Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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NYC seeks to avoid federal court-appointed inspector for NYPD over stop-and-frisk
After a nine-week trial ended in May, the New York City Council passed legislation appointing an inspector general to oversee the NYPD and its stop-and-frisk program. Now lawyers for the city say such an inspector would lead to 'confusion, redundancy and unwieldiness.'
By Dareh Gregorian — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
New York City is hoping that the likelihood of an inspector general for the NYPD can help stave off a possible court-appointed federal monitor for its controversial stop-and-frisk program.
In papers filed in Manhattan federal court, city lawyers say the probable addition of an inspector general for the NYPD means the appointment of a monitor would lead to "confusion, redundancy and unwieldiness."
A "monitor imposed by the court will result in at least duplicative oversight and potentially inconsistent directives to the NYPD," the city said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin on Friday.
Scheindlin could appoint a federal monitor to oversee the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program after a contentious trial in which opponents charged that city cops were routinely violating people's civil rights. After the nine-week trial came to an end in May, the City Council passed legislation appointing an inspector general to oversee the entire department, including the stop-and-frisk program.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vowed to veto the bill, but its sponsors maintain they have enough votes to override any veto.
Scheindlin asked both sides in the federal case for their opinions on how the addition of an inspector general — the idea backed by City Council — should affect her decision. The city said it's all the more reason for the judge to shoot down the request for a federal monitor.
"Subjecting [the] NYPD to multiple overseers may well compromise public safety," the letter said.
The "NYPD should not be placed in a position where it will have to respond to potentially conflicting investigations, findings or recommendations among a monitor and any other overseeing entities," the letter said.
Lawyers for the frisk opponents said that while an inspector general could help with the problems, that office wouldn't be able to stop them on its own. The IG would only be able to recommend changes, while a monitor has the power to enforce them, the plaintiffs' lawyers said.
Scheindlin is expected to issue her ruling as early as this month.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said the NYPD already has several layers of oversight.
Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'The New York Daily News' Editorial:
Your turn, Quinn
What really needs an inspector general is the City Council
In voting to impose an inspector general on the NYPD, the City Council proclaimed that public agencies must be subject to independent oversight in order to ensure proper performance and taxpayer accountability.
Prime sponsors of the measure were so emphatic about the virtues of the IG system, they left no doubt of their sincere belief in oversight for governmental bodies that have discretion over vast sums of public money.
Said Councilman Brad Lander of Brooklyn:
"Inspectors general perform investigations to help ensure agencies are following the law; to identify waste, fraud and abuse; to find deficiencies in agencies' programs that limit the ability to achieve their mission; to recommend corrective action, and to ensure appropriate transparency and oversight."
Said Councilman Jumaane Williams, also of Brooklyn: "True accountability is impossible without effective independent oversight." He added that an IG "will ensure more efficient spending of taxpayer dollars."
The Council's 40-11 vote in favor of the police IG positions the members to follow their principles and impose similar oversight on the single city operation that lacks it: the Council itself.
In fact, no arm of the municipal machine needs independent review more than the Council as it has operated under mayoral candidate and Speaker Christine Quinn. Three facts:
The Council is the only city cost center that sets its own rules.
It has a yearly slush fund of almost $400 million and the power to throw money around at will.
Its members and staff have regularly taken advantage of an absolute lack of controls to steal.
The Council gained enhanced power in 1991 after abolition of the old Board of Estimate. At the time, the body set aside a modest $4.7 million so that members could allocate funds to projects that seemed of particular need in their districts.
Since then, the Council has deepened the pool to $393 million so members can bring home funds that serve them well at election time. By special exemption, these so-called member items are free from competitive bidding regulations.
Given the Council's loosey-goosiness, it's no wonder that three members — Miguel Martinez, Hiram Monserrate and Larry Seabrook — have been imprisoned for stealing slush.
Two aides to ex-Councilman Kendall Stewart also got jail. Incumbent Queens Councilman Dan Halloran has been charged with similar doings.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn Councilman Dominic Recchia has blatantly converted his slush account into a campaign fund.
Recchia represents Coney Island. In theory, he is supposed to use special knowledge of the district to determine where city funding would be best applied. In fact, he has taken about a third of his $10 million pot and spent it on Staten Island, where he plans to run for Congress next year.
That's as close to thievery as you can get without handcuffs.
As speaker, she determines who gets how much, with amounts directly proportional to loyalty to her. As speaker, she also rallied behind placing an IG over the police, never mind that the cops are already monitored by a 700-person Internal Affairs Bureau, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, five DAs and two U.S. attorneys.
Now it's time that she and fellow members apply the same standards to their own very sloppy $393 million-a-year house.
As Quinn said in supporting NYPD oversight, "The inspector general will not pose any kind of threat to the authority of the mayor or the police commissioner."
The Council has been the scene of a crime wave — and will continue to be as long as it messes around with enough money every year to, say, boost the police force by 3,900 cops.
Quinn and colleagues have brilliantly shown the way: New York must have a City Council inspector general.
Community Safety Act
Mayor Also Hoping to Swing 1
PBA Pressures Council Members on Profile Bill
By MARK TOOR — Monday, July 8th, 2013 'The Chief / Civil Service Leader'
As Mayor Bloomberg and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association continued their efforts to pick off City Council supporters of a bill that would outlaw police profiling, one of its sponsors said last week that morale is "really high" among Council Members who voted for it.
"I think we're fine so far," Jumaane Williams, one of the main sponsors of the bill, said in an interview. "...Everyone is energized. I think they're getting more encouraged by the tactics of the unions. It's working in our favor right now."
A Precarious Margin
The bill, which would prohibit police profiling on the basis of demographic factors and allow people who feel they were questioned in violation of that ban to sue in state courts, passed the City Council with 34 votes despite the fervent opposition of Mr. Bloomberg, who has promised to veto it.
That is the minimum number of votes needed to override a veto, and the Mayor's staff said he would use every lever at his command to persuade at least one lawmaker to change his or her vote. The Mayor's Press Office did not respond to an inquiry about how his effort was proceeding. Mr. Bloomberg has 30 days to veto the bill, which was passed June 27, and observers speculated that he would not do so until he had swayed one or more votes.
Christine Quinn, the Council Speaker who is a leading Democratic candidate to replace Mr. Bloomberg and opposed the bill, told NY1 that she did not believe the efforts to change votes would succeed. "Those numbers don't change in the override votes," she said. "People stick with their positions. People know they are voting on a bill that is going to be vetoed and they vote in a way they plan to stick with."
Mr. Williams noted that he and his co-sponsor, Brad Lander, had introduced the bill after Mr. Bloomberg had rejected requests to meet with lawmakers and community leaders concerned that the NYPD's implementation of its stop-and-frisk program was overly aggressive. "Had they really sat down and acknowledged the problem, we wouldn't have gotten so far" with the bill, he said.
PBA Turns Up Heat
The PBA, which has distributed leaflets in the districts of three Council Members who voted in favor of the bill, stepped up its efforts to deter lawmakers from voting to override a veto. The union announced that it was urging its members "to patrol their beats with an eye toward protecting themselves from civil lawsuits" if the profiling bill becomes law.
"All officers should take action if he or she sees a crime in progress, or if he or she sees that his or her life or the life of another person is in danger," the PBA advised its members. "Otherwise, concerning events not occurring in the officer's presence, all officers should be careful not to initiate any law-enforcement action that could be construed as violating the new legislation and subject the officer to legal action."
The police unions have expressed concerns that officers hauled into court by people who feel they were mistreated could be responsible for legal fees. The bill prohibits litigants from seeking monetary damages but allows a judge to award legal fees to people who bring suit successfully.
The city generally indemnifies its employees in lawsuits, meaning it pays their legal fees and any damages assessed. But the city Law Department has recently declined to extend this protection to a handful of officers who it determined had violated department rules, meaning they would be on the hook for all costs.
Target 3 in Council
The PBA has targeted Manhattan Council Members Jessica Lappin and Daniel Garodnick, and Mark Weprin of Queens. The union distributed fliers at transit stations in their districts, and last week mailed 90,000 more to their constituents asking, "Is your City Council Member pro-crime?"
"The PBA believes they represent districts that are pro-law-enforcement and pro-public safety," spokesman Al O'Leary said. "Those three districts are very conservative communities." Mr. Garodnick and Mr. Weprin are running for re-election and Ms. Lappin for Manhattan Borough President.
"We are reaching out to constituents to encourage them to voice their concerns about these bills and to persuade their Council Member to defeat them when the override vote is taken," PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement. If the veto is overridden, he continued, his union will "target all pro-crime Council Members for defeat in the upcoming election,"
Two of the three Council Members said they would not be deterred. "I'm proud to have voted for these two bills, which will put some muscle into Police Department oversight and help rein in constitutionally questionable stop-and-frisks," Ms. Lappin told the New York Post. "If the PBA thinks this kind of bullying works with me, they picked the wrong legislator."
Weprin: Not Changing
"I'm not changing my vote," Mr. Weprin told the Epoch Times. He told the Daily News that the profiling bill, and a companion bill that creates an independent Inspector General for the NYPD, will make the city safer. "The bills do not end stop-and-frisk," he said. "They merely say you have to have cause to stop and frisk someone."
PBA officials said they were waiting to see what effect the campaign had before deciding whether to extend it to other Council Members.
The PBA hand-delivered to all Council Members a letter accompanied by a copy of a CHIEF-LEADER interview with James A. Cohen, an Associate Professor at the Fordham University School of Law who is independent of the debate, about whether the bill would discourage police officers from performing their duties. He said he believed it would have that effect.
Mr. Bloomberg maintains that the law would prohibit officers from using demographic descriptions when seeking criminals (for example, a white man about 30 years old wearing a red sweater and using a cane would have to be broadcast as an individual wearing a red sweater).
Mr. Williams and other supporters of the bill say that's simply not the case. The Councilman said opponents were "making up" falsehoods about the bill. He renewed his offer to withdraw his support from the bill if anyone could point out to him the specific language that would prohibit descriptions including race or ethnicity. The Mayor has refused to respond to the proposal.
'Makes Cops' Jobs Harder'
Mr. Cohen came down squarely on the side of Mr. Bloomberg. Mr. Lynch wrote that he called the bill " 'absurd,' noting that it 'eliminates the use of reasonable discretion in the exercise of the [police] function...It makes it very hard for the police officer to do the job.'''
Mr. Cohen was also sympathetic to concerns of police unions about police officers having to pay legal fees. "This possibility, he said, 'could be a big hit in incentivizing a group of lawyers who now have no monetary incentive to bring stop-and-frisk cases,'" the union noted he told this newspaper.
Responding to Mr. Williams's recent statement that revisions to the bill were made with PBA input, Mr. Lynch says in the letter, "Contrary to the assertions of some of the bill's supporters, the PBA has been consistently and unequivocally opposed to the bill in any form."
Bloomberg $$ May Front $$ Ret. NYPD Captain Joseph Concannon Run Against Weprin
Mark Weprin Targeted By Michael Bloomberg After Stop-And-Frisk Vote
By Colby Hamilton — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'DNAinfo New York.Com News' / New York, NY
NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Michael Bloomberg targeted Queens City Councilman Mark Weprin in retaliation for his support of two bills aimed at reining in the NYPD, sources told DNAinfo New York.
The two stop-and-frisk related measures, which passed the City Council last month, would allow people to sue the NYPD if they believe they were racially profiled and also creates an inspector general to oversee the department.
Bloomberg aide Howard Wolfson was "actively making the phone calls and making the last-ditch effort to find a viable candidate to run" against Weprin, said one Queens Republican insider.
The mayor's office declined to comment.
But multiple sources on the ground in Queens confirmed that calls from Wolfson went out scouting for candidates who would use the mayor's considerable resources to run a campaign against Weprin.
While no petitions were filed by a Republican in Weprin's 23rd Council District, reports of a phone poll conducted earlier this month suggested the possibility of at least one candidate. While it is unknown who specifically conducted the phone poll, former Republican state Senate candidate Joseph Concannon's name was mentioned in a hypothetical matchup with Weprin.
Reached by phone Monday, Concannon would neither confirm nor deny that Bloomberg's office had reached out to him to run against Weprin. Concannon did, however, go on to say that Weprin had "made a calculated mistake" in supporting the Community Safety Act, the measure that included the two bills.
"I think Mark has done this less because he believes in the Act, and more because he thinks he's going to win the votes of his other City Council members to become speaker of the City Council," Concannon said, referring to reports that Weprin is interested in leading the body next year.
Republican officials in Queens said they were unaware of any attempts at candidate recruitment in their backyard.
"If they were that interested, I imagine they would have called," said Robert Hornak, a Queens Republican Party spokesperson.
While no candidate has yet to emerge to officially challenge Weprin, sources said the mayor is hoping the threat of one could be enough to persuade Weprin to reconsider his support, particularly of the bias bill.
The original vote in favor of the legislation was slightly more than the two-thirds super-majority needed to override the veto Bloomberg has promised. If even one member changes their vote, or simply fails to show up, there's a good chance the mayor's veto could stand.
"They're looking to see if Weprin is willing to turn his vote around," said one source familiar with the situation. "If he does, then I think people will take a back seat."
The move to take on Weprin makes good on Bloomberg's threat to go after individual councilmembers who voted in favor of the Community Safety Act.
"The mayor is putting his money where his mouth is — or at least he's threatening" to do so, said Doug Muzzio, a political science professor at Baruch College. "Bloomberg, in this situation, sees the people that voted for this bill as his enemies, so he's screwing them."
Muzzio said that while political pressure is regularly applied to legislators behind closed doors, Bloomberg's decision to directly target a sitting councilmember was unique.
"This is overt," he said. "This is different."
Since the passage of the CSA, Weprin and a number of his colleagues have suffered political repercussions over their votes. The Patrolman's Benevolent Association sent out a mailing and leafleted the districts of Weprin and his Manhattan colleagues, Councilmembers Jessica Lappin and Daniel Garodnick. The Detectives Endowment Association revoked its endorsement of Brooklyn Councilmember Sara Gonzalez and others over their support of the bills.
Reached by phone Monday, Weprin said the mayor's tactics would have no effect on his vote.
"I have no beef with the mayor. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Police Department," Weprin said. "I am just representing the best interests of my constituents. My conscience and my constituents and the City of New York require me to support this bill because these reforms improve a system that has been flawed."
Bloomberg has 30 days to veto the legislation. The Council is expected to receive the veto and schedule a vote later this summer.
Weiner Compares NYPD S/Q/F to Nazi Gestapo Tactics
Weiner Rails Against Stop-And-Frisk
Candidate cites '1938 Germany,' in speech but insists Nazi reference was not a comparison to New York City today.
By Adam Dickter — Monday, July 15th, 2013 'The Jewish Week' / Brooklyn, NY
In the aftermath of a controversial Florida verdict acquitting George Zimmerman in a racially charged shooting case, mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner referred to the Nazis in opposing the NYPD's stop-and-frisk procedures at a church on Staten Island.
In a recording from the speech on Sunday at First Baptist Central Church that was obtained by The Jewish Week, the former congressman expressed his view that racial profiling is prevalent in America, and said "last year more than 700,000 people in New York were stopped, the overwhelming majority of them were young men of color; 97 percent of them did nothing wrong. And the mayor stood up and said 'wait a minute, statistically this' and 'statistically that.' Well, you can have a 100 percent statistical reduction in crime if you stop everybody. You could have 1938 Germany, because everyone has to show their papers." (Listen to audio, below.)
Weiner's campaign spokeswoman, Barbara Morgan, on Monday said he was not suggesting Nazi tactics by the police, nor implying the city was headed in that direction.
"The context of the reference was the argument made by some that stopping innocent citizens was an acceptable cost for public safety," said Morgan. "He clearly was not equating 1938 Nazi Germany to New York City."
Etzion Neuer, acting New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the reference crossed a line.
"Whatever one's opinion of the New York Police Department's 'stop-and-frisk' policy, the idea that this policy creates an environment analogous to Nazi Germany is offensive, especially to Holocaust survivors and their families," Neuer said. "Elected officials are entitled to have strong opinions, but that does not excuse inappropriate and offensive analogies in these discussions or debates."
When told that Weiner insists he was not drawing an analogy, an ADL spokesman said the group stands by Neuer's comment.
In the short recording, Weiner is also heard saying the way to stop profiling is "to lead by example, those of us in government," although he is not currently an elected official.
Members of the heavily African American congregation were heard applauding or verbally agreeing with Weiner at some points., such as when he said "Every single year people keep saying maybe this will be the year we end racial profiling in this country, but it never seems to happen." There was also applause after the Germany line.
John Liu Equates NYPD With George Zimmerman
By Jill Colvin — Monday, July 15th, 2013; 6:08 p.m. 'The N.Y. Observer Politicker' / New York, NY
City Comptroller John Liu–one of the most left-leaning candidate in the mayor's race–has long been a critic of the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which he believes should be abolished. But he took his criticism a step further today.
In a statement released earlier this afternoon, Mr. Liu equated the attitude officers use when stopping New Yorkers with George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watchman who was found not guilty Saturday in the high-profile fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
In particular, Mr. Liu blasted Mayor Michael Bloomberg's response to the controversial verdict, which had largely focused on criticizing Florida's "shoot first" laws.
"Mayor Bloomberg's statement on Saturday's verdict rings hollow. If he were truly concerned, he would realize that the same mindset that allowed Zimmerman to believe he was justified in following an innocent young black man permits the NYPD to justify the targeting of black and Hispanic youth in its stop-and-frisk operation," Mr. Liu said.
"We must work to undo the misguided perception that black and Hispanic youth are guilty until proven innocent," he added. "Just as states like Florida must repeal their dangerous Stand Your Ground legislation, the City must abandon its stop-and-frisk campaign."
Mr. Zimmerman's verdict has sparked protests across the country, including several large demonstrations Sunday in Times Square and Union Square.
The mayor's office declined to respond to Mr. Liu's criticism.
P.B.A. Makes $60,000 Campaign Contribution to Andrew Cuomo
Fat cats fill gov's kitty
By CARL CAMPANILE — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'The New York Post'
(Edited for brevity and NYPD pertinence)
It's fat cats for Cuomo.
Eighty percent of Gov. Cuomo's $27.8 million campaign war chest was filled by donors who gave at least $10,000, according to a study released yesterday.
And 44 percent — 200 donors — pumped more than $40,000 each into Cuomo's re-election effort, a New York Public Interest Research Group analysis found.
Business titans and a broad array of special-interest groups dependent on Albany led a parade of major backers of the governor.
Numerous unions also played money ball: The Uniformed Fire Officers Association and the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association both gave more than $60,000 each to the governor.
Former 42 Pct. P.O. Antonio Echevestre Sues Former 46 Pct. P.O. Kevin Tracy / 46 R.I.P. Ret. Det. and Fox News Contributor Patty Brosnan Involved in Brawl
Court date for officers in 'cop-on-cop bash'
By JULIA MARSH — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'The New York Post'
NOTE: If my memory serves me right, Kevin Tracy was fired by the job after an off-duty altercation with an on duty N.Y.S. Trooper on the New York State Thruway. And as most already know, Patty Brosnan, a personal Rudy Giuliani friend, is now a regular on Fox News as a so-called expert on sex crimes and homicides. BTW Brosnan worked in 46 'Crime' and the RIP unit. - Mike
Decades after two minority cops claim they were victims of a brutal racist assault by white NYPD detectives, they'll face one of their attackers in court today.
Off-duty officers Scott Thompson, 53, and Antonio Echevestre, 53, were outside an Inwood restaurant in November 1991 after a fundraiser for a fellow cop's sick child.
Thompson, an officer in the 42 precinct, was at first chatting with a detective (Police Officer) named Kevin Tracy when the detective socked Thompson for badmouthing a friend, according to a civil lawsuit filed against the city in 1992.
Tracy is expected to testify this afternoon after opening statements in the week-long trial.
The restaurant closed and the fracas continued in the street with Tracy knocking Thompson, who is black, to the ground.
When Thompson's Hispanic partner, Echevestre, tried to intervene, a responding officer from the 34 Precinct, Antonio Tetro, allegedly called him a "spic" and a fellow off-duty detective named Patrick Brosnan threw Echevestre against a car.
Brosnan, who was a volunteer security guard for mayoral candidate Rudolph Giuliani at the time, according to a 2006 deposition, called Thompson "a boy" before fleeing the scene and failing to report the incident to a supervisor.
Echevestre has permanent neurological damage from the attack, his suit claims, as well as partial hearing loss. Thompson sustained more minor injuries.
Echevestre was arrested, though none of the white officers involved were cuffed. The DA declined to press charges, referring the matter to the NYPD for internal review.
Only one of the white cops was disciplined with docked vacation days. None were tossed for the incident.
Echevestre left the force in 2000 after 16 years on the job and Thompson departed in 2001, after a 20-year career. They were disillusioned with the department, their attorney, Bonita Zelman, told the Post.
Echevestre was later charged by an ex-girlfriend, who also filed a criminal complaint in 2008, for molesting her daughters. The charges were dropped.
A spokeswoman for the city law department declined to comment because of the pending trial.
A combination of jurisdictional issues, delays related to the discovery process and appeals led to the 20-year period between when the case was originally filed and the ultimate trial.
Court hears former NYPD officer's suit 22 years after bar beating left him brain-damaged
Antonio Echevestre says fellow cops cracked him in the head with a nightstick during a brawl outside a Manhattan bar in November 1991.
By BARBARA ROSS, DAREH GREGORIAN — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
A former NYPD cop is finally getting his day in court against the fellow officers — including a former bodyguard for Rudy Giuliani — he says beat him so badly that they left him brain-damaged more than two decades ago.
Antonio Echevestre, 53, says cops repeatedly cracked him in the head with a nightstick during a brawl outside an upper Manhattan bar in November 1991.
The attack left Echevestre with an IQ of 79, his lawyer Bonita Zelman said in the very long-awaited opening arguments in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday.
The incident started when a group of off-duty cops went to a bar in Washington Heights following a fund-raiser for another officer who had a sick child.
There, Echevestre's partner, Scott Thompson, got into an argument with another cop, Kevin Tracy, and they took their differences outside, said Tracy's lawyer, Thomas Cascione.
Thompson, a karate enthusiast, handed his gun to Echevestre and took off his shoes for the fight against the bodybuilding Tracy, Cascione said.
Tracy decked him with one punch, leading Echevestre to jump in, Cascione said. Then, Tracy's bodybuilder partner, Pat Brosnan, grabbed Echevestre, telling him, "Two on one isn't fair," Cascione said.
Uniformed cops arrived and Echevestre — who was on modified duty already for a domestic incident — took a swing at them and tried to run, tossing Thompson's gun as he did, Cascione said.
"By the time they figure out he's on the job they've cracked his head with a nightstick," he said.
Zelman said Brosnan slammed Echevestri into a cop car. She said cops hurled racial slurs at him, and whacked him in the head several times. She added he identified himself as an officer.
Echevestre and Thompson's suit names Tracy, Brosnan, patrol cops Anthony Tetro and John Rossi and the city as defendants.
Each side blamed the other for delays getting to trial. Brosnan, who protected Giuliani during his 1993 mayoral campaign, and Echevestre had other issues afterward.
Brosnan was involved in a shooting in which two drug dealers were killed in 1995. A related suit against the city was settled for $1.15 million.
Echevestre was arrested and sued in 2008 for allegedly sexually molesting his girlfriend's teen daughter. The charges were later dismissed and the suit was withdrawn.
NYPD $$ Lawyer Lotto $$ Giveaways / ESU Detective Hassan Hamdy
Mom of National Guardsman shot by NYPD will sue city over death
Attorney Sanford Rubenstein says Noel Polanco's family believes the criminal justice system failed them after the unarmed man was shot during a traffic stop. 'I will continue to fight for justice to hold accountable those who were responsible for the death of my son,' said Polanco's mother, Cecilia Reyes.
By John Marzulli — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
The mother of an unarmed National Guardsman slain by an NYPD detective will file a federal lawsuit Tuesday against New York City and the man who shot her son on the Grand Central Parkway, the Daily News has learned.
Noel Polanco, 22, was shot once in the chest by Emergency Service Unit Detective Hassan Hamdy, who said the victim was reaching under the car seat after being ordered to keep his hands on the steering wheel.
Polanco's mom, Cecilia Reyes, said: "I will continue to fight for justice to hold accountable those who were responsible for the death of my son."
Lawyer Sanford Rubenstein says Polanco's family believes the criminal justice system failed them after a Queens grand jury declined to indict the detective and Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch did not respond to a request for a civil rights probe.
"The filing of this lawsuit is the first step in this family's efforts to get civil justice," Rubenstein said.
The suit, to be filed in Brooklyn federal court, seeks unspecified monetary damages.
Diane DeFerrari, a co-worker of Polanco's at an Astoria hookah bar who was a passenger in the front seat and witnessed the shooting, is also suing for emotional damages.
Polanco was driving home at about 5:15 a.m. on Oct. 4, with DeFerrari and off-duty cop Vanessa Rodriguez sleeping in the backseat, when he was pulled over for reckless driving by Hamdy, who was operating an unmarked Emergency Service Unit van.
The detective fired one shot.
Polanco had consumed "three to four glasses of Hennessey cognac" earlier and his blood-alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit when he was slain, according to a police report.
No weapon was found in the car — there was a power drill under Polanco's seat.
The city Law Department said it would review the court documents. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not respond when asked whether the firearms discharge review panel had determined if the shooting was proper.
Detectives Endowment Association lawyer Philip Karasyk said, "It has always been our belief that Detective Hamdy acted well within the limits of the law as well as the department's guidelines."
FDNY Issues with NYPD Communications Div. ICAD System
FDNY firefighters exposed to meningitis due to wrong patient info in 911 system
At least four New York firefighters and a supervisor sought medical attention after some of them were exposed to bodily fluids from a woman who had bacterial meningitis, sources told the Daily News. The snafu was caused by an NYPD dispatcher who put incorrect information about the patient into the 911 system.
By Ginger Adams Otis — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
Firefighters called to a Queens, N.Y., home last month were expecting to find a woman with serious burns — only to learn more than 24 hours later that the patient to whom they gave CPR actually had bacterial meningitis.
The health scare prompted at least four firefighters and a supervisor to seek medical attention after some of them were exposed to the woman's bodily fluids at the home in Forest Hills on June 13, sources told the Daily News.
The snafu was caused by an NYPD dispatcher who put incorrect information into the 911 system. The error generated a ticket that popped up just after 6 p.m. at Engine 305 that said "burns."
It was quickly updated to "serious/inside" when the 911 caller — who was not with the patient — gave a few more specifics, the FDNY said.
But to the firefighters, the ticket was read as a woman with serious burns inside, union sources said.
The dispatcher was given additional training, fire officials said. And none of the firefighters involved in the call — which was to a house on Burns St. — contracted the highly contagious and potentially deadly disease. But the mistake still put the firefighters in unnecessary danger, the fire officers union said.
"These members went home to their families that night, which not only put them at risk, but others as well," said Jim McGowan, of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. "[Firefighters] are always prepared to respond to any call, and depending on what is on the ticket, the officer will … take the proper precautions."
New York City fire unions have been making allegations of error-prone dispatching since 2009, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration put primary control of 911 calls in the NYPD's hands, minimizing the role of EMS and FDNY dispatchers over their objections. City Hall has said the unions' opposition stems from a desire to protect members' jobs.
Since the city switched to a new computer-aided dispatch system, known as ICAD, on May 29, the problems have only gotten worse, the firefighters union says — claiming the number of incomplete or erroneous 911 tickets jumped sharply.
"These members went home to their families that night, which not only put them at risk, but others as well," said Jim McGowan, of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. "[Firefighters] are always prepared to respond to any call, and depending on what is on the ticket, the officer will … take the proper precautions."
The fire union says it has collected about 200 such reports from officers and firefighters in the past six weeks alone as overworked NYPD operators struggle to master the new system.
"If we don't have proper information, how do we know what we're going into? The details on the tickets are critical to getting the best response possible and keeping firefighters, fire officers and the public safe," McGowan said.
Union officials and FDNY sources confirmed several other incidents in which firefighters were delayed getting to emergencies or sent minimal information in the first critical moments:
* On July 6, the first firefighters on the scene lost one minute and 41 seconds when they were sent to an incorrect address for a Brooklyn fire. Two kids, Dasani Rich, 3, and Rolando Rich, 4, were clinging to life. The delay was due to an incorrect address given by the 911 caller. The error was discovered within 18 seconds — after the call was transferred to a fire dispatcher.
* The Bravest raced to a call on the same date after getting a ticket for a person in cardiac arrest in Brooklyn just after 1 p.m. It turned out to be an emotionally disturbed person with a gun threatening suicide.
* On Friday, there was a five-minute delay getting firefighters to the Bronx house of Ramon Velez, whose wife, Ketty Lamarche, died in the early-morning blaze. Velez and two others were seriously injured. The NYPD said the 911 caller didn't know the correct address and the operator didn't conference in a fire alarm dispatcher. The incident is under investigation.
* Firefighters raced to another call that same date at Macy's flagship midtown store for a loading dock fire. According to union sources, that 911 call came in around 5:15 p.m., but fire engines weren't sent for five minutes. City officials haven't responded to requests for comment.
Fire Department spokesman Frank Gribbon said fewer than 1% of the approximately 250,000 emergency calls this year have generated write-ups.
"This indicates we don't have any problems more than 99% of the time. Many of the error reports, such as 'wrong addresses,' turn out to be the result of wrong information from callers, and not the result of human error by dispatchers," Gribbon said.
Still, fire officials acknowledge they don't get all the complaint reports submitted to the union.
Firefighters are also in constant contact with dispatchers via radio to get up-to-date information while responding to rapidly changing emergencies, Gribbon said, as in the July 6 cardiac arrest that became a possible gunshot suicide. Firefighters were updated by NYPD when they arrived on the scene, he said.
The fire victim who turned out to be suffering from bacterial meningitis was initially coded incorrectly using ICAD's drop-down menu, the FDNY said.
The correct coding of calls using the ICAD menu has been addressed with NYPD as a training issue, the FDNY said.
Another incident — a June 28 car crash at 10:30 p.m. that turned out to be in Nassau County, not in Queens — was also sent to the NYPD for additional training.
Ret. P.O. Miguel A. Rodriguez
Former NYPD officer admits to conning immigrants of $13,000
By Chris Valdez — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'The Poughkeepsie Journal' / Poughkeepsie, NY
An Orange County man pled guilty today to conning immigrants seeking driver's licenses and immigration assistance out of more than $13,000.
Miguel A. Rodriguez, 54, of New Windsor, pled guilty to third-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud, both felonies.
Rodriguez, a retired New York City police officer who worked as a liaison to the Latino community in the Village of Wappingers Falls, admitted to charging victims $500 to $1,000 for "asylum and withholding of removal" applications, falsely promising that the applications would be reviewed by an attorney and filed with the appropriate immigration authorities.
Between October of 2010 to August of 2012, Rodriguez admitted to charging immigrants $300 each to enter a state lottery he falsely claimed could garner them valid state driver's licenses.
"This has been a tragedy to Mr. Rodriguez," his attorney Paul Brenner said. "It has put a blemish on an otherwise outstanding career."
Assistant Attorney General Wanda Perez-Maldonado declined to comment.
Rodriguez faces up to a year in prison and must pay $13,862 in restitution. He was released on $75,000 bond but is due back in Dutchess County Court Sept. 16 at 9:15 a.m. for sentencing.
Staten Island Execution of OCCB Firearms Investigations Unit Dets. Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin
Testimony in 'Death' Hearing
Detectives' Murderer A Prison Nightmare, Too
By MARK TOOR — Monday, July 8th, 2013 'The Chief / Civil Service Leader'
Convicted cop-killer Ronell Wilson's attorney is arguing that he should be spared death and sentenced to life without parole, but Mr. Wilson's time in prison so far, described in testimony at a new penalty hearing in Brooklyn, does not bode well for a quiet life behind bars.
Mr. Wilson, 31, was transferred in 2011 to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn from a Death Row cell in Indiana after an appellate court ordered a new penalty hearing on his conviction for the murder of two city Detectives in 2003, ruling that prosecutors had overreached during closing arguments.
Disorderly and Demanding
The jury was shown a video of a struggle between Mr. Wilson and a special unit of correction officers wearing body armor after Mr. Wilson refused to be handcuffed before leaving a recreation area. The guards threw a stun grenade into the area and then piled onto Mr. Wilson, fitting him with handcuffs and shackles. He smiled as he was led out of the room.
One officer, Lieut. David Gonzalez, testified that Mr. Wilson rebelled because he was not given as much food as he wanted. "He said the staff was disrespecting him and he was never going to accept just one food tray," Mr. Gonzalez testified.
MDC officials didn't want him to hook up with his fellow Bloods gang members, so they placed him in an area with mentally ill, transgender and other inmates with special issues. One inmate testified that he had regularly threatened fellow prisoners.
"If someone would change the channel on the TV, he would change the channel back and he would become aggressive," testified the inmate, Thomas Germosen. "I remember one day he said he didn't care because he had killed policemen."
DEA Head: Won't Change
"The penalty phase has uncovered additional evidence of his poor behavior while incarcerated," Michael J. Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association, said in an interview. "I'm not surprised. He'll never change. Being a thug is part of his DNA, and he actually enjoys it."
Mr. Wilson was convicted of shooting the two Detectives in the back of the head as they sat in a car in Staten Island. Dets. Rodney Andrews, 34, and James Nemorin, 36, were working undercover with the Firearms Investigations Unit, expecting to buy a Tech-9 submachine gun.
Mr. Wilson stated that he was "so, so sorry" for his crime during the first penalty hearing in 2007, but his lawyers said in a letter released last week that he would not do so this time. The letter to U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis did not reveal any reasons.
Fellow inmates unhappy with Mr. Wilson's behavior on the cellblock reported a two-minute sexual encounter he had with an officer, Nancy Gonzalez (no relation to the Lieutenant). Video from a security camera shows them disappearing together into an activity room.
Got CO Pregnant
Another inmate testified that he saw Ms. Gonzalez hold Mr. Wilson's cell door open during a lockdown. "When she walked away I saw Mr. Wilson's pants around his ankles and his genitals were exposed," the inmate said.
Ms. Gonzalez, 29, became pregnant with Mr. Wilson's child and delivered a boy in March. She pleaded guilty last week to having sex with an inmate, which is a crime because legally inmates are unable to give consent. The plea clears the way for her to testify in Mr. Wilson's trial; her attorney, Anthony Ricco, said that both prosecutors and defense attorneys had subpoenaed her.
After Ms. Gonzalez was found to be pregnant, Mr. Wilson was transferred to a Federal detention center in Manhattan. "After he was gone, everything was back to normal," Mr. Germosen testified. "Everyone got along with one another again."
The defense phase of the trial began at the end of last week with Mr. Wilson's attorneys calling child psychologist Robert Macy to talk about how the defendant's deprive childhood in a Staten Island housing project had contributed to the killings.
However, Mr. Macy said he had not interviewed Mr. Wilson and had not researched the case. Instead, he read from several studies about the relationship between childhood trauma and adult criminality. He told the court he charged $500 an hour for his services.
Timoshenko's killer on trial for another shooting
BY CHRISTINA CARREGA — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'The New York Post'
An imprisoned-for-life cop killer is back on trial in Queens, this time for a shooting committed the night before he gunned down NYPD Officer Russel Timoshenko.
Dexter Bostic shot and killed Timoshenko during a routine traffic stop in Crown Heights on July 9, 2007. A day earlier, prosecutors say, he and his partner-in-crime, Robert Ellis went joyriding in a stolen Porsche with a hooker and decided to find someone to rob – and then shot their victim.
"Ellis was the getaway driver, Bostic was the stick-up man. Bostic jumped out the car fired four shots at Carl Fields, blew his leg open, stole his jewelry, said something to him, jumped back into the car and took off," said Queens Assistant District Attorney Robert Hanophy in his opening statements.
Bostic and Ellis, both 39, allegedly stole the silver Porsche from the Five Towns Mitsubishi dealership, where he worked, picked up a prostitute in Queens and "flashed guns" in front of her.
The cohorts allegedly showed the working gal a Tek 9 and .45 caliber pistol moments before they drove down Sutphin Boulevard on July 8, 2007, said Hanophy.
Prosecutors intend to prove through video footage, DNA, ballistics and witness testimony that Bostic was the shooter.
"You have to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses," urged Bostic's attorney David Cohen who believes the evidence will show that Fields "wasn't sure" if Bostic was the one who shot him during a 2008 line up.
During Ellis' trial last year, Fields described his assailant as a man who looked like the "Grim Reaper."
Ellis, who was acquitted of the Timoshenko murder, but convicted of a gun charge, was found guilty for his involvement with the serious injuries and robbery of Fields. He was sentenced to an extra 25 years in prison, which will run consecutive with the 15 years he received for the gun charge in Brooklyn.
Timoshenko's mother, Tatyana and other NYPD supporters were in attendance for the openings.
911 Operators Protest Overtime Forced By 'Unresponsive' NYPD
By DAVID SIMS — Monday, July 8th, 2013 'The Chief / Civil Service Leader'
A Police Captain threatened to take vacation days from 911 Operators who were refusing to work four overtime hours after a 12-hour shift, sparking protest from District Council 37 Local 1549, whose president said that overtime was "out of control."
Captain Donald Church is reportedly being probed by the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau after the incident, where he ordered 20 Operators back to their work stations after they threatened to walk out because they were being overworked.
"If you don't return to your positions by the time I count to five, I'm going to take three (vacation) days from each of you," he said, according to a Daily News story. He then counted down from five; the workers returned to their desks at "one."
Caused by Short-Staffing
Local 1549 has recently protested to raise awareness of 911 Operators being overworked, saying a mix of low staffing levels and training to implement a new system means that employees sometimes have to work three overtime shifts a week just to keep things up and running.
Another incident (involving a different employee) occurred on July 4, when 911 Operators were ordered to work overtime because of excessive absences on the holiday.
A complaint was filed about one NYPD commander's behavior—he allegedly yelled at an Operator and intimidated the employee—and is being investigated.
"It's out of control. These workers are working hard, doing the best they can," Local 1549 President Eddie Rodriguez said in a phone interview. "We might have to go to court and do what we have to do, because they don't care about people's lives."
Union Defends Captain
Mr. Church is declining to comment, but his union president, Roy Richter of the Captains Endowment Association, said in a statement, "Captain Church is a uniformed police commander who acted professionally and responsibly in directing emergency call centers be staffed with available personnel."
Local 1549 Vice President Alma Roper said that she met with the NYPD on July 11 about the ongoing problems of excessive overtime, but was not convinced any progress had been made.
"We have members that have passed out on the job; one was dehydrated and was in the hospital for three days. There's a horrific situation going on at 911," she said in a phone interview. "I don't have any trust in the NYPD anymore. I'm so disappointed in my meetings with them. They come back and tell us they have no recourse to make this go away, and I don't think they care."
The meeting was scheduled "to try and get some relief, some good news about all this overtime, but when I left that meeting yesterday, I didn't feel good about it at all," she continued.
Roberts on the Case
She pledged that the union would continue to hammer the NYPD on overtime, however, saying that DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts was also applying pressure on the issue.
"It's going to take these Operators working hard, unfortunately, but it's going to get done," Ms. Roper said. "We're going to get the members that we need to relieve these Operators of all this overtime."
Up Against The Wall, America! Sen. Schumer Touts NYPD Chief Kelly For Next Head Of Homeland Security
By Unnamed Author(s) — Monday, July 15th, 2013; 'Techdirt.Com' / Sunnyvale, CA
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
From the if-anyone-has-any-reason-why-these-two-should-not-be-joined... dept
Janet Napolitano is leaving her post as the head of the DHS and leaving a vacancy that some (particularly Sen. Chuck Schumer) think would be best filled by Ray "Stop and Frisk" Kelly. (Or, if you prefer, Ray "Privacy Is Off the Table" Kelly.)
This isn't a particularly surprising selection. Schumer's home state is New York and picking Kelly is sort of a no-brainer. As Mike Riggs at Reason points out, the case for Kelly as head of the DHS goes all the way back to 2008, when national security insiders floated the suggestion.
Unfortunately for fans of civil liberties, adding Ray Kelly to the DHS takes a bad thing and makes it worse.
First off, there's the NYPD's infamous stop and frisk program, which has targeted minority youths almost exclusively. Putting Kelly in charge of Homeland Security is just asking for a national rollout of stop and frisk, bringing the fun of being a minority in New York City to citizens around the country. There's no dissuading Kelly (or Commander in Chief of the "seventh largest military in the world," Mayor Bloomberg) of its effectiveness, even if the numbers don't back up their claims.
Kelly also famously announced that "privacy is off the table" as a result of the Boston bombing. Kelly has no qualms about expanding law enforcement surveillance networks, no matter how unpopular it is with the public. He has expressed his admiration for London's network of cameras, which he hopes to emulate in New York City. The NYPD has taken steps towards all-encompassing surveillance aided by (oddly enough) Microsoft. Take that set of ideals and expand it nationwide.
Despite his willingness to invade everyone else's privacy, Kelly's own police force is positively opaque when it comes to transparency. FOIA requests are routinely stonewalled when not being actively battled in courtrooms, much to the dismay of taxpayers' wallets.
The one thing Kelly does feel government/law enforcement/intelligence agencies should be open about is how much spying they're planning on doing. His only reaction to the NSA leaks was dismay at the fact that the NSA didn't just tell Americans they're going to be spied on.
"I don't think it ever should have been made secret," Kelly said yesterday, breaking ranks with other US law-enforcement officials. "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 it goes to the government. I think the public can understand that. I see no reason why that program was placed in the secret category.
There's Kelly's version of transparency: telling the public how its privacy is going to be violated. If nothing else, Kelly's theoretical term as the head of the DHS would result in a brave, new world of confrontational transparency -- top-down blasts of invasive programs, delivered in a like-it-or-leave-it tone that leaves no room for debate or discussion.
Beyond this, we also have the NYPD's pitiable record of constitutional violations when it comes to its joint anti-terrorist efforts with the FBI. Plenty of spying, surveillance and privacy violations. Very little in the way of actual terrorists rounded up.
So, here's a guy with a track record that features a combination of wholesale civil liberties violations and an aversion to any form of accountability. Kelly has proven he's willing to alienate constituents in pursuit of an all-encompassing police/surveillance presence. He's also made it clear that he unreservedly buys into the "because terrorism" rhetoric.
Unfortunately for America, every listed argument against Kelly as head of the DHS is a point for him under the current administration. The boundless expansion of Bush's domestic surveillance under Obama has laid the perfect foundation for a man who believes citizens should be seen and heard -- at all times. If the Constitution is holding back a preferred program, there's always the secret court ready to provide secret interpretations of existing laws, thus assuring that everything is properly overseen and above board.
Kelly isn't necessarily a "yes man," but he's a perfect fit for an agency that has steadily trampled on the Constitution since its formation. The "welcomed debate" on privacy vs. security would become little more than a faint memory. Kelly's arrival would signal an end to the discussion no one in Washington really wants to have. There are precious few people who believe the DHS and its accompanying agencies weren't invasive enough, but adding Kelly to the mix should take that number down to zero.
It's Kelly's world. You're all just
living in it "persons of interest."
William Flanagan, ex-Nassau police official, sentenced to 60 days in jail
By ANN GIVENS — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'New York Newsday' / Melville, L.I.
Former Nassau police Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan, who was convicted of misusing his position to help stop his friend's son from being arrested, was sentenced Monday to 60 days in jail.
Flanagan, 56, received his sentence, which also included three months of community service, in a standing-room-only court packed with supporters. He left the Mineola courtroom to huge applause.
After the proceeding, a state appellate court stayed his jail sentence pending an appeal.
"Without a jail component, the message to the public will be that these crimes are not serious," State Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen said before sentencing Flanagan. Cohen said Flanagan had never admitted criminal responsibility, nor shown "any remorse, nor apologized to the department or the public" for his "breach of trust."
Flanagan's lawyer, Bruce Barket of Garden City, said outside court it was unfair for the judge to expect Flanagan to express remorse. Barket has said Flanagan has a strong case for appeal. He submitted about 150 letters written on Flanagan's behalf to Cohen, including one from former Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey and another from Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), both of whom attended the sentencing.
"He's showed no remorse because he'd done nothing wrong," Barket said outside court. "He admitted no guilt because he is not guilty."
In February, a Nassau jury found Flanagan guilty of misdemeanor official misconduct and conspiracy charges -- but not guilty of felony receiving an award for official misconduct.
Prosecutors say Flanagan improperly used his influence to get police to return electronics equipment to John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in 2009 after Zachary Parker, son of police benefactor Gary Parker, stole it. Prosecutors said Flanagan believed the school could be persuaded not to pursue charges against Parker once the equipment had been returned.
Gary Parker repaid the favor by giving Flanagan two $100 gift cards to a Great Neck restaurant and a state-of-the-art flashlight, prosecutor Bernadette Ford said in her summation at trial.
Zachary Parker was never arrested by police, but prosecutors later presented his case to a grand jury, which indicted him. He pleaded guilty to burglary charges and is serving 1 to 3 years in prison.
Ford said Monday that Flanagan, whose annual salary was $224,929 when he retired in February 2012, was a role model, and his subordinates were likely to follow his lead.
"They must know that there is much more at stake than losing their jobs and becoming embarrassed," Ford said as she asked the judge to sentence Flanagan to a year in jail.
Two other retired police officials, Deputy Chief of Patrol John Hunter and Seventh Precinct Squad Deputy Supervisor Alan Sharpe, also were charged in the case. Sharpe awaits trial on misdemeanor charges. Hunter pleaded guilty in May to misdemeanor official misconduct and was sentenced to probation. Each, including Flanagan, will receive a pension.
In a tearful statement before he was sentenced, Flanagan said he respects the jury's verdict and did not dispute the facts of the case. But he said he would have helped anyone, not just his buddy's son, and he did not break the law.
"At no time did I violate my duty," Flanagan said. "I would have made the same inquiries regardless of who had asked."
At trial, Barket argued it was not illegal for police to return stolen property to the owner, and there was no evidence Flanagan asked anyone not to arrest Zachary Parker.
Sagaponack to consider its own police department
By DAVID M. SCHWARTZ — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'New York Newsday' / Melville, L.I.
The tiny Hamptons village of Sagaponack will consider splitting away from the Southampton Police Department to either form its own force or contract with another department, as officials complained Monday that they haven't received enough police protection for what they pay.
The village pays about $2.3 million a year to the town for police protection -- about 10 percent of the larger town police department's annual budget.
The village of 700 mostly second homes gets one seasonal officer between May and September assigned to it, but is otherwise part of a larger area that is patrolled by a car.
Mayor Donald Louchheim said his calculations found the village can save money by doing its own policing.
"In the worst-case scenario, we could save a half million dollars a year. In the best-case scenario, we could save $1 million a year," he said. Police protection is the largest part of Sagaponack's budget.
But beyond costs, Louchheim said he wants a different type of policing. "What happens in most villages -- community policing," he said. "Where officers get out of their cars and walk around."
He said Southampton's understaffed force is busy elsewhere on more serious crimes, leaving less time for the quality-of-life issues that Sagaponack residents care about.
"Even if they're willing to provide the manpower, can they provide that kind of policing?" he asked.
The area used to be almost exclusively potato fields, but has become one of the wealthiest areas in the Hamptons. The village, which the U.S. Census put at a full-time population of 311 in 2010, was incorporated in 2005.
The village's June police report consisted of 84 traffic stops in June and one reported robbery, of a construction site.
Former Southampton Town police chief William Wilson said he has prepared cost estimates for a new village police department. Wilson, who retired from the Southampton Police Department last year after a contentious 18 months as chief, said he'd be interested in being Sagaponack police chief if it's offered to him.
Louchheim said it's premature to discuss who the next chief might be.
The village will hold a meeting for residents on Aug. 10. Village trustees asked that Southampton Police Chief Robert Pearce attend. Pearce, as well as Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, did not return calls Monday.
Louchheim said a new department, if the village moves forward, could be in effect by Jan. 1, 2014.
The issue comes at a time when other village police departments are struggling with budgets. In Sag Harbor, that village's police staffing was a major campaign issue in the local election.
Lee Foster, Sagaponack's deputy mayor, said calling the public meeting comes after more than two years of complaints about police protection and costs.
New York State
Retired Cops Given Exemption >From Gun Magazine Reduction
By MARK TOOR — Monday, July 8th, 2013 'The Chief / Civil Service Leader'
Governor Cuomo signed into law July 8 a bill supported by police unions that would exempt retired officers from a rule that would have barred many of them from carrying the weapons they used while on active duty.
"It was a struggle, but thanks to the hard work of Sen. Martin Golden, the bill was passed," said Michael J. Palladino, president of both the Detectives Endowment Association and the New York State Association of PBAs. "I think the Legislature saw that there's a distinction between civilian license-holders and retired cops."
Limits Magazine Size
The right to carry was threatened by the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, championed by Mr. Cuomo, which among other things forbids the possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The maximum number of rounds it says can be loaded into a magazine is seven. Standard weapons used by law-enforcement officers use magazines holding up to 15 rounds.
The law was drafted in a back room by Mr. Cuomo and a handful of aides and lawmakers. The Legislature passed it in two days. In the Governor's haste to have New York become the first state to pass more-restrictive gun laws after the massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school last December, no one noticed that the usual clause in firearms bills exempting active and retired police officers had been left out.
The bill Mr. Cuomo signed last week would allow a retired New York or Federal law-enforcement officer to possess "large-capacity ammunition-feeding devices issued to or purchased by such officer in the course of his or her official duties." Possession of assault weapons is permissible under the same conditions.
'Can Keep NYPD Weapon'
In a letter to his members, Captains Endowment Association President Roy Richter said the law signed by Mr. Cuomo "provides a limited exemption for retired police officers to provisions of the SAFE Act that ban assault weapons and handgun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition. What this law does is allow you to continue to possess the service weapon, or equivalent, that you retired from the New York City Police Department with—regardless of the capacity of the magazine."
In order to be eligible, officers must report all guns on their pistol license within 60 days of retirement, he wrote.
PBA: Grateful for Change
"We have been lobbying for this change since the new gun-control laws were first enacted," Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said in a statement. "We've worked very hard with the Governor and the Legislature to correct the legislation in this regard and we're grateful that we've been successful."
Mr. Golden, a retired NYPD officer, sponsored the bill and also worked hard to push it through the Senate, where it initially got held up by members who wanted to see the SAFE Act repealed. It passed just before the session ended in June. The Assembly passed the bill in May.
Mr. Cuomo said on a radio program just after the bill was passed that he would enact it into law. "I'd be prepared to sign it because I supported it earlier," he said, adding that he was in favor of it when the issue first came up during budget negotiations, but the Senate declined to make it part of the budget.
NY offers $1M for police to video interrogations
By Unnamed Author(s) (The Associated Press) — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013; 6:46 a.m. EDT
ALBANY — New York officials are making $1 million available to help police agencies expand the use of video equipment for recording interrogations of suspects.
State criminal justice officials say 345 agencies in 58 of New York's 62 counties currently videotape at least some interrogations, which are considered more effective in both documenting confessions and preventing wrongful convictions than relying on officer accounts of questioning.
Prosecutors say they also help prevent false accusations of police coercion.
The funds will expand the practice to agencies in Hamilton, Seneca, Schoharie and Tioga counties.
The grants from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services are for buying and installation of video recording equipment for police departments and sheriffs' offices. The money can also be spent to upgrade older equipment to make sure it works properly.
Stand Your Ground Laws Under Scrutiny Post-Zimmerman Verdict
By Liz Halloran — Monday, July 15th, 2013; 5:45 p.m. 'NPR News' / Washington, DC
George Zimmerman's defense team didn't invoke Florida's "stand your ground" defense in winning his acquittal of murder in last year's shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
But the specter of the 2005 law loomed, inescapably, over the proceedings.
It was inevitable that the racially fraught trial would again catapult Florida's law — which extends protections for the use of deadly force far beyond the traditional bounds of one's home — as well as those in 21-plus states with similar self-defense measures into the nation's consciousness.
"This case says so much — shows us so much — about race, fear, crime, media, gun laws, prosecutorial discretion, minimum mandatory sentences, public trials," says H. Scott Fingerhut of the Florida International University College of Law.
What it doesn't do, however, is tell us much about the path forward for stand your ground laws.
"The case wasn't decided on a stand your ground basis," says University of Florida law professor Joseph Little. "So there's not much to say about what the Zimmerman case tells us about the stand your ground law."
The Big But
There's one big but, however, and that's in Florida, where Trayvon Martin's family is said to be considering a civil case against Zimmerman. (The U.S. Department of Justice is also undertaking a review of evidence in the case.)
In a civil proceeding against Zimmerman, the Martin family would have the opportunity to challenge a central, and controversial, section of Florida's stand your ground statute.
The section is titled, "Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force."
Indeed, the section provides the opportunity for just that: a path to pretrial immunity for potential defendants who can prove in a hearing before a judge that a "preponderance of evidence" shows that their deadly or potentially deadly actions fell into the category of reasonable self-defense.
Zimmerman did not ask for an immunity hearing before his criminal trial, but that does not preclude him from requesting one if he faces a civil trial, says associate law professor Tamara Rice Lave of the University of Miami's School of Law.
At a pretrial immunity hearing, Lave says, Zimmerman would have to show a preponderance of evidence, quantified as a 51 percent burden, that he acted lawfully under the state's stand your ground statute.
Zimmerman likely didn't ask for an immunity hearing before his criminal case, she said, because he would have had the burden to prove he acted lawfully.
"When he went to trial, it was the prosecutor's burden to prove he didn't act in lawful self-defense," she said, adding: The prosecutor also had to prove to a jury Zimmerman's guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt," a far higher bar to clear than proving a "preponderance of evidence."
The Constitutional Challenge
Little, the University of Florida law professor, argues that the immunity section of Florida law is ripe for a constitutional challenge — and that Trayvon Martin's family could mount that challenge in a civil proceeding.
The Legislature, he argues, in establishing the immunity hearing, has taken from the courts power invested in them since the state's 1968 constitution was written.
"The Legislature did not prove an overpowering public necessity for what it did, which the constitution requires," he said. "I think there's an argument to be made in a civil setting that this immunity should be rendered unconstitutional."
While Florida continues to grapple with its law, the race to adopt stand your ground-type legislation advanced by the National Rifle Association and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, appears to have slowed since Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin.
ALEC, facing a backlash last year from its corporate supporters, abandoned its nationwide efforts to push stand your ground laws and other non-economic policy legislation.
When asked Monday about ALEC's current position, Bill Meierling, senior director of public affairs at the organization, emailed us this response:
"The American Legislative Exchange Council does not support Stand Your Ground policies. The Council focuses solely on pro-growth, economic issues to increase opportunity for all Americans."
For now, all eyes remain on Florida, where stand your ground is still standing, but where we may get a glimpse of how such laws there, and nationally, hold up under intensifying scrutiny — legal and otherwise.
F.B.I. (Boston Office Corruption and Sleaze)
FBI brass had met in D.C. to talk about Bulger
By Shelley Murphy and Milton J. Valencia — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'The Boston Globe' / Boston, MA
Top FBI supervisors held a meeting at the bureau's headquarters in Washington, D.C., in May 1982 to decide what to do after the killing of a cooperating witness who had implicated James "Whitey" Bulger and his partner in an Oklahoma murder, according to testimony in Bulger's racketeering trial in federal court Monday.
Retired FBI agent Gerald J. Montanari told jurors that FBI agents from Boston, Miami, and Oklahoma met with supervisors to discuss "concerns that two high-level informants were suspects" in the Oklahoma murder of businessman Roger Wheeler. Moreover, retired FBI agent H. Paul Rico, who had still been working undercover for the bureau in a high-profile investigation, was also involved, the cooperating witness told authorities.
The meeting came two weeks after Bulger allegedly gunned down the witness, Edward "Brian" Halloran and Michael Donahue, after learning that Halloran had been giving the FBI information about the Oklahoma murder. Donahue was an innocent bystander who was giving Halloran a ride home.
Montanari testified Monday that he wanted the meeting "to bring the supervisors in Washington up to date" with his concerns that Bulger, a top informant in Boston, had just killed Halloran.
But even after Montanari raised his concerns, the FBI continued to use the gangster and his partner, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi as top-
echelon informants, according to Montanari's testimony Monday.
"It was recommended that informants remain open in the Boston Division until substantiated information is received indicating that they should be closed," Robert Fitzpatrick, an assistant special agent in charge in Boston, wrote to his supervisor after the meeting on May 25, 1982.
The Washington meeting was attended by top supervisors including Sean McWeeney, who was in charge of the bureau's organized crime section. After the meeting, FBI supervisors ordered Boston agents to share Halloran's account of Wheeler's killing with Oklahoma investigators, who had been asking for assistance.
Montanari's testimony provided an overview of Halloran's cooperation with the FBI, which prosecutors say ultimately led to his death.
Bulger's former associate, Kevin Weeks, who said he served as lookout in the murder of Halloran, has testified that Bulger told him that he killed Halloran after he learned from his FBI handler, John J. Connolly Jr., that Halloran was talking to the FBI.
Halloran, a Winter Hill Gang associate, began cooperating in January 1982 after he was charged in state court with the slaying of George Pappas inside the Four Seas Restaurant in Boston's Chinatown.
Seeking a deal in his case, Halloran offered to provide information and testify against Bulger and Flemmi for their crimes, including the killing of Wheeler. He told the FBI that his close friend John Callahan, a Boston businessman who fraternized with organized crime figures and was a former president of World Jai Alai, had asked him to help Bulger, Flemmi, and John Martorano kill Wheeler, but that he did not want to get involved. Halloran told the FBI that Callahan later told him that Bulger's crew had done the killing.
Martorano testified earlier that Callahan asked him to kill Wheeler because he feared Wheeler would learn he was skimming profits from World Jai Alai, and that Bulger and Flemmi sanctioned the hit. Callahan also had a plan to take over the business and had promised payments to the Winter Hill Gang.
According to Halloran's account, Callahan told him that Rico would help them set up the murder. Rico was charged in 2003 in Wheeler's death but died while awaiting trial.
Montanari said Halloran offered to wear a wire, to see if he could get Callahan to talk about the killing. Montanari said that Halloran began "waffling" and refused to take a polygraph. He also did not want to go into the Witness Protection Program, though he had said he feared for his safety.
"He said if either Bulger or Flemmi had any indication he was cooperating, they would go to the extreme, even if it meant killing innocent bystanders or his family," he said.
Also Monday, Martorano's former girlfriend testified that she received money from Bulger's crew while she and Martorano were living in Florida while he was a fugitive.
Patricia (Lytle) Carlson, 52, originally from Somerville, said she was 18 when she fled in the 1970s with Martorano, 20 years her senior. She said she initially thought they were going on vacation, though she stayed with him during his 16 years in hiding, and had a son with him.
Martorano was arrested in Florida in January 1995. The next year, while he was in jail awaiting trial, according to Carlson, an associate of Flemmi's dropped $10,000 off at her mother's house, which Carlson used for living expenses. Former Bulger associate Kevin Weeks testified earlier that the money came from Bulger.
During cross-examination by Bulger's lawyer, Hank Brennan, Carlson admitted that she helped Martorano while he was a fugitive, and lied to a grand jury in 1995, yet never faced any charges, unlike Bulger's girlfriend, Catherine Greig, who is serving eight years in prison for helping him evade capture for 16 years.
Chicago police start using facial-recognition software to arrest suspects
By Unnamed Author(s) — Monday, July 15th, 2013; 9:29 p.m. 'RT News'
Police officers in Chicago, Illinois can remotely access video shot from any of the city's 24,000 closed-circuit television cameras, and they are already using that ability to nab suspects who thought they could outsmart surveillance.
According to a recent Chicago Sun-Time article by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Frank Main, police officers in the Windy City recently issued their first arrest stemming from the use of space-age facial-recognition technology coupled with thousands of cameras that collect live video in real-time at all hours of the day.
Pierre Martin, 34, was arrested on May 2 and charged with armed robbery in connection with two incidents from earlier this year. During one of those events, a video camera owned by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and wired to the city's three detective branches and the Criminal Information Prevention Center at police headquarters was rolling when Martin allegedly encountered his victim.
Months later, investigators were able to use the footage recorded using the CTA cameras and comb through a database of 4.5 million criminal booking shots in order to identify Martin as a person of interest. He is the first individual to be picked up by the CPD using the facial-recognition technology, but only one month after a city-wide roll-out he is likely to not be the last.
The Transportation Security Administration has given the CTA a $5.4 million grant to aid with the program, and that money has been used to update an already impressive arsenal of city-licensed surveillance cameras to run in tandem with NeoFace, a high-tech analysis program used by various governments and law enforcement agencies around the globe to grab biometric data off of an image and match it to another.
According to an April 2013 press release from NeoFace's parent company, NEC Corporation of America, NeoFace exemplifies "facial recognition as an effective and non-intrusive tool for identification," and has been deployed more than 200 times across 30 countries in only a few short years. Its use in Chicago is one of the latest, however, and the arrest of one individual already signals that other cities may follow suit.
"This was our first success," Chicago Police Cmdr. Jonathan Lewin told the Sun-Times, adding, "as we pick up our training, you will see ongoing successes."
Currently, Chicago cops can only rely on pre-recorded footage, with the system configured to avoid real-time surveillance. "It's only post-event," Lewin told the Sun-Times. But as similar programs become introduced elsewhere, the capabilities of systems like NeoFace are likely to put the activity of anyone, anywhere on the radar of authorities.
RT reported last week that the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC feeds footage from over 150 speed cameras, 50 red light lenses and more than 120 other closed-circuit television cams across the city to special analysis centers where local investigators can try to identify people caught on film breaking the law after the fact. One lawmaker likely to pursue an opportunity to run for DC mayor next year told the Washington Times that he wants officers everywhere to be able to monitor those cameras in real-time, and intends on fighting for that ability as Election Day approaches. Civil liberty advocates in Chicago, DC and elsewhere aren't impressed, however, and warn that systems such as NeoFace could let police profile anyone of their choosing.
"Given Chicago's history of unlawful political surveillance," Harvey Gross man of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois said in 2011, "it is critical that appropriate controls be put in place to rein in these powerful and pervasive surveillance cameras now available to law enforcement throughout the city."
"The ubiquity and technological reach of Chicago's surveillance camera system present a fundamental threat to the privacy and First Amendment rights of all persons in Chicago," added ACLU of Illinois senior staff counsel Adam Schwartz in a statement at the time. "The current mayor and other city officials have said that their goal is to place a camera on every corner, blanketing the entire city in an integrated fashion. If that goal is achieved, the lives of residents of Chicago will be changed. We will be forced to make decisions about where to go and when with the knowledge that all of our actions can be watched and recorded."
Two years down the road, those cameras are quickly growing in number and federal aid courtesy of the TSA is only helping speed up the process of putting an eye in the sky on every street block.
Lewin, the CPD commander that spokes to the Sun-Times for this week's article, said, "There will absolutely no random surveillance — and facial recognition—of subjects in the public way." Meanwhile, though, federal officers are investigating new ways to help identify anyone, anywhere using a database that aims to contain biometric information on every adult in the country. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has announced plans to have a database of 14 million photographs on file by next year when it rolls out its Next Generation Identification system, which will use surveillance camera clips and other footage to match suspects almost instantaneously up with a pool of persons derived from state DMV photo-shoots and other government-owned images. Both the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center have sued the FBI in hopes of learning more about the NGI program before its intended roll-out in 2014.
New Details Reveal How Colorado Mass Killer Got His Ammo
By Ted Gest — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'The John Jay College of Criminal Justice Crime & Justice News' / Washington, DC
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigates how mass murderer James Holmes managed to accumulate an arsenal of more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition before he killed 12 and wounded 58 at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater last July. The answer appeared to be an online company in St. Louis, a detail widely reported one year ago. But recently released search warrants and additional reporting have shed new light on the path traveled by those thousands of rounds.
The trail leads to Knoxville, Tenn., and on to Atlanta, to a secretive 4-year-old company considered to be among the nation's top online ammunition dealers. Its founders — a pair of former real estate developers — sell bullets using far-flung P.O. boxes, different corporate identities and online marketing tactics that have offended even some firearm enthusiasts. The paper says the story of the transaction is a journey into the divisive debate over gun violence, about how guns and ammo flow through the nation and the companies that profit along the way.
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Drug Kingpin Is Captured in Mexico Near Border
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD — Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 'The New York Times'
MEXICO CITY — The leader of one of Mexico's most violent and feared drug organizations, the Zetas, was captured Monday in a city near the Texas border, an emphatic retort from the new government to questions over whether it would go after top organized crime leaders.
The man, Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, 40, who goes by the nickname Z-40 and is one of the most wanted people on both sides of the border, was detained by Mexican marines Monday morning, Mexican officials said at a news conference Monday night.
He was detained about 3:45 a.m., without a shot being fired, as he traveled in a pickup truck near Nuevo Laredo, opposite Laredo, Texas, with two other men who were also detained, the officials said, adding that the marines seized $2 million in cash and weapons.
Mr. Treviño was ranked among the most ruthless crime bosses, wanted for murder, organized crime, and torture; he has been linked to the killing and disappearance of 265 migrants in northeastern Mexico, including 72 found dead in August 2010.
He also faces drug and gun charges in the United States, which has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.
Eduardo Sánchez, the spokesman on security matters for the Mexican government, declined to say what role the United States played in the capture, though American law enforcement tips have often been behind high-profile arrests.
An American law enforcement official declined to provide details, deferring to the Mexican government announcement of the arrest, which was first reported by The Dallas Morning News on its Web site.
The Zetas operate primarily in Mexico, but their drug trafficking and organized crime violence have spread to other countries, and they have been known to recruit members in Texas and even to launder money through the quarter-horse industry in the United States.
Started by former soldiers and once the enforcement arm of another large cartel, the gang is known in Mexico for its brutality, and its members' calling card is often beheaded victims, body parts on highways and bodies hanged from bridges.
Mr. Treviño is the highest-ranking and most-sought-after drug capo arrested by the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, whose aides had questioned the so-called kingpin strategy of his predecessor, which had emphasized high-profile arrests. The leadership voids, battles for turf and confrontations with Mexican forces all sent violence soaring in the past several years, with tens of thousands dead or missing.
The new government had scoffed at the deep level of involvement of American law enforcement and security agencies in Mexico and placed new limits on their access, causing some American officials and analysts to wonder whether it would be deeply committed to confronting the drug gangs. Michele M. Leonhart, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, visited Mexico on Friday, and the leaders of Mexico's army and navy are visiting Washington to forge closer ties.
The arrest will probably give doubters some hope, experts said.
"The success of the effort is likely to help build trust after a period of rocky relations on public security issues," said Andrew Selee, a Mexico scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.
Some analysts said the arrest could lead to further fragmentation of the gangs, which would reduce their ability to threaten state authority but might uncork further waves of violence.
"This takedown will boost Peña Nieto several points in the polls, even as he has spurned talking about violence and the narco war," said George W. Grayson, a professor at the College of William and Mary who has written extensively on the drug gangs. "They fragment into 'cartelitos,' which, while dangerous, do not pose a threat to state security."
Mr. Treviño had been the second in command until the Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano was killed in a battle with Mexican marines in October.
His body was carted off by armed men from a funeral home shortly afterward in an episode that turned triumph into embarrassment for Mexico's president at the time, Felipe Calderón, whose tenure was marked by the killing or arrest of several cartel leaders except the most elusive: Joaquín Guzmán, known as El Chapo, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, considered the largest and most powerful supplier of cocaine to the United States.
At his peak, Mr. Treviño was widely feared and credited with helping to give the Zetas gang its reputation while transforming it from a hit squad to a mushrooming transnational criminal organization.
"He had all of Mexico and a lot of Central America under his tentacles," said Art Fontes, a recently retired F.B.I. agent who was assigned to Mexico until late last year and is now a security consultant. "He was feared everywhere he went."
In one of the organization's bolder moves across the border, Mr. Treviño used a brother in the United States to launder tens of millions of dollars in drug proceeds by buying and selling expensive American quarter horses. José Treviño, the kingpin's older brother, was convicted this year of running the business, whose operations were first reported by The New York Times.
But a number of drug war analysts have said that Mr. Guzmán's cartel, an older, more established organization less prone to shocking violence, was beginning to overtake the Zetas, the younger, less disciplined outfit that branched out more into extortion, kidnapping and migrant smuggling.
Mexican law enforcement has arrested some of the Zetas' most important leaders, including several of them just before Mr. Calderón's term ended in December.
Insight Crime, a news and analysis Web site that closely tracks drug crime in the Americas, has reported that a Zetas splinter group called Los Legionarios emerged last year "with the express purpose of waging war against Z-40 and his organization."
Ginger Thompson contributed reporting from New York.