Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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Operator of Department Van and Alleged ‘Serial Yaker’: 88th Precinct P.O. Paula Medrano
NYPD cop was on cellphone when she hit, killed man with van: witnesses
Onlookers say they saw the cop on her phone while driving onto Hooper St. just under the elevated train tracks in Williamsburg. It was then that Felix Coss, 61, was crossing Broadway and was hit by the van.
By Mark Morales — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
The NYPD cop who ran over and killed a teacher with her police van in Brooklyn on Saturday was gabbing on her cellphone, witnesses said.
Onlookers say they saw the policewoman on her phone while turning onto Hooper St. just under the elevated train tracks in Williamsburg.
It was then that Felix Coss, 61, was crossing Broadway and was hit by the van.
“She had a cellphone to her right ear,” said a witness on the scene. “She hit him. When she hit him, he fell on the floor and cracked his head open.”
It was unclear if the cop in the van was responding to an emergency. An NYPD spokesman said the matter was under investigation.
Brooklyn Teacher Fatally Hit By Cop Driving on Cell Phone, Sources Say
By Murray Weiss and Gustavo Solis — Monday, July 8th, 2013; 5:22 p.m. EDT ‘DNAinfo New York.Com News’ / New York, NY
WILLIAMSBURG — The NYPD officer at the wheel of a police van that hit and killed a middle school teacher Saturday was seen talking on her cell phone during the accident, police sources said.
Officer Paula Medrano, who was assigned to the 88th Precinct, was making a left turn onto Broadway from Hooper Street at 4:30 p.m. Saturday when she struck Felix Coss, 61, a Spanish teacher at a charter school who was just a few blocks from home.
Driving while talking on a cell phone is illegal in New York, punishable by a maximum $100 fine and a five-point penalty on the driver's license.
After eyewitnesses told investigators that they saw Medrano talking on her cell phone at the time of the crash, officers from the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau asked her to hand it over, sources said.
Medrano, who was wearing civilian clothes at the time of the crash, refused, and investigators have subpoenaed the records, law enforcement sources said. She had not been charged as of Monday afternoon.
“It is a horrible accident,” a law enforcement source previously told DNAinfo New York.
Coss, who taught at the Beginning with Children charter school, was a few blocks away from his apartment on Hewes Street when he was stuck.
Both Coss and Medrano had the green light but the van did not yield to the pedestrian, police said. The officer was not responding to an emergency at the time of the crash, police said.
The impact knocked Coss over and his head hit the pavement. He was rushed to Bellevue Hospital and declared dead on arrival, police said.
Sources said that cops have surveillance video of the accident, but the driver in the van cannot be seen on the tape.
Heartbroken colleagues remembered Coss as a talented teacher adored by students and respected by teachers. A viewing service for Coss will be held Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ortiz Funeral Home on 201 Havemeyer Street.
"He was the most generous person," Gigi Beaumont, who knew Coss for eight years, said. "He would work past 3 o'clock to make sure that his lessons were ready."
Coss was proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and passionate about teaching Spanish. He took time off because of an illness last year and students would be very excited whenever he visited, Beaumont said.
Neighbors at the Hewes Street building where he lived said he was a friendly man who stopped to say "hi" to residents as he walked up the stairs but stayed out of people's business.
“I heard his name during church yesterday and knocked on his door as soon as I came home,” said his neighbor, who declined to give her name. “But no one answered.”
Killer cop ‘cell’ twist
By Unnamed Author(s) — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
Authorities are investigating whether an NYPD cop was on her cellphone when her marked police van fatally struck a pedestrian in Williamsburg over the weekend, law-enforcement sources said yesterday.
The victim, Feliz Coss, a 61-year-old Spanish teacher, had the right of way in the crosswalk when he was struck by the van at Broadway and Hooper Avenue in Brooklyn at around 4:30 p.m. Saturday, sources said.
Police Officer Paula Mebrano, 45, was behind the wheel of the van, making a left-hand turn from Hooper onto Broadway, when she hit Coss.
She never saw him, sources said.
A witness later told cops that Mebrano was on the phone when the accident occurred.
Investigators with the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau will be subpoenaing Mebrano’s cellphone records as part of the probe, according to the sources.
Coss, a teacher at the Beginning with Children Charter School, lived near the accident scene.
He was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital.
Kelly’s Panel Reports
Find NYPD Isn’t Vigilant Against Stat Manipulation
By MARK TOOR — Monday, July 8th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
The NYPD’s crime-reporting program “is indeed robust and professional,” attorney David N. Kelley said July 2 in announcing the results of a long-awaited independent review, “and I would not dispute those who say it’s the most robust in the country,” even as his report unearthed some head-scratching omissions.
In a press conference at Police Headquarters, Mr. Kelley—a former U.S. Attorney—noted that “no reported crime rate is going to be fixed with absolute certainty.” Factors that can cause error, he said, include the failure of some victims to report crimes, clerical mistakes in counting and classifying offenses, subjectivity among well-meaning officers who may classify the same crime in different ways, and manipulation by police officers seeking to affect the statistics.
Signs of Cooking Stats
Concerns over manipulation were apparently what sparked the independent review. Based on anecdotal reports and tapes made surreptitiously by police officers, a picture emerged in the past few years of a department where some supervisors used eBay to downgrade the value of stolen items to make the theft a misdemeanor rather than a felony, threw complainants out of station houses or put up policies that made it difficult for people to report crimes. Some officers in the street also downgraded crimes or simply refused to accept reports of them.
A Detective in Manhattan’s 33rd Precinct reported that uniformed bosses had improperly labeled six sexual assaults as criminal trespass with the goal of keeping felony rape statistics down. That allowed a lone rapist to continue a six-month spree until he was caught in the act.
Critics charged that such manipulation resulted from demands by top commanders at the department’s crime-reporting Compstat meetings—and ultimately from Mayor Bloomberg—looking for constant declines in crime figures month after month, year after year. In January 2011, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly appointed three private attorneys with prosecutorial backgrounds—Mr. Kelley, Sharon L. McCarthy and Robert Morvillo, who died at the end of that year—to review the Compstat auditing process.
Confirms Misdeeds At 81st
Mr. Kelley said the only instance of widespread manipulation that he and Ms. McCarthy found had already been widely reported. In the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn, Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft taped his bosses demanding illegal arrests and discouraging people from refusing to take crime reports. The precinct commander was replaced and an internal NYPD review found Mr. Schoolcraft justified, but he has been suspended without pay since 2010. He is suing the city, charging that among other things his bosses had him unjustly confined to the Jamaica Hospital psychiatric ward for nearly a week.
But a longtime critic of the way the NYPD employs Compstat, John Jay College Professor Emeritus Eli Silverman, said that based on his own studies of the department, “I don’t find that believable” that there was only one major case of manipulation. He said a close reading of the report shows “the system is full of loopholes” that allow crimes to be downgraded.
Mr. Silverman, who has advised police departments around the world, and his research partner John Eterno, a retired NYPD Captain who teaches at Molloy College, conducted a study of 2,000 retired police officers in all ranks that found that the department’s heavy emphasis on numbers has caused officers to exaggerate the decline in crime by manipulating reports of it. In 2012, the pair published a book about their conclusions, “The Crime Numbers Game: Management by Manipulation.”
In an interview with THE CHIEF-LEADER, he pointed to sections of the report he says echo criticisms he and Mr. Eterno have made.
While conceding that Compstat can be “an extremely useful tool,” the report says that “the focus of the NYPD and the general public on the year-over-year declines in crime as reported by the NYPD can, if overemphasized, serve to undermine the integrity of the statistics and compromise Compstat as an effective law-enforcement tool.”
“That’s exactly what we’ve been saying for years,” Mr. Silverman said.
“The documentation does not reflect that [the NYPD Quality Assurance Division] adequately pursues patterns that may indicate downgrading practices by a precinct or particular officers,” the report said. “...[T]he patterns of misclassified reports support in some measure the anecdotal accounts of downgrading of certain types of incidents, including that certain types of incidents may be downgraded as a matter of practice in some precincts...
[T]he persistence of ‘egregious’ errors in certain precincts...may be construed to support the conclusion that complaint reports are not meaningfully or at least proficiently reviewed at the precinct level—or, in the worst light, that the supervisors are complicit in the downgrading.”
Reading Bosses’ Minds?
A footnote to the report said that “in one instance, a Detective admitted manipulating complaint reports—not because of an express instruction from anyone to do so but because he thought he was supposed to do so.”
“The question in my mind,” Mr. Silverman said, “is why does someone think he is supposed to do it? Did it have something to do with the pressures from above?”
He questioned whether the review was really independent, saying, “This was done by individuals appointed by the Commissioner.”
The report also questioned discipline issues. “Given the difficulty of proving intentional downgrading or suppression [of crime reports], it is not surprising that QAD investigations have not had more serious consequences such as referral to criminal prosecutors or termination of employment—although some officers have resigned or retired rather than face charges...[I]ncreased internal investigations might provide a deterrent effect...”
Kelly: We’ll Clean Up Act
Most of the recommendations in the report dealt with technical aspects of the auditing process. Commissioner Kelly said the department would comply with international standards for professional internal auditing. “To my knowledge we will be the first and only police department to do this,” he said.
The report said that “QAD investigations and enforcement have increased in recent years and, according to those NYPD officers the committee interviewed in the precincts and in QAD, enforcement is making a difference in the complaint-reporting culture. Officers are taking their obligations with respect to complaint reporting more seriously and with greater awareness that abuses will be addressed internally.”
Editorial: NYPD Stats on Steroids
By RICHARD STEIER — Monday, July 8th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
The panel of ex-prosecutors picked by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to review whether the NYPD’s Compstat auditing process had allowed the books to be cooked in some precincts—as had been alleged by officers working there—insisted that the only truly egregious case of statistical manipulation occurred in Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct.
This would not have amounted to a virtual clean bill of health in any event. The 81st was doing a disservice to the community it serves with frequent instances of downgrading crimes and discouraging some citizens from even filing reports to limit the number of felonies reported for the precinct, while at the same time demanding that officers perform enough stop-and-frisks to satisfy quotas even when there was no legal basis for doing them. The shame of how it conducted business goes right to the top of the NYPD, since the commanders responsible for it were treated less harshly than Adrian Schoolcraft, the cop who taped supervisors urging officers to disregard the rulebook and was apparently sold out by someone at the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau to whom he gave evidence of wrongdoing. For his troubles, he got thrown into a psych ward on specious charges for nearly a week and has been privately labeled a lazy malcontent, while remaining on suspension as he pursues a lawsuit against the city.
Even if such characterizations were accurate, he would still have a leg up on those who sought to punish him: he knew the difference between right and wrong when it came to enforcement.
But the report makes clear that the 81st Precinct was not the only part of the police bureaucracy where there was a breakdown that seems attributable to a mania for keeping the crime stats steadily descending rather than cause unfavorable publicity for Mayor Bloomberg and his Police Commissioner.
Its authors, David Kelley, Sharon McCarthy and the late Robert Morvillo, acknowledge that Compstat—deploying the program first implemented during the Giuliani administration by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton that uses computer statistics to detect crime problems and hot spots, and then demanding accountability from precinct commanders for addressing them—can be “an extremely useful tool.”
But it also questioned whether the NYPD’s Quality Assurance Division “adequately pursues patterns that may indicate downgrading practices by a precinct or particular officers.” It said that “the patterns of misclassified reports support in some measure the anecdotal accounts of downgrading of certain types of incidents, including that certain types of incidents may be downgraded as a matter of practice in some precincts... the persistence of ‘egregious’ errors in certain precincts
...may be construed to support the conclusion that complaint reports are not meaningfully or at least proficiently reviewed at the precinct levels—or in the worst light, that the supervisors are complicit in the downgrading.”
The panel did not speculate on what would have motivated such complicity. One explanation might be that the wrong people were in charge of some precincts, but the problem probably runs deeper than that. Most of the allegations of books being cooked involved relatively high-crime neighborhoods, which are more prone to outbursts of felony crime regardless of the best efforts of the cops patrolling them and their supervisors to keep things under control. That would figure to be especially true during a period in which the NYPD has lost more than 6,000 cops since its peak of nearly 41,000 at the start of 2001.
That’s a loss of roughly 15 percent of the uniformed force. As a basis for comparison, the sharpest drop in murders this city experienced came during the first five years of the Giuliani administration, a period in which the force was increased by that same 15 percent. There are other factors that could be cited for the startling decline during that era, ranging from a drop in the crack use that had sent the murder rate soaring above 2,000 in the late 1980s and early 1990s to more-innovative crime-fighting strategies, but it’s hard to discount the impact of those extra officers out on the street executing those strategies. And no matter how ably Ray Kelly has managed the dwindling number of officers available to him, there doesn’t seem to be much question—except in Mr. Bloomberg’s mind—that the loss of staff has stretched the NYPD dangerously thin.
Under the circumstances, it was as unrealistic to believe that cops in rougher precincts could keep cranking out felony-crime reductions quarter after quarter as it was for those who invested their money with Bernie Madoff to believe that he could produce profits of 10 percent year after year no matter how market conditions might have changed. Mr. Madoff, we now know, wasn’t achieving those gaudy results, and some precinct commanders, while not going quite as far, clearly were engaging in some fancy fudging of their own. The fact that Commissioner Kelly’s hand-picked panel concluded that the NYPD Quality Assurance Division was no more meticulous about checking for fraud than the Securities and Exchange Commission was in examining Mr. Madoff’s incredible hot streak suggests that nobody at the top of Police Headquarters was anxious to discover whether the system—and by extension, the public—was being gamed.
The panel said QAD had increased the number of investigations in recent years—presumably in response to the negative publicity the book-cooking has received since Mr. Schoolcraft and others went public with their charges during the past four years—and that “enforcement is making a difference in the complaint-reporting culture.” Since QAD exists primarily to keep the numbers honest, the earlier lack of enforcement should certainly raise eyebrows.
The P.B.A. and the Community Safety Act
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association jumps on bandwagon against police oversight legislation
The PBA has launched an aggressive leafleting campaign against Council members who voted for bills to create an NYPD inspector general, and allow stop-and-frisk profiling lawsuits
By Lisa Colangelo — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
The Bloomberg Administration and the city’s police unions have found an issue they can agree on.
Unfortunately — for the members of those unions — it’s not the terms of a long-overdue new collective bargaining agreement.
Instead the mayor and the unions have unleashed their collective fury at members of the City Council who voted for two controversial bills that provide oversight of the NYPD.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has launched an aggressive campaign against several members who voted for the bills with neighborhood leafleting as well as an on-line email barrage.
The eye-popping flyers charge the lawmakers voted for bills that will make neighborhoods more dangerous.
They are hoping to change at least one vote and prevent the override of an expected veto from Mayor Bloomberg.
City Council members Daniel Garodnick and Jessica Lappin of Manhattan and Mark Weprin of Queens were targeted last week.
More members and a mailing blitz could be in the works.
“City Council members are elected to give voice to the community that elected them,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement. “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.”
Lynch warned that if the Council does override Bloomberg’s veto, the union will “target all pro-crime council members for defeat in the upcoming election, supporting their opponents to the greatest extent possible within the legal framework.”
The bills were created in the wake of the current debate over “stop and frisk” policies by the NYPD.
One bill creates an inspector general to monitor the police. The other would allow people who have been stopped to sue if they believe they were profiled based on race, religion or sexual orientation.
Bloomberg and the unions believe the bills will have a “chilling effect” on policing and tie up police officers in endless lawsuits.
“I believe these two bills make the city safer,” said Weprin. “The bills do not end stop-and-frisk. They merely say you have to have cause to stop and frisk someone.”
Weprin said he feels bad for police officers who caught in the middle of an “overzealous mayor and police commissioner” who have set quotas for stop-and-frisk.”
“This is what is for the best interest of the city,” he said. “I’m sticking with my position and am happy to defend it.”
Lappin told the News’ City Hall Bureau Chief Jennifer Fermino she is also not changing her mind.
“If they think this kind of special interest bullying is going to work with me, they picked the wrong legislator,” she said.
Question and Frisk Search
Smart, Stubborn, Arrogant And Wrong
By Larry M. Elkin — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The Palisades Hudson Financial Group News’ / Scarsdale, NY
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
If you want to make things work in a place like New York City, you have to be smart, and it probably helps to be stubborn and a little arrogant, too. Otherwise, the competing demands that emanate from countless quarters can result in chaos.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly deserve plenty of credit for driving the city’s crime rate down to multi-decade lows in recent years, and for maintaining and improving on that record, even after all of the easy gains have long since been made. They are smart and capable men – and also, judging from many of their public comments, at times prone to be arrogant and stubborn.
While these traits can be helpful in certain situations, they can also get in the way. The positive side is illustrated by the city’s latest crime news, while the negative is probably going to be aired sometime soon when a federal judge rules on the New York Police Department’s over-the-top program of stopping and frisking pedestrians.
Bloomberg and Kelly insist that the stop-and-frisks are an important component of New York’s anti-crime initiatives. They are too smart not to understand the significance of evidence of the contrary, or not to recognize that, even if their claims were true, crime-fighting does not justify a massive infringement of the rights of thousands of New Yorkers. So we have to assume that their apparent blindness flows from the stubborn and arrogant aspects of their personalities. They persist because they are sure they know better than their critics, and because it is their nature to insist on getting their way. Both men like being the boss.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin is expected to rule at almost any time on the stop-and-frisk program. A 10-week class-action trial, over which Scheindlin presided without a jury, ended in late May. According to The New York Daily News, some legal experts believe that, should Scheindlin find the procedure illegal, she may appoint an outside monitor to oversee the NYPD’s operations.
As I have written before, the stop-and-frisk program is deeply misguided at best. I am far from alone in this opinion. Last fall, the Bronx district attorney’s office took a stand by refusing to prosecute cases where an arrest resulted from stops in the borough’s housing projects, unless officers can justify, to an assistant D.A.’s satisfaction, that they had a legal basis for the initial stop.
The suit pending before Scheindlin included testimony from 12 plaintiffs who experienced some of the approximately 5 million stops the police have conducted in the past 10 years. Around 87 percent of those stops were of blacks or Latinos.
Defenders of the program, most prominently Kelly and Bloomberg, argue that the drop in crime in recent years is evidence that the stops are working. It is true that crime is down across the city. The New York Times recently reported that the city averaged less than a murder per day in the first half of 2013, which the newspaper described as “the first time the police can recall that happening for any sustained period.” There were 48 fewer homicides than in the same period in 2012. Shooting incidents, robbery and burglary, and misdemeanor-level assault are also all down from last year, according to the NYPD; major crimes taken as a whole are down nearly 34 percent compared to 12 years ago.
Yet just because crime has decreased does not mean that the stop-and-frisk program is the lone, or even primary, cause. Kelly himself said, “Stop-and-frisk, believe me, that is one aspect of what we do, we have a whole complex array of tactics and strategies that we use.” Kelly continues to justify the program as part of a larger anti-gang initiative; the theory is that past stops might convince criminals not to carry their weapons, even if current stops drop off. In the trial before Scheindlin, however, police officers testified that every stop had a clear, legitimate motivation; the stops are not supposed to simply serve as deterrents to future wrongdoing.
Further, the recent drop-off in the number of stops is itself part of why the continued defense of stop-and-frisk strains credulity. The proposition that the NYPD were running across nearly 700,000 suspicious situations annually until a sudden, sharp drop last year for no particular reason (apart from mounting complaints about the stops) is not credible.
That didn’t stop Bloomberg from claiming that math was on his side, however, in a controversial radio appearance last month. When discussing the critics of stop-and-frisk, Bloomberg was dismissive. “They just keep saying, ‘Oh, it’s a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group,’ ” he said during an interview on WOR-AM. “That may be, but it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murder. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.”
The claim the NYPD stopped minorities too little was not only politically tin-eared; it also failed to reflect that about three quarters of the stops were over suspicions of nonviolent crimes, not violent crimes like homicide. Even had Bloomberg’s numbers been right, however, his logic is skewed. If stop-and-frisk deserved the bulk of the credit for the drop in crime, we’d expect to see crime rates climb when the stops were scaled back. So far, we have seen the opposite.
Once Bloomberg and Kelly get over their stubborn defensiveness about the excessive stopping and frisking of their fellow New Yorkers – something that will probably take a forceful ruling from Scheindlin – Kelly and his police can get back to doing what they actually do very well, which is making New York City a remarkably safe big city for all its residents, no matter what their race.
NYPD's Communications Div. Embarrassment: The 911 ICAD System
NYC 911 operators call out city over forced overtime, flawed $2B software
Emergency call-takers claim they are being forced to sometimes work 80-hour weeks, and routinely made to extend their shifts or be stripped of vacation days. They also claim that new 911 software is so flawed it slows them down, costing crucial minutes in dispatching help.
By Priscilla Ortiz AND Bill Hutchinson — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
New York City emergency dispatchers and operators took to the streets Monday to complain about the new 911 system and forced 80-hour workweeks.
As many as 70 civil servants — some toting signs such as “9-1-1 needs help” — protested working conditions near the city’s 911 emergency call center in downtown Brooklyn.
“We’re forced to do overtime at least three times a week. Usually more. They cut our breaks down from 30 minutes to 15 minutes,” fumed John Armstrong, 63, union chapter chairman for 911 dispatchers and operators.
The call-takers claim they are being forced to sometimes work 80-hour weeks, and routinely made to extend their shifts or be stripped of vacation days.
The Daily News exclusively reported Monday that NYPD Capt. Donald Church is under Internal Affairs Bureau investigation for a tense standoff with emergency dispatchers. Church, while wearing his holstered weapon, gave workers five seconds to return to their stations after they initially refused to work four extra hours on top of their 12-hour shift.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said managers “at times must direct overtime.”
Workers at the rally also griped about the city’s new $2 billion 911 system, launched May 29. They say it is so flawed it slows them down, costing crucial minutes in dispatching help to emergencies.
“Tell [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg to give us back our old system and take the new one out with him,” said dispatcher Sophia McCay, 40. “It’s just not equipped to do the work we need.”
In one of the most tragic cases, there was a four-minute delay in getting an ambulance to a June 4 upper West Side accident in which 4-year-old Ariel Russo died.
Ariel’s family is now suing the city.
City 911 Operators Claim Their NYPD Managers Have Become Abusive
By: Dean Meminger — Monday, July 8th, 2013; 11:33 p.m. ‘NY 1 News’ / New York
Some 911 operators who rallied by the city's emergency call center in Brooklyn on Monday said they need help themselves against their police supervisors, who they claim have becoming more and more abusive, while the workers struggle with a new computer system that is riddled with bugs. NY1's Criminal Justice reporter Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Some of the city's 911 operators say their NYPD bosses are becoming increasingly abusive inside their call center in Brooklyn.
One 911 operator who wished to remain anonymous quoted a police manager, saying, "'I'm f------ sick of this s---' is exactly what he said."
The operators say it happened on July 4, when some operators were ordered to work overtime, which they were not happy about. The unnamed operator said when an NYPD captain was questioned about it, he snapped.
The worker said, "He looked deranged, his arms were flaring, he was jumping up and down. I didn't know what he was going to do, he had to be calmed down by one of the platoon commanders."
Upset 911 operators staged a rally Monday outside the call center, where another worker also said the supervising captain blew up on July 4.
The second operator said the managers were, "Screaming, 'You are going to do what I said. Everybody has to stay.' The tone he was using, I was standing two steps away, I was intimidated. Because you are talking about a person who carries a gun, he is losing it."
This came just weeks after 911 operators say a different captain aggressively demanded overtime.
NYPD officials said managers sometimes have to insist on overtime when excessive numbers of operators call out sick and that it happens especially on holiday weekends.
But their union, District Council 37, says the overtime is excessive day after day. Union officials said this could be life-threatening to the public and first responders, who need an alert operator.
Alma Roper, a vice president for DC 37, said, "The public needs to get in on this because they are one call away from a 911 emergency and it will be on them if their call doesn't get answered."
A 911 operator said, "She's on the air trying to dispatch a job. What if she misses something because she is sleepy and tired? Now the police are in danger."
The protesting 911 call center workers said their newly installed computer system continues to have problems. City officials said the 911 system works and workers need to do their jobs.
NYPD, Brookhaven Releasing Harmless Gases in Subway for Chemical Weapon Study
The NYPD and Brookhaven National Laboratory will begin studying air flow in the subway system
By Katherine Creag — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘NBC 4 News’ / New York, NY
The NYPD is releasing harmless gases into the subway system during the morning rush beginning Tuesday to study how chemical weapons could be dispersed through the air.
Police, working with Long Island's Brookhaven National Laboratory, were spotted placing air-sampling devices in specific areas on the street and within the subway system across the five boroughs. Several researchers spent Tuesday morning outfitting the Columbus Circle subway station with the devices.
Researchers will track the movement of harmless tracer gases called perfluorocarbons.
The gases mimic how a chemical or biological weapon may react if released. They'll be dispersed in low concentrations for 30 minutes only during the morning, city officials said.
The project was announced in April. It will be funded through a $3.4 million federal grant.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says results from the airflow study will help the NYPD learn how airborne toxins travel underground within the subway systems and above ground near the entrances and exits. The aim of the study is to better safeguard the city against a potential chemical attack, Kelly said.
NYPD to Spew (Non-Toxic) Gas in Subway System
Counterterrorism Test Is Largest Field Study of Its Kind
By Alex Goldmark — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘WNYC News’ / New York, NY
To know how to react to a dirty bomb or airborne attack, the New York Police Department is simulating one in the subway Tuesday morning. The NYPD and researchers from Brookhaven National Laboratories will release a harmless gas through 21 subway lines as part of a plan to monitor air flows and chart potential responses, including evacuation routes and where to place emergency equipment.
"It's planning for the worst and hoping we don't ever have to use it," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. "When you are able to map a hazardous material in the air, it gives first responders information they need."
Low concentrations of the tracer gas perfluorocarbons will be released at several dozen subway stations and at street level in Manhattan at 8:00 a.m., according to Browne. "This study helps us map and predict where those dangerous contaminants would go," he said. "And it's not just terrorism it could be accidental, a toxic material accidentally discharged into the environment."
Subway riders won't see the gas, though they may spot some of the 200 or so air sampling boxes dispersed throughout the subway system and above ground on places like light poles. Air sampling will be conducted in all five boroughs.
The gas is inert, odorless and invisible and has been used for medical purposes including eye surgery since the 1980's according to a joint statement from Brookhaven Lab and the NYPD.
Tuesday will mark the first of three days of the Subway-Surface Air Flow Exchange program (S-Safe) testing this summer.
The testing was commissioned by the NYPD and funded with a $3.4 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security. It is the first of its scale to study airflow in a dense, complex urban environment both below and above-ground, according to an NYPD statement.
Similar studies have been conducted in Boston and Washington, D.C. but this will be the largest.
208 Uniformed Promotions
NYPD Counterterrorism, Intelligence Chiefs Picked
By MARK TOOR — Monday, July 8th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly promoted two Chiefs to newly-created three-star positions June 28 overseeing intelligence and counterterrorism. They were among 208 uniformed and 47 civilian employees upgraded in ceremonies at Police Headquarters.
James R. Waters was promoted to Chief of Counterterrorism. Mr. Waters, a 32-year veteran of the NYPD, has commanded the Counterterrorism Bureau since November 2008. His responsibilities include the NYPD-FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), the Citywide Counterterrorism Unit, the Counterterrorism Division, the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, the World Trade Center Command and the Terrorism Threat Analysis Group.
Ran Task Force
Before taking over the Counterterrorism Bureau, Mr. Waters commanded the JTTF, and has also commanded the Office of the First Deputy Commissioner, the 109th Precinct and the Internal Affairs Bureau’s Special Investigations Unit.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the State University of New York, and a master’s of public administration from Marist College. He is also a 1999 graduate of the Police Management Institute at Columbia University.
His father, James P. Waters, served 23 years with the NYPD before retirement.
Thomas P. Galati was promoted to Chief of Intelligence. He was most recently assigned as commander of the Intelligence Division. He has commanded the 46th and 47th Precincts, the Bronx Tracer Unit, the Bronx Street Crime Unit and the Gang Division. He was awarded a Medal of Valor in 1989.
A 29-Year Vet
Mr. Galati joined the NYPD in 1984, and his other assignments have included the 19th, 32nd, 103rd, 109th and 115th Precincts. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from SUNY, and graduated from Columbia’s Police Management Institute and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Brian H. O’Neill was promoted to Deputy Chief. Currently commander of the Organized Crime Investigation Division, he previously headed the Joint Organized Crime Task Force and served as executive officer of the 104th Precinct.
He joined the department in 1980 and also served in the 13th, 48th, 104th and Midtown South Precincts, the Internal Affairs Bureau, the Warrant Division, Narcotics Borough Brooklyn North, Narcotics Borough Queens and the Northern Manhattan Initiative. He holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from SUNY and graduated from the Police Management Institute.
Other Uniformed Upgrades
Gregory T. Antonsen, commander of the Detective Bureau’s Financial Crimes Task Force, was promoted to Inspector. He joined the department in 1985, and his other assignments have included the 26th, 40th, 110th, Midtown South and Midtown North Precincts, as well as Patrol Borough Manhattan South, Patrol Borough Queens South, Detective Bureau Manhattan and the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Operations.
Mr. Antonsen holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Fairfield University, and is a 2004 graduate of the Police Management Institute.
Promoted to Deputy Inspector: Jessica E. Corey, Terence McManus, Jeffrey D. Schiff, Carlos Valdez and William P. Wynne.
Promoted to Captain: Kenneth P. Aube, Louis M. Deceglie, James F. Dennedy III, Daniel J. Green, Paul E. Lanot, Hsiao S. Loo, Michael Madison, Patrick J. Malarkey, Joseph L. Matzinger, John C. Menoni, Johnny A. Orellana, Anthony V. Sanseverino, Derick Seneus, Paul A. Valerga, Joyce Williams, Timothy J. Wilson and Steven D. Wren.
Promoted to Lieutenant Commander Detective Squad: Bernadette M. Acerno, Timothy P. Ferguson, Christopher G. Guiffre, John F. Kelleher, Michael R. Saladino and William J. Seeger.
Promoted to Lieutenant: Tanya S. Bennett, Aliya Bhatti, Andrew C. Bocchieri, Matthew L. Bomparola, Daniel J. Campbell, Aneudy Castillo, Tao Chen, Ronald Cheng, Jeannette L. Chetaitis, Kevin J. Coleman, Valery Drantyev, Brian G. Eng, Angel L. Figueroa Jr., Edward Garcia, Danielle F. Goldberg, Paulina Gonzalez, Eileen Y. Han, Kimberly Hilliard, Keith T. Hum, Asif Iqbal, Enoch C. Law, Lap Keung Lee, Stanislav Levitsky, Steven C. McCole, Phillip G. McEneaney and Robert V. McKeon.
Also, Lucas J. Miller, Matthew J. Neri, Megan C. O’Malley, Donny B. Ramoutar, Mihael M. Raso, Joseph V. Redmond, David Reilly, Robert E. Sala, Janna L. Salisbury, Kevin P. Shea, John F. Slevin, Andrey Smirnov and Vincent J. Varriano.
Promoted to Sergeant Supervisor Detective Squad: Ruben D. Duque, Kevin L. Hibbert, Michael N. Ingram, Kevin A. Komorsky, Anthony A. Mottola, Andrew A. Puglisi, Frederick M. Sawyer, Jason V. Siragusa and Marianela Tejada.
Promoted to Sergeant: Charlie Abreu, Asmat Allie, John Balestriere, Keith C. Beddows, William V. Bennett, Carlos M. Bernard, Shannon D. Brooks, Anthony J. Catania, Joseph P. Chambers, Hong W. Chen, Charles Y. Choi, Tricia E. Connolly, Patrick T. Connors, Brendan M. Farrell, David A. Feuer, Alesandro Florentino, Yovanny A. Frias, Matthew D. Fried, Maria F. Gilbert, Ramon A. Guillen, Erik R. Hansen, Adam C. Helschein, Edward L. Ho, Matthew V. Hopkins, Jonathan S. Jablon, Aurclien Jeanty, Joseph L. Kazlas, Valentin Khazin, Martin J. Langan, Nikki C. Lawrence, John E. Lawton, Kengyan Lee, Jeffrey Liss, Sasa Maric, Corey R. Martinez, Michael W. McCann, Brendan A. McGuigan and Meliza M. Meade.
Also, Lisa-Marie Newkirk, Jose A. Nunez, Lauren J. Odessa, Robert J. Oswald, Thomas L. Parco, Martin Potoma, John P. Prager, Sudesh Ramjattan, Matthew J. Rizzuto, Joseph P. Robinson, Emma M. Rodriguez, Salvador Rosario, Richard Ruiz, Gennaro Russo, Nicko D. Singkuan, Charles C. Stewart, Guillermo A. Suarez, Ralph L. Tomeo, Andrew J. Torres, Edward J. Tumbarello, John M. Valentino, John H. Volkan, Nikim A. Walker, Theodore S. Wells, Herman Yan and Johnny Yin.
Promoted to Detective First Grade: Enio R. Bencosme, Barry E. Brown, Kelly A. Burke, Charmain A. Corlette, Joseph Cusanelli, Janice J. Grier, Donald Lasala, Stephen R. Negersmith, Jay M. Poggi, Richard T. Tirelli and Erica V. Young.
Promoted to Detective Second Grade: Kenneth C. Anderson, Isidro Arroyo, Martin Brown, Eric A. Brzostek, John M. Darino, Diane L. Davis, Michael E. Diskin, Robert C. Filippi, Thomas J. Fitzgerald, Melissa S. Jones, Anthony R. Pascal, Derrick R. Reid, Emanuel Rossi, Adam D. Tegan and Brian K. Washington.
Promoted to Detective: Ana V. Almonte, Edward J. Behringer, Thomas B. Bell, Peter J. Bolte, Vincent M. Buono, Cordell Cheatham, Michael Checkett, Tearle C. Connell, Christopher A. DeFeo, Jason C. Edwards, Michael S. Fetherston, Laurence D. Finnerty, Kenneth R. Fischer, Matthew A. Forte, Aida Haddock-Sanchez, Daniel J. Gallagher, Charles Ingrassia, Scott J. Kalfa, George I. Katris, Amjad Khan and Simon S. Laine.
Also, John Lamatina, Alexis M. Lamont, Jason T. Landusky, Tom A. Markiewicz, Frank V. Moccia, Patrica L. Mosley, Kwokkei Ng, Antonio A. Pagan, Wilfred Paynter, Matthew A. Rostolder, Jada Scott, Jeffrey S. Smith, Derrick K. Taylor and John M. Zanaris.
Convicted Child Molester: Former E.S.U. # 1 P.O. William Fox
Former Staten Island hero cop dies in Pennsylvania prison while serving lengthy sex-conviction sentence
By Frank Donnelly — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The Staten Island Advance’ / Staten Island
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Former Stapleton resident and retired hero cop William Fox, who was serving a lengthy prison sentence in Pennsylvania on sex convictions involving three adopted boys, has died, officials confirmed Monday.
Fox, 68, died Wednesday of natural causes, said a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
Fox, who once talked a distraught teen out of committing suicide, was serving a sentence of 17 and a half to 35 years in State Correctional Institute Mahanoy, said the spokeswoman.
Fox was sentenced in November 2011, after pleading "no contest" three months earlier to nine charges, including incest, corruption of minors, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and indecent assault. The charges related to three victims who lived with him, according to the Pennsylvania attorney general's office.
One charge, obstructing the administration of justice, accused him of trying to influence a victim's grand jury testimony.
A "no contest" plea is treated the same as a guilty plea even though the defendant doesn't admit guilt, prosecutors said.
In March 2011, police arrested Fox in his Liberty, Pa., home and accused him of sexually abusing three boys with whom he resided between 1996 and 2009. The victims were teens at the time of the incidents, said cops.
Liberty is situated near the New York state line in north-central Pennsylvania, about 230 miles northwest of Staten Island.
Authorities said Fox had adopted "more than" 10 children over the years in Pennsylvania, New York and Florida.
The three victims in the Pennsylvania case are the only ones police charged Fox with molesting.
One victim had come forward in 2009 at about the time a "concerned individual" from the Staten Island area "made an inquiry," according to Pennsylvania state police.
After Fox's sentencing, one alleged victim said law enforcement officers had scared him into making accusations against Fox, his adopted father, the Wellsboro (Pa.) Gazette reported.
Another adopted son, who was not a victim, contended Fox had not abused anyone, the newspaper said.
Fox was not accused of abusing Michael Buchanan, a runaway teen he had talked down from the ledge of a Bowery flophouse in 1981, making headlines.
While heartless bystanders yelled at the boy to jump, Fox, during a tense 90-minute standoff, told the 17-year-old boy he cared for him and would be proud to be his father.
He eventually grabbed Buchanan and followed through on his promise, becoming the boy's legal guardian and setting up a trust fund for him.
The duo's heartwarming saga was recounted nationally in print and on TV, and in May of 1982, the National Father's Day Committee named Fox one of its 10 Fathers of the Year.
About a year later, Fox, hampered by injuries suffered when a drunken driver crashed into his patrol car, retired from the NYPD.
At the same time, "The Cop and The Kid" was published, chronicling his relationship with Buchanan. Fox was listed as a co-author.
Inmates testify that cop killer Ronell Wilson terrorized them
Inmates in a special unit for the mentally ill in Brooklyn testified that cop killer Ronell Wilson abused them and received special treatment. Wilson was transferred after they snitched about his sexual relationship with prison guard Nancy Gonzalez.
By John Marzulli — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
The inmate was running the asylum.
Cop killer Ronell Wilson terrorized fellow inmates he lorded over in a special unit for the mentally ill at a federal jail in Brooklyn, several convicts testified Monday.
Wilson was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center from Death Row in Terre Haute, Ind., in 2011 after his death sentence was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals. But prison officials didn’t want him mingling with fellow Bloods gang members while he awaited resentencing for murdering two NYPD undercover detectives.
In a move that had disastrous consequences, Wilson was placed in Unit K-81 for inmates with “special needs,” a fragile population comprising the mentally ill, transsexuals and those on suicide watch. Wilson threatened inmates who dared to change the TV channel, monopolized the computer and taunted another prisoner with an anti-gay slur.
“If someone would change the channel on the TV, he would change the channel back and he would become aggressive,” inmate Thomas Germosen testified in Brooklyn Federal Court. “I remember one day he said he didn’t care because he had killed policemen.”
Even the guards coddled Wilson, providing him with newspapers and a private cell along with a second cell to store his legal papers.
Fed up with the abuse and special treatment, four inmates dropped a dime on Wilson when they spotted him kissing and having sexual relations with prison guard Nancy Gonzalez. The feds learned Gonzalez was pregnant and transferred Wilson to the federal lockup in lower Manhattan.
As in the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” after Jack Nicholson’s disruptive character Randle McMurphy departed the psychiatric ward, a sense of equilibrium returned.
“After he was gone, everything was back to normal — everyone got along with one another again,” Germosen told Assistant U.S. Attorney Celia Cohen.
Prosecutors will argue to the jury that Wilson should get the death penalty, not life in prison, because he refuses to follow rules and remains a danger to staff and other inmates.
Yonkers will offer police exam later this year
By Will David — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The Journal News’ / White Plains, NY
YONKERS — Anyone interested in joining the Yonkers police force will have to take the upcoming Nov. 16 exam, city officials announced Monday.
The job pays between $57,295 and $88,441 yearly, police said.
Yonkers police Commissioner Charles Gardner and Mayor Michael Spano jointly made the announcement.
Candidate must be between 18 and 35-years-old. They must be a city resident three months prior to the exam date. Additionally, candidates must have a valid New York State driver's license and hold a high school or equivalency diploma by the time of their appointment.
Applications will be accepted in person starting Monday through Sept. 16 at the Community Affairs division at 38 Radford St., Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Applications will also be accepted at the Civil Service office at Yonkers City Hall, Room 120 at 40 South Broadway Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The police department is offering study classes to Yonkers residents. For information call the Community Affairs division at 914-377-7373 or the Yonkers Civil Service Commission at 914-377-6092. The Yonkers police web-site is www.yonkerspd.com.
Nassau PBA Outrage Over Lawyer’s Leak Of Damaging Report
By Unnamed Author — Monday, July 8th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
The Nassau Police Benevolent Association would like to see sanctions levied against a plaintiff’s attorney it says violated a confidentiality agreement by leaving in an open court file an Internal Affairs report faulting a police officer in an off-duty shooting.
The report was contained in files involving a $30-million lawsuit filed by shooting victim Thomas Moroughan, and Newsday wrote a story about it June 22.
‘Due Process Compromised’
“Public opinion could put a lot of pressure on the county to settle,” James Carver, president of the Nassau PBA, said in an interview. He said “due process has been compromised” for the officer who did the shooting, Anthony DiLeonardo, and his companion when it occurred, Police Officer Edward Bienz.
The confrontation on Feb. 27, 2011 in neighboring Suffolk County stemmed from a roadside argument, according to the report. Police investigators blamed Officer DiLeonardo for escalating the dispute. The officer told the investigators that he shot at Mr. Moroughan, a taxi driver, when he tried to run him over with his cab.
The report had found that Mr. DiLeonardo had fired five times with a .38-caliber revolver, hitting Mr. Moroughan twice in the chest and the arm, according to the Newsday article. Investigators found Mr. DiLeonardo had used the butt of the gun to break his nose, the article said.
The report concluded that Mr. DiLeonardo had committed 11 illegal acts and eight violations of departmental rules. It recommended 19 departmental charges be filed against him and Mr. Bienz. Both officers acknowledged drinking, according to the report.
Not Charged Criminally
Neither officer has been charged criminally or with administrative violations, and they remain on the job. Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas V. Dale told Newsday that the Internal Affairs case remains open.
The report, which was issued a year ago, was contained in case files of a $30-million Federal suit Mr. Moroughan filed against the Nassau and Suffolk police departments.
Documents filed with the court are public record, available to anyone who asks for them. The inclusion of the Internal Affairs report in court files was an apparent violation of a state law, known as Section 50-a, that makes the personnel records of police officers, correction officers, firefighters, paramedics and most other peace officers confidential.
Such records cannot be released without the employee’s written permission or a court order. In the case of a court order, a judge must review the records and decide whether they are relevant to the case. Any relevant documents may be released to the individual who requested them.
Lawyer: Tried to Comply
Mr. Carver blamed Mr. Moroughan’s attorney for including the report in a public file. The attorney, Anthony Grandinette, told THE CHIEF-LEADER that after the Newsday article appeared he wrote the court a letter saying he had made a good-faith effort to comply with the confidentiality rules. He declined to comment further.
The attorney amended the complaint twice, and Mr. Carver said lawyers for the county noticed the report in one amendment but not the other. As a result, he said, only one of those files was sealed. Newsday apparently obtained the report from the unsealed file.
“Our attorneys have asked to intervene in the case and will formally ask for sanctions against the plaintiff’s attorney,” he said.
He defended the two officers against advocates who say the report should be open to the public. “As in a criminal case, the evidence is not disseminated to the public,” he said. “The Internal Affairs report was merely a finding, not a finding of guilt.” And, he said, the police officers “have not had a chance to put on their case yet.”
The case was reminiscent of a dispute a year ago between the union and the late Peter Schmitt, who at the time was Presiding Officer of the Nassau County Legislature. The issue was an Internal Affairs report on the case of Jo’Anna Byrd, who was killed by her former boyfriend in 2009. The report found several instances in which police failed to protect her.
Echoes of Byrd Fracas
The court allowed members of the Legislature to read the report so they could vote on whether to approve a $7.7-million wrongful-death settlement with Ms. Byrd’s mother. U.S. District Judge Arthur D. Spatt ordered that the legislators not make the report public. However, Mr. Schmitt talked about the report during an interview with News 12 Long Island.
The Nassau PBA requested that contempt-of-court proceedings be filed against Mr. Schmitt, and Judge Spatt found him in contempt. He paid a $2,500 fine.
New York State
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs amendment to NY Safe Act allowing exceptions for retired police
By Teri Weaver — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The Syracuse Post-Standard’ / Syracuse, NY
Syracuse, N.Y. -- Qualified retired law enforcement officers are now exempt from some restrictions under an amendment to the NY Safe Act signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo late last week.
The change allows retired law enforcement officers who have met certain training requirements to own guns and ammunition magazines now banned under New York's tougher gun laws.
To qualify, retirees must have worked on the force for at least a decade and left their positions in good standing. Retirees who qualify could keep the guns and magazines purchased as a part of official duties. Those guns must be registered with the state within 60 days of retirement.
Cuomo signed the bill Friday. It goes into effect immediately.
Here’s the SAFE Act exemption: http://www.scribd.com/doc/152527080/Safe-Exemption
NY Gov. Cuomo Signs SAFE Act Exemption For Retired Cops
BY Glenn Blain — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
In some non-Eliot Spitzer-related news today, retired cops no longer have to worry about getting rid of any high capacity magazines or assault weapons they acquired while working on the force.
Gov. Cuomo, as expected, has signed legislation granting retried law enforcement officers in New York an exemption from the state’s new gun control law, his office confirmed Monday. The exemption for retired cops was approved by the Assembly in May and adopted by the Senate in June during the final week of the Legislature’s session.
Cuomo, during a news conference last week, had signaled his support for the measure.
“It was our amendment,” Cuomo said at the time. “They are retired law enforcement officers. They have different training, they have different experience. They are different.”
The gun law – known as the SAFE Act - was adopted by the Legislature in early January. Among other things, it expanded the state’s ban on assault weapons and set a seven-bullet limit on the number of rounds New Yorkers could load into a magazine.
Gun-rights advocates, who have blasted the law as an infringement on their Second Amendment rights, opposed the new exemption, saying it would create a separate class of citizens in New York.
“We feel because of our background checks and the training that most of us have in pistol craft, we should be afforded the same privileges as retired police officers,” said Thomas King of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, which has filed a federal lawsuit against the SAFE Act.
New Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop making changes inside police department
By Michaelangelo Conte — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The Jersey Journal’ / Jersey City, NJ
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who assumed office last week, has begun to make changes in the city police department and is putting a premium on officers living in the city.
"The most notable changes we've made so far are the precinct commanders, with three of the four district commanders now being actual Jersey City residents, as well as several of the executive officers,” Fulop said in a statement released tonight.
The mayor said his administration is working to “incentivize” senior officers to live and stay in Jersey City “as I said I would do during the campaign.”
Fulop said some officers who are working as clerks are beginning to be transferred from desk jobs and to working in the field.
"We have started to try and fill some of the vacancies due to the retirements that occurred after I was elected," Fulop added.
Several of the department's top brass, including former Police Chief Tom Comey and former Deputy Chief Peter Nalbach, retired after former Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy lost out to Fulop in the May election.
Trenton police use overtime and State Police to hold back a tide of violent crime
By Alex Zdan — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The Times of Trenton’ / Trenton, NJ
(Edited for brevity and generic law enforcement pertinence)
TRENTON — Shootings were already on the upswing when a large number of police officers were laid off in 2011. The rate of gunfire increased even more rapidly in 2012 and this year. Including Green, 120 people were shot between Jan. 1 and June 30, and 19 murders were recorded just halfway through this year.
Since May, Police Director Ralph Rivera Jr. has used overtime funds to bring in officers and detectives on the weekends to patrol high-crime areas in the most recent effort to tamp down the violence.
“We realized it was time to address the spike in crime,” Rivera said after a budget hearing for his department two weeks ago. “Our summer initiative program has been very successful, particularly in the targeted areas of Stuyvesant and Passaic.”
When the initiative is active, several officers ride around a designated area that’s often lit with police searchlights, making their presence known in marked units and making arrests. In the week after Green’s death the city reported no shootings — a rarity, considering the 94 incidents in six months work out to about a shooting every other day.
Yet cops and members of the community will admit the Trenton Police Department is not as feared on the streets as it once was, and criminals seem to have less worry about being caught.
“That doesn’t seem to be a big deal anymore,” said the Rev. Joseph Ravenell, pastor of Samaritan Baptist Church in North Trenton.
In the 1970s, the Trenton Police Department was 400 strong, said Lt. Mark Kieffer, the president of the Superior Officers’ Association whose father was on the force at the time.
Recruit classes became fewer starting about a decade ago, and the force atrophied below 300. Layoffs nearly two years ago mean the department can barely field 200 rank-and-file cops now.
The New Jersey State Police has staged three deployments into Trenton, and Rivera said he’s talking with State Police brass this week.
Troopers have been used in most of the state’s urban areas, from a tourism district in Atlantic City to an ongoing deployment to Camden to the Passaic River Corridor Initiative, which brings manpower into Newark, Irvington, and even Paterson, a State Police spokesman said.
Youths At Risk Of Violence Say They Need Guns For Protection
By Nancy Shute — Monday, July 8th, 2013; 3:42 p.m. ‘NPR News’ / Washington, DC
Public health efforts to reduce the number of children and teenagers killed by guns got a big boost in visibility after the tragic killing of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School last fall.
Each week about 50 children and teens are shot and killed in the United States, with homicide the second leading cause of death among teenagers here, behind car crashes.
Gun possession is common among young people who have been injured in an assault, a study finds. One-quarter of teenagers and young adults surveyed in the emergency room of a hospital in Flint, Mich., said they had a firearm at home or carried it in public.
The No. 1 reason they had a gun was to protect themselves or feel safer, the youths said.
The researchers surveyed 689 teenagers and young adults, ages 14 to 24, in 2010 and 2011. The youths who said they had a gun were as likely to be white as African-American, and were about 20 years old on average.
"There's definitely a feeling among people that they need some kind of self-protection," says Susan Morrel-Samuels, managing director of the Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. "Often that means a firearm." She works with violence prevention in Flint, but wasn't involved in the study.
But the prevalence of guns means confrontations like the ones that landed these young people in the hospital can escalate, with deadly results. Often the ultimate victims are not parties to the confrontation, but bystanders.
"What's surprising is how easy it is for young people to get a gun, which they get from friends and family," says Robert Sege, a professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. He wrote an editorial accompanying the study. "This is emblematic of the kind of work we need to do to understand the origins of lethal violence and ways to reduce it."
The best way to reduce gun deaths and injuries in children and teens is to reduce access, according to a 2012 policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. That includes keeping guns in the home unloaded and locked up, the pediatricians say.
Girls and young women accounted for almost one-third of the gun owners, a statistic that Morrel-Samuels says doesn't surprise her. "There's been a lot of emphasis among manufacturers of firearms to market to young women," she says. "It's become increasingly acceptable for women to carry guns as a means of self-protection."
Her organization is working with children and teenagers in Flint, with a focus on preventing the kind of violence that resulted in a 13-year-old boy being charged with the murders of his brother and the brother's girlfriend there last month. In the same week, a 13-year-old girl there was charged with attempting to kill her older sister.
The fact that the youths in this study thought "it was OK to hurt someone if they hurt you," and the fact that they were more likely to drink or use drugs than people who didn't own guns makes it more likely that someone would be injured or killed with a firearm, the study authors say. Their findings were reported online in the journal Pediatrics.
Addressing youths' feeling that they need to be armed to be safe, and that it's OK to retaliate with violence, is something that should be addressed in order to reduce the risk of injury and death in the community, the authors say.
F.B.I. (Former Agent Questions James Comey Nomination)
Questions for the F.B.I. Nominee
By COLEEN ROWLEY — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
NOTE: See the Homeland Security section below for more on the hearings. - Mike
APPLE VALLEY, Minn. — WHEN President Obama nominated James B. Comey to lead the F.B.I., he lauded Mr. Comey as someone who understands the challenge of “striking a balance” between security and privacy, and had been “prepared to give up a job he loved rather than be part of something he felt was fundamentally wrong.”
High praise, but was it deserved? We may find out today, when the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on his confirmation.
Mr. Comey’s reputation for courage and probity rests largely on a dramatic episode in March 2004 when he and the current F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, tried to squelch the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. But that was just one night in the 20 months that Mr. Comey served as deputy attorney general.
And while it was not the only time he expressed reservations, Mr. Comey apparently did eventually sign off on most of the worst of the Bush administration’s legal abuses and questionable interpretations of federal and international law. He ultimately approved the C.I.A.’s list of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, including waterboarding, which experts on international law consider a form of torture. He defended holding an American citizen, Jose Padilla, without charges for more than three years as an “enemy combatant,” and subjecting him to interrogation without counsel to obtain information from him. (Mr. Padilla was ultimately convicted of terrorism charges in civilian court.)
Mr. Mueller and Mr. Comey famously thwarted efforts by two Bush officials, Alberto R. Gonzales and Andrew H. Card Jr., to pressure a hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft to sign off on Mr. Bush’s warrantless monitoring order after the Justice Department found it illegal. But within days, Mr. Mueller and Mr. Comey, having threatened to resign, spoke with Mr. Bush. Whatever assurances the president may have given them are not (and may never be) known — but we know that the surveillance program continued, perhaps with modification, and certainly without further public dissent from Mr. Mueller and Mr. Comey.
I suggest that the senators ask Mr. Comey these questions:
1. Will you maintain the F.B.I. ban on torture and coercing of statements and confessions? Would you instruct F.B.I. agents to investigate all credible reports, including those involving other federal personnel, of violations of Sections 2340 and 2441 of Title 18 of the United States Code, which define torture and war crimes? (In 2002, according to a Justice Department report, F.B.I. agents at Guantánamo Bay created a “war crimes file” to document accusations of prisoner mistreatment by American military personnel, but an F.B.I. official ordered that the file be closed in 2003.)
2. In March 2004, you argued that the N.S.A. surveillance program was illegal. Do you still believe that the domestic communications of American citizens can be legally monitored by the government only with a judicially approved warrant? If so, what assurances about the warrantless surveillance scheme did Mr. Bush offer that persuaded you to stop opposing the program?
3. Do you stand by your statement, made at a Justice Department news conference in June 2004, that it was right to hold Jose Padilla, an American citizen who was arrested on American soil, in a military brig (for two years at that point) without charges?
4. Why, in April 2005, did you approve 13 harsh interrogation tactics, including waterboarding and up to 180 hours of sleep deprivation, for use on suspects by officers of the C.I.A.?
5. Do you stand by a speech in March 2009 in which you spoke of the need to “incapacitate” terrorists who could not be prosecuted, either because of a lack of sufficient evidence or because the information had been secretly provided by a foreign country? Do you believe that since procedures exist for “preventative detention” of people with dangerous mental illness, there should be a similar way to detain terrorism suspects without trial?
6. Do you believe there is a trade-off between civil liberties and national security, or do you think, as Mr. Obama stated when he ran for president, that this is a false choice? Where do you believe the balance between privacy and safety can be found, when the government has ready access to vast amounts of data collected by communications companies?
7. The N.S.A.’s data-mining operations seem to be sweeping up information involving foreigners and American citizens alike. How can we preserve the distinction between “non-U.S. persons” abroad, on whom officials have virtually unlimited authority to conduct surveillance, and “U.S. persons” inside our borders, on whom they lack authority to conduct warrantless surveillance?
8. Can you explain why the F.B.I. has submitted requests to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for phone call data, even though the data is to be directly furnished to the N.S.A.? How does the F.B.I. follow up on such requests to ensure that the N.S.A. is protecting the rights of American citizens?
9. Are the N.S.A.’s data-gathering efforts, disclosed in recent weeks, an outgrowth of Mr. Bush’s earlier warrantless surveillance program, to which you objected? Do they relate to the “Total Information Awareness” scheme proposed by John M. Poindexter, a retired admiral and former aide to Ronald Reagan, that was terminated after it was made public in 2002?
10. Do you believe that the F.B.I., in investigating a leak of classified information, was right in 2010 to call James Rosen, a Fox News reporter, a potential “co-conspirator”?
11. Officials say that great national harm will result from the disclosure of secret activities that are legally questionable. What do you think of this proposed remedy: The government should abide by international law and refrain from infringing on the rights of American citizens in the first place?
Coleen Rowley, a special agent for the F.B.I. from 1981 to 2004, testified before Congress about the F.B.I.’s failure to help prevent the 9/11 attacks.
Illinois (Concealed Firearms Carry Law)
Lawmakers poised to override Quinn's gun bill
By SOPHIA TAREEN (The Associated Press) — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013; 9:13 a.m. EDT
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Lawmakers are set to consider Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed changes to a bill that would end Illinois' status as the last state to ban the concealed carry of weapons in public Tuesday — the court-mandated deadline for the state to comply.
The Chicago Democrat has been highlighting the city's gun violence, saying recent shootings show the need for tougher restrictions on weapons. But the state must lift the concealed carry ban by Tuesday to meet a federal appeals court's deadline, and lawmakers are widely expected to override his proposed amendments.
"There will be a showdown in Springfield," Quinn told the crowd gathered in Chicago for a bill signing on anti-gang legislation. Afterward he told reporters that lawmakers should examine his changes carefully.
"I don't think they should override common sense. I don't think they should compromise with public safety," he said.
While Quinn's changes — which include a one-gun limit and a ban on guns in establishments that serve alcohol — have been embraced by Chicago's anti-violence advocates, they've received a cold reception from lawmakers.
Many are upset that Quinn waited a month after receiving the bill to make his changes through the use of his amendatory veto power, and accused of him pandering to voters. Quinn, who is running for re-election, faces some potentially high-profile challengers from his own party.
A bill sponsor, state Rep. Brandon Phelps, said Quinn's late changes put Illinois at risk of "going off the cliff" and not meeting the July 9 deadline.
"Why would the governor want to put people in that predicament?" the Harrisburg Democrat said. "That's the problem with what's he's doing. I don't think he understands what he's doing."
Illinois must comply with a federal appeals court deadline after the state's ban on concealed carry was ruled unconstitutional in December. The original bill, which came out of months of negotiation, would allow the Illinois State Police to issue a concealed carry permit to a gun owner with a Firearm Owners Identification card who passes a background check and undergoes training, among other provisions.
The bill passed the House and Senate with the support of more than the three-fifths majorities needed to override Quinn's changes.
There's debate about what will happen if there's no law by Tuesday. Some say it means that anyone can carry a gun anywhere, while others say it will prompt local municipalities to enact their own ordinances.
Still, Phelps said, one possible outlet for Quinn's suggested changes might be separate legislation at a later date.
Senate President John Cullerton said issues raised by Quinn's changes were worth discussing and could come up again down the road.
"Even though the Senate president will be supporting the override so that we don't waste any time getting reasonable regulations on the books, he did think that there are a lot of issues raised in the amendatory veto that are worth further discussion," Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said.
If lawmakers reject Quinn's changes and the bill they approved goes into effect, Illinois State Police will have to be ready within six months to accept applications. Roughly 300,000 applications are expected in the first year, according to ISP spokeswoman Monique Bond.
Chicago, Illinois (Garry Francis McCarthy)
A Violent Weekend in Chicago Despite a Recent Trend of Decreasing Homicides
By STEVEN YACCINO — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
CHICAGO — Amid the flash and bang of fireworks, gunshots from 47 separate shootings echoed through this city over the extended Fourth of July weekend, killing 11 and wounding dozens more, including a 5-year-old boy. The events were a sober reminder to residents that despite a drop in homicides this year, gaining control over gun violence in Chicago will be a long road, and the political pressure it has put on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first term is far from over.
“It’s a day-by-day, minute-by-minute crime,” Garry F. McCarthy, the Chicago police superintendent, said at a news conference on Monday. “Yes, we’re seeing great response to our efforts to build a deeper partnership with the communities and the residents that we serve, but we know there’s more work to be done.”
Homicides in Chicago drew national attention last year after a spike in gun violence and gang activity contributed to more than 500 deaths, exceeding the level of bloodshed in the country’s two larger cities, New York and Los Angeles. But the city has been encouraged by a 24 percent reduction in shootings so far this year (from 1,193 to 909) and 28 percent reduction in homicides (from 276 to 200) — an improvement officials attribute partly to an increased police presence, with as many as 400 officers a day patrolling the most dangerous areas. The police say the violence is mostly gang related and in a small number of neighborhoods on the city’s South and West Sides.
In the first week of July, the police say, there were 65 shootings across the city, down from 76 over the same period in 2012. Sixteen people were killed last week, the same as in 2012. In New York City, where homicides are also down this year, there were 38 shootings and seven fatalities last week.
Early July, in particular, is typically a tough time for Chicago violence, said Roseanna Ander, the executive director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab.
“It’s a holiday weekend, you’ve got people out drinking, the weather is nice,” she said. “That is a challenging confluence of factors to be working against.”
Ms. Ander added, “I don’t think this necessarily tells us what the rest of the summer is going to be like, but it does serve as a reminder that this is a very complicated problem.”
In a statement released Monday, Mr. Emanuel said, “Any amount of violence is unacceptable.” Noting that new policing strategies and increased summer programs for children have helped address the problem, he added, “Our work will continue until all residents share the same level of safety.”
Some experts point to colder spring months as a contributing factor to this year’s decline in gun violence.
Among the victims shot in the 80-degree weather last weekend, one person was killed and seven were wounded on Saturday after someone fired an assault weapon from a moving minivan on the West Side. The police said the attack was gang related.
Early Friday, a 5-year-old boy was shot while walking home with his family after a Fourth of July party. Around 1 a.m., the family stopped to talk to some friends in a park on the city’s South Side when someone fired into the crowd, striking the boy, Jaden Donald, in front of his three older siblings.
“They were only in the park for a few minutes,” said the Rev. Dan Willis, the family’s pastor. One bullet pierced his leg, another damaged his kidney, spleen and pancreas, he said. Jaden was still in a hospital Monday — stable, but unconscious and on a ventilator.
The police said two others were wounded in the park shooting. A suspect, Darryl Chambers, 24, a gang member, has been charged with three counts of attempted murder and aggregated battery with a firearm.
Already, state and city officials have used the rash of violence to renew calls for tougher gun laws and increased community involvement in addressing violence in Chicago.
Gov. Pat Quinn joined a community “walk against violence” on the South Side on Saturday and visited a church on the West Side on Sunday as he tried to gain support for amendments he made to a concealed carry law that passed both chambers in May. He wants a limit of one gun and one 10-cartridge ammunition magazine per person, among other changes. But lawmakers are expected to override his veto in a special session on Tuesday.
At the news conference Monday, Mr. McCarthy also called for harsher sentences for people caught carrying a gun illegally. He said a three-year minimum sentence would have stopped five of the gunmen last week, including Mr. Chambers, who had been arrested in 2011 and was given probation.
“Folks, it’s absolutely unacceptable,” Mr. McCarthy said. “The examples go on and on.”
Dallas police take aim at old crime that’s hot again: safecracking
By TANYA EISERER and SARAH SPELLINGS — Monday, July 8th, 2013 ‘The Dallas Morning News’ / Dallas, TX
(Edited for brevity and generic law enforcement pertinence)
Safes aren’t so safe these days.
Bandits have been breaking into safes or stealing them outright from businesses all over North Texas. The problem is so pervasive that Dallas police recently created a safe burglary task force and have been working with other area agencies to battle the onslaught.
“I don’t think you could name a city that borders Dallas that hasn’t been hit,” said Deputy Chief David Pughes, who oversees the task force.
“It’s not necessarily a well-structured criminal enterprise,” he said. “It’s groups of individuals who have decided that this is their crime of choice. It’s very lucrative and obviously what’s driving it right now is that they’ve had a lot of success.”
A Dallas Morning News review found that Dallas police recorded more than 165 business safe burglaries through the first half of 2013. That review found that thieves have swiped more than $500,000 in cash and caused at least $390,000 in damage.
“This is a very hot topic,” said Sgt. Kevin Perlich, a Richardson police spokesman. “It’s an issue that I know we’re trying to address.”
The safes range from easily removed cash boxes to bigger bolted-down ones. The thefts typically involve thieves crudely bludgeoning their way inside the safe or simply carting the safes away to be opened later. Authorities said this isn’t high-tech Mission Impossible work.
Break-ins often take place overnight. Thieves typically wear gloves and masks and force their way in using crowbars and sledgehammers. Often they are in and out with their loot within minutes.
In one far northeast Dallas convenience store burglary, a gloved thief wearing a mask and wielding a sledgehammer broke through a wall and snatched a safe. The take: $50,000 in cash and $100,000 worth of cigarettes, according to police records.
Restaurants have been a favored target in Dallas.
Last year, Dallas started its first safe burglary task force.
Hot month for crime
Early this year, the number of safe burglaries began to slowly rise.
In May, the numbers exploded with Dallas-area agencies recording an average of about 30 safe burglaries a week, Pughes said.
Surveillance Expected to Be a Focus at Hearing for F.B.I. Nominee
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
WASHINGTON — James B. Comey, President Obama’s nominee to be F.B.I. director, is likely to be sharply questioned Tuesday about his views on enemy interrogations and government surveillance programs while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing as part of his confirmation process.
Mr. Comey’s nomination has received strong bipartisan support, but some Democrats and civil liberty groups have raised questions about his role as deputy attorney general in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush. Government surveillance is a particularly thorny issue, given the disclosures by Edward J. Snowden about classified National Security Agency spying programs.
The Obama administration has little time to get the Senate, which takes a recess in August, to confirm Mr. Comey by Sept. 3, when the current director, Robert S. Mueller III, is required by law to leave his post.
In testimony before the same Senate committee five years ago, Mr. Comey distinguished himself from many members of the Bush administration — and significantly raised his national profile — with testimony that was perceived as repudiating government surveillance programs.
At a hearing about the Justice Department’s firings of several United States attorneys, Mr. Comey riveted the senators by testifying about a 2004 episode in which he believed that senior Bush administration officials tried to persuade his ailing boss, Attorney General John Ashcroft, to sign off on an illegal data-collection program.
Mr. Comey said that Mr. Ashcroft, who was in the hospital, had signed his powers over to him. But Mr. Bush’s chief of staff and White House counsel, he said, went to Mr. Ashcroft’s hospital room and asked him to sign off on a National Security Agency program that was collecting Internet data on Americans.
Mr. Comey, who said he had been tipped off that the White House officials were headed to the hospital, testified that he confronted them. The program was halted soon after.
After his testimony, Mr. Comey was widely credited with putting the law over political concerns, but senior Bush administration officials said that although Mr. Comey’s objections halted the program, it was later resumed under a similar legal framework and with few procedural changes.
After President Obama nominated Mr. Comey as F.B.I. director, Bush administration officials and civil liberty groups raised questions about whether he was truly skeptical of government surveillance programs.
They have pointed to the other surveillance programs that Mr. Comey supported – like wiretapping without warrants – as examples of how he is comfortable with an array of controversial programs. A senior Bush administration official who worked closely with Mr. Comey said that “he was quite comfortable with a whole bunch” of government surveillance programs and that he had repeatedly signed off on their authorization.
“There’s one very big problem with describing Comey as some sort of civil libertarian — some facts suggest otherwise,” Laura W. Murphy, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s legislative office in Washington, said in an article published by The Guardian.
She added: “While Comey deserves credit for stopping an illegal spying program in dramatic fashion, he also approved or defended some of the worst abuses of the Bush administration during his time as deputy attorney general. Those included torture, warrantless wiretapping and indefinite detention.”
Before serving as the deputy attorney general under President Bush, Mr. Comey was the United States attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he oversaw a variety of prosecutions, including the investigation of Martha Stewart.
FBI nominee says surveillance can be valuable tool
By PETE YOST (The Associated Press) — Tuesday, July 9th, 2013; 11:27 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration's nominee to become the next FBI director has told senators that FBI surveillance programs are subject to strict oversight designed to ensure that individual privacy rights are not violated.
James Comey said he's not familiar with details of the government's phone and Internet surveillance program. But he also said that collecting that type of information can be "a valuable tool" in counterterrorism.
Comey appeared Tuesday before a friendly Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering his nomination for FBI director. Both Democrats and Republicans spoke approvingly of Comey's past record in government.
Comey says federal judges who oversee government intelligence programs are "anything but a rubber stamp." But he agreed to work with committee chairman Patrick Leahy on what Leahy calls "common sense improvements" to surveillance laws.
Fourth Amendment Issue: ‘The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’
Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’ Editorial:
The Laws You Can’t See
In the month since a national security contractor leaked classified documents revealing a vast sweep of Americans’ phone records by the federal government, people across the country have disagreed about the extent to which our expectation of personal privacy must yield to the demands of national security.
Under normal circumstances, this could be a healthy, informed debate on a matter of overwhelming importance — the debate President Obama said he welcomed in the days after the revelations of the surveillance programs.
But this is a debate in which almost none of us know what we’re talking about.
As Eric Lichtblau reported in The Times on Sunday, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has for years been developing what is effectively a secret and unchallenged body of law on core Fourth Amendment issues, producing lengthy classified rulings based on the arguments of the federal government — the only party allowed in the courtroom. In recent years, the court, originally established by Congress to approve wiretap orders, has extended its reach to consider requests related to nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks. Its rulings, some of which approach 100 pages, have established the court as a final arbiter in these matters.
But the court is as opaque as it is powerful. Every attempt to understand the court’s rulings devolves into a fog of hypothesis and speculation.
The few public officials with knowledge of the surveillance court’s work either censor themselves as required by law, as Senator Ron Wyden has done in his valiant efforts to draw attention to the full scope of these programs, or they offer murky, even misleading statements, as the director of national intelligence, James Clapper Jr., did before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March.
As outrageous as the blanket secrecy of the surveillance court is, we are equally troubled by the complete absence of any adversarial process, the heart of our legal system. The government in 2012 made 1,789 requests to conduct electronic surveillance; the court approved 1,788 (the government withdrew the other). It is possible that not a single one of these 1,788 requests violated established law, but the public will never know because no one was allowed to make a counterargument.
When judicial secrecy is coupled with a one-sided presentation of the issues, the result is a court whose reach is expanding far beyond its original mandate and without any substantive check. This is a perversion of the American justice system, and it is not necessary.
Even before the latest revelations of government snooping, some members of Congress were trying to provide that check. In a letter to the court in February, Senator Dianne Feinstein and three others asked that any rulings with a “significant interpretation of the law” be declassified. In response, the court’s presiding judge, Reggie Walton, wrote that the court could provide only summaries of its rulings, because the full opinions contained classified information. But he balked at releasing summaries, which he feared would create “misunderstanding or confusion.” It is difficult to imagine how releasing information would make the confusion worse.
Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, recently reintroduced a bill that would require declassification. It was defeated in December. In light of the national uproar over the most recent revelations, the leadership in Congress should push to pass it and begin to shine some light on this dark corner of the judicial system.
We don’t know what we’ll find. The surveillance court may be strictly adhering to the limits of the Fourth Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Or not. And that’s the problem: This court has morphed into an odd hybrid that seems to exist outside the justice system, even as its power grows in ways that we can’t see.