented in scope" in the state, said Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office in Boston. "It will be years before the mess is cleaned up."
Crime labs, which analyze evidence from bite marks to ballistics to drugs, have come under heavy criticism in recent years. A 2009 National Academy of Sciences report found "serious deficiencies" in the nation's crime labs, saying that in many cases they lack proper standards, oversight and certification, though DNA testing escaped major criticism. It called for more rigorous oversight and quality control.
But "very little has been done" in that regard, said Brandon Garrett, a professor and expert in criminal procedure at the University of Virginia School of Law. Jay Henry, the president of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, a trade group, said progress "has been made, albeit not as fast as many of us would like." The industry is working on national guidelines for crime labs, he said.
Texas' highest court for criminal cases ruled on June 5 that evidence handled by a former state lab worker—who resigned last year after a state agency found what it considered problems with his work—is unreliable, potentially undermining scores of cases. The Texas Department of Public Safety has "implemented more stringent quality control measures," said spokesman Tom Vinger.
Earlier this month, Colorado said an investigation of a state crime lab found problems with security, training and supervision. A state official at the time said the agency was resolving the issues.
Massachusetts charged Ms. Dookhan with eight counts of tampering with evidence and said that while testifying as an expert witness in multiple trials, she inflated her academic credentials. Ms. Dookhan's lawyer declined to discuss the allegations of misconduct. She is free on bail and didn't return calls seeking comment.
The state offers no theories on motive, but its evidence includes what defense attorneys see as cozy emails between Ms. Dookhan and prosecutors. In June 2009, for instance, she wrote to a prosecutor that she wanted drug offenders "off the streets."
"She saw herself as part of the prosecution team, and it was part of her job to put defendants in prison," said Anne Goldbach, forensic-services director at the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, the state public-defender agency.
Meanwhile, determining whether people convicted on evidence tested by Ms. Dookhan have been wronged isn't as straightforward as retesting the drugs that were originally seized by police. Drugs in state custody are often destroyed once appeals are exhausted. Even if drugs are available to retest, "anything she has touched has been compromised," argues Matthew Segal, the legal director for the ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts.
Donta Hood, of Brockton, Mass., was into his third year of a five-year sentence for cocaine distribution when his lawyer petitioned the court for a new trial last fall after the state's case against Ms. Dookhan came to light. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Mr. Hood and released him.
Last month, Mr. Hood was charged with fatally shooting a man in Brockton. After pleading not guilty, he is being held without bail. "It wasn't a coldblooded killing," said Mr. Hood's attorney, Lefteris Travayiakis.
Michael O'Keefe, president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, cites Mr. Hood's case as a reason for caution. "Although it has some surface appeal, the other interest that has to be balanced is that of public safety," he said. "This is a prime example of that."
But while the Hood case is a tragedy, "it's not a tragedy that tells us anything about how the drug-lab scandal should be handled," said the ACLU's Mr. Segal.
Chicago Police Board Criticized for "Inconsistent" Discipline Rulings
By Ted Gest — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The John Jay College of Criminal Justice Crime & Justice News’ / Washington, DC
Chicago police officer Daniel Sullivan pleaded guilty to breaking a black man’s leg outside a bar in a racially charged attack and got an 18-month suspension. Officer David Gonzalez was fired after being found not guilty of attacking two police officers responding to a suburban bar fight. The Chicago Police Board, a group of nine mayoral appointees, made both decisions, says the Chicago Sun-Times.
"Do I think I was treated fairly? Definitely not,” says Gonzalez, now a maintenance man. “There were other police officers that had done more, that were accused of harsher things, that were just given time off and sent back to work. There should be some kind of standards, some kind of rhyme or reason. It just doesn’t seem like there is.” Former Police Superintendent Jody Weis agrees: “It sure made me scratch my head at how they reached their decisions. It was just very inconsistent."
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Officer error, software trouble skewed Denver crime stats, police say
By Sadie Gurman — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The Denver Post’ / Denver, CO
Hundreds of crimes in Denver were not included in FBI statistics last year largely because of officer error and software glitches, Denver Police Department officials acknowledged.
As police dig further into how those mistakes happened, high on their list of unanswered questions is why 25 percent of the homicides in 2012 are not reflected in the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, which experts say is an important tool in examining overall crime trends nationally.
The Denver Post reported earlier this month that discrepancies between the FBI and department data are vast.
While the FBI report says violent crime in Denver fell 3.6 percent in 2012 from the year before — to 3,584 from 3,718 — data provided by the police department show a 9.3 percent increase from 3,810 violent crimes in 2011 to 4,163 last year.
The FBI numbers indicate a nearly 4 percent drop in aggravated assaults, yet Denver police show an 11 percent increase from 2011 to last year.
There were 38 killings in the city in 2012, according to the police department's data, and 28 by the FBI's count.
FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said in an e-mail that if a law enforcement agency's data does not pass "edit checks," it sends the agency an error report for review. The numbers released this month are preliminary; a final report on crime in 2012 is due out later this year.
"We knew they were missing a significant number of homicides, and we didn't know why," said Lt. Matt Murray, a department spokesman.
Denver police officials last week met with representatives from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which passes data from departments across the state to the FBI for its annual report.
They have formed a "working group" to address the discrepancies.
Regarding the homicides, Murray said: "We're looking into every single one. In several, CBI doesn't know why they're rejected, and neither do we."
In at least one case, he said, the victim was wounded but died after the deadline to report data to the FBI.
Others, however, could have been left out because of minor problems in an officer's report. Certain unintentional errors, such as an officer's failure to make note of the relationship between a crime victim and a suspect, can cause the FBI to reject the entire report.
Also common are errors that occur when officers change suspect descriptions in a report but accidentally miss a field, Murray said.
Of 323 errors that occurred this May alone, 82 were a result of such mistakes. The FBI also rejects a report if no suspect description is included, or if the incorrect code is used to identify evidence collected in a case, Murray said.
"The Uniform Crime Report is important. People look at UCR numbers to see if they should locate in a town, or invest in a town, or work there," said Michael Walker, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York who also sits on the FBI's Uniform Crime Report subcommittee. "If I'm a developer, first thing I'll look at is how much crime there is. I'm not going to call Denver. It's a lot easier to use the UCR."
There are often small discrepancies between a department's data and the numbers it submits to the FBI, Walker said, but he had never seen differences as glaring as Denver's.
"It's strange," he said.
Denver police have already tried to reduce the number of reporting errors by beginning to install software that spots them on at least one computer in each of the six district stations. Before, such "error-check" software existed only on computers in an officer's vehicle. If a supervisor approved a report from inside the station, errors could have been transferred to the FBI, Murray said.
"It's never going to be as accurate as you might hope. It's too complex a system with lots of people and lots of software and lots of reporting systems," he said, cautioning against relying on federal statistics for a full portrait of crime in any city. "It is danger, danger, danger to compare. ... The most accurate data is always going to be at the agency level."
Oregon (Mexican Drug Cartels Control Heroin, Methamphetamine And Cocaine Distribution)
Drug cartels in Oregon: Violence in the Northwest
By Les Zaitz — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The Oregonian’ / Portland, OR
(Edited for brevity and generic law enforcement pertinence)
The Oregonian has learned that Mexican cartels, including the powerful Sinaloa and the brutal Los Zetas, have infiltrated almost every corner of Oregon. At last count, authorities were aware of no fewer than 69 drug trafficking organizations selling drugs in the state, nearly all supplied by cartels.
Police have taken down drug operations cloaked as a restaurant in Bend and a grocery in Hillsboro. They've busted traffickers in Gresham, Pendleton and, in a takedown last month involving 300 officers, in Klamath County. They've intercepted shipments from Oregon traffickers as far away as Texas, Minnesota and Florida.
Cartels and their allies control nearly every ounce of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine flowing into the region, investigators say, smuggling drugs up Interstate 5 by the ton and money back down by the millions. They dominate the marijuana market, tearing up Oregon forests for massive plantations. They exact an unfathomable toll in lives ruined and cut short by drug abuse.
Perhaps most unnerving, cartel-connected traffickers lash out in violence to control territory, settle debts or warn rivals -- not just in Mexico, but here in the Northwest. Police suspect a cartel is behind the roadside execution early last year of a trafficker near Salem. They think cartel operatives shot two California drug dealers whose bodies were found buried in the sage northeast of Klamath Falls last fall. They also believe a cartel ordered a 2007 hit in which a trafficker and four friends were lined up on the floor of a Vancouver rental home and shot in the head.
"They will take advantage of any avenue they can to make their business succeed," said Kelvin Crenshaw, until recently the special agent in charge of the Seattle regional office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "Make no bones about it. The control is from the cartels."
Yet even as traffickers live in our towns and menace our residents, their scourge has remained hidden in plain sight. Police often report homicides, drug busts and threats as isolated incidents. Until now, the region's drug enforcement officials have mostly kept a lid on connections that all point in one direction: to the cartels responsible for the rivers of bloodshed hundreds of miles away in Mexico.
"They are here," said one former cartel member, a 29-year-old Oregon man who asked that his name be kept secret to protect his safety. "They try hard to stay off the radar."
The Oregonian's investigation included the unprecedented cooperation of law enforcement officials at all levels, including more than 250 interviews with investigators in six states. The newspaper reviewed 50,000 pages of documents, including rarely available wiretap excerpts and files in open homicide cases. Sources also included former traffickers, defense attorneys and victims, such as the family of a Bend 21-year-old who collapsed on his front lawn as a lethal heroin dose flowed into his veins.
Law enforcement officials helped with The Oregonian's investigation because they're convinced the public needs to better understand the growing threat the region faces. Though many cartel homicides are never solved -- witnesses are threatened into silence, and killers leave few clues before sliding back across the border -- authorities say cartels' involvement in deaths and other crimes here is unmistakable.
"Oregonians," said John Deits, the assistant U.S. attorney who oversees federal drug prosecutions in Oregon, "are totally naive, totally out of touch with what is happening."
Immigration Enforcement / Illegal Aliens
Sen. Marco Rubio misled police, ICE union says
By Stephen Dinan — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘The Washington Times’ / Washington, DC
The president of the labor union for immigration agents said Monday morning that Sen. Marco Rubio “directly misled law enforcement officers” after promising to try to boost interior enforcement in his immigration bill.
“Senator Rubio, who promised ICE officers and Sheriffs that he would take steps to repair the bill’s provisions that gut interior enforcement, has abandoned that commitment. He directly misled law enforcement officers,” said Chris Crane, president of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, which represents ICE the agents and officers who handle deportations and immigration laws in the nation’s interior.
Mr. Crane, the president of another immigration union that represents U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees, and a number of sheriffs across the country signed a letter to senators arguing that the key to stopping future illegal immigration is to boost workplace enforcement and to let agents deport illegal immigrants they find in the interior.
Over the past few years the Obama administration has carved out certain sections of the illegal immigrant population that it has said cannot be deported.
Now, both sides are arguing over how the new Senate bill will affect that situation. The bill’s authors, including Mr. Rubio, a Florida Republican, say it will prevent a future wave of illegal immigrants, but opponents point to an official government analysis that says it will stop only 25 percent of future illegal immigration.
In a statement Monday, Mr. Crane called for senators to vote against the latest border security proposal that was written Friday afternoon and is being put up for its key test vote Monday evening.
“The 1,200 page substitute bill before the Senate will provide instant legalization and a path to citizenship to gang members and other dangerous criminal aliens, and handcuff ICE officers from enforcing immigration laws in the future,” Mr. Crane said. “It provides no means of effectively enforcing visa overstays which account for almost half of the nation’s illegal immigration crisis.”
Is Mexico's Drugwar Doomed To Failure?
By Nathaniel Parish Flannery — Monday, June 24th, 2013 ‘Forbes Magazine’ / New York, NY
Excerpt; desired to read the article in its entirety, go to:
In September 2006, barely a month after Felipe Calderón was elected as Mexico’s president, narco thugs in Michoacán dumped five severed heads onto a dance floor in Uruapan, one of the state’s main cities. By that point in the year, cartel gunmen had killed more than 400 people in Michoacán, including nearly two dozen senior police officers. Along with the severed heads, the gangsters in Michoacán left threatening notes. “See. Hear. Shut Up. If you want to stay alive,” said one.
In spite of the gruesome nature of some of the cartel killings, in 2006 Mexico was still a relatively safe place. Overall, during Calderón’s term in office, the number of homicides recorded by Mexico’s National Statistics Institute (INEGI) nearly tripled from 10,452 in 2006 to 27,213 in 2011. In an article published in July 2012, security analyst, Eduardo Guerrero, said, “today it’s not possible to argue that the violence from organized crime is confined to just a few corners of the country.” Calderón, a technocrat from the right-of-center National Action Party, might have had good intentions, but he picked the wrong strategy. At the start of his term, he pulled an olive drab military style jacket over his pressed, light-blue oxford shirt and squeezed a brand new dark green army cap over his head. The brim of the hat partially covered his delicate, frameless glasses. Flanked by a military official in standard-issue attire, he pushed forward with Operation Michoacán Together and sent 4,000 troops to patrol the hills of his home state. The soldiers went out into the streets and, over the next few years, crime rates across Mexico soared. Four years after implementing the strategy, Calderón acknowledged that, up until that point in his term, “2010 was the year with the most violent deaths in the country.” As Calderón’s soldiers started capturing and killing cartel bosses, Mexico’s criminal groups started battling among and between each other for control of the drug trade and local rackets. This period of upheaval has corresponded with a rise in ordinary street crime in many towns and cities. It is impossible to deny that he inherited an extraordinarily challenging security dynamic. Nevertheless, in hindsight, one thing has become clear: Calderón took the wrong approach to the war on drugs.
From the day the first bullet was fired all the way until the day the flag was passed to the next administration, Calderón’s War failed to address the direct needs of Mexico’s population. The multibillion dollar market for illicit drugs in the United States continues to be fed by shipments from Latin America and other parts of the globe. Calderón’s mistake is that he adopted a unilateral response to an international problem and failed to take sufficient measures to adequately protect his own country’s population from the unintended side effects of his strategy. Given the scope and the magnitude of the underlying economic mechanisms which fuel the drug trade, other governments in the region, such as Costa Rica, are choosing to focus on protecting their own citizens and working to promote law and order by implementing effective community policing.
The central criticism of Calderón’s strategy is that he embraced a macro military solution and allowed troop movements to take precedence over effective local policing. The result has been six years of reputation-damaging violence, a re-organization of the structure of Mexico’s organized crime, and almost no disruption whatsoever of the connection between cocaine suppliers in Colombia and consumers in the United States. The drug trade is an international problem that requires an international solution. Crime and violence, on the other hand, are national and local problems that can be addressed by local policymakers.