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Community Safety Act: Some Real Logic and Reason
Editorial: NYPD's Real Problem
By RICHARD STEIER — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
The police unions have turned up the heat against City Council Members they believe might be susceptible to changing their votes on a bill that would expand the city’s ban on racial profiling by the NYPD.
The unions have legitimate concerns about the potential impact of the measure on the performance of their members, not least of them the possibility that they could be held financially liable for legal fees if the city opted not to indemnify them, though it usually does. Several policing experts have told this newspaper that they believe the measure could have a chilling effect on officers that in some cases would make them hesitant to act if they believed it would render them vulnerable to being sued and, if found guilty of violating the proposed statute, stigmatized.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has targeted three white Council Members representing districts it believes are sufficiently pro-police that there could be political repercussions for the three if they go along with an override vote that is bound to follow Mayor Bloomberg’s promised veto. Since just one changed vote would leave the bill’s supporters short of the two-thirds majority needed for an override, the tactic might work.
But the deadline for the veto is approaching fast, and the fact that the Mayor hasn’t exercised it yet most likely means he and the unions haven’t yet found that lone vote. One of the Council Members who has been targeted, Mark Weprin of Queens, told this newspaper’s Mark Toor that his own longtime sympathy for the police has been offset by complaints from minority constituents about frequently being stopped by cops for no valid reason and the humiliations they have suffered during the encounters.
Perhaps the unions ought to be turning their attention to the administration. A primary sponsor of the bill, Councilman Jumaane Williams, said he introduced it because neither Mr. Bloomberg nor Police Commissioner Ray Kelly would listen to complaints about the program more than a year ago, and he has expressed a willingness to negotiate the bill’s terms even at this late date.
What is particularly puzzling is the administration’s unwillingness to put forward its best argument against both the bill and the possibility of a Federal monitor being appointed to oversee NYPD operations if a judge rules that the department’s conduct of stop-and-frisk repeatedly violated the Constitution. As the complaints over the program reached a crescendo in the spring of last year, the NYPD sharply changed its emphasis—from quantity to quality—and the number of stops declined dramatically. That happened even as the city’s murder rate plummeted, suggesting that a poorly executed stop-and-frisk program had actually hindered crime-fighting efforts.
The only reason we can see for not pointing to the sharp decline in stops as evidence that the NYPD not only can but has corrected the problem is that it would require admitting that there had been a problem.
Police Unions Intensify Push Against Profiling Bill As Bad for Cops
Supporters Decry Bloomberg Efforts to Sway Council So Veto Will Stand
By MARK TOOR — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
Police unions and supporters of a bill that would outlaw demographic profiling by officers continued their battle last week for the hearts and minds of New Yorkers—and at least one City Council Member, who could mean the difference between overriding and sustaining a promised veto by Mayor Bloomberg.
“The nation has just witnessed in Florida the dangers posed by racial profiling, and we must ban it here in New York City,” said mayoral candidate and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, referring to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic, for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin.
‘Don’t Let Mayor Bully You’
“New Yorkers know we can and must have both personal liberty and public safety, and we cannot allow Bloomberg and others who oppose a ban on racial profiling to bully the City Council into backing away from this urgently needed reform,” Mr. de Blasio said in a rally outside City Hall on July 16.
“A more accurate label for this dangerous legislation is the Criminal Protection bill,” said a radio ad broadcast last week by the Detectives Endowment Association. “Potentially it will stop cops in their tracks by encouraging criminals to sue an officer even though the cop is acting in good faith and in accordance with the Constitution. How effective could you be at your job if every task you performed correctly could result in you being sued?”
In an interview, DEA President Michael J. Palladino said the sponsors have explained the legislation was introduced because Mr. Bloomberg and the NYPD dismissed complaints that the department was overly aggressive in implementing its stop-and-frisk policy.
‘Missing Their Target’
“They’re going to miss their intended target,” he said. “Come January both the Mayor and the Police Commissioner will be gone,” but the legislation will remain to “shackle the rank-and-file members of the NYPD.”
Several Council Members, including profiling-bill co-sponsors Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander, called July 18 for public hearings before the Mayor issues his veto.
“We appreciate that it has been common practice in your administration to hold hearings for public comment before you sign legislation passed by the City Council,” they wrote in a letter to Mr. Bloomberg. “We ask that you give New Yorkers that same opportunity for public comment, and that you listen to them before you decide whether to sign or veto these two bills...
“Too often in debates like these, policymakers from some of the city’s wealthier and safer neighborhoods decide what is best for low-income communities and communities of color without actually listening to the members of those communities,” the letter continued.
The police unions are partnering with Mr. Bloomberg in fighting the bill, which was passed along with another that would establish an Inspector General for the NYPD. Mr. Bloomberg said he will veto both bills, but the IG bill passed with 40 votes, six more than the minimum needed to override a veto.
The profiling bill passed with just the minimum 34 votes it needed to be veto-proof, so changing the vote of one Council Member—or encouraging him or her to be out of town when the override vote is taken—would ensure the Mayor wins the battle.
Mr. Bloomberg’s staff has said he will fight for that vote with every lever at his command, but City Hall has been silent about the progress of his effort. The fact that the veto has not come down is being read as a sign that he has not yet been successful.
Links Policy to Crime Drop
The Mayor has said stop, question and frisk is a key reason that crime rates, especially homicides, have fallen during his tenure. Mr. de Blasio and other supporters of the profiling bill fear he will use not only city funds but personal resources from his multi-billion-dollar fortune, as he did five years ago in fighting term limits so he could seek a third term.
The bill would stop officers from using race, ethnicity and other demographic identifiers as the primary reason for stopping or taking other action against individuals. People who feel they were improperly profiled could sue in the state courts. Judges could not award monetary damages, but could issue orders halting the practice that led to the stop. They could also award legal fees against defendants, who could include individual officers.
The PBA has targeted a handful of Council Members who favored the bill, leafleting in their districts to encourage constituents to pressure them to change their vote. Last week, in addition to the DEA ads, the Lieutenants Benevolent Association joined the Sergeants Benevolent Association and the PBA in urging members to exercise caution about stop-and-frisks.
‘Lieutenants Being Charged’
“In the past three weeks, several of our members have received charges and specifications issued by the Civilian Complaint Review Board,” LBA President Louis Turco said in a letter to members. All of the incidents involved stop, question and frisk, he said.
“Therefore, we are advising our members to be especially cautious in regard to exercising stops,” he wrote. “We understand and acknowledge that our members have a duty to protect the public and their fellow officers. However, our members should be cognizant of this increased scrutiny when deciding whether or not to stop an individual.”
In addition to the City Hall rally, supporters staged gatherings in Staten Island, on behalf of Councilwoman Deborah Rose, and in Queens, in support of Councilman Leroy Comrie.
“I live in the community where these acts of overly aggressive policing, stopping everybody randomly, is a way of life,” Ms. Rose, who chairs the Council’s Civil Rights Committee, told the Staten Island Advance after the rally July 17. “And I have a son, who has been stopped numerous times. It’s long past time that we do something that addresses the fact that people’s basic civil rights are being infringed upon on a daily basis in such large numbers as a daily occurrence and as business as usual.”
“Stop, question, and frisk has created a deep divide across Queens between residents and their local precincts, and is a tactic which has been overused across the city,” Mr. Comrie said.
Says Campaign Taking Toll
Mr. Palladino took issue with a statement by Mr. Williams that members supporting the bill feel that union opposition is not hurting them. “I had discussions with quite a number of Council Members on both sides of the issue,” Mr. Palladino said. “My understanding is that the Council Members are quite bothered and concerned about the unions’ efforts.”
He added, “I hope that Williams & Company have the backbone to accept responsibility if crime goes up as a result of their legislation.”
Mr. Palladino said supporters of the profiling bill “claim it’s not intended to go after the individual officer. But it’s certainly going to end up that way.”
“I foresee the agency refusing to admit that its policies are flawed. When their ideas are challenged, they usually blame it on the individual officer. They will prosecute officers in the trial room if a civilian judge comes back with a decision that’s against the NYPD. The legislation doesn’t give any protection to officers from retaliation by the agency.”
Mr. Palladino noted that lawsuits contending that the stop-and-frisk program is run in an unconstitutional fashion, which are pending before U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, could result in a consent decree and a Federal monitor appointed to oversee the program. If a monitor is appointed, he said, “the Inspector General will be nothing more than a high-paid go-fer for that monitor.”
Dueling Cases in Court
Lawyers for the city and for the Center for Constitutional Rights submitted dueling letters to Judge Scheindlin on that issue July 10.
Attorneys Heidi Grossman and Linda Donohue of the city Department of Law said that assuming the Inspector General Bill take effect, “any Federal monitor imposed by the court will result in at least duplicative oversight and potentially inconsistent directives to the NYPD. 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...
“It is not in the public interest or the purview of any government authority to hamstring NYPD with bureaucratic or judicial constraints such that NYPD cannot effectively perform constitutional law enforcement,” their letter continued.
CCR attorney Sunita Patel wrote that IG would report to the Mayor and the City Council, but not to Judge Scheindlin. And the IG has no authority to enforce its recommendations, unlike a Federal monitor, who could appeal to the court if he or she is ignored.
The roles of the IG and a court-appointed monitor, Ms. Patel wrote, “would each serve as complementary and necessary pieces of a comprehensive reform process.”
Why the Rush?
“I don’t understand the City Council’s rush,” Mr. Palladino said. “An Inspector General “would probably create more concerns that it’s actually going to address...
They should be waiting for Judge Scheindlin and the new Mayor.”
Lawmakers at the City Hall rally said there was no more time to wait. “We continue to be told that there’s no problem here, that we’re mostly making it up,” said Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito. “People who go through this three, four, five times in a lifetime—or even in a week—are told that it’s not happening.”
“I’ve lived it. I see it constantly in my community,” said Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda of The Bronx. “Kids are harassed and arrested, straining community relations.” The Council must stand behind the bill, he said, “no matter how much the Mayor spends.”
Councilman Andy King had a message for fellow supporters of the profiling bill: “Do not succumb to any of the tactics of the Mayor and the PBA.”
Ray Kelly: The NYPD: Guilty of Saving 7,383 Lives
Accusations of racial profiling ignore the fact that violent crime overwhelmingly occurs in minority neighborhoods.
By RAY KELLY — Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
Since 2002, the New York Police Department has taken tens of thousands of weapons off the street through proactive policing strategies. The effect this has had on the murder rate is staggering. In the 11 years before Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office, there were 13,212 murders in New York City. During the 11 years of his administration, there have been 5,849. That's 7,383 lives saved—and if history is a guide, they are largely the lives of young men of color.
So far this year, murders are down 29% from the 50-year low achieved in 2012, and we've seen the fewest shootings in two decades.
To critics, none of this seems to much matter. Sidestepping the fact that these policies work, they continue to allege that massive numbers of minorities are stopped and questioned by police for no reason other than their race.
Never mind that in each of the city's 76 police precincts, the race of those stopped highly correlates to descriptions provided by victims or witnesses to crimes. Or that in a city of 8.5 million people, protected by 19,600 officers on patrol (out of a total uniformed staff of 35,000), the average number of stops we conduct is less than one per officer per week.
Racial profiling is a disingenuous charge at best and an incendiary one at worst, particularly in the wake of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. The effect is to obscure the rock-solid legal and constitutional foundation underpinning the police department's tactics and the painstaking analysis that determines how we employ them.
In 2003, when the NYPD recognized that 96% of the individuals who were shot and 90% of those murdered were black and Hispanic, we concentrated our officers in those minority neighborhoods that had experienced spikes in crime. This program is called Operation Impact.
From the beginning, we've combined this strategy with a proactive policy of engagement. We stop and question individuals about whom we have reasonable suspicion. This is a widely utilized and lawful police tactic, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1968 decision, Terry v. Ohio, and authorized by New York State Criminal Procedure Law and the New York state constitution. Every state in the country has a variant of this statute, as does federal law; it is fundamental to policing.
It's understandable that someone who has done nothing wrong will be angry if he is stopped. Last year, the NYPD announced a series of steps to strengthen the oversight and training involved in this tactic. The number of civilian complaints in 2012 was the lowest in the past five years. That's progress—and we always strive to do better.
In a similar vein, our detractors contend that the NYPD engages in widespread, unwarranted spying on Muslim New Yorkers. Again, this is a sensational charge belied by the facts.
Since 1985, the police department has been subject to a set of rules known as the Handschu Guidelines, which were developed to protect people engaged in political protest. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, we were concerned that elements of the guidelines could interfere with our ability to investigate terrorism. In 2002, we proposed to the federal court that monitors the agreement that it be modified. The court agreed.
Handschu entitles police officers to attend any event that is open to the public, to view online activity that is publicly accessible and to prepare reports and assessments to help us understand the nature of the threat.
As a matter of department policy, undercover officers and confidential informants do not enter a mosque unless they are following up on a lead vetted under Handschu. Similarly, when we have attended a private event organized by a student group, we've done so on the basis of a lead or investigation reviewed and authorized in writing at the highest levels of the department, in keeping with Handschu protocol.
Anyone who implies that it is unlawful for the police department to search online, visit public places or map neighborhoods has either not read, misunderstood or intentionally obfuscated the meaning of the Handschu Guidelines.
The NYPD has too urgent a mission and too few officers for us to waste time and resources on broad, unfocused surveillance. We have a responsibility to protect New Yorkers from violent crime or another terrorist attack—and we uphold the law in doing so.
As a city, we have to face the reality that New York's minority communities experience a disproportionate share of violent crime. To ignore that fact, as our critics would have us do, would be a form of discrimination in itself.
Mr. Kelly is the New York City police commissioner.
Weprin Defends Stance on Bill
PBA ‘Profiling’ Target: No Foe, So No Sweat
By MARK TOOR — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
Mark Weprin is one of three City Council Members targeted by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association for voting in favor of a bill that would outlaw demographic profiling by the NYPD. But Mr. Weprin said the opposition from the PBA—and from Mayor Bloomberg—is not affecting his campaign for a second term.
“Right now I don’t have an opponent,” he said in an interview last week. Political sources in Queens report that Mr. Bloomberg’s political operative, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, has been recruiting possible Republican opponents, according to the website DNAinfo.
No one has bitten so far, although one possibility, retired NYPD Captain Joseph Concannon, was mentioned in a poll of uncertain provenance. Mr. Concannon, who ran unsuccessfully for State Senate last year, declined to tell DNAinfo whether the Bloomberg administration had tried to recruit him.
Mr. Weprin, 52, said, “The stop-and-frisk system is flawed and needs to be reformed. We are stopping too many people who are just going about their business.” He said nearly 90 percent of those are innocent, meaning they are not arrested or ticketed. They are also overwhelmingly young black or Latino men.
The profiling bill was introduced after Mr. Bloomberg refused for more than a year to meet with community leaders who felt the NYPD was implementing the policy too aggressively.
“Every African-American I know has been stopped or a member of their family stopped,” Councilman Weprin said. One aide who is black had been stopped twice, he said. “It was humiliating and degrading, and he wasn’t treated that nicely. It’s a story I hear over and over again.”
Cops Made It Racial
In one stop, he said, the aide had been playing basketball with two white friends when he was stopped. The cops questioned the aide but did not address his friends at all, Mr. Weprin said. “The officer told him to go straight home, which was inappropriate,” he said.
“People are angry about the way they’re stopped,” he said, referring to complaints of discourtesy by officers who speak harshly and search people they stop without cause or permission.
The Councilman said he was troubled by the rift with the PBA. “I love cops,” he said. “I’ve always had a great relationship with law enforcement.” In fact, he said, police officers are caught in the middle between a data-driven Mayor who has insisted on stop-and-frisk quotas and communities that feel they are being mistreated.
Mr. Bloomberg has promised to veto the profiling bill and a companion bill that would create an independent Inspector General for the NYPD. While the IG bill passed with 40 votes, the profiling bill had just 34, the minimum needed to override a veto. If Mr. Bloomberg or the police unions can persuade even one Council Member to change his or her vote, that veto would be sustained.
The PBA has been campaigning in Mr. Weprin’s district and those of Jessica Lappin and Daniel Garodnick, passing out flyers and mailing leaflets, with the goal of changing their votes on the override. Ms. Lappin said she would not be intimidated. Mr. Garodnick did not return a phone call and has not otherwise addressed the issue. PBA officials said last week they are continuing to evaluate the union’s efforts before deciding whether to expand them to other Council Members.
The profiling bill would forbid officers from initiating a stop using the “determinative factor” of a person’s perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, color, creed, age, citizenship or housing status, gender, sexual orientation or disability. Those who feel they were improperly stopped could sue in state court not for money damages, but for a court order prohibiting the policy or practice that led to their stop.
Mr. Bloomberg says the bill would prohibit officers from using demographic descriptions when seeking suspects. “That’s just not true,” said Mr. Weprin, agreeing with other sponsors of the bill, who say it uses the same determinative-factor standard employed in a less-sweeping anti-profiling bill Mr. Bloomberg signed in 2004.
NYPD Communications Div. ICAD System
Dispatchers take 911 calls with pen and paper after beleaguered system crashes TWICE
Emergency Medical Service workers could not access the system between 7:38 and 8:09 a.m. Monday, leaving them to process 'just under 100 calls' without computers.
By Rocco Parascandola AND Ginger Adams Otis — Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
The city's 911 emergency system had to be resuscitated Monday morning after two computer crashes left EMS operators unable to electronically process calls, sources told the Daily News.
Emergency Medical Service operators resorted to pen and paper between 7:38 and 8:09 a.m. while techs rushed to get the malfunctioning 911 dispatching system back online.
FDNY spokesman Jim Long said the surprise outage is being reviewed.
"We had no issues that we could see," Long said, adding that there were "just under 100 calls" processed with pen and paper.
NYPD officials didn't immediately respond when asked if their 911 computers were similarly affected.
But 911 sources said NYPD operators also had a few technical problems at the same time as EMS.
With the EMS dispatching system down, those 911 operators were unable to assign ambulances to waiting jobs, sources said.
The first EMS outage lasted approximately 30 minutes and operators were quickly able to catch up with the small backlog of calls, officials said.
A few hours later, at approximately 10:53 a.m., the EMS computers flat lined for a second time, sources said.
The system went down for about seven minutes, coming back to life at approximately 11 a.m., according to 911 sources. FDNY officials didn't immediately respond to queries about the second outage.
The city's NYPD 911 system has experienced similar outages since installing new dispatching software known as ICAD on May 29.
The NYPD system crashed just hours after installation and was down for about 30 minutes.
According to several insiders, the new system crashed several times in the following days and weeks.
The shutdowns forced operators to resort to writing down information about 911 calls on slips of paper, though police officials have said all calls were answered and no one was endangered.
Since then, NYPD brass at the main 911 call center in downtown Brooklyn have taken to urging telephone operators to periodically reboot or refresh their computers to avoid the constant freezes, but that also delays the work of answering calls promptly.
City officials have staunchly defended the new, $88 million ICAD dispatching system, part of Mayor Bloomberg's ambitious $2 billion plan to overhaul the city's outdated 911 system.
"It works," Mayor Bloomberg said of the dispatch system last month, referring to the problems as "bugs" common to any new system.
"You wish you didn't have bugs," Bloomberg said, "but that's the real world."
FDNY forced to resort to pen and paper as 911 snarled by six new glitches
By JAMIE SCHRAM and LARRY CELONA — Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
Part of the city’s problem-plagued 911 system failed so many times yesterday that FDNY dispatchers were forced to revert to using pen and paper to jot down calls, while patrol cops were enlisted to take victims to hospitals.
Problems were so rife that by afternoon, cops were told to call their department’s own Emergency Service Unit for help, sources said. Otherwise, they were to transport victims to hospitals in their radio cars.
The move came less than a week after City Council Speaker Christine Quinn personally called Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to get an ambulance for a council intern who had collapsed in the heat at an outdoor event amid an emergency-service backlog.
The first of at least six glitches — apparently caused by old computer software that froze the Fire Department’s EMS dispatch system — lasted from 7:42 a.m. to 8:10 a.m., FDNY officials and sources said. EMS dispatchers had to juggle about 100 calls during the initial outage.
The second shutdown lasted about five minutes, officials said.
An FDNY official wouldn’t say when the second incident occurred, nor the number, time or duration of the subsequent glitches.
He said only that the total time that the computers were down throughout the day was roughly 90 minutes.
A dispatcher-union rep said the system crashed at least six times.
“It went down so many times, they can’t figure out the minutes themselves,’’ said Israel Miranda, president of the uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Inspectors FDNY Local 2507.
“When they tried to boot it back up, it went down again.
“They went back to the pen and paper days,’’ he said of the workers. “[Operators taking the initial 911 call] have a runner pass the index card to a dispatcher, who has to figure out which borough and then relay it over the radio to the ambulances that are out there.
“Usually, it goes to the closest ambulance,’’ he said. But “they can’t tell where the ambulances are located at any given time because the system is down which has a GPS.” he said.
An FDNY rep said, “I have not been informed of any such difficulties,’’ when asked if the system shutdown affected patient care.
The FDNY blamed the glitches on 30-year-old software, which is set to be replaced in 2015.
The department said the old software is not part of the $88 million ICAD system launched in May at the city’s general 911 call-intake center.
Additional reporting by Sally Goldenberg, Kirstan Conley and Kate Sheehy
More Computer Failures in City’s 911 System
By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ — Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
New York City’s aging 911 dispatch system, which has recently faced problems, went offline a number of times on Monday, for a total of 90 minutes, causing delays and forcing operators to use pen and paper to record emergency calls, the authorities said.
The failures, at least six in all, slowed 911 response times somewhat, said Francis X. Gribbon, a Fire Department spokesman. By Monday evening, the system was fully operational again. It was not yet clear what caused the failures, Mr. Gribbon said, though he noted that the problem seemed to have occurred in the system’s data storage equipment.
No calls were lost, and two other systems used to dispatch police officers and firefighters remained online, the Fire Department said in a statement.
The 911 dispatch system has encountered trouble recently, as the city works on a $2 billion upgrade. Spikes in the number of calls have occasionally overwhelmed the system, causing disruptions. Technical failures and human error have sometimes resulted in costly delays in emergency response times.
In June, emergency medical workers were delayed in responding to a car crash in Manhattan that killed a 4-year-old girl. A dispatcher had failed to see the report on his computer.
And after a City Council intern collapsed at a news conference last week, it took 31 minutes and a phone call from Christine C. Quinn, the Council speaker, to the police commissioner before help arrived.
The failures on Monday began around 7:45 a.m. and continued intermittently throughout the day, the Fire Department said.
The computer system involved is about 30 years old and is being replaced, the department said.
During any failure, operators at the city’s 911 call center in Brooklyn must write down information from calls and deliver it by hand to dispatchers, who convey the information to emergency responders by radio.
By Monday night, the computer system was operating with backup servers while technicians worked to fix the problem, Mr. Gribbon said.
Claim of 8-Minute Delay Disputed by City
Latest 911 Flareup: UFA Seeks To Bar Police From Taking Fire Calls
By SARAH DORSEY — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
The Uniformed Firefighters Association last week sought an injunction barring police 911 operators from fielding fire calls after union officials reported three separate five-to-eight-minute delays in relaying fire emergencies to dispatchers between July 12 and July 17. A Bronx woman was killed in one of the blazes.
City officials blamed one five-minute delay on operator error—a failure to patch the call through immediately to fire dispatchers. They disputed the alleged eight-minute delay, which UFA President Steve Cassidy said led to an ordinary Bronx house fire raging out of control, and the woman who made the call confirmed the city’s account.
5 Alarms, 11 Injuries
That July 17 blaze became a five-alarm call requiring 250 firefighters and more than two hours to subdue; 11 firefighters were injured. Mr. Cassidy provided a screen shot of a 911 operator’s computer showing that the call was originally logged at 2:40 a.m. The next entry, when the FDNY was allegedly sent the information, is 8 minutes and 22 seconds later; by the time firefighters arrived, Mr. Cassidy said, 12 minutes had passed.
But Deshiny Velez confirmed to reporters later that week that she called at 2:47.
Deputy Mayor Caswell Holloway claimed the logs were misleading because the initial 2:40 a.m. entry was from an earlier, unrelated incident.
“All that means is on occasion 911 will leave a prior call field populated because they may have lost the caller or they may want to call them back,” he said, insisting that firefighters actually arrived less than 5 minutes after the fire was reported.
Cassidy, Mayor Spar
Mr. Cassidy at the press conference said he lacked confidence in the city’s statistics. “If the city is now saying that even though that’s our document, it’s not accurate, then they need to explain how that happened,” he said. “So now they’re turning around, saying...we want you to trust us and not the document? That’s hard for me to understand, and it’s even harder for me to believe.”
At a separate press conference that day, Mayor Bloomberg accused the union leader of distorting the facts to support his agenda, saying, “He should be ashamed of himself.”
The UFA has fought letting police operators collect the details of fire calls since the practice—known as the Unified Call Taking system—began in 2009 as part of the Mayor’s $2-billion 911-system overhaul.
The union challenged UCT before the Office of Collective Bargaining in 2010, and was joined by the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. After a long legal fight, city officials in June were ordered to give the unions scathing early drafts of an independent consultant’s report commissioned by Mr. Bloomberg that in 2011 condemned the UCT system as poorly conceived and executed. In drafts obtained by THE CHIEF-LEADER, the system was described as “a complete failure” and “a huge waste of tax revenue;” dispatchers didn’t seem to understand how the interface worked, the consultants said, and firefighters and citizens were endangered when the FDNY was sent to wrong addresses.
Mr. Cassidy couldn’t say whether the recent delays were human or computer errors, though he repeated his frequent complaint that fire dispatchers, who are trained in fire science and were previously stationed throughout the five boroughs, are better prepared to send the correct equipment and to direct fire trucks around familiar neighborhoods. NYPD dispatchers deal with police emergencies about 95 percent of the time, he noted.
New System’s Woes
Since new software was introduced on May 29, the Emergency Medical Service unions have reported a rash of recent computer glitches leading to communication errors and ambulance delays, including a four-minute lapse in treating a 4-year-old girl, who died June 4 after being struck by an SUV. The city blamed that incident on human error. But the fire dispatchers aren’t yet using the new software.
At a June City Council hearing on 911 response times, Mr. Holloway defended UCT, saying that although police operators take down callers’ information, fire dispatchers are patched in so that they can send fire trucks immediately. Mr. Cassidy said 911 operators routinely fail to do this, and he questioned the wisdom of that system.
Two People on One Call
“Why would anybody ever have two people on one phone call?” he said. “Why have a plumber do your electrical work? You wouldn’t.” The union leader said the recent fire delays have nothing to do with the 30-minute wait an intern endured the previous day after she fainted from heat exhaustion at a press conference held by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Ms. Quinn called Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano when an ambulance didn’t show, but city officials said all available units were responding to more-serious cases. The intern was conscious and responsive throughout the ordeal, and Mr. Cassidy noted that such calls are given lower priorities.
Council Fire and Criminal Justice Committee Chair Elizabeth Crowley responded to the reports of the fire delays by issuing a statement June 17 calling for an immediate end to UCT.
Eyed for Homeland Security
Will Kelly Be Moving Up Or Simply Moving Out?
By MARK TOOR — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
It wasn’t clear last week how solid the speculation was about Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly moving up to become U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. It also wasn’t clear whether he would take the job if it were offered.
Following the resignation of the current Secretary, Janet Napolitano, Sen. Charles E. Schumer said President Obama should look at Mr. Kelly, the city’s longest-serving PC, to replace her. “I have urged the White House to very seriously consider his candidacy,” Mr. Schumer said July 12.
Areas of Excellence
The head of DHS “needs to be someone who knows law enforcement, understands anti-terrorism efforts, and is a top-notch administrator,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. “And at the NYPD, Ray Kelly has proven that he excels in all three. As a former head of the Customs and Border Patrol, he has top-level Federal management experience.”
Mr. Kelly took a break from his 43-year NYPD career to serve in the Treasury Department, holding various law-enforcement posts under President Bill Clinton.
Mr. Obama said in a TV interview July 16, “Ray Kelly’s obviously done an extraordinary job in New York, and the Federal government partners a lot with New York, because obviously, our concerns about terrorism oftentimes are focused on big-city targets, and I think Ray Kelly’s one of the best there is.
“Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is,” Mr. Obama continued, “but if he’s not, I’d want to know about it because obviously, he’d be very well-qualified for the job.”
But he also said that he would have “a bunch of strong candidates” to choose from. His press secretary, Jay Carney, said it was “far too premature” to discuss who Mr. Obama might nominate.
The state’s other Democratic Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, agreed with Mr. Schumer on Mr. Kelly’s future. “The Federal government would benefit from Kelly’s hands-on experience in successfully thwarting over a dozen terrorist attacks,” she said.
‘Heads’s on Straight’
Others jumped in. U.S. Rep. Peter King of Long Island, former chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said, “The NYPD has more than 50,000 officers and civilians. He has the largest counter-terrorism force in the country. He previously worked in Washington as the head of Customs, which is an integral part of Homeland Security.”
“I think he’d be terrific, I really do. He’s got all the relevant experience,” former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey told the New York Post. “...He’s got his head screwed on straight.” Mr. Mukasey, a former Federal Judge, held the AG post under President George W. Bush.
“He is the epitome of leadership, a consummate professional and his vast experience puts him on anyone’s short list,” said Rep. Mike Grimm, a Republican from Staten Island.
Mr. Kelly has not commented on whether he would take the job if offered. His 12-year term as Mayor Bloomberg’s only Police Commissioner is likely to end when Mr. Bloomberg leaves office at the end of the year.
He was mentioned for months as a possible candidate for Mayor, and declined to express interest. At this point, it would be all but impossible for him to enter the race.
A Future Here?
One mayoral candidate, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, has said she would like to keep him on as Police Commissioner. But the growing outcry against the way the city implements its stop, question and frisk policy militates against the next Mayor retaining him.
The Post, a booster of Mr. Kelly, reported July 18 that one law-enforcement source said he “definitely would like it and would seriously consider the job if it’s offered to him.”
If Mr. Kelly wasn’t interested, “I expected him to call me and tell me to knock it off, and he hasn’t yet,” Mr. King said.
Not everyone thinks Mr. Kelly deserves a promotion. Civil-rights advocates say he is a driving force behind stop-and-frisk. Under his control, stops increased seven times to nearly 700,000 between 2002 and 2011. Almost all of those stopped were released without being ticketed or arrested. And almost all of them were young black or Latino men.
Federal Court Issues
Stop-and-frisk enforcement is being challenged in the Federal courts, as is the NYPD’s program of surveillance of Muslims. Civil-liberties groups say the department targets Muslims without regard for whether they might be involved in a crime, violating a Federal consent agreement and stifling political and religious activity in the Muslim community. That could be another black mark against Mr. Kelly on the national stage.
Further, Mr. Kelly does not always get along with Federal agencies, particularly the FBI, which is supposed to be in charge of counterintelligence. The agency is resentful of his program of stationing NYPD Detectives in foreign countries, and he and FBI bosses have clashed on terror cases and other issues.
And Mr. Schumer might not be the best person to predict who will be a successful Homeland Security chief. In 2004, he endorsed former Police Commissioner Bernard J. Kerik, who quickly withdrew as questions about both his business dealings and personal life emerged. He later served more than three years in Federal prison for—among other things—lying to Bush Administration investigators vetting his nomination.
Ray Kelly's record should rule him out of heading Homeland Security
The NYPD chief who has presided over the 'stop-and-frisk' policy and spying on Muslims would be a dire pick for DHS secretary
By John Eterno and Eli Silverman — Monday, July 22nd, 2013; 10:21 a.m. ‘The Guardian’ / London, England
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
The idea of nominating of Raymond W Kelly for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security would violate President Barack Obama's core principles and polices. The president has espoused openness, transparency, trust and confidence in government; inter-agency law enforcement co-operation; partnerships with citizens; and fair, equitable, effective and non-discriminatory law enforcement. On being elected, he promised:
Obama and Biden will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice.
Attorney General Eric Holder, another longtime critic of racial profiling, has worked to put the Department of Justice in a position to monitor "stop-and-frisk", the controversial policing tactic that has a disparate impact on blacks and Latinos. Speaking to the NAACP last week, Holder called the policy "outrageous".
Kelly's extensive record as commissioner of the New York City Police Department, on the other hand, speaks for itself. It is rife with secrecy, top-down managerial manipulation, impervious to any outside scrutiny, contemptuous of any questioning, and has embraced extensive surveillance and discriminatory policing of religious and racial minorities.
The NYPD's abuse of "stop, question and frisk" is an example of Kelly's trampling of basic rights. In 2002, Kelly's first year in office under the current mayor, there were fewer than 100,000 forcible stops. Crime was already dramatically down 63% since its height in the 1990s.
By 2011, at the peak of stop-and-frisk, the NYPD made nearly 700,000 forcible stops, mostly of minority youth. Over 85% of those stopped were released without a summons or arrest. There appears to be no need for this rapid increase in stop-and-frisks since crime rates had already significantly decreased.
Additionally, the large number of stops makes no sense. The NYPD is claiming crime is down 80%, yet at the same time, there are supposedly hundreds of thousands of suspects walking the streets. The two statements cannot logically co-exist.
The NYPD asserts that this practice "saves lives". While no sound study supports this assertion, it is clear that in a free society the police need to find legal ways to fight crime while respecting basic rights. Such heavy-handed tactics alienate minorities and more likely damage efforts to fight crime.
If people in minority neighborhoods "see something", those abused by police certainly will not say something. Also, some stopped may get ticketed or arrested for minor violations: in an age of information-sharing, such minor violations will show up on record checks which has the effect of reducing job opportunities of those who get ticketed for these trivial violations.
With respect to fighting crime and terrorism – supposedly, Kelly's strength – there are a number of key issues. Importantly, the NYPD commissioner has failed to act in any meaningful way on numerous claims of crime report manipulation. Our own research, including the book The Crime Numbers Game, demonstrates that such manipulation is commonplace.
Kelly created an impotent committee to review these practices but it lacked subpoena power, a budget, and the ability to grant immunity. Compounding this problem is the horrendous treatment of brave whistleblowers such as Adrian Schoolcraft, Adyl Polanco, and Robert Borelli. Each of these officers was penalized for exposing corrupt practices.
Schoolcraft, the worst-treated of the three, tried to report his allegations through channels and was ignored. He was placed in a mental institution for six days, has been suspended since February 2010, despite the fact that his allegations were all confirmed by the department's own Quality Assurance Division report, as well as by the hamstrung commission created by Kelly.
His department's lack of accountability and transparency is disturbing: a recent report by the New York public advocate found that the NYPD is one of the worst city agencies when it comes to responding to Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests. Giving the NYPD a fail grade, the public advocate noted that "28% of answered requests took more than 60 days to process," while a whopping "31% of requests received no response."
In 2010, the NYPD was one of only two jurisdictions in New York State not to report basic misdemeanor crime statistics. The New York Times had to sue for that data. Lost property statistics, too, are no longer published on the NYPD website – even though they were first released with great fanfare only a few short years ago (after many years of stonewalling).
Kelly's work on counter-terrorism, proclaimed as a strong point, is also exaggerated. He removed thousands of officers from crime fighting and transferred them to terrorism and intelligence units. Further, officers have been sent overseas. These are local officers not working with the federal government, who do not have diplomatic immunity; nor, to anyone's knowledge, do they have training by the State Department.
During the 2005 London bombings, Kelly released information reported to him by his overseas officers that the British authorities clearly did not want to be disclosed. For his part, Kelly has claimed that the NYPD has thwarted up to 16 terrorist plots. That number has now been reduced to three or four, and the NYPD now admits that it was not NYPD alone that stopped those plots, but joint action with the FBI.
Meanwhile, the FBI in New Jersey has complained that the NYPD's heavy-handed surveillance tactics have damaged their counter-terrorism efforts. Through hard work, the FBI has built bridges to communities; the NYPD's tactics are tearing them down.
If Kelly's record on fighting crime and terrorism is certainly questionable, his failure to protect basic rights is deplorable. The surveillance operations on Muslim Americans, exposed by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press reporting, as well as Len Levitt's NYPD Confidential, is among the most egregious activities allowed by Kelly. NYPD officers were literally spying on innocent Americans simply because of their religion. NYPD officers attended college outings, went to New Jersey, and formed a secret partnership with the Central Intelligence Agency. Such profiling is the epitome of abusive policing.
If Ray Kelly were to become secretary of Homeland Security, one of the most powerful law enforcement positions in the United States, we can only ponder the level of damage he might do to basic American freedoms. If he makes the move from NYPD commissioner to Homeland Security secretary, Kelly will carry with him to Washington some very hefty baggage. Heavy enough to sink some of the core values of the Obama administration.
NOTE: John Eterno is a professor, associate dean and director of graduate studies in criminal justice at Molloy College. He is also a retired captain with the New York City police department (from 1983 to 2004)
Eli Silverman is a professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center of City University of New York. Previously, he served with the US Department of Justice and the National Academy of Public Administration in Washington, DC
Bill Thompson Skeptical Of Wisdom Of Naming NYPD's Ray Kelly Homeland Security Chief
BY Erin Durkin — Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
“Commissioner Kelly is the architect of an abusive stop and frisk program that targets innocent black and Latino youth for no reason but their skin color, and a Muslim surveillance program that has targeted members of mosques and community groups for no reason but their religion,” said Thompson.
He said those issues raise “serious concerns for anyone being considered for such a sensitive post” despite the “great work” that the Kelly-led NYPD has done bringing down crime and combating terrorism.
He urged the Senate to probe the two programs if Kelly is appointed.
Officials like Sen. Charles Schumer have been strongly urging Obama to tap Kelly for the post.
Black and Latino law enforcement groups rallied Sunday against such a move.
Barack Obama and Ray Kelly Have the Exact Opposite Views on Racial Profiling
By Emily Badger — Monday, July 22nd, 2013; 6:22 p.m. ‘The Atlantic Wire’ / Washington, DC
Well this is awkward.
If you missed Barack Obama's impromptu speech last Friday on the realities of growing up black in the same country as Trayvon Martin, this is the passage that's most essential for understanding why New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly would make a baffling choice to become the country's top domestic security official:
You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that -- that doesn’t go away.
There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.
And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.
Stop-and-frisk, the deeply controversial policing tactic that Kelly has led and defended in New York City, is essentially the institutional version of everything that Obama describes above. The only difference is that the people following blacks in New York, eying them with distrust and suspecting them of being up to no good, are police officers. And they have the power to pat people down and detain them, one indignity piled onto another.
Obama was explicitly trying to bring "context" to the outpouring of anger following last week's ruling in Florida. But his words also offer the best context imaginable for why the architect of stop-and-frisk would be a bizarre nominee to become Obama's head of the Department of Homeland Security, a move that would implicitly endorse at the federal level the tactic of preemptively profiling minorities in massive numbers to head off crime.
Obama himself is the source of all this speculation. Janet Napolitano announced earlier this month that she was stepping down from Homeland Security. And there's wide speculation that Kelly will no longer have a job in New York after this fall's mayoral election. Asked last week what he thought of Kelly as a potential replacement, Obama lauded his record and said this: "Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is. But if he’s not, I’d want to know about it.”
And yet, if you parse out their public statements on this subject, it's almost as if these two men have been having an ongoing conversation about racial profiling from opposing podiums at the same rally. Here is Obama, again, last Friday:
... the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent -- using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.
Compare that to Kelly, last year, citing those very statistics in defense of stop-and-frisk:
Ninety-six percent of the shooting victims in this city are people of color, 90 percent of the murder victims are people of color. Who do you think's lives are being saved?
Here is Obama on Friday acknowledging that the black community knows and talks about these statistics:
… Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration.
And here is Kelly, in the same diatribe... not acknowledging that:
What I haven’t heard is any solution to the violence problem in these communities.
People are upset about being stopped, yet what is the answer? What have you said about how do we stop this violence? What have leaders of the communities of color said? What is their strategy to get guns off the street?
Here is Obama on Friday proposing that we might soothe the fear and anger in the minority community by training local police officers on how not to racially profile:
Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it’d be productive for the Justice Department -- governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.
You know, when I was in Illinois I passed racial profiling legislation. And it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.
And here is Kelly seeming to argue on the television show Nightline this spring that, in fact, New York's stop-and-frisk program doesn't profile minorities enough:
The stark reality is that crime happens in communities of color. About 70% to 75% of the people described as committing violent crimes — assault, robbery, shootings, grand larceny — are described as being African-American.
The percentage of people who are stopped is 53% African-American. So really, African-Americans are being understopped in relation to the percentage of people being described as being the perpetrators of violent crime.
None of this even touches on the NYPD's policies of surveilling Muslims. That program is equally troubling to many Kelly critics. But given Obama's own powerful articulation of what it's like to be on the other end of racial profiling as a black man, the discordant comments from Kelly on the very same topic would seem to disqualify him from expanding his ideas beyond New York.
Opinion: Pro & Con Ray Kelly for Homeland Security
Ray Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security?
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
After 12 years as the New York City police commissioner, with shorter stints as an undersecretary of the Treasury, Customs commissioner and Interpol vice president, Raymond W. Kelly would seem well qualified to be the next secretary of homeland security. And even President Obama has indicated he’d consider his appointment.
But his tenure with the N.Y.P.D. has also been marked by controversy. Would his experience make him the right person for the job, or would it be a reason to reject him?
Washington Could Use His Tough Leadership
By Eugene O'Donnell
Raymond Kelly took office for the second time as N.Y.P.D. commissioner in a dazed city, as the twin towers smoldered in the shadow of police headquarters. Just eight years earlier, in 1993 -- in his last year as commissioner under Mayor David N. Dinkins -- Kelly had been the international face of the N.Y.P.D. at what cops call World Trade Center One, the initial failed effort by terrorists using a car bomb in a parking garage to topple both buildings. Afterward, a terrorist ringleader hinted that his confederates would return to finish the job, convinced, no doubt, that the country was wide open to attack.
In a city haunted by the carnage of 9/11, the commissioner opted to go all in, to dedicate some 1,000 officers to anti-terrorism work, and to revamp efforts to prevent acts of terror that many cities in the world had grown accustomed to. He improved efforts at intelligence gathering and sharing to prevent and respond to future, perhaps even worse, terrorist encores. He wisely decided that leaving the safety of New Yorkers “to the feds” was an unsound idea.
Despite the criticism he knew would be fierce at times, he created a robust anti-terrorism apparatus in New York’s police department. With no road map to work with, the department has been forced to innovate at every turn and to learn lessons -- sometimes by missteps. But, as he has done with traditional street crime, Kelly has been willing to risk his personal popularity to mitigate risks of harm to others. Where he has overreached, the answer should be effective oversight -- not insisting that he be less ambitious.
Throughout his tenure, the N.Y.P.D. has been a place where violent street crimes, especially those committed with guns, matter. He put unrelenting pressure on everyone wearing a uniform to take ownership of conditions of crime and disorder. In contrast, quite a few of the nation’s police chiefs and mayors do little more than sigh while young minority men are regularly gunned down.
To understand why he has not yielded to criticism of stop and frisk, one needs to hear what police commanders regularly hear from residents. They want more patrols, not fewer, and they want neighborhood cops who are not just potted plants.
But he has also advocated reforms like lessening penalties for marijuana possession and the videotaping of confessions. The department has become far more diverse since he took office -- a majority of officers are now minorities. And some N.Y.P.D. innovations, like the sophisticated data mining of the Real Time Crime Center, are truly world-class.
Under Kelly, there is renewed emphasis on pursuing perpetrators of hate crimes, sexual assaults and domestic violence. Murders, 650 annually when he took office, were at just over 400 in 2012. Even Kelly’s fiercest critics acknowledge that he has shown the highest levels of personal probity in an extraordinarily sensitive position.
He would bring the bottom-up perspective of a cop on homeland security, focusing on sewing together the many different agencies and levels of government in the national safety net. He would also bring expertise from handling natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, and public health emergencies like anthrax scares. He could use his stature and grasp of the contributions of new Americans to talk down many of the bad ideas on immigration floating around Capitol Hill.
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Unfairly Impeded by Charges of Racial Profiling
By Heather Mac Donald
Ray Kelly may well be the most qualified potential Homeland Security secretary, but the chance that President Obama will actually nominate him for the position is virtually zero. The current furor over the Trayvon Martin homicide and Obama’s recent call for more action on racial profiling all but guarantee that the misinformation campaign against Kelly for police profiling of blacks and Hispanics will doom his candidacy. This is unfortunate, because Kelly is an expert manager, and the bloated D.H.S. desperately needs a strong dose of accountability and efficiency.
For the record, however, the charge that Kelly has condoned racial profiling in the New York Police Department's stop and frisk program is specious. Enforcement activity in the N.Y.P.D. is driven by two considerations only: crime patterns and community demands for police assistance. Commanders deploy their officers to where people are being victimized the most; race has nothing to do with strategic or tactical decisions. Given the incidence of crime, however, police cannot target their resources to where people most need help without producing racially disparate stop and arrest data. Crime is highest in minority neighborhoods, and blacks are overwhelmingly both the victims and perpetrators of that crime, committing upwards of 80 percent of all shootings in New York City, 70 percent of all robberies, and 66 percent of all violent crime. Whites, by contrast, commit between 1 and 2 percent of all shootings, 4 percent of all robberies and 5 percent of all violent crime, though they are 35 percent of the city’s population. It is the inevitable outcome of such disparities in the distribution of crime that blacks make up 53 percent of all police stops, though they are only 23 percent of the city’s population.
Every city police force that is successfully targeting crime produces similar enforcement activity; few agencies, however, document and publicize their stop and arrest data with the thoroughness of the N.Y.P.D.
Kelly’s insistence that his commanders work round the clock to bring the same degree of safety to residents of poor neighborhoods that affluent New Yorkers take for granted in theirs has produced the longest and steepest crime drop in the recorded history of American policing. That is an accomplishment that any head of a federal agency would be proud to match.
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He’s Antagonized Those He Must Work With
By Leonard Levitt
Forget for a moment Ray Kelly’s controversial policies of stop and frisk and the N.Y.P.D.’s pervasive spying on Muslims.
There’s a more immediate reason that would make Ray Kelly’s appointment as Homeland Security director problematic: he doesn’t get along with people in law enforcement. More important, as it pertains to Homeland Security, he doesn’t get along with the feds.
Perhaps best known is his long-running feud with the F.B.I. over fighting terrorism. This apparently started when he returned as N.Y.P.D. commissioner in 2002 and announced that the bureau had failed to protect the city from 9/11 and that New York City would have to protect itself.
This culminated with the 2009 Najibullah Zazi subway plot when the N.Y.P.D.’s Intelligence Division tried an end run around the F.B.I. and nearly blew the case.
Less well known are Kelly’s disagreements with the Secret Service, the State Department’s Security Service and the Port Authority police, with whom Kelly engaged in a standoff over control of Ground Zero.
In September 2007, N.Y.P.D. officers, led by Chief Thomas Galati, the commanding officer of the Intelligence Division, stopped the Iranian delegation to the United Nations as they arrived at Kennedy airport and forced them to undergo a weapons check.
That infuriated the Secret Service, State Department Security Service and Port Authority officers, also on hand at Kennedy. The officers of those three agencies maintained the weapons check violated diplomatic protocol.
Then, there is Kelly’s troubled relationship with the outgoing F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III. Consider this exchange between Mueller and Senator Charles E. Schumer, one of Kelly’s boosters for the Homeland Security job, which occurred at a 2012 Senate Judiciary hearing over Mueller’s reluctance to inform Kelly about a foiled Yemeni bomb plot.
“For the continued good operation, give him a call on this,” Schumer said to Mueller.
When Mueller responded, “As I told Ray, he is always welcome to call,” Schumer told Mueller: “Let’s not get into who calls whom. I am asking you to call.”
Kelly even has a strained relationship with the Obama administration.
At the end of the stop and frisk trial, Attorney General Eric Holder suggested that a federal monitor might be needed for the N.Y.P.D., which has been accused of profiling young black men.
Last month amid the Edward Snowden surveillance flap, Kelly lit into Holder, saying the Obama administration “should come clean on domestic spying.” Given Kelly’s penchant for secrecy over virtually every aspect of N.Y.P.D. life, his criticism of Holder probably stemmed less from a policy disagreement than from pique at Holder’s federal monitor suggestion.
Consider, too, that his hard line against criticism probably helped push the City Council to create an inspector general over the department and increase New Yorkers' power to sue over racial profiling, actions that would have been unthinkable not long ago.
President Obama himself seems ambivalent, at best, about Kelly. Back in 2011 when Schumer pushed for appointment as F.B.I. director, Obama ignored him, and reappointed Mueller for another two years. Earlier this year he nominated James Comey -- not Kelly.
- - -
Stop and Frisk Should Disqualify Him
By Paul Butler
Ray Kelly needs to be Homeland Security secretary like Paula Deen needs to run the United Nations World Food Program.
Commissioner Kelly is the poster child for the most racially insensitive police practice in the United States, stop and frisk. During his term in office, the number of times police stop people on the street for questioning increased from about 100,000, in 2002, to almost 700,000 in 2011. Close to 90 percent of the people subject to these offensive detentions and searches have been Black or Latino, and fewer than 2 percent of the stops have led to the recovery of guns. The vast majority of those stopped have been innocent of any crime.
A federal judge is now considering whether Commissioner Kelly’s program is constitutional. At minimum it appears to be ineffective as a public safety measure because it causes some of the city’s most vulnerable citizens to hate the police. This makes them less likely to cooperate with law enforcement, which is the main way that local police catch domestic bad guys, and Homeland Security catches international terrorists. A man who appears to have little respect for civil liberties or sensitivity to the perceptions of people of color is a poor candidate to keep Americans safe and free from worldwide threats.
Under Kelly’s tenure, some African-American neighborhoods continue to experience intolerable levels of violence. This suggests that the commissioner’s signature program -- stop and frisk -- hasn’t worked well to keep citizens of color safe. But Kelly’s remarkable interpretation of high crime rates in some communities is that blacks are actually "understopped.”
This “my way or the highway” approach could have even more disastrous consequences if Kelly’s responsibilities expand from the city to the nation. He appears to believe that concepts like civil liberty and equality under the law undermine the effectiveness of public safety officials. That attitude would not thwart terrorists, but rather further their cause.
As an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama successfully pressed for antiracial profiling legislation. As president, he said the police “acted stupidly” when they arrested an African-American Harvard professor for trespassing on his own porch. Recently, Obama spoke movingly about being the victim of racial profiling before he became famous.
To promote Raymond Kelly shortly after the verdict in the George Zimmerman case wouldn’t just send the wrong message, it would be against everything Barack Obama stands for, as an African-American, a protector of the Constitution and a defender of the United States.
The Upcoming Mayoral Election and NYPD Surveillance of Muslims
Times criticizes Quinn, but not rivals, on NYPD surveillance
By Azi Paybarah — Monday, July 22nd, 2013; 12:37 p.m. ‘Capital New York’ / New York, NY
The New York Times published an editorial this weekend singling out Christine Quinn, among the mayoral candidates, for her position on a New York Police Department surveillance program that targets Muslim institutions, saying she "should stop defending" it.
The Times has targeted Quinn for her politically calibrated positions on policing before: In April, the editorial board wrote that Quinn's desire to keep Ray Kelly on as police commissioner while also supporting the creation of an NYPD inspector general, over Kelly's strong objections, were "contradictory."
For the record, Quinn isn't the only one of the Democratic candidates who has defended, or at least declined to criticize, the NYPD's surveillance program.
Here's what the candidates told me about that program:
4/24/2013, Quinn: "Since there has been no evidence that crimes have been broken or anything of that nature, I have been on record and remain on record saying that the program the PD is conducting should continue."
4/20/13, Bill de Blasio: "When concerns about the Muslim community came up, I spent a lot of time with Commissioner Kelly, reviewing the situation. I came to the conclusion the NYPD had handled it in a legal and appropriate manner with the right checks and balances."
5/22/2013, Anthony Weiner: "Well the way it's been described in the Associated Press is different than it's been described by the police department," and "I don't have any kind of inside information to litigate who is right, who is wrong," and "From what I've seen, I'm not prepared to say the police department is not doing anything that is not constitutional or proper."
At a forum in May, City Comptroller John Liu raised his hand when the candidates were asked who thought the program was "unconstitutional." Former comptroller Bill Thompson said the program was constitutional, but improper.
Today, Thompson released the following statement:
I have given serious thought to the suggestion that Ray Kelly be considered for Secretary of Homeland Security. As I've said before, the NYPD has done great work bringing crime down and thwarting terrorism in New York City. But Commissioner Kelly is the architect of an abusive stop and frisk program that targets innocent black and Latino youth for no reason but their skin color, and a Muslim surveillance program that has targeted members of mosques and community groups for no reason but their religion. These issues raise serious concerns for anyone being considered for such a sensitive post as Homeland Security. Protecting the safety of our people is the paramount responsibility of government, but it must not - and need not - come at the expense of anyone’s constitutional rights. Should he be nominated, I hope and trust that these issues will be thoroughly explored by the Senate in confirmation hearings.
NYPD Spokesman Is Notre Dame-Bound; McCarthy Steps In
By MARK TOOR — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
John J. McCarthy, a spokesman in the Mayor’s Press Office, will replace Paul J. Browne as the NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Public Information on Aug. 19.
Mr. Kelly also announced the appointment of Valerie Salembier, longtime chair of the New York City Police Foundation, as Assistant Commissioner for Public Information to assist Mr. McCarthy.
Headed for Golden Dome
Mr. Browne is leaving to become Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
“John McCarthy brings experience, judgment and legal training to this important position, having served previously as Assistant Commissioner in DCPI and more recently the Mayor’s Office, with responsibility for police, fire and other first responder issues,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said in a statement.
Before working for the Mayor’s Office and the NYPD, Mr. McCarthy served as Director of Public Affairs at the Port Authority, and handled communications and legal affairs at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the state Office of Homeland Security.
He also worked as an attorney for the Moreland Commission on New York City Schools, which investigated the old Board of Education. Mr. McCarthy, who lives in Queens, graduated from Fordham College and Fordham University School of Law.
Veteran Media Exec
Ms. Salembier is currently head of The Authentics Foundation, a tax-exempt nonprofit that educates consumers about the counterfeiting industry, and the Salembier Group, a fashion-marketing company. In 16 years at Hearst Corporation, she served as a vice president of Town & Country, Harper’s Bazaar and Esquire magazines. Before joining Hearst in 1996, she was a senior executive at the New York Post, the New York Times, TV Guide and USA Today.
A Manhattan resident, she has been a member of the Police Foundation’s Board of Trustees since 1989 and has served as chair since 2003. She will take a leave from the foundation while serving as an Assistant Commissioner.
As crime drops, boro grows
By Bob Kappstatter — Friday, July 19th, 2013 ‘The Bronx Times’ / The Bronx
The Bronx is beginning to reap the rewards of dramatic drops in crime, the lowest they’ve been since the Sixties and after climbing out of the crime-wracked crack epidemic of the early 90s.
Borough business and other leaders say the reward has been new growth in small to medium businesses, as well as early signs of an influx of working and middle class singles and families taking advantage of moderate rents in neighborhoods once seen as too dangerous.
Despite large remaining stubborn areas of poverty, with inevitable crime, murders and shootings are down in the low numbers and double digit percentages. Rapes and robberies have tumbled also.
Only felony assaults show an uptick, with some opinions that better medical treatment is saving shooting victims from becoming a murder statistic, while police take domestic violence more seriously these days than in the past.
Even some once high-crime precincts, such as the 44th in Highbridge and the 42nd in Morrisania ranked 45th and 61st respectively for crime reduction among the city’s 76 precincts. The 49th Precinct in Morris Park/Allerton area ranked dead last, with a 28% crime drop.
The crime reduction has not been without controversy, as the NYPD’s Stop-Question-and Frisk program has come under fire including a federal lawsuit, while the City Council recently passed a bill that would severely limit so-called profiling of suspects by cops.
Unfortunately, as sympathetic critics of the program have pointed out, rookies were flooded into Operation Impact zones in precinct hot spots without proper training and a sharp reminder of the department’s motto of Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect.
Bronx Borough Commander, Assistant Chief Carlos Gomez, emphasized that “Stop and frisk will always be a valuable tool for us - where used appropriately. We instill it at precinct roll calls - ‘Do it right!’”
He also credits a focus by cops and local and federal prosecutors on street gangs and crews – “responsible for over 30% of the shootings in the Bronx” – for the dramatic crime decreases.
While some have expressed concern the crime reduction has gone as low as it can go across the city, especially with a reduced number of cops through budget cuts and attrition, Gomez said he’s optimistic cops can drive those numbers even lower.
“We can always improve, and that is our goal,” he said. “My mission is to continue that trend.”
The borough’s business and civic leaders are cheering cops on for the rewards they are seeing in more sales and new residents moving in, caused by a safer feeling in the borough.
“Although the NYPD draws a lot of criticism for the stop and frisk, we are fortunate to have one of the best police departments in the country,” said John Small, a retired NYPD sergeant and now professor at the borough’s Monroe College School of Criminal Justice. “The fact that the murder stats are down 37% in the Bronx is an indicator that other crime categories are down, which also brings more confidence to the people who want to live and do business in the communities.”
“No ifs, ands or buts about it, we already have amazing size apartments, great parks, but we needed that last crime number to let young people know they could move to the Bronx,” said Marlene Cintron, head of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp.
“I’ve got hipsters in my building,” said Cintron, who lives on the lower Grand Concourse.
“Local businesses are also coming into the neighborhoods because they can make money,” she added. “I’ve been pulling out these great crime numbers and letting them talk to other businesses to see for themselves.”
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. seconded her thoughts.
“The Bronx is making great progress. Crime is down and at its lowest since 1963. Our streets are cleaner, our infrastructure is amazing and our economy is growing,” he said.
40 Precinct C.O. Deputy Inspector Chris McCormack
Boro Beat: COP CORNER
By Bob Kappstatter — Friday, July 19th, 2013 ‘The Bronx Times’ / The Bronx
An ‘Attaboy’ from Bronx C.O., Assistant Chief Carlos Gomez, to Deputy Inspector Chris McCormack, C.O. of the 40th Precinct in rough and tumble Mott Haven/Melrose, beaten up for leading the Bronx in 2011 with 18,000 stop-and-frisks, but seeing only six murders and a whopping 54% drop in shootings so far this year: “People are alive today because of Chris McCormack,” Gomez told us. The precinct recently won a prestigious NYPD unit citation.
Bklyn. Central Booking
Cops ignored pleas as inmate Kyam Livingston died in Brooklyn jail: witness
The NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the death of Kyam Livingston in Brooklyn Central Booking Jail. Inmates’ pleas for help were ignored for hours as Livingston complained of stomach pains and diarrhea, according to witnesses.
By Barry Paddock AND Bill Hutchinson — Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
A 37-year-old woman died in a crowded cell at the Central Booking Jail in Brooklyn as inmates’ pleas for help were ignored for hours by cops, a witness told the Daily News Monday.
The NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the Sunday morning death of Kyam Livingston, who was dead for 20 minutes before EMS arrived, a fellow prisoner said.
“It’s not right for somebody to beg and plead for hours to get help,” Livingston’s son, Alex, 21, told The News. “Who knows how much pain she was going through.”
NYPD officials said Livingston was pronounced dead at Brooklyn Hospital Center. They declined further comment. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.
Fellow inmate Aleah Holland, 38, a registered nurse, told The News that Livingston died needlessly. Police at Central Booking ignored her complaints of stomach pains and diarrhea, Holland said. She said that when she and other inmates banged on the bars calling for help, officers told them Livingston was an alcoholic.
“They said, ‘Shut up before we lose your paper work and you won’t be seen by a judge,’ ” said Holland, who was jailed on an assault charge stemming from a fight with a roommate.
Livingston was arrested Friday for violating an order of protection taken out by Theresa Johnson, her 78-year-old grandmother.
Johnson said she called the cops after Livingston, who lived with her in Windsor Terrace, drank a bottle of vodka and turned violent, breaking two TV remote controls and two tables.
She said the order of protection didn’t bar Livingston from living with her, but forbade her from arguing with her and drinking in her apartment.
Holland said that when she was put in the holding cell Saturday afternoon, Livingston was already in bad shape.
She said there were 15 women in the cell, and that Livingston’s condition grew worse when they were moved from the first floor.
Holland said she and other inmates cleared a bench for Livingston to lie on. “She was convulsing on the bench,” said Holland, who in 2009 received a $20,000 settlement from the city after suing the NYPD for false arrest.
She said one female jail staffer looked at Livingston and said “Just let it play out,” explaining her grandson suffered seizures.
Holland said an Emergency Medical Services crew was finally called between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday. By the time they arrived, Livingston had been dead for 20 minutes, she said.
Livingston’s mother, Anita Livingston, 61, said police came to her house at 10 a.m. Sunday to break the tragic news. “Nobody helped her. It’s not fair,” the mother sobbed.
Intel Detective Richard Burt
2003 murder of New York City council member still haunts heroic cop
As the City Council marks the tragedy of Councilman James Davis’ shooting death with a moment of silence Tuesday, NYPD Detective Richard Burt will again be on duty — just as he has been for the past decade since Davis was killed.
BY JENNIFER FERMINO — Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
Ten years after he killed the madman who fatally shot New York City Councilman James Davis in City Hall, NYPD Detective Richard Burt is still keeping watch over the city’s seat of power.
As the City Council marks the tragedy with a moment of silence Tuesday, Burt will again be on duty — just as he has been for the past decade since Davis was killed.
The significance won’t be lost on him.
“Something like that, you don’t forget,” said the detective, now a member of Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s security detail.
A decade ago, Burt was keeping watch over then- Speaker Gifford Miller, a position he had held for just a few weeks. He remembers noticing some children in the Council’s ornate chambers before a Council meeting — and then hearing gunfire.
“It was a pop, then a pause. Then a series of pops,” he said.
He looked up and saw a man with a gun 40 feet away — Othniel Askew, a political rival of Davis’ from Brooklyn. Davis had invited the fellow Democrat to City Hall and allowed him to bypass the metal detectors.
Burt knew none of that when “the training kicked in” and he pulled out his gun.
“I had a clear shot,” he said.
He got off several rounds, the first time in his career that he’d fired his weapon — and “hopefully, the last,” he said Monday.
The killer still had seven bullets in his gun. Many credit Burt’s quick response with preventing even more tragedy.
But he doesn’t dwell on his heroism.
“It could’ve been worse, but we lost James,” he said.
How NYPD Bike Enforcement Is Making Streets Less Safe
By Brad Aaron — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 ‘Streetsblog New York.Org’
Considering what happened to longtime street safety advocate Hilda Cohen last Friday afternoon, you have to wonder how many “scofflaw cyclists” are in actuality the victims of police harassment. The incident is also another example of wasted NYPD resources that could be used to make streets safer.
Cohen says she rode through a yellow light on Bleecker at Charles Street, and was about to ride around a car parked in the bike lane ahead when she was stopped by NYPD. The car was an unmarked police car.
Here’s what Cohen says happened next, as excerpted from her Facebook page:
I get stopped by the guy standing next to the car, NYPD in uniform.
“You just ran a red light.”
“The light was yellow when I went through the intersection.”
“No, it was red”, he said. “I saw it.”
“I am actually 100% positive that it was yellow. I looked for it, I saw it, and I don’t run red lights,” I said. “Why do you say it was red?”
“We saw the pedestrian crossing sign change from a flashing hand to a solid hand when you entered the intersection.” These police officers could not even see the light that they were referring to, they were about 30 feet past the intersection on a one way street. “That means that it was a red light.”
“Actually that proves that it was yellow. That is when the light changes from green to yellow.”
“Well you can’t go through yellow lights.”
To this I did say, “you’re not serious.”
“A yellow light means put on your brakes,” he continued, “and you can’t go through a yellow light. You must have been going too fast to stop in time. I’ll give you a ticket for running a yellow and speeding. The speed limit is 25 mph, you were going faster than that.”
[I]n as even a tone as I could muster [I] said, “you can enter the intersection when the light is yellow.”
“Then I’ll give you a ticket for being outside of the bike lane, and for speeding.”
I responded, “I could not stay in the bike lane as you are parked in the bike lane, and the speed limit is 30, and there is no way I was going 30 mph.”
“Lady, you just don’t shut up do you!”
Cohen was cited for reckless operation of a bicycle and obstructing vehicle traffic. The latter is a disorderly conduct charge. Reckless operation of a bicycle is the third most common criminal summons issued by NYPD.
“These are criminal offenses, and I have to show up to court whether I plead guilty or not,” writes Cohen. “I was stopped for running a yellow light, and then given two tickets for knowing my rights, and the law.”
For perspective’s sake: At least two pedestrians were killed by motorists in the 6th Precinct within the last 14 months. One was killed by a trucker in an oversized rig, and one was struck by a cab driver who was reportedly speeding.
At last year’s City Council hearing on traffic safety and NYPD crash investigations, department brass said that in 2011, police issued roughly the same number of moving violations, and three times as many criminal court summonses, to cyclists as to truck drivers.
As of June, the 6th Precinct had written 30 speeding tickets this year, and precinct officers ticketed 21 motorists for speeding in 2012.
Entrapment and harassment aside, parking in a bike lane is illegal, and it’s illegal because it forces cyclists to veer into traffic. The 6th Precinct is not only ignoring motorist behavior that puts lives at risk, they’re engaging in it.
To tell Deputy Inspector Elisa Cokkinos, the commanding officer, what you think of the 6th Precinct’s approach to traffic enforcement, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 6th Precinct council meets at 7:30 p.m. on the last Wednesday of the month at 25 Carmine Street. Information on the council’s summer schedule was not immediately available, but reader KeNYC2030 says the next meeting isn’t until September. Call 212-741-4826 for information.
Ex-Nassau Police Big Gets Jail Sentence For Quashing Arrest
By MARK TOOR — Monday, July 22nd, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
A former Deputy Commissioner of the Nassau County Police Department was sentenced to 60 days in jail last week for his role in preventing the arrest of a teenage burglar because his father was a friend and a donor to police causes.
William Flanagan, 56, was convicted in April of official misconduct and conspiracy. He was one of three police officers charged in the case. The others are former Deputy Chief of Patrol John Hunter, who pleaded guilty in May and was sentenced to three years’ probation, and Detective Sgt. Alan Sharpe, who was a supervisor in the squad that handled the investigation. Mr. Sharpe’s case has yet to be resolved.
Keep Their Pensions
All three retired before the charges were brought, meaning their pensions are protected.
Both charges of which Mr. Flanagan was convicted were misdemeanors, and because of that and Mr. Hunter’s sentence, some had expected him to receive probation as well.
But State Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen said in sentencing him, “Without a jail component, the message to the public will be that these crimes are not serious.” He compared the case to that of Ponzi scammer Bernard Madoff; Federal Judge Denny Chin said in sentencing Mr. Madoff to 150 years that he wanted the term to serve both as a symbol and as a deterrent.
Insists He’s Not Guilty
Judge Cohen said Mr. Flanagan had never admitted wrongdoing or shown remorse or “apologized to the department or the public.” Mr. Flanagan’s attorney, Bruce Barket, said outside court, “He’s shown no remorse because he’s done nothing wrong. He admitted no guilt because he is not guilty.”
“At no time did I violate my duty,” Mr. Flanagan said before sentencing. “I would have made the same inquiries regardless of who had asked.”
'Violated His Oath'
Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who oversaw the prosecution, disagreed, saying in a statement, “This defendant violated his oath as a police officer and let down not just the public, but the hard-working men and women of the Nassau County Police Department...”
The sentencing hearing was packed with police officers in a show of support for Mr. Flanagan. Former Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey and U.S. Rep. Peter King were both in attendance. In an unusual move, Judge Cohen allowed many of Mr. Flanagan’s supporters to stand in the courtroom.
“It’s very wrong for any type of jail sentence to be imposed,” Mr. King told the News 12 Long Island television station. “He’s just an outstanding guy, totally honest, and I’ve had nothing but good experiences with him over the years, and I’m proud to call him a friend.”
Free Pending Appeal
Mr. Flanagan was originally supposed to start serving his sentence July 16, the day after it was handed down, but his attorney filed an appeal by telephone. An appellate court said he did not have to report to jail until the appeals process is complete, if he loses.
The case involved the burglary of John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in 2009. About $10,000 in electronic equipment was stolen. The school principal identified student Zachary Parker, then 17, as the thief and requested that he be arrested, according to Ms. Rice’s office.
His father, Gary Parker, asked both Mr. Flanagan and Mr. Hunter for assistance. The pair “were frequent guests at expensive lunches and dinners hosted by Gary Parker for high-ranking members of the NCPD,” Ms. Rice’s office said. “...Gary Parker also donated large sums of money to the Nassau County Police Department Foundation.”
Returned Stolen Property
Mr. Flanagan “worked with Sharpe to coordinate the return of the stolen property to [the school] and to prevent Zachary Parker’s arrest,” the office said. Mr. Barket said that helping to return property to a crime victim is not criminal.
Zachary Parker was eventually given probation for the burglary, but violated its terms. He is now serving 11/3 to 3 years in an upstate prison.
Police Biker Clubs Draw Scrutiny in Wake of Bar Brawl
Gang Investigators Fear Motorcycle Groups Hurt Credibility of Law Enforcement
By ZUSHA ELINSON — Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
Prosecutors are considering criminal charges against four members of the Iron Brotherhood motorcycle club for their roles in a Christmastime bar brawl in Prescott, Ariz., that sent one man to the hospital.
Their nicknames are Tarzan, Mongo, Guido and Top Gun. They rode Harley Davidson motorcycles, wore vests decorated with skulls and some allegedly carried knives and brass knuckles.
And their day jobs were police chief, county sheriff's sergeant, police officer and paramedic.
An increasing number of police officers are forming motorcycle clubs, and hundreds now exist nationwide, according to experts on motorcycle gangs. Gang investigators fear that such clubs, some of which have the trappings of outlaw biker groups, can hurt the credibility of law enforcement and undermine criminal cases brought against traditional gangs.
"In the last 15 years I would say that we've probably seen a tenfold increase in these clubs," said Terry Katz, vice president of the International Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association, who works for the Maryland State Police. "The first ones were pretty straightforward—they were family-oriented clubs. What we see now as a trend is biker by night and cop by day."
The growth of such groups worries some law-enforcement officials because of the rowdy and violent behavior that sometimes goes on. In South Dakota, for instance, prosecutors charged a Seattle police detective who was a member of a group called the Iron Pigs with shooting and injuring a Hells Angels biker in a 2008 brawl between the clubs. The charges were later dropped. This year, the police chief in Melrose Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb, disbanded a police motorcycle club called the Reapers whose members had allegedly been in a bar fight.
"If this is not addressed, you're going to continue to have these issues like you have in Arizona," said David "Vito" Bertocchini, a retired detective who investigated motorcycle gangs in California. "If these guys were dressing as street-gang members and they had red rags hanging out their pockets, would this be tolerated? Absolutely not."
In the courts, defense attorneys seek to torpedo charges against alleged gang members by arguing they are no different than police motorcycle clubs. Jorge Gil-Blanco, a retired San Jose police officer and expert witness, said the issue "muddies the water for juries." He adds, "I shouldn't have to sit there and justify this type of behavior."
Members of police clubs say the concern is overblown. The Blue Knights, a law-enforcement club with more than 20,000 members around the world, was formed to raise money for charities and ride bikes with fellow officers and families, said D.J. Alvarez, international vice president. "We try to maintain a positive appearance," he said. "We promote motorcycle safety, we involve families and we're not discriminative," he added.
The national board of directors for the Iron Brotherhood didn't respond to requests for comment, but on its website appeared to distance itself from the Arizona bar fight, denouncing "any behavior by its members that would reflect negatively on our club or our profession as law-enforcement officers." The board said what was known as the Whiskey Row Chapter in Prescott no longer exists.
The fight broke out Dec. 22 last year at Moctezuma's Bar in Prescott, where members of the Iron Brotherhood had gathered for their Christmas party. A patron approached Bill "Tarzan" Fessler, president of the Iron Brotherhood chapter and the police chief of neighboring Prescott Valley, and either grabbed his vest or asked about the club's patch, according to witness accounts in a report released by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. A melee ensued and a security guard observed an Iron Brotherhood member "pounding" someone's face, the report said. Investigators concluded that the man, who was treated for a possible broken nose, and another patron were hit.
State investigators recommended assault charges against two Iron Brotherhood members, obstruction-of-justice charges against Mr. Fessler and another member of the club, and disorderly conduct charges against the patron. A spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said prosecutors were reviewing the recommendations, but have yet to decide on filing criminal charges.
The men have denied the allegations. Mr. Fessler called them "absolutely absurd."
"I still don't know to this day who hit who," Mr. Fessler said. "This whole thing is a witch hunt for police officers belonging to motorcycle clubs that wear a three-piece patch"—a patch sometimes associated with outlaw biker gangs. Mr. Fessler, who retired from the Prescott Valley Police Department in March, said he joined a police club to avoid hanging out with the "wrong crowd" at some biker events. The Iron Brotherhood's activities consisted of weekend rides and get-togethers with families, he said.
The Yavapai County Sheriff's personnel board recently recommended terminating three employees who were members of the club. "I know the badge has been tarnished, and we will work relentlessly to regain the community's full trust and confidence," said Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher.
The Hells Angels—which has been labeled a dangerous criminal organization by federal authorities, though its members dispute the characterization—also weighed in on the incident. The local chapter expressed its disapproval to a local news site and challenged the Iron Brotherhood to a boxing match. The Brotherhood didn't take up the offer.
"[The boxing challenge] was really kind of to stand up to these guys," said Michael Koepke, vice president of the Yavapai County Hells Angels chapter, who last year had charges stemming from a 2010 shootout dismissed. "They give a bad name to motorcycle clubs."
Nanny Mike's Anti 2nd Amendment Jihad
By S.A. MILLER and GEOFF EARLE — Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
WASHINGTON — Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-gun club suddenly isn’t such a hot ticket.
His gun-control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns has lost more than 50 of its original mayoral members in the last few months, as disenchanted mayors quit the coalition or leave office.
Bloomberg, who pumped millions of dollars of his personal fortune into the group to make it one of the loudest voices in the gun-control debate, now is struggling to replace ex-members.
“The original focus, I thought, was going to be . . . on better enforcement of our existing laws, and if anything, we have talked about not getting involved with things like banning assault weapons and banning magazine clips,” former member Rockford (Ill.) Mayor Lawrence Morrissey told BuzzFeed, which first reported the dwindling membership.
Morrissey received rousing applause at a town hall meeting last month when he announced he was quitting Bloomberg’s group.
“The reason why I joined the group in the first place is because I took the name for what it said — against ‘illegal’ guns,” he told the crowd.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns has focused almost exclusively on banning weapons and other tough new gun-control measures.
The group’s tactics also has ruffled feathers across the political spectrum:
* Top Democrats balked when Bloomberg’s group mounted a TV ad campaign targeting vulnerable Senate Democrats in red states who didn’t back a bill to expand background checks, potentially helping Republican challengers.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) slammed the move, saying the “mayor of New York City putting ads against people in red states is not going to be effective.”
* Victims-rights advocates blasted Mayors Against Illegal Guns for promoting a list of gun-violence victims that included the name of accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev and at least 10 wanted murder suspects. The group later apologized.
* Government watchdogs were up in arms when Bloomberg used city government Internet servers to host the group’s Web site.
* A Colorado gun-rights organization last week staged a “counter-rally” when Mayors Against Illegal Guns held an event in Aurora, Colo., to mark the first anniversary of the movie theater massacre.
Nashua (NH) Mayor Donnalee Lozeau quit Bloomberg’s gun-control team after it launched TV attacks against GOP rising star Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.
“I said, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t want to be part of something like that,’ ” Lozeau told the Manchester (NH) Union Leader. “I told them, ‘You’re Mayors Against Illegal Guns, you’re not mayors for gun control.’ ”
City Hall disputed claims that it is losing members.
“We now have more than 1,000 mayors in the coalition nationwide, compared to 650 last year,” said Bloomberg spokesman John McCarthy.
Mark Glaze, the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said the turnover of mayors causes fluctuations in membership.
“Mayors come and go,” he said. “We lose them on occasion, but it’s going upward.”
A.C.L.U. Urges Inquiries in Shooting of Man Tied to Boston Suspect
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and CHARLIE SAVAGE — Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday urged local law enforcement officials in Florida and Massachusetts to open investigations into how an F.B.I. agent killed a man who was being interrogated in his Orlando apartment about the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.
In letters to the attorney general of Massachusetts and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the A.C.L.U. said the public had little faith in the F.B.I.'s ability to investigate itself. The letters cited a recent article by The New York Times, which said that from 1993 to 2011, the F.B.I. deemed its agents’ use of force justified in the 150 instances in which an F.B.I. agent fatally shot or wounded someone. The Times based its findings on investigation reports obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
“It seems unlikely that the F.B.I. investigation will meaningfully inform Massachusetts residents about what happened,” Carol Rose, the executive director of the A.C.L.U. of Massachusetts, said in a letter to Martha M. Coakley, the attorney general of Massachusetts.
Ms. Rose added that the secrecy surrounding the F.B.I.'s investigation of the shooting of the Orlando man, Ibragim Todashev, had shaken “the public’s faith in the agency’s ability to review itself."
In May, Mr. Todashev allegedly admitted in the interrogation that he and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect, were behind a grisly 2011 triple homicide in suburban Boston. The A.C.L.U. said that law enforcement officers from Orlando and Massachusetts were present for the questioning in Orlando.
There have been many accounts about what occurred after Mr. Todashev made the admission. Initially, the F.B.I. said the agent had been attacked with a knife, and later there was a report that Mr. Todashev was unarmed. Most recently, F.B.I. officials said that Mr. Todashev threw a table into the agent and ran at him with a metal pole, and that the agent then fatally wounded him.
F.B.I. officials have said that their investigation will be thorough, and that many shootings by agents have also been investigated by local law enforcement officials. But, in fact, there are rarely such investigations. The Orlando authorities have said that they are not independently investigating the episode.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has previously called for an independent investigation into the Orlando shooting. The organization wrote a letter on June 1 to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to ask it to look into the shooting itself, rather than leaving it up to the F.B.I. to investigate the matter itself.
“While the official version of events changes daily, it appears that an unarmed Mr. Todashev was fatally shot at least seven times, including once in the head,” wrote Thania Diaz Clevenger, the civil rights director in CAIR’s Tampa office. “Based on several of the reports, it seems unlikely that the agents were justified in using deadly force against a single unarmed suspect. The circumstances surrounding the shooting are at the very least alarming.”
On July 11, the Justice Department wrote back that the Civil Rights Division’s criminal section and the United States attorney’s office were “coordinating” with the F.B.I.'s Inspection Division in its investigation. A Justice Department official later clarified that that meant the agency was monitoring the F.B.I.'s investigation of itself, as it would with any other shooting episode involving a federal agent, and that it had not made any determination about conducting its own civil rights investigation.
Does the NSA Tap That? What We Still Don’t Know About the Agency’s Internet Surveillance
By Justin Elliott — Monday, July 22nd, 2013; 1:41 p.m. ‘ProPublica’
Among the snooping revelations of recent weeks, there have been tantalizing bits of evidence that the NSA is tapping fiber-optic cables that carry nearly all international phone and Internet data.
The idea that the NSA is sweeping up vast data streams via cables and other infrastructure — often described as the “backbone of the Internet” — is not new. In late 2005, the New York Times first described the tapping, which began after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. More details emerged in early 2006 when an AT&T whistleblower came forward.
But like other aspects of NSA surveillance, virtually everything about this kind of NSA surveillance is highly secret and we’re left with far from a full picture.
Is the NSA really sucking up everything?
It’s not clear.
The most detailed, though now dated, information on the topic comes from Mark Klein. He’s the former AT&T technician who went public in 2006 describing the installation in 2002-03 of a secret room in an AT&T building in San Francisco. The equipment, detailed in technical documents, allowed the NSA to conduct what Klein described as “vacuum-cleaner surveillance of all the data crossing the internet -- whether that be peoples' e-mail, web surfing or any other data.”
Klein said he was told there was similar equipment installed at AT&T facilities in San Diego, Seattle, and San Jose.
There is also evidence that the vacuuming has continued in some form right up to the present.
A draft NSA inspector’s general report from 2009, recently published by the Washington Post, refers to access via two companies “to large volumes of foreign-to-foreign communications transiting the United States through fiberoptic cables, gateway switches, and data networks.”
Recent stories by the Associated Press and the Washington Post also described the NSA’s cable-tapping, but neither included details on the scope of this surveillance.
A recently published NSA slide, dated April 2013, refers to so-called “Upstream” “collection” of “communications on fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past.”
These cables carry vast quantities of information, including 99 percent of international phone and Internet data, according to research firm TeleGeography.
This upstream surveillance is in contrast to another method of NSA snooping, Prism, in which the NSA isn’t tapping anything. Instead, the agency gets users’ data with the cooperation of tech companies like Facebook and Google.
Other documents leaked by Edward Snowden to the Guardian provide much more detail about the upstream surveillance by the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the NSA’s U.K. counterpart.
GCHQ taps cables where they land in the United Kingdom carrying Internet and, phone data. According to the Guardian, unnamed companies serve as “intercept partners” in the effort.
The NSA is listening in on those taps too. By May 2012, 250 NSA analysts along with 300 GCHQ analysts were sifting through the data from the British taps.
Is purely domestic communication being swept up in the NSA’s upstream surveillance?
It’s not at all clear.
Going back to the revelations of former AT&T technician Mark Klein — which, again, date back a decade — a detailed expert analysis concluded that the secret NSA equipment installed at an AT&T building was capable of collecting information “not only for communications to overseas locations, but for purely domestic communications as well."
On the other hand, the 2009 NSA inspector general report refers specifically to collecting “foreign-to-foreign communications” that are “transiting the United States through fiber-optic cables, gateway switches, and data networks”
But even if the NSA is tapping only international fiber optic cables, it could still pick up communications between Americans in the U.S.
That’s because data flowing over the Internet does not always take the most efficient geographic route to its destination.
Instead, says Tim Stronge of the telecom consulting firm TeleGeography, data takes “the least congested route that is available to their providers.”
“If you’re sending an email from New York to Washington, it could go over international links,” Stronge says, “but it’s pretty unlikely.”
That’s because the United States has a robust domestic network. (That’s not true for some other areas of the world, which can have their in-country Internet traffic routed through another country's more robust network.)
But there are other scenarios under which Americans’ purely domestic communication might pass over the international cables. Google, for example, maintains a network of data centers around the world.
Google spokeswoman Nadja Blagojevic told ProPublica that, “Rather than storing each user's data on a single machine or set of machines, we distribute all data — including our own — across many computers in different locations.”
We asked Blagojevic whether Google stores copies of Americans’ data abroad, for example users’ Gmail accounts. She declined to answer.
Are companies still cooperating with the NSA’s Internet tapping?
We don’t know.
The Washington Post had a story earlier this month about agreements the government has struck with telecoms, but lots of details are still unclear, including what the government is getting, and how many companies are cooperating.
The Post pointed to a 2003 “Network Security Agreement” between the U.S. government and the fiber optic network operator Global Crossing, which at the time was being sold to a foreign firm.
That agreement, which the Post says became a model for similar deals with other companies, did not authorize surveillance. Rather, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources, it ensured “that when U.S. government agencies seek access to the massive amounts of data flowing through their networks, the companies have systems in place to provide it securely.”
Global Crossing was later sold to Colorado-based Level 3 Communications, which owns many international fiber optic cables, and the 2003 agreement was replaced in 2011.
Level 3 released a statement in response to the Post story saying that neither agreement requires Level 3 “to cooperate in unauthorized surveillance on U.S. or foreign soil.”
The agreement does, however, explicitly require the company to cooperate with “lawful” surveillance.
More evidence, though somewhat dated, of corporate cooperation with NSA upstream surveillance comes from the 2009 inspector general report.
“Two of the most productive [signals intelligence] collection partnerships that NSA has with the private sector are with COMPANY A and COMPANY B,” the report says. “These two relationships enable NSA to access large volumes of foreign-to-foreign communications transiting the United States through fiber-optic cables, gateway switches, and data networks.”
There’s circumstantial evidence that those companies may be AT&T and Verizon.
It’s also worth noting that the NSA might not need corporate cooperation in all cases. In 2005, the AP reported on the outfitting of the submarine Jimmy Carter to place taps on undersea fiber-optic cables in case “stations that receive and transmit the communications along the lines are on foreign soil or otherwise inaccessible.”
What legal authority is the NSA using for upstream surveillance?
It’s unclear, though it may be a 2008 law that expanded the government’s surveillance powers.
The only evidence that speaks directly to this issue is the leaked slide on upstream surveillance, and in particular the document’s heading: “FAA702 Operations.” That’s a reference to Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act. That legislation amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1970s law that governs government surveillance in the United States.
Under Section 702, the attorney general and director of national intelligence issue one-year blanket authorizations to for surveillance of non-citizens who are “reasonably believed” to be outside the U.S. These authorizations don’t have to name individuals, but rather allow for targeting of broad categories of people.
The government has so-called minimization procedures that are supposed to limit the surveillance of American citizens or people in the U.S. Those procedures are subject to review by the FISA court.
Despite the procedures, there is evidence that in practice American communications are swept up by surveillance under this section.
In the case of Prism, for example, which is authorized under the same part of the law, the Washington Post reported that the NSA uses a standard of “51 percent confidence” in a target’s foreignness.
And according to minimization procedures dating from 2009 published by the Guardian, there are also exceptions when it comes to holding on to American communications. For example, encrypted communications — which, given the routine use of digital encryption, might include vast amounts of material — can be kept indefinitely.
The government also has the authority to order communications companies to assist in the surveillance, and to do so in secret.
How much Internet traffic is the NSA storing?
We don’t know, but experts speculate it’s a lot.
“I think that there’s evidence that they’re starting to move toward a model where they just store everything,” says Dan Auerbach, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The Utah data center is a big indicator of this because the sheer storage capacity has just rocketed up.”
We know more details about how the GCHQ operates in Britain, again thanks to the Guardian’s reporting. A breakthrough in 2011 allowed GCHQ to store metadata from its cable taps for 30 days and content for three days. The paper reported on how the spy agency — with some input from the NSA — then filters what it’s getting:
The processing centers apply a series of sophisticated computer programs in order to filter the material through what is known as MVR – massive volume reduction. The first filter immediately rejects high-volume, low-value traffic, such as peer-to-peer downloads, which reduces the volume by about 30%. Others pull out packets of information relating to "selectors" – search terms including subjects, phone numbers and email addresses of interest. Some 40,000 of these were chosen by GCHQ and 31,000 by the NSA.
How does the NSA do filtering of the data it gets off cables in the United States?
“I think that’s the trillion dollar question that I’m sure the NSA is working really hard at all the time,” Auerbach, the EFF expert. “I think it’s an incredibly difficult problem.”