Friday, February 21st, 2014 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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NYPD Holy Name Society's 100th Anniversary
The Celebration will be taking place Thursday, February 27, 2014 @1100 hours at One Police Plaza.
Featured guests include Edward Cardinal Egan and Bishop Demarzio.
All are invited and refreshments will be served afterwards.
Authority: Robert Barrett, 2nd Vice President, NYPD Holy Name Society (Manhattan/Bronx/Staten Island)
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New York police surveillance of Muslims constitutional: judge
By Joseph Ax (Reuters) — Thursday, February 20th, 2014; 7:29 p.m. EST
(Reuters) - New York City's secret police surveillance of mosques, Muslim businesses and a Muslim student group in New Jersey did not violate the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.
U.S. District Judge William Martini in Newark, New Jersey, threw out a lawsuit brought by several New Jersey Muslims who claimed the New York Police Department illegally targeted them for undercover monitoring solely because of their religion.
The police department's widespread program was first revealed in a series of articles by the Associated Press, which reported that officers had infiltrated Muslim organizations throughout the region following the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001.
The plaintiffs in the case, led by Syed Farhaj Hassan, a U.S. Army reservist, claimed the program impaired their freedom of expression, caused them to stop attending religious services and threatened their careers.
In a 10-page ruling, Martini said the city had persuasively argued that its surveillance was intended as an anti-terrorism, not an anti-Muslim, measure.
"While this surveillance program may have had adverse effects upon the Muslim community after the Associated Press published its articles, the motive for the program was not solely to discriminate against Muslims, but rather to find Muslim terrorists hiding among ordinary, law-abiding Muslims," Martini wrote.
Baher Azmy of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which filed the lawsuit along with a group called Muslim Advocates on behalf of several Muslim individuals and groups, compared Martini's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in 1944 that the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was constitutional.
"The decision gives legal sanctions to broad, undifferentiated racial and religious profiling," he said, calling it a "dangerous" finding. Azmy said the plaintiffs would appeal the decision.
A spokesman for the city's law department declined to comment.
The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a similar federal lawsuit against New York City in Brooklyn, which remains pending.
In addition, a group of civil rights lawyers have filed court papers in Manhattan federal court claiming the city's surveillance runs afoul of a longstanding court order governing how police can monitor certain political organizations.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police officials defended the program as vital to anti-terrorism efforts. It is unclear whether the new mayor, Bill de Blasio, will change the city's legal approach to the surveillance issue.
(Editing by Ken Wills)
Suit Stemming From NYPD Surveillance Program Is Tossed
Federal Judge Rules 11 People Who Said They Were Harmed Didn't Suffer Actual Damages
By Sean Gardiner — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The Wall Street Journal' / New York, NY
A New Jersey federal judge ruled Thursday that 11 people who said they were harmed after being spied on under a New York Police Department surveillance program didn't suffer any actual damages.
The decision marks the first ruling by a judge on the NYPD's controversial surveillance program, which became a flashpoint in the recent mayoral race.
The judge tossed out the lawsuit filed in June 2012 on behalf of plaintiffs including a decorated Iraq war veteran, members of Rutgers University's Muslim student associations and owners of a Muslim school.
Judge William Martini's ruling said mosque members "report diminished religious expression" and a drop in attendance. A soldier and a social worker said they feared future employment opportunities would be impaired because background checks could reveal they attended mosques that had been investigated. And a man who owned a meat market claimed he lost customers after it was disclosed that investigators conducted surveillance on his store.
But Judge Martini dismissed the case, citing case law stating that the injuries have to be "actual or imminent, not 'conjectural' or 'hypothetical.'"
The judge also found that the plaintiffs failed to show the NYPD was responsible for any alleged harm. Instead, he wrote that "alleged injuries flow from the Associated Press's unauthorized disclosure" of the program. A spokesman for the Associated Press, which won a Pulitzer Prize for stories detailing the NYPD's program, declined to comment.
Finally, the judge wrote that while the program "may have had adverse effects upon the Muslim community" once its existence was made public by the media, the motive for the program wasn't to discriminate against Muslims "but rather to find Muslim terrorists hiding among ordinary, law-abiding Muslims."Glenn Katon, legal director of Muslim Advocates and co-counsel for the plaintiffs, said the "fight is not over" and predicted the decision would be overturned on appeal.
Mr. Katon's co-counsel, Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, "by upholding the NYPD's blunderbuss Muslim surveillance practices, the court's decision gives legal sanction to the targeted discrimination of Muslims anywhere and everywhere."
An NYPD spokesman didn't return a request for comment.
NJ judge throws out NYPD spying lawsuit
By TOM HAYS (The Associated Press) — Thursday, February 20th, 2014; 6:31 p.m. EST
NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Police Department's intelligence unit didn't discriminate against Muslims with far-reaching surveillance aimed at identifying "budding terrorist conspiracies" at Newark mosques and other locations in New Jersey, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.
In a written decision filed in federal court in Newark, U.S. District Judge William Martini dismissed a civil rights lawsuit brought in 2012 by eight Muslims who alleged the NYPD's surveillance programs were unconstitutional because they focused on religion, national origin and race. The suit had accused the department of spying on ordinary people at several mosques, restaurants and grade schools in New Jersey since 2002.
The plaintiffs, including the former principal of a grade school for Muslim girls, "have not alleged facts from which it can be plausibly inferred that they were targeted solely because of their religion," Martini wrote. "The more likely explanation for the surveillance was to locate budding terrorist conspiracies."
The judge added: "The police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself. ... The motive for the program was not solely to discriminate against Muslims, but to find Muslim terrorists hiding among the ordinary law-abiding Muslims."
The ruling also singled out The Associated Press, which sparked the suit with a series of stories based on confidential NYPD document showing how the department sought to infiltrate dozens of mosques and Muslim student groups and investigated hundreds in New York and elsewhere.
"Nowhere in the complaint do the plaintiffs allege that they suffered harm prior to the unauthorized release of documents by The Associated Press," Martini wrote. "This confirms that plaintiffs' alleged injuries flow from the Associated Press's unauthorized disclosure of the documents. ... The Associated Press covertly obtained the materials and published them without authorization. Thus the injury, if any existed, is not fairly traceable to the city."
Farhaj Hassan, a plaintiff in the case and U.S. soldier who served in Iraq, said he was disappointed by the ruling.
"I have dedicated my career to serving my country, and this just feels like a slap in the face-all because of the way I pray," he said.
The Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and the California-based civil rights organization Muslim Advocates, which represented the plaintiffs, also called the decision troubling.
"In addition to willfully ignoring the harm that our innocent clients suffered from the NYPD's illegal spying program, by upholding the NYPD's blunderbuss Muslim surveillance practices, the court's decision gives legal sanction to the targeted discrimination of Muslims anywhere and everywhere in this country, without limitation, for no other reason than their religion," CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy said.
The Associated Press declined to comment on Thursday's ruling. The city's Law Department declined comment. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly had been staunch supporters of the surveillance programs, saying they were needed to protect the city from terrorist attacks.
A similar lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn is still pending.
New Jersey's Different Perspective
'Green light' for spying feared after lawsuit over NYPD surveillance of NJ Muslims is dismissed
BY HANNAN ADELY — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The Bergen Record' / Hackensack, N.J.
Civil rights advocates said they were troubled by the dismissal of a federal lawsuit that challenged broad surveillance of Muslims by the New York Police Department and feared it would give law enforcement a "green light" to spy on people based on their religion.
Muslim Advocates, a civil rights organization, filed the lawsuit in June 2012 on behalf of 11 Muslim individuals, businesses and organizations in New Jersey, alleging that the surveillance program violated their constitutional rights by targeting them on the basis of religion. U.S. District Judge William Martini dismissed the lawsuit Thursday, saying the plaintiffs did not show discrimination or injury.
Glenn Katon, legal director of Muslim Advocates, said the organization planned to appeal the decision.
"We really think the case was wrongly decided," he said. "If its reasoning were upheld, it would be a dangerous precedent" against equality under the law and religious freedom.
Plaintiff Gary Abdul Karim Abdullah, owner of All Body Shop Inside and Outside in Newark, said he lost customers and income after his business was identified as one under surveillance.
"It had an adverse effect," he said. "A lot of people called and told me they were afraid to come near the place. Along with the economic situation, it's been very difficult."
He said he was disappointed that the judge dismissed the case. "I think they should have heard from the people [in court] what they think about it," he said.
Martini said the plaintiffs did not prove they were targeted because of their religion and that the "more likely explanation for the surveillance was a desire to locate budding terrorist conspiracies."
"The motive of the program was not solely to discriminate against Muslims, but rather to find Muslim terrorists hiding among ordinary, law-abiding Muslims," he wrote.
Even if the plaintiffs had proven injury, Martini said, it would have been caused by "unauthorized disclosure of documents" by The Associated Press, which broke the news about the surveillance program in a series of stories starting in August 2011. The AP series later was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the NYPD launched a surveillance program that targeted Muslims at businesses, universities and mosques, including ones in Paterson and Newark, as well as student groups at 16 Northeast colleges, including Rutgers University.
The NYPD allegedly listened in on sermons and conversations at mosques and reported back what they heard. Officers also recorded license plate numbers, mounted cameras on light poles, mapped and photographed mosques, and listed ethnic makeup of businesses in police reports, and they monitored student websites and emails.
News of surveillance caused outrage among Muslims and public officials in New Jersey, who claimed the NYPD did not inform them of their operations in the state. Muslims believed they were discriminated against and said fear of surveillance had put a chill on Muslim life, as people feared speaking out about politics, joining Muslim groups and even praying at mosques.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Police Department maintained that the surveillance program was legal and that police collected information that was publicly available to know where terrorists might go to "lie low." They noted that 9/11 hijackers had spent time in New Jersey, including men who rented an apartment in Paterson. The police used informants only to follow leads, they said.
The Police Department's media office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.
Muslim Advocates was the first to challenge the NYPD's actions in a civil rights lawsuit. The group claimed that the surveillance cut down freedom of religious expression and assembly, diminished employment prospects and led to loss of business in places identified as targets of surveillance.
The lead plaintiff in the suit was Syed Farhaj Hassan, a Middlesex County resident who is an Iraq war veteran and an active member of the U.S. Army Reserve. Hassan, an observant Muslim of Pakistani descent and a military intelligence specialist, said he was concerned that being associated with a mosque under surveillance would blemish his record and jeopardize his job and security clearance.
"I really hope this decision doesn't stand," Hassan said. "I have dedicated my career to serving my country, and this just feels like a slap in the face — all because of the way I pray."
A principal who worked at two Muslim girls' schools in Newark that had been under surveillance said she believed her career prospects had been hurt because of her association with those schools. The Muslim Students Association claimed students did not feel secure joining the group or participating in events or discussions because police had monitored the group.
The Muslim Foundation and Council of Imams in New Jersey also were plaintiffs as were two businesses who said they lost customers because their businesses had been identified as ones under police surveillance.
Baher Azmy, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is co-counsel on the case, called the decision "troubling and dangerous." She said it "gives legal sanction to the targeted discrimination of Muslims anywhere and everywhere in this country, without limitation, for no other reason than their religion."
Katon said there are plans to appeal the decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia. Other cases are also pending.
A group of New York City residents sued the Police Department in June over the Muslim surveillance program in a civil rights case that is pending in Brooklyn. Civil rights attorneys also filed court papers a year ago alleging that the surveillance program violated the Handshu rules that were imposed on New York City police after a landmark federal case over surveillance of political activists in the late 1960s.
In New Jersey, former Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa concluded after a three-month fact-finding review that the NYPD broke no state laws when it did surveillance in New Jersey, while New York's attorney general declined to investigate.
Lawmakers and more than 100 organizations have called for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate; the first request came in September 2011 from Rep. Rush Holt, D-Mercer. The department has only said, since then, that it is reviewing the requests for an investigation.
Flimflamming and Favoritism | Embarrassing the Department
De Blasio's mum on pastor he helped get out of jail
By Yoav Gonen — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The New York Post'
Mayor de Blasio is setting the bar low to provide basic details about the arrest of his pastor pal, saying simply that he intends to comply with the law for accessing public records.
City Hall and the NYPD have refused since Monday to respond to 14 questions from The Post regarding de Blasio's phone call to a top cop the night Bishop Orlando Findlayter was spared a night in the clink.
Both agencies also refused to provide a police report on the bishop's Feb. 10 arrest for a traffic violation."We're going to follow all the typical [Freedom of Information Law] protocols," de Blasio said Thursday.
Findlayter was driving with a suspended license and had two outstanding warrants for civil disobedience busts.
When a reporter asked if that included getting responses from City Hall to questions posed by the media, the longtime advocate for government transparency answered, "I've covered this topic."
Among the details City Hall and the NYPD have refused to provide are the precise time that de Blasio called to inquire about Findlayter – a prominent campaign supporter – and the time the bishop was sprung.
De Blasio has also refused to reveal what time he was notified about the bishop's release.
This comes as the mayor — an advocate of government transparency — schedules events that are closed to the press, sometimes without disclosing they're even happening.
47 PDS Beer Bust: Lieut. John Fitzpatrick Retires
This retirement's for you! Bronx lieutenant at center of precinct beer controversy is calling it a career
Exclusive: The case of Lt. John Fitzpatrick, suspected of drinking four beers in precinct dorm before his early shift, prompted an internal probe and unannounced inspections.
By Rocco Parascandola — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The New York Daily News'
The NYPD lieutenant at the heart of a Bronx beer brew-haha has filed for retirement — just days after receiving a transfer to a different precinct, the Daily News has learned.
Lt. John Fitzpatrick, head of the 47th Precinct detective squad, got into an argument at the stationhouse last month when Capt. Eddie Edwards woke him up just past midnight while he was looking for another lieutenant.
Fitzpatrick, 44, was asleep in a precinct dorm at the time because he was due back at work early that day, Jan. 11, and had worked late the night before.
Edwards, sources said, then discovered four empty Budweisers in the trash nearby and six full ones in a refrigerator.
He was not found to be unfit for duty.
Nonetheless, the beer find prompted an internal probe by then Chief of Detectives Phil Pulaski — and resulted in unannounced inspections at two other Bronx precincts. Ultimately, the probe was closed and no disciplinary charges were filed.
Fitzpatrick, however, was transferred Feb. 14 to the 46th Precinct. An NYPD spokeswoman said the transfer was an "administrative" move, but sources said it was in response to the beer find.
Fitzpatrick joined the force in August 1993. Last summer, he took time off to consider retiring after 20 years with the NYPD, sources said. The transfer convinced him it was time to leave, sources said.
Fitzpatrick couldn't be reached for comment.
More Hypocrisy & Scheming | Traffic Nazi Sphincter Muscle
NYC Mayor's SUV caught breaking traffic laws
By JONATHAN LEMIRE (The Associated Press) — Thursday, February 20th, 2014; 9:59 p.m. EST
NEW YORK (AP) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's official vehicles were spotted breaking several traffic laws on Thursday, just two days after he laid out a sweeping traffic safety plan that included harsh restrictions on reckless drivers.
De Blasio was in the front passenger seat of the lead SUV of a two-vehicle caravan that was captured on video speeding, running through a pair of stop signs and not signaling when changing lanes. The footage, which aired on WCBS-TV, was taken as de Blasio returned to City Hall after a news conference in Queens.
The mayor's press office deferred to the police department for particulars of the incident because a member of the NYPD was behind the wheel of de Blasio's SUV. But de Blasio's press secretary said that "public safety is everyone's responsibility."
"With that in mind, Mayor de Blasio is firmly committed to the traffic safety policies outlined this week," Walzak said in a statement that did not include an apology or admission of wrongdoing.
The NYPD did not address the specifics of Thursday's incident in a statement, but said members of the security detail "receive specialized training in driving based on maintaining security as well as safety." The statement spoke broadly about acceptable tactics used to keep vehicles together and said the handling of vehicles transporting any "protectee" is determined by police personnel based on "protection and professional judgment."
The footage shows de Blasio's vehicles starting their journey in a quiet residential stretch of Maspeth, where the mayor had just held a news conference discussing his administration's plans to combat potholes.
The two bulky, black vehicles did not stop at two stop signs in the neighborhood. Later, the CBS camera - which was in a car that followed the mayor's motorcade - showed de Blasio going 40 mph in an area where the speed limit was 30 mph, and then nearly 60 mph in a 45 mph zone.
The SUVs were also shown changing lanes without using their directional signals. The total number of violations witnessed by the news crew would yield a suspended license, according to the CBS report.
It was not clear from the footage if de Blasio was aware of the traffic infractions.
The mayor's cars are typically driven by members of de Blasio's security detail, which is made up of NYPD detectives. Security protocols suggest that de Blasio sit in the backseat because the SUV's side windows, unlike the front windshield, are comprised of bulletproof-glass. But de Blasio, who is 6-foot-5, frequently sits in the front, where he has more room to stretch out.
Just two days earlier, de Blasio released his "Vision Zero" traffic safety plan which aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities. The plan proposed reducing the citywide speed limit to 25 mph, detailing more NYPD officers to enforce speeding violations and toughening penalties for on speeding drivers.
"We hope that every time someone reads one of your stories, they're also asking themselves the question, are they handling their vehicle as responsibly as they could?" the mayor told reporters at the Tuesday press conference.
"The likelihood of a fatal crash and this statistic is very powerful," he also said at the traffic event. "The likelihood of a fatal crash drops significantly for speeds below 30 mph. If we get those speeds down, it will be the difference between losing a life and saving a life."
Brian Zumhagen, communications manager for the transit advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, said in a statement that "no driver is above traffic law."
"We look forward to other city officials leading by example as well," said Zumhagen, who suggested that it could be a teaching moment for all drivers.
The incident also comes just more than a week after de Blasio drew criticism for calling the NYPD about the arrest of a political ally. Bishop Orlando Findlayter was pulled over for a traffic violation and then arrested on an outstanding warrant stemming from an immigration rally last year.
The bishop was later released on a desk appearance ticket instead of spending a night in jail. De Blasio said he did not ask for his release and denied any improper behavior, saying he was just asking for information about the incident.
De Blasio is not the first mayor whose official vehicles were caught speeding. In 1998, The Daily News observed Rudolph Giuliani's car going more than 20 mph over the speed limit while driving on Staten Island. Giuliani denied that he broke the law.
Mayor de Blasio's SUV caught on camera running two stop signs and speeding just days after he announced crackdown on dangerous driving
The mayor's official vehicle blew through two stop signs, changed lanes without signaling and was clocked by a WCBS-TV/Channel 2 news crew driving over the speed limit, two days after he outlined his 'Vision Zero' plan to eliminate traffic deaths.
By Erin Durkin — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The New York Daily News'
It's another tale of two cities — one set of traffic rules for Mayor de Blasio, and one for the rest of us.
Just two days after de Blasio announced a sweeping plan to crack down on dangerous driving, an SUV with the mayor riding shotgun ran stop signs, changed lanes without signaling and flouted the speed limit.
It was caught on camera by a WCBS-TV/Channel 2 news crew that trailed de Blasio's official two-vehicle motorcade after he left a news conference in Queens Thursday touting the city's pothole repair work.
The behavior was a far cry from de Blasio's comments Tuesday when he announced his Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths.
He proposed a slew of measures, including lowering the citywide speed limit and installing more cameras to catch drivers who speed and run red lights.
"We've put a very bold plan before you," he said Tuesday, "and we want the public to know we're holding ourselves to this standard and we intend to achieve these goals."
Yet, on Thursday, his official black SUV blew through two stop signs in Queens and was clocked by Channel 2 traveling 40 to 45 mph in a 30 mph zone and pushing 60 in a 45 mph zone.
When he reached City Hall, the mayor lingered in his SUV, leaving the second car in his caravan unable to pass through the City Hall gate — blocking a crosswalk and an intersection.
If a driver had been ticketed for all the violations, he would have racked up 13 points on his license — more than the 11 that trigger a suspension, Channel 2's Marcia Kramer reported.
It is not clear why the mayor was in a rush, but he is often behind schedule. His news conference in Queens began 15 minutes late.
While serving as the city's public advocate, in 2010, de Blasio chose to drive himself, "often accelerating aggressively to beat yellow lights," according to an account in The New York Times.
De Blasio's press secretary, Phil Walzak, said, "We believe public safety is everyone's responsibility. We also recognize NYPD's training and protocols, and refer questions related to security and transportation to them. With that in mind, Mayor de Blasio is firmly committed to the traffic safety policies outlined this week."
In a prepared statement, the Police Department said "personnel assigned to the mayor's security detail receive specialized training in driving based on maintaining security as well as safety."
"At certain times, under certain conditions, this training may include . . . maintaining speed with the general flow of traffic, and may sometimes include tactics to safely keep two or more police vehicles together in formation when crossing intersections."
Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The New York Daily News' Editorial:
Driving while mayor
De Blasio has to obey the traffic laws, just like everyone else
Mayor de Blasio redefined the term limousine liberal Thursday as his chauffeur blew stop signs and exceeded the speed limit, just two days after the mayor announced that he would require New Yorkers to slow down and drive safely.
Never in memory has there been such an immediate and yawning gap between a mayor's orders for the city and his enforcement of the rules as they apply to Hizzoner personally.
This would be hilarious were it not for the deadly seriousness of de Blasio's stated goal of reducing traffic fatalities. Then, too, his driver's blithe regard of the laws as de Blasio sat beside him strengthens the image of the mayor as one who picks and chooses the standards he and his friends will live by.
Go back to Tuesday and there de Blasio is, calling for reducing the general speed limit to 25 mph from 30 and promising a speeding crackdown. He points out that 70% of pedestrian deaths are the fault of drivers, most of whom were speeding or failed to yield.
"We want the public to know that we are holding ourselves to this standard," de Blasio says.
Come forward to Thursday and there's de Blasio's SUV going through two stop signs, going 40 to 45 mph in a 30 zone and 60 mph in a 45 zone, and failing to signal when changing lanes. All caught on tape by Channel 2 reporter Marcia Kramer.
As for accountability, de Blasio's office shifted responsibility to the Police Department, presumably because a cop was driving. Brave guy.
For its part, the NYPD laughably claimed that de Blasio's drivers get "specialized training in driving based on maintaining security as well as safety." None of that applied in this case.
The episode follows hard on the heels of de Blasio's phone call to the NYPD to inquire about the arrest of Bishop Orlando Findlayter, a supporter and inaugural committee member who had been arrested on outstanding warrants after being stopped for — it just had to be — failing to signal on a left turn. Findlayter was released shortly after the mayor inquired. So much for the mayor's pledge to make us one city, with one set of rules.
De Blasio is fond of claiming a mandate for his progressive policies. At this rate, it won't last very long.
Bull Bleep Initial Statements
NYPD and Mayor Respond to Speeding Controversy
By Colin Campbell (The Politicker.Com) — Thursday, February 20th, 2014; 7:30 p.m. EST
NOTE: See next article.
Earlier today, CBS New York revealed Bill de Blasio's security detail apparently broke numerous traffic laws while driving the mayor between events–just days after Mr. de Blasio held a prominent public safety event on reducing speed limits.
Reached for comment, both the mayor's office and the NYPD defended the conduct without addressing the particulars of the CBS allegations, which included running stop signs and going up to 15 miles per hours over the speed limit.
"We believe public safety is everyone's responsibility. We also recognize NYPD's training and protocols, and refer questions related to security and transportation to them. With that in mind, Mayor de Blasio is firmly committed to the traffic safety policies outlined this week," Mr. de Blasio's press secretary, Phil Walzak, said in a statement.
In a statement of their own, the NYPD said security details may sometimes employ "techniques such as maintaining speed with the general flow of traffic" and "tactics to safely keep two or more police vehicles together in formation when crossing intersections."
"The security and transportation for the Mayor are provided by the New York City Police Department. Police Department personnel assigned to the Mayor's Security Detail receive specialized training in driving based on maintaining security as well as safety," read the statement. "At certain times, under certain conditions, this training may include the use of techniques such as maintaining speed with the general flow of traffic, and may sometimes include tactics to safely keep two or more police vehicles together in formation when crossing intersections."
"The handling of police vehicles transporting any protectee is determined solely by police personnel based on their specialized training in executive protection and professional judgment," the NYPD added.
De Blasio Deflects Questions About Driver's Actions
By Michael Howard Saul — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The Wall Street Journal' / New York, NY
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday deflected questions about a television news report alleging his police-driven SUV was speeding and blowing through stop signs just two days after he launched a citywide initiative to combat traffic fatalities.
A report on WCBS-TV alleged that Mr. de Blasio's two-vehicle caravan rolled through two stop signs and traveled above the speed limit Thursday afternoon after leaving a press conference about potholes in Queens. Mr. de Blasio was seen leaving the news conference in the front passenger's seat of the lead SUV.
In a brief interview with reporters outside the mayor's Brooklyn home Friday morning, Mr. de Blasio sought to distance himself from the controversy, referring all inquiries on the matter to the New York Police Department.
Asked directly what he says to people who believe he is acting hypocritically, Mr. de Blasio replied, "Again, talk to NYPD about the security protocols."
"You need to talk to NYPD," he said. "They can tell you all about the security protocols that the drivers observed."
"We take very seriously the NYPD protocols, the NYPD training, so please talk to them."
Mr. de Blasio has scheduled a news conference at City Hall for Friday afternoon.
On Thursday evening, hours after WCBS aired its report, the NYPD and the mayor's office released statements. In the statement from the mayor's office, a spokesman said Mr. de Blasio remains firmly committed to his comprehensive plan to reduce the number of traffic fatalities in the city.
The NYPD statement said the mayor's security detail receives specialized training in driving based on maintaining security as well as public safety. The statement suggested the detail may engage in certain "tactics" to keep the mayor's caravan together. The NYPD statement made clear that the driver is responsible for the vehicle, not the mayor.
For the mayor, the allegations about his vehicle's traffic violations come two days after he held a press conference discussing how all New Yorkers must work together to make city streets safer.
On Tuesday on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Mr. de Blasio unveiled a comprehensive plan to combat traffic fatalities in the five boroughs, calling the number of pedestrian deaths in the city an "epidemic." The mayor is seeking permission from Albany to reduce the citywide default speed limit to 25 mph from 30. He said the Police Department plans to beef up enforcement on speeding and drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians.
Mr. de Blasio called on all New Yorkers to assume "greater responsibility" each time "we get behind the wheel, and every time we step out on the street."
"Our lives are literally in each others' hands. Our children's lives are in each others' hands," he said. "And today, we begin the work of living up to that responsibility."
Over the years, a number of government officials have been caught in vehicles apparently violating traffic laws.
In 2008, a car transporting then-Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan was pulled over for speeding as she made her way to Albany to lobby lawmakers. In 2004, Carol Robles-Roman, a deputy mayor in Michael Bloomberg's administration, was caught by WCBS using her lights flashing and siren blaring to get to work from her home in the Bronx. Mr. Bloomberg forced her to relinquish the perk.
In 2007, Jon Corzine, then the governor of New Jersey, was involved in an accident on the Garden State Parkway while he was being driven by state troopers. The vehicle was going 91 mph in a 65 mph zone and had its emergency lights flashing, the authorities said.
Ray Kelly's Quixotic Quest Going Nowhere
In Etan Patz Case, The Verdict Is…
Nearly two years after Pedro Hernandez was arrested for murdering Etan Patz, he has yet to have an essential hearing on whether the central evidence against him is even admissible.
By Joaquin Sapien — Thursday, February 20th, 2014; 2:45 p.m. 'ProPublica'
Nearly two years after Pedro Hernandez was arrested for murdering Etan Patz, he has yet to have an essential hearing on whether the central evidence against him is even admissible.
At a hearing in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Wednesday, prosecutors and defense lawyers huddled around Judge Maxwell Wiley's bench. There was much murmuring and some clear signs of exasperation: eyes rolled and heads shook. Finally, a deal was struck.
Its particulars shocked few in the courtroom: there would be more delays in the prosecution of Pedro Hernandez for the 1979 murder of Etan Patz.
The hearing that will decide whether Hernandez's alleged confession in the infamous missing child case is admissible was pushed back once more, this time from March to June, more than two years from Hernandez's initial arrest. And a trial, should one occur, will not take place before this coming September.
No one expected the case against Hernandez to be quick or easy. Patz had gone missing more than 30 years ago, and his body has never been found. Hernandez's confession, which he has now recanted, is the lone publicly known piece of evidence against the former Manhattan bodega clerk who was working near the Patz family apartment on the morning of May 25, 1979. Hernandez's lawyer has said his client is mentally ill, and potentially complex psychiatric evidence will be presented at any trial.
Still, the slow pace of the proceedings stands out, even among other complicated, high-profile murder cases. The prosecution, for instance, has yet to formally submit the findings of its own psychiatric experts.
In April of 1989, five teenage boys were arrested for the brutal rape and assault of a 28-year-old woman in Central Park, an event that would become widely known as the Central Park jogger case. There were allegations that those charged had been tricked or coerced into confessing, but even in that case, the confessions were evaluated by a court in less than a year. The first trial took place in August 1990.
John Hinckley Jr., who presented an insanity defense at his 1982 trial for the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, was tried just a year after his arrest.
And Andrew Goldstein, a schizophrenic man who pushed a young woman into an oncoming subway train in Manhattan in 1999, was tried mere months later.
In court papers, Hernandez's lawyer has complained about the delays – in everything from having potentially exculpatory evidence turned over to him by prosecutors to having his client examined by the prosecution's experts. He asserts that prosecutors have "moved at a glacial speed" on their obligations to turn over investigative reports, witness statements, and other material that might come out at trial.
Prosecutors with the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance have blamed the FBI for some of the delays in turning over material to Hernandez's lawyer. They have also asserted that Hernandez's lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, has himself been responsible for the length of the proceedings.
In court papers filed last December, prosecutors said the 18 months Hernandez had then spent in custody was "nowhere near unreasonable, uncommon or unfair."
A spokesman for Vance's office would not comment when asked about the most recent rescheduling.
When prosecutors first won a murder indictment against Hernandez in the fall of 2012 – one that claimed he had lured the boy into the local bodega and then strangled him – prosecutors evinced considerable confidence in their case.
"We believe the evidence that Mr. Hernandez killed Etan Patz to be credible and persuasive, and that his statements are not the product of any mental illness," said a spokesperson for the office in November 2012. "The grand jury has found sufficient evidence to charge the defendant, and this is a case that we believe should be presented to a jury at trial."
Fifteen months later, there has yet to be a hearing into the admissibility of Hernandez's confession. Fishbein is set to argue that Hernandez, in part because of his mental illness and in part because of the length of his initial, unrecorded interrogation, was incapable of understanding his rights while being questioned.
NYPD to Keep Gramercy Building After Police Academy Moves Out: Sources
By Heather Holland and Murray Weiss — Thursday, February 20th, 2014 'DNAinfo.Com News' / New York, NY
GRAMERCY — The NYPD will continue using the Police Academy building in Gramercy even after the academy moves out this summer, according to several sources.
The NYPD plans to hold on to the eight-story building at 235 E. 20th St., near Second Avenue, to use it for police purposes after the Police Academy moves to its new home in Queens in July, sources said.
The department plans to conduct a study to decide how to use the space, sources said. The NYPD does not yet have a timeline for when the study will begin.
Community leaders were surprised to hear of the NYPD's plans to keep the building, because they have been advocating for years for the city to turn it into a school.
"We have not received any indication that NYPD would be staying," said Sandro Sherrod, chairman of Community Board 6.
Since 2008, the board has been calling for the Police Academy to be converted to a middle or high school, since it already has classrooms, a gym, locker rooms, an assembly area, a library and a lecture room.
"While it is disappointing to hear that we might not be getting a school that the community needs," Sherrod said, "we will continue to work with the mayor's office, our local council members and NYPD to make sure that any future use of the space benefits the community as a whole."
Retired Bklyn. North Homi Det. Louis Scarcella Expensive 'Flake Job'
Man Framed by Detective Will Get $6.4 Million From New York City After Serving 23 Years for Murder
By FRANCES ROBLESFEB — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The New York Times'
A man who was framed by a rogue detective and served 23 years in prison for a murder he did not commit will receive $6.4 million from the City of New York in a settlement that came before a civil rights lawsuit was even filed, lawyers involved in the case said on Thursday.
A $150 million claim filed last year by the man, David Ranta, was settled by the city comptroller's office without ever involving the city's legal department — which the lawyers involved in the negotiations described as a "groundbreaking" decision that acknowledged the overwhelming evidence the city faced.
The comptroller's quick acceptance of liability in the high-profile conviction is also significant because the case is the first of what is expected to be a series of wrongful conviction claims by men who were sent to prison based on the flawed investigative work of the detective, Louis Scarcella, who has been accused of inventing confessions, coercing witnesses and recycling informers.
"While no amount of money could ever compensate David for the 23 years that were taken away from him, this settlement allows him the stability to continue to put his life back together," Mr. Ranta's lawyer, Pierre Sussman, said. "We are now focusing our efforts on pursuing an unjust conviction claim with the State of New York."
Mr. Sussman added that Mr. Ranta, who, at 58, had a heart attack the day after he was released last March, "would like everyone to know he is happy to have a chance at recovering his health, taking care of his heart and being there for his family and children."
Mr. Ranta, who declined to comment on Thursday, was convicted of the 1990 killing in Brooklyn of a Hasidic rabbi, Chaskel Werzberger, a Holocaust survivor who had stepped into his car at dawn just as a jewelry robbery was taking place across the street. He was shot in the head and his station wagon was used as a getaway car while the jeweler escaped unharmed.
The rabbi's death shook the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, which was a major voting bloc for the newly elected district attorney at the time, Charles J. Hynes.
Mr. Hynes's office defended the conviction for decades, fighting off appeals and rejecting evidence that pointed to another killer. But when one eyewitness came forward decades later to say that a detective had told him to pick the man with "the big nose" out of a lineup — Mr. Ranta was the only person who fit that description — the district attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit conducted a yearlong investigation and discovered more serious problems.
When investigators approached two other witnesses in the case, they immediately admitted that they had lied.
The two career criminals who implicated Mr. Ranta in the crime used their cooperation in the case as a means to obtain get-out-of-jail excursions provided by Mr. Scarcella, who before retiring had been well regarded for his ability to solve homicides at a time when Brooklyn was awash in violence. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Mr. Ranta had always accused the detective of manufacturing his confession. Mr. Scarcella said Mr. Ranta confessed while handcuffed to a bench at Central Booking. Although the allegation about the confession was never proven, the mounting questions about Mr. Scarcella's methods made it increasingly suspect.
Prosecutors also discovered that Mr. Scarcella had followed up on an anonymous telephone call that attributed the killing to a robber named Joseph Astin. Mr. Scarcella questioned Mr. Astin's wife and tried to track down a parole officer to collect recent photographs of him. But he dropped that lead when Mr. Astin died in a car accident, and then the officer never submitted any paperwork documenting the time spent investigating him.
Years later, Mr. Astin's widow came forward to say her husband was the real killer, but legal efforts to free Mr. Ranta based on that information failed.
Two months after Mr. Ranta was released, he filed a notice that he would sue the city. Negotiations took place for several months under the previous comptroller, John C. Liu. But it was Mr. Liu's successor, Scott M. Stringer, swayed by the fact that the Brooklyn district attorney's office had joined in the motion to free Mr. Ranta from prison, who ultimately agreed to settle the case.
"This settlement is in the best interests of all parties and closes the door on a truly regrettable episode in our city's history," Mr. Stringer said in a statement. "I am pleased that my office was able to move quickly on this case."
A spokesman for the city's Law Department, which would have had responsibility for defending the city had the case proceeded, declined to comment on the settlement, which is among the largest the city has ever reached with an individual.
Mr. Ranta is expected to make a separate wrongful conviction claim against the state. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman proposed legislation on Wednesday that would make it easier for people like Mr. Ranta to make such claims; under current law, it is difficult for people who made false confessions to be compensated for wrongful convictions.
The news of the settlement came as Kenneth P. Thompson, the Brooklyn district attorney, convened a new three-member panel to review dozens of Mr. Scarcella's cases. The panel is to replace the one appointed by Mr. Hynes, which was widely criticized for including several people close to him, including campaign donors and the godfather of his children. Dogged by the fact that the majority of the cases that involved questionable behavior by Mr. Scarcella took place under his watch, Mr. Hynes was voted out of office in November in a landslide victory for Mr. Thompson.
According to Mr. Thompson's office, his review panel will include Bernard W. Nussbaum, a former White House counsel to President Bill Clinton who was forced out over his role in an investigation of a failed savings and loan; Gary S. Villanueva, a defense lawyer and former assistant district attorney in Brooklyn; and Jennifer G. Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor who is now the executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia University.
Details of their responsibilities have not been ironed out, but they are expected to play an advisory role in the dozens of innocence claims that have arisen in cases investigated by Mr. Scarcella.
After Mr. Ranta's release, an investigation by The New York Times found that Mr. Scarcella had used the same witness in several different murder cases and that at least six confessions had included similar phraseology: "You got it right. I was there." Some confessions did not match the evidence.
One inmate, Sundhe Moses, who had been investigated by the detective, hired lawyers who tracked down a star witness, who said detectives had coached him to lie. The Parole Board released Mr. Moses in December after he served 16 years for the murder of a 4-year-old girl.
City to Pay $6.4 Million for Wrongful Conviction
By Sean Gardiner — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The Wall Street Journal' / New York, NY
The city Comptroller's Office will pay $6.4 million to a Brooklyn man who served more than 22 years in prison for the murder conviction of a rabbi that was overturned last year.
David Ranta, 59 years old, was convicted in 1991 for the killing of Brooklyn Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger, a diamond courier who was fatally shot during a botched robbery attempt.
After reviewing Mr. Ranta's case, officials at the office of Comptroller Scott Stringer agreed to settle before litigation started.
The settlement "is in the best interests of all parties and closes the door on a truly regrettable episode in our city's history," Mr. Stringer said. Following two failed attempts to appeal the conviction, in 2011 former Brooklyn District Attorney's Charles Hynes's Conviction Integrity Unit began to reinvestigate the case after Mr. Ranta's attorney, Pierre Sussman, said a key witness recanted.
Menachem Lieberman, who was 13 at the time of the rabbi's murder, came forward years later and claimed that detectives, including now-retired Brooklyn Det. Louis Scarcella, had told him to identify Mr. Ranta as the crime's perpetrator in a police lineup of suspects. "Before I entered the room to view the lineup, a police detective told me to 'pick the guy with the big nose,'" Mr. Lieberman wrote in an affidavit. Prosecutors subsequently found two more witnesses in the case who told them they lied.
In the aftermath of Mr. Ranta being freed, Brooklyn prosecutors have begun to review more than 50 cases that Mr. Scarcella, who didn't return a call seeking comment, worked on. That review has continued under the newly elected Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson.
Mr. Stringer said that under the city's charter, "the comptroller has the authority to settle any claims against the city."
Mr. Ranta's attorney filed a pre-litigation claim. If the comptroller declines to negotiate a resolution, the case is sent to the city's Law Department for litigation.
In the case of Mr. Ranta, where the Brooklyn district attorney agreed that Mr. Ranta's conviction should be overturned, that wasn't necessary, officials said. One of those officials said that after a review of the case Mr. Stringer believed the $6.4 million was "fair and equitable."
Mr. Ranta couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Wrongfully imprisoned man David Ranta gets $6.4M in settlement with city following 23 years behind bars
David Ranta, 59, was wrongfully convicted in the murder of beloved Brooklyn rabbi Chaskel Werzberger and was released following a review of the case handled by retired NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella.
By Oren Yaniv AND Larry McShane — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The New York Daily News'
David Ranta paid the price for his wrongful conviction in a 1990 murder — and now, so has the city.
The innocent man, framed and jailed for more than two decades in the slaying of a beloved Brooklyn rabbi, reached a $6.4 million settlement with the city Thursday.
"No amount of money can compensate David for the 23 years that were taken away from him," said his attorney, Pierre Sussman. "This settlement will allow him the stability to get his life back together. He was happy and relieved because it's providing stability for him to take care of his health and take care of his family."
Sussman said Ranta has suffered a pair of heart attacks since last March, when he walked out of a Brooklyn courtroom a free man. He's the father of three adult children — including a daughter who was an infant when her dad was found guilty.
City Controller Scott Stringer announced the settlement, which covers both Ranta's wrongful conviction and imprisonment.
"My office was able to reach a settlement with Mr. Ranta that is in the best interests of all parties and closes the door on a truly regrettable episode in our city's history," Stringer said.
Ranta filed a $150 million claim against the city just two months after his release. The payoff comes to roughly $278,000 for each year Ranta spent behind bars.
Ranta, 59, was rotting in a prison near Buffalo as his cries of innocence landed on deaf ears until a year-long investigation found his conviction was replete with reasonable doubt. He'd been convicted in the murder of Holocaust survivor Chaskel Werzberger, a Brooklyn rabbi. Werzberger was shot in the forehead by a killer who tossed him aside before fleeing in the rabbi's Oldsmobile after a botched diamond robbery.
There was no physical evidence against Ranta, who was sentenced to 37 years to life in prison. The former printer with a small-time rap sheet spent the ensuing years fighting for his freedom.
After a new probe was launched in 2011, authorities discovered evidence of witness coaching and questionable behavior by lead Detective Louis Scarcella. A witness who was just 13 years old at the time recalled how a detective sent him into a lineup with instructions to pick Ranta, "the guy with the big nose."
Scarcella has said he stands by his police work in the case and accused the DA's office of scapegoating him. Authorities later said about 50 of Scarcella's cases would be reopened.
Attorney Sussman said they were now focusing on a wrongful conviction claim against the state.
Cops hit my car, then arrested me to cover it up: suit
By Josh Saul — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The New York Post'
Two Brooklyn cops sideswiped a parked SUV, then arrested a man sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle, accusing him of damaging their car, a suit charges.
And the officers would have gotten away with their lie — had the whole bizarre drama not been caught by a security camera.
Robert Jackson, 31, told The Post his nightmare began when a police car heading the wrong way on one-way Watkins Street in Brownsville scraped against a parked Ford Explorer, which belongs to his girlfriend.
Jackson, a maintenance worker, said he was sitting in the legally parked car outside of his apartment when the accident happened. He got out of the vehicle and walked up to the officers.
"I was smiling, like, 'How'd you run into me?' " he recalled. "Then the cop said, 'Dude, you ran into me.' "
"I just wanted them to fix the damage and apologize, but it didn't turn out that way," Jackson said. "They were trying to cover it up."
At that point, things got even more surreal.
The two cops checked the block for surveillance cameras before arresting him for destruction of city property, according to the lawsuit filed by Jackson in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
"When they thought no cameras were on. I saw their gloves go on, and that's when I was arrested," Jackson said.
But fortunately for Jackson, the officers, Christopher Oliver and Shazad Shigri, missed one camera on the home of one of his neighbors, Jackson said.
The video, reviewed by The Post, corroborates Jackson's story.
It shows the police car going the wrong way down the street on April 17, 2013, and scraping the parked SUV as the officers try to make room for a truck to pass.
Though charges were eventually dropped, Jackson had to spend a night in a "filthy, overpopulated, rat- and rodent-infested cell," his suit says.
"The officer who arrested me said if I took care of the expense on my vehicle, they would take care of their vehicle and I wouldn't have gotten arrested," Jackson recounted. "He knew he was wrong."
The NYPD declined to comment on the allegations.
The city Law Department said only, "We will review the complaint."
The suit charges that the officers "falsely claimed that [Jackson] was operating the parked motor vehicle and that [Jackson] caused the parked motor vehicle to strike the NYPD vehicle."
Jackson was arrested for destruction of city property, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, the suit states.
But he was officially charged only with unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle because he had a suspended license.
The criminal complaint drafted against Jackson says he had the keys in the ignition — which could support the unlicensed-operator charge — when the crash happened, but Jackson said that's not true.
"If he's claiming that he was not in the driver's seat and the car was not on — if either of those claims are truthful, then he wasn't operating the car under the law," said Todd Greenberg, a defense attorney and expert on traffic law who is not involved in the case.
The suit, which names the city and the two police officers, seeks unspecified monetary damages.
— Additional reporting by Daniel Prendergast
Ret. P.O. Anthony Maher Pleas to Grand Larceny
2 plea deals in pension scam
By Rebecca Rosenberg — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The New York Post'
(Edited for brevity and NYPD pertinence)
A former NYPD cop and an ex-city sanitation worker were the first to take plea deals after they were busted last month in a massive Social Security scam involving more than 80 NYPD and FDNY retirees.
Retired officer Anthony Maher, 44, who now lives in Pima, Ariz., copped to grand larceny Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court and must pay full restitution of $192,266.50 in exchange for a no-jail sentence.
If he satisfies his debt, he won't do time behind bars.
They are among 106 defendants accused of collecting more than $22 million in disability-pension benefits by pretending they suffered emotional trauma — many falsely claiming that they lost loved ones on 9/11 or were at Ground Zero, prosecutors said.
NY/NJ PAPD P.B.A.
Leader of Port Authority's Police Union to Reduce Role Amid Bridge Scandal
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUMFEB — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The New York Times'
The president of the union that represents police officers for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who has come under increasing scrutiny in connection with the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, told his membership on Thursday that he would step aside from the union's day-to-day operations, a person briefed on the matter said.
The union president, Paul Nunziato, is among 30 people who have received subpoenas from a joint New Jersey legislative panel investigating allegations that access lanes to the bridge were shut down for four days by aides to Gov. Chris Christie as an act of political retribution. The lane closings are also the subject of a federal inquiry.
Mr. Nunziato, 51, a Port Authority police officer since 1987 and the president of the 1,300-member union, the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, since 2010, told a meeting of the union's membership that he would be stepping aside from day-to-day operations and that the vice president, Robert Morris, would take over, the person said.
It was unclear whether Mr. Nunziato gave a reason for why he is stepping aside and neither he, nor Mr. Morris nor a spokesman for the union returned calls and email messages on Thursday night seeking comment.
The union leader's own comments have made him a figure of interest in the investigations into the lane closings, which have embroiled Mr. Christie in a scandal.
Mr. Nunziato is close to David Wildstein, who was the director of interstate capital projects at the Port Authority. He submitted his resignation on Dec. 6 after it was revealed he had ordered the lane closings.
In December, when some Port Authority officials were still maintaining that the closings were part of a traffic study, the union leader said the study had been his idea. Speaking to reporters after a Port Authority board meeting, Mr. Nunziato said he had put forward the idea at a breakfast with Mr. Wildstein.
Christopher J. Burgos, the president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association, praised Mr. Nunziato. "I see Paul as a fierce advocate for his police officers," he said, "and in my opinion he's one of the best."
Proposed law would shift Suffolk sales tax to aid East End police
By DAVID M. SCHWARTZ — Thursday, February 20th, 2014 'New York Newsday' / Melville, L.I.
A proposed law would shift millions in county sales tax money to town and village police departments to address what East End officials say is an unfair distribution of police money.
Smaller police departments would get money based on population under the proposed law from Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk).
Annual funding has remained steady at $6.588 million since 2010, a level currently set by the county executive and approved by the legislature. Schneiderman said that's $2.8 million less than the towns and villages should get under a more equitable formula. "It's fundamentally unfair," he said.
He said a change in law is necessary, so the two East End lawmakers aren't left battling other lawmakers. "I don't want to leave a 16-2 battle every year fighting for fairness," he said.
But other legislators and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone oppose the bill.
Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider said the bill as currently written would create a $3 million shortfall in next year's budget, but the administration is willing to talk about adding money for town and village police departments.
"Rather than fight it out over local laws, we should work it out over a more gradual approach that ensures a fair revenue agreement," he said.
Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset), said the number of patrol officers at the Suffolk County Police Department is already too low.
To reduce the money for the county, "quite frankly, to me, it would be highly irresponsible," he said. "It's counterproductive to constantly pit the east and west ends against each other."
Schneiderman has tried to adjust the formula and increase funding for East End towns and villages since the late 1990s, including a lawsuit, informal agreements with prior county executives, and prior attempts at legislation.
But last year, Bellone in his budget increased sales tax funding for the police department by $21 million to pay for a larger police budget. Bellone didn't increase funding for the smaller police departments.
The amount that goes to towns and villages, as a percentage of sales tax that goes to police, fell to 7.3 percent this year, from 9.4 percent in 2013.
Suffolk Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue), who represents the North Fork and much of Riverhead, also supports the bill, as does Presiding Officer Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville).
Gregory represents and lives in an area covered by a village police department. "According to the formula, we don't get our fair share," he said. He noted it would be a tough sell with other lawmakers.
New York State
NY court rules police can lie to suspects, but only to a point
By Michael Gormley — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'New York Newsday' / Melville, L.I.
ALBANY -- New York's highest court on Thursday ruled that although police can lie during interrogation of suspects in homicide cases, detectives can't lie too much.
As a result, two defendants in two cases won challenges to throw out their statements used as confessions because they were based on lies by police, the Court of Appeals stated.
In one case, police claimed a woman in Westchester County was still alive and that the suspect had to tell police if he had injected his girlfriend with heroin, leading to her overdose. Police said the information was needed to save the life of the woman and so the boyfriend could avoid a murder charge.
The woman was already dead.
In a second case, police told a father they knew he wasn't responsible for seriously injuring his 4-month-old son, but that he had to explain how he accidentally dropped the boy so doctors could save his life.
The boy was already dead of head injuries that a doctor said was consistent with being in a car crash at 60 mph. At one point police also told the father they might charge his wife in the case.
"Had there been only a few such deceptive assurances, perhaps they might be deemed insufficient to raise a question as to whether the defendant's confession had been obtained in violation of due process," the court stated in the case against the father, Adrian Thomas of Troy.
"Defendant was told 67 times that what had been done to his son was an accident, 14 times that he would not be arrested, and eight times that he would be going home," the court record stated. "These representations were, moreover, undeniably instrumental in the extraction of a defendant's most damaging admissions."
Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman wrote the unanimous decision in the Thomas case.
A similar argument was used in the case of Paul Aveni, the boyfriend of the woman who died of a heroin overdose.
The court found lies by police could "overwhelm defendant's free will."
New Trial Ordered for Suspect Tricked Into Confessing
By John Caher — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The New York Law Journal' / New York, NY
ALBANY - The Court of Appeals on Thursday overturned a homicide conviction in a case where police used deception and subterfuge to trick an upstate man into confessing to the murder of his 4-month-old baby.
In a unanimous decision, the court said the sheer volume of the deceptive techniques used by Troy police to obtain a confession from Adrian Thomas overwhelmed the defendant's free will and rendered his statement involuntary. The court suppressed the statement and granted the defendant a new trial.
"The choice to speak where speech may incriminate is constitutionally that of the individual, not the government, and the government may not effectively eliminate it by any coercive device," Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman wrote for the court. "What transpired during defendant's interrogation was not consonant with and, indeed, completely undermined, defendant's right not to incriminate himself—to remain silent."
Police interrogated Thomas for 9 1/2 hours, playing good cop/bad cop, repeatedly promising him that he would not be arrested, falsely claiming that his wife had implicated him, threatening to arrest his wife, misleading him into thinking that his son's life could be saved if he provided information and finally suggesting to him how a 500-pound man could "accidentally" injure his 15-pound child.
Lippman said the "highly coercive deceptions" were "of a kind sufficiently potent to nullify individual judgment in any ordinarily resolute person and were manifestly lethal to self-determination when deployed against defendant, an unsophisticated individual without experience in the criminal justice system."
The ruling overturns the Appellate Division, Third Department, which had unanimously affirmed Thomas' conviction.
People v. Thomas, 18, was one of two appeals in which the court was asked to determine the point at which police deception—a law enforcement tool that the court has sanctioned for nearly 150 years—is so psychologically coercive as to render a confession involuntary and therefore unconstitutional.
In the other matter, People v. Aveni, 19, the Appellate Division, Second Department had overturned a Westchester County homicide conviction because police had lied to and tricked the defendant into confessing. The high court dismissed the appeal on technical grounds, allowing the Second Department ruling to stand.
The District Attorney's Association of the State of New York appeared amicus curiae in support of the prosecution in both the Thomas and Aveni cases.
But the Thomas case generated a plethora of amici in support of the defendant—the New York City Bar, American Psychological Association, Legal Aid Society and New York Law School Post Conviction Innocence Clinic all submitted briefs in support of Thomas—and inspired an award-winning documentary, "Scenes of a Crime."
Part of the interest in the Thomas case stems from the fact that the entire interrogation was captured on video, providing an extraordinary window into the tactics used by expert interrogators.
Expert Testimony Barred
Thomas, an unemployed high school dropout with no criminal record and no history of abusing or neglecting his seven young children, was targeted when a doctor at Albany Medical Center Hospital wrongly told police that his sickly child, who was suffering from pneumonia and sepsis when he was brought to the hospital close to death, had a fractured skull. That inaccurate diagnosis instantly put Thomas in the crosshairs of a police investigation.
Troy police, primarily Sergeant Adam Mason, spent portions of two days grilling Thomas, alternating insults and empathy, repeatedly lying to the suspect.
Thomas adamantly insisted he did nothing to harm his child, but began to waiver when Mason threatened to "scoop up" his wife, Wilhelmina Hicks. At that point, Thomas offered to "take the fall" for his wife. But Thomas maintained that he did not know what happened to the baby.
The confession came after Mason, who knew Matthew Thomas was brain dead and would not survive, told the suspect that there was a chance the baby's life could be saved if doctors knew exactly what happened. With Mason's prompting, Thomas then demonstrated how he had roughly thrown the child on a mattress several times.
The confession, which Thomas instantly recanted, became the lynchpin of the prosecution's case.
Although there was medical proof that Matthew had suffered brain trauma consistent with being thrown, that evidence was contradicted by defense experts who said the child's head injury was more likely the result of his fever and illness or the difficult vaginal delivery he had endured a few months earlier.
Rensselaer County Judge Andrew Ceresia refused to allow expert testimony from Richard Ofshe, an expert in psychological coercion, on how police can compel a false confession and why someone would confess to a crime he did not commit. Thomas was convicted of second-degree murder. Ceresia said Ofshe's theories, although presented in several courtrooms around the country, did not meet the Frye standard for admissibility (see Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (1923)).
The Third Department, in an opinion by now retired Justice Edward Spain, approached the case from a traditional perspective: was the police trickery of a sort that would be likely to induce a false confession? Concluding that a father, eager to safe the life of his child, would be unlikely to make up a false story, Spain found it more likely that the deception would yield a true confession than a false one and the court unanimously affirmed Thomas' conviction and 25-year-to-life sentence (NYLJ, March 23, 2012).
Judge Robert Smith granted leave and yesterday the Court of Appeals suppressed the statement and sent the case back for trial.
No Bright-Line Rule
The Court of Appeals did not attempt to establish any bright line rule to delineate the point at which trickery becomes coercive, nor did it back away from its long history of acquiescing to police deception. But here, the court said, police simply went too far.
"Had there been only a few such deceptive assurances, perhaps they might be deemed insufficient to raise a question as to whether defendant's confession had been obtained in violation of due process," Lippman wrote. "This record, however, is replete with false assurances. Defendant was told 67 times that what had been done to his son was an accident, 14 times that he would not be arrested, and 8 times that he would be going home. These representations were, moreover, undeniably instrumental in the extraction of defendant's most damaging admissions."
Rather than focusing on whether the deceptions were likely to result in a bogus confession, as had the Third Department, the Court of Appeals stressed that a coerced statement is inadmissible whether it is true or false. Further, the court observed, "there is not a single inculpatory fact in defendant's confession that was not suggested to him" by police.
Lippman was joined by judges Smith, Victoria Graffeo (See Profile), Susan Phillips Read (See Profile), Eugene Pigott (See Profile), Jenny Rivera and Sheila Abdus-Salaam (See Profile).
The court did not decide whether Ofshe should have been permitted to testify on psychological coercion. Lippman said that with the confession suppressed, there was no need to address that issue.
Jerome Frost, the former Rensselaer County public defender, represented Thomas at trial and at both appeals along with Ingrid Effman of Troy. Frost said that without the confession, "they don't have a case."
"There is no evidence outside the confession that will even indicate that a crime occurred," Frost said, adding that he had hoped the court would adopt a bright-line rule. "The D.A. should do the right thing here and admit they don't have a legally sufficient case."
The prosecution was represented by Rensselaer County Assistant District Attorney Kelly Egan. Acting Rensselaer County District Attorney Arthur Glass, who prosecuted Thomas at trial along with Assistant District Attorney Krista Book, said he expects to retry the case without the confession. Given the aggressive questioning Egan endured in arguing the appeal, and the comments from the bench, Glass said he was not surprised by the ruling. At first glance, he said, the decision appears case-specific and does not appear to establish any new law.
"I don't know if it helps or hinders police, other than reminding them to be very cautious," Glass said.
Grover Babcock, who produced the Thomas documentary, "Scenes of a Crime,' with his wife, Blue Hadaegh, said in an email that they were curious as to how police persuade individuals to confess and happened upon the Thomas case, with its nearly 10 hours of video.
"The vivid interrogation video in the Adrian Thomas case allowed us to bring to life the wrenching experience of a long police interrogation, with all of its twists and turns," Babcock said. "It was an instantly riveting experience: we see a young man accused of battering his son to death by police who, as it turns out, were operating on mistaken evidence from doctors. He resists for hours, but finally succumbs, making the audience wonder: Is this how justice should be done?"
"Scenes of a Crime" has been shown nationwide and has accumulated several awards, including one from the American Bar Association (NYLJ, July 23, 2012).
Aveni arose from Westchester County investigation into the death of 25-year-old Angela Camillo, who died in 2009 from a fatal combination of heroin, ecstasy and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax. Police quickly zeroed in on Joseph Aveni, her boyfriend.
Authorities knew, but Aveni did not know, that the woman was dead when they interrogated him, telling him he could save her life if he revealed what drugs she had used and possibly implying that if he did not confess, and the woman died, he would be facing a homicide charge. Aveni confessed and was convicted of criminally negligent homicide. After Supreme Court Justice Richard Molea declined to suppress the statement, Aveni was convicted of all the charges in a trial before Justice Susan Cacace in Westchester County (See Profile).
The Second Department unanimously reversed Aveni's conviction in an opinion by then Justice Ariel Belen (NYLJ, Oct. 18, 2012) seemingly holding police to a higher or different standard than the Third Department had embraced in Thomas.
Pigott granted leave, but over his dissent the Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal. It said in a memorandum that the Second Department's conclusion that Aveni's will was overborne was fact based, and therefore resistant to review by the high court.
Aveni was represented by David Weisfuse of White Plains. Westchester County Assistant District Attorney Raffaelina Gianfrancesco argued for the prosecution. Aveni is currently on parole.
Police Coercion Cited in Order for Retrial in Upstate New York Killing
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr. — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The New York Times'
Declaring that there are limits to the lies and deceptions the police can employ to get a person to confess to a crime, New York State's highest court on Thursday ordered a new trial for a man convicted five years ago of killing his infant son.
In a unanimous ruling, the court held that detectives in Troy, N.Y., had gone too far during the interrogation of Adrian P. Thomas, and that his confession, stating that he had thrown his son onto a bed, should never have been revealed to a jury.
Detectives threatened to arrest Mr. Thomas's wife if he did not take responsibility for the baby's death. They repeatedly told him he would not be charged with a crime if he confessed to abusing his son. Finally, they told Mr. Thomas that his son's survival depended on his remembering what he might have done to cause a brain injury, even though the baby was already brain-dead.
Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, writing for the seven-member Court of Appeals, said those techniques, taken together, amounted to psychological coercion that violated Mr. Thomas's constitutional rights.
"What transpired during defendant's interrogation was not consonant with, and indeed completely undermined, defendant's right not to incriminate himself — to remain silent," the judge wrote.
The court stopped short of setting down a hard and fast rule about when police trickery crosses the line into coercion, saying only that "in extreme forms, it may be."
Still, the ruling is an important guidepost for the police and judges in a rapidly evolving debate over false confessions, interrogation techniques and the taping of police interviews, experts on criminal procedure and false confessions said.
"What this decision does is give courts guidance on what constitutes an involuntary confession," said Dorothy Heyl, a lawyer with the Innocence Network.
Art Glass, the acting district attorney in Rensselaer County, where Mr. Thomas was prosecuted, said the ruling was likely to force police departments to be more careful during interviews.
"The court didn't provide any bright-line rule or set down any clear boundaries you can't cross," Mr. Glass said. "I think what it tells them is to be cautious, more cautious than they have been."
Mr. Thomas was convicted in 2009 of murdering his son, Matthew, and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, a decision upheld at the Appellate Division. The strongest evidence against Mr. Thomas, 31, was his confession that, days earlier, he had thrown the child forcefully down onto his bed.
That admission came after nine and a half hours of interrogation, when a police sergeant, Adam Mason, told Mr. Thomas that doctors needed to know what had happened in order to save the baby's life. At the time, the child had already been declared brain-dead.
"Do you want to save your baby's life or do you want your baby to die tonight?" the sergeant told Mr. Thomas, according to a transcript of the interview.
"I'm not lying," Mr. Thomas said.
"You better find that memory right now, Adrian," Sergeant Mason said. "You've got to find that memory. This is important for your son's life, man."
The Court of Appeals ruled that the technique "would prompt any ordinarily caring parent to provide whatever information they thought might be helpful, even if it was incriminating." Such psychological pressure invalidates the confession, even if it is true, Judge Lippman wrote. (He also noted that every detail of Mr. Thomas's confession had first been suggested by the detectives.)
In addition, the judges said detectives erred when they led Mr. Thomas to believe he would not be arrested if he described what had happened, telling him that it had clearly been an accident.
The court ordered Mr. Thomas, who is being held in a state prison in Auburn, to be retried in Rensselaer County. This time his confession will not be allowed into evidence.
Mr. Glass said his office would press ahead with the prosecution.
F.C.C. Wants Better 911 Location Tracking for Cellphones
By EDWARD WYATT — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The New York Times'
Want to dial 911 from a mobile phone? Better go outside. Chances are an operator cannot automatically find the location of an emergency call made indoors.
The Federal Communications Commission wants to fix that, proposing rules on Thursday that would require wireless phone companies to transmit specific information for 911 calls, down to the longitude and latitude on a floor in a multistory building, within five years.
It all sounds reasonable, especially because 70 percent of all calls to 911 are now made from mobile phones. And wireless companies say they want to comply. The trouble is, they don't have the technology to do so.
That raises questions about whether the F.C.C.'s proposed deadlines can be met. AT&T, for one, says probably not. "The commission has tentatively proposed unrealistic targets for location accuracy indoors," the company said in a statement. A report on the most recent tests by the F.C.C.'s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council "shows that no vendor currently has proven technology that can meet the proposed standards," AT&T said.
But Tom Wheeler, the F.C.C. chairman, wants to set the bar high. "We're setting off on a path to improve public safety and to save human lives," he said during the F.C.C.'s meeting on Thursday. "It's never wrong to overreach on those goals."
The technology isn't the only challenge to meeting the deadline, said Michael O'Rielly, an F.C.C. commissioner, who voted to move ahead with the proposed rules but not with the mandated deadlines. "Vendors will have to test their technology and go through the standards setting process," Mr. O'Rielly explained. "Location systems will have to be built. Hardware will have to be added to handsets. New handsets will have to be introduced to consumers and achieve sufficient market penetration. This all takes time."
Take the location finders. While most smartphones already have them, they base their information on where a user is in relation to a known Wi-Fi hot spot. Hot spot databases are private, and public safety officials cannot rely on them for emergency information without rigorous testing of their reliability.
Commissioner Ajit Pai, who also voted against the timeline, noted that the last round of F.C.C. requirements for 911 calling data was established in 1996. But it will not be fully carried out until 2019. "I'm doubtful that this deployment can be completed in two to three years," Mr. Pai said.
Accuracy is an issue, too.
The newly proposed rules would require location data to be correct in 80 percent of the cases within five years. In the most recent round of testing, the single technology tested found the correct floor in urban, multistory buildings in only about 67 percent of cases.
When tests were run to see whether the devices could locate a wireless caller within a specific building in an urban area, the devices were off target by 200 to 750 feet. In most cities, that is a distance that would encompass several buildings — meaning that emergency medical workers might go to a wrong address multiple times.
"We strongly encourage the F.C.C. to consider location accuracy requirements that are grounded in verified data, not aspirational target setting," Scott Bergmann, vice president of regulatory affairs for CTIA-The Wireless Association, a trade group for mobile phone companies.
Mr. Wheeler says the commission must forge ahead. "Our job," he said, "is to ensure that as network providers and their customers upgrade to new technologies, there is no downgrade in reliability, availability, or public safety."
Questions Raised About AT&T's Transparency Report
By BRIAN X. CHEN — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The New York Times'
AT&T this week published a so-called transparency report describing the instances last year where it received requests for customer data, like phone records or location information, from law enforcement and government agencies.
The largest number of requests that AT&T received from federal, state and local government agencies concerned criminal and civil litigation: the company said it received approximately 302,000 of these requests. Only about 17,000 of these requests required a search warrant.
But already, questions are being raised about the information provided — and left out. Nicole A. Ozer, a director for the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped write a shareholder proposal demanding AT&T to publish transparency reports, said that the important detail of the number of customers affected by those 302,000 requests was left out.
"Was this 302,000 demands for 302,000 people? Or millions of people?" Ms. Ozer said.
Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman, pointed to the company's explanation that it would be difficult to tally the number of customers affected by the demands, partly because there are times when multiple demands seek multiple pieces of information on a single customer.
"For these reasons we are not able to provide reliable information on the number of customers potentially impacted by these criminal and civil demands for information," the company said.
AT&T said that last year it received 2,000 to 2,999 letters demanding information about 4,000 to 4,999 customer accounts from the National Security Agency. (The government said last month that companies were allowed to publish the numbers for these types of requests only in bands of 1,000.)
AT&T also said it received about 38,000 requests for location information on customers — requests that are traditionally used by police officers to locate criminals or missing people. Among these, there were about 1,000 requests for so-called tower dumps, in which the agencies were granted access to data from all the phones that connected to a cell site during a specified period of time.
The company added that there were about 17,500 instances where it provided partial or no data. It said it challenged or rejected about 3,800 requests, or provided partial or no information for about 13,700 requests.
"We take our responsibility to protect your information and privacy very seriously, and we pledge to continue to do so to the fullest extent possible and always in compliance with the law of the country where the relevant service is provided," the company said in a web posting. Verizon Communications published a similar transparency report last month.
Ms. Ozer said that both AT&T and Verizon's reports were important steps for achieving greater transparency about what types of customer information are shared with the government. But she said that the data from the report — particularly the small number of requests requiring a search warrant — reinforces the need for broader laws requiring search warrants for all kinds of personal electronic information.
Supt. Garry McCarthy Defends Deploying Fewer Officers to Low-Crime Areas
By Howard Ludwig — Thursday, February 20th, 2014 'DNAinfo News Chicago ' / Chicago, IL
MOUNT GREENWOOD — Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy made no excuses for his department's strategy of deploying more officers to higher crime neighborhoods, even if it meant fewer officers in low-crime areas.
Speaking to Far Southwest Side community leaders Wednesday at St. Xavier University, McCarthy was asked about the number of officers assigned to the Beverly and Mount Greenwood communities.
"We don't deploy as many officers to good neighborhoods as we do to bad," he said.
Chicago's police superintendent said arresting criminals in high-crime areas can keep crime from spreading.
"If they catch them there, they don't come to Beverly," he said.
He also spoke about a common misconception about the number of police assigned to any neighborhood.
"People think that deployment stops crime. It really doesn't," McCarthy told a crowd gathered for the "Breakfast with the Experts" speaker series. The morning discussion was hosted jointly by St. Xavier and the Beverly Area Planning Association.
McCarthy said his crime-fighting approach has been to put more police officers on the street by breaking up large task forces and breaking down layers of middle management.
Once on the street, officers are asked to immerse themselves in their assigned territory. The idea is to become acutely aware of the people and places within their patrol area. Ideally, this empowers officers to know the good guys from the bad guys before crime occurs.
"There's a saying in baseball that says you have to know what to do with the ball before it gets to you," McCarthy said.
He also reminisced a bit on his first meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. His plane landed late at O'Hare International Airport. Thus, McCarthy was flustered as he shook hands with the man who would become his boss in 2011.
"He looks at me and says, 'Dude, you are right out of central casting,' " McCarthy said.
McCarthy went on to praise Emanuel for keeping politics out of the Chicago Police Department. This has enabled him to implement the same strategies he successfully deployed in New York and Newark, N.J., he said. He credits these tactics for a 23 percent reduction in crime in the last two years.
"He's allowed me to do what I see fit," he said of Emanuel.
McCarthy concluded his speech with his often-heard plea to strengthen gun laws in Illinois. He said that buying a gun in Illinois is a strict process, but there's little follow-up, allowing legally bought guns to be illegally transferred.
"We seize more guns than any police department in the country," McCarthy said.
Former Chicago police spokeswoman alleges assault, retaliation
Officer is suing the city, her bosses
By Lolly Bowean — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The Chicago Tribune' / Chicago, IL
A former spokeswoman for the Chicago Police Department has accused another officer of assault in the workplace and alleges that her bosses punished her for reporting the behavior, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Longtime Officer Laura Kubiak is suing the city of Chicago along with two former bosses because she said she was stripped of her post in the department's Office of News Affairs days after her complaint against another officer was resolved. She was then reassigned to the night shift patrolling a violent neighborhood.
"Officer Kubiak's removal from her position as a News Affairs liaison ... and reassignment to midnight beat patrol in a dangerous neighborhood was in retaliation for her complaining of and exposing the unlawful conduct of an officer with a history of violent behavior," the lawsuit says.
Kubiak does not list a specific amount she is seeking but says she wants the financial compensation and benefits she lost as a result of the situation. She is also seeking punitive damages and the cost of her legal fees.
On Wednesday, city officials said they stand by their actions.
"The City believes the evidence will demonstrate that the decision to return Laura Kubiak to her previous assignment was a valid personnel decision in line with CPD's efforts to civilianize the department and put more officers on the street," a spokeswoman said in a written statement.
Kubiak has been an officer since 1986, her lawsuit says. She started as a beat officer and in 2000 was reassigned to News Affairs, where she worked gathering information for the news media, among other tasks.
In November 2012, Kubiak had a confrontation with another officer in the News Affairs office, the lawsuit states. In their office, Kubiak was considered a senior staffer and the officer who confronted her had been assigned to the detail for only three years, according to the lawsuit.
At the time, Kubiak said, she was preparing to leave work when the other officer ran up to her, screaming and shaking his finger in her face. At one point, that officer swung to hit her, Kubiak's lawsuit states.
Kubiak said she reported the incident to her bosses but was unable to get a formal meeting to discuss the matter with them. In December 2012, Kubiak wrote a memo about the incident in order to initiate an Internal Affairs Division complaint, the lawsuit says.
In February 2013, Kubiak said, she was notified by Internal Affairs that her complaint had been sustained. Days later, she was reassigned.
Kubiak went on leave shortly after she lost her News Affairs post, her attorney M. Megan O'Malley said. Once her leave ends, Kubiak is planning to retire because she feels the incident has damaged her career, O'Malley said.
"She's not just a police officer, she's a resident of the city," O'Malley said. "As a private citizen she is concerned about this pattern of retaliation. Being a police officer doesn't give someone a free pass to violate the law. It's unfortunate that the city chose to protect the officer that assaulted her and punish the victim."
Mexico condemns shooting by US border agent
By ELLIOT SPAGAT (The Associated Press) — Thursday, February 20th, 2014; 3:19 p.m. EST
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Mexican government on Thursday condemned a U.S. Border Patrol agent's fatal shooting of a Mexican man who allegedly struck the agent in the head with a rock near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Mexico's Foreign Relations Department said in a statement that it was "profoundly concerned" about the killing of Jesus Flores Cruz, 41, near San Diego. The department said lethal force should be avoided in immigration enforcement.
The unidentified agent fired his gun Tuesday after Flores Cruz hurled several large rocks, including one about the size of a basketball, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, which is leading the investigation.
One of the larger pieces hit the agent in the head and that the agent feared for his life, investigators said.
Flores Cruz suffered two gunshot wounds, the sheriff's department said. Authorities said they confirmed his identity with a fingerprint match from a 1996 arrest by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. No further details on that arrest were released.
Remedios Gomez Arnau, Mexico's consul general in San Diego, said the agent is the only surviving eyewitness. Two other Mexicans who entered the country illegally and were arrested nearby heard gunfire but did not witness the shooting, she said.
The Mexican government has been unable to locate Flores Cruz's family and doesn't know which part of the country he is from, Gomez Arnau said.
Under current policy, agents can use deadly force if they have a reasonable belief that their lives or the lives of others are in danger. The Border Patrol has long maintained rocks can be lethal weapons.
The Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit group that led a government-commissioned review, previously recommended that the Border Patrol and its parent agency, Customs and Border Protection, prohibit deadly force against rock-throwers and assailants in vehicles, Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher told The Associated Press last year.
Customs and Border Protection rejected the proposed curbs, which Fisher called "very restrictive."
Gomez Arnau, the consul general, said Thursday that the U.S. should heed recommendations against lethal force, including the proposed ban on killing rock-throwers.
"There should be greater attention to all these recommendations against lethal force," she said at a news conference. "Of course the details and circumstances vary. However, it is important to act on these recommendations."
Agents were attacked with rocks 339 times in the 2011 fiscal year, more than any other type of assault, according to the Department of Homeland Security inspector general. They responded with gunfire 33 times and with less-than-lethal force - a category that includes pepper spray and batons - 118 times.
Rock attacks fell to 185 instances in fiscal 2012, becoming the second-most-common type of assault. Agents fired guns 22 times and responded 42 times with less-than-lethal force.
Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas didn't address specifics when asked about the shooting Wednesday but said the Border Patrol's use-of-force policy would be publicly released.
"We are committed to ensuring the safety of our men and women who put their lives on the line on the border," he said. "At the same time we are committed to ensuring that our use-of-force policies are a reflection of best practices."
Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman in Mission, Texas, contributed to this report.
Kelly's Role at Homeland Security School Would Be Unpaid
By Mike Vilensky — Friday, February 21st, 2014 'The Wall Street Journal' / New York, NY
Raymond Kelly will be unpaid for his advisory role at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed College of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Cuomo administration officials said.
Mr. Cuomo's state budget proposal earmarks $15 million toward what the governor has described as "the nation's first college dedicated solely to emergency preparedness and homeland security." In Mr. Cuomo's state of the state address last month, he announced that Mr. Kelly, the former New York City Police Department Commissioner, was recruited to be a "special advisor" for the school.
A Wall Street Journal story on Tuesday quoted lawmakers with concerns about the proposal, saying they have not been given enough information about it. A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo said the governor's office has been in "constant contact with legislative leaders on this issue."
Mr. Kelly's pay and details of his role were not initially disclosed, but since then Cuomo administration officials told the Journal Mr. Kelly's position is unpaid. A spokeswoman for Mr. Kelly did not immediately comment.
The proposed college has been championed by some lawmakers, but Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal this month wrote a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver advising Mr. Silver to reject Mr. Cuomo's plan. "I cannot support this initiative until I have a better understanding of the proposal, its long-term cost and impact on existing programs," she wrote.
Ms. Rosenthal is chair of the Assembly's Commission on Science and Technology and, in the letter, provided input on sections of Mr. Cuomo's budget proposal relevant to that commission, she said. The proposed college would offer cyber-security training, according to Mr. Cuomo's proposal, among other education programs.
Ms. Rosenthal's letter also expressed concerns that the college would be competing with John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a school in her district. "I am concerned about how this college will be integrated with existing related programs at campuses around the State," she wrote. "For example, John Jay College of Criminal Justice … in my district offers a range of courses in Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security."
A Cuomo administration official said Ms. Rosenthal has not asked the governor's office for information on the proposal or attended legislative hearings.
Ms. Rosenthal said she spoke to colleagues who had attended the hearings as well as Mr. Silver, and "that is our internal process."
Dems press Holder on secret FBI letters
By Julian Hattem — Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 'The Hill' / Washington, DC
Two House Democrats are calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to make changes to secret letters that the FBI uses to get information.
In a letter on Wednesday, the lawmakers demanded answers about the FBI's National Security Letters, which do not require a court order and require communications companies and financial institutions to turn over details about their customers.
"This is deeply troubling and, therefore, addressing the proper use of NSLs must be part of any meaningful reform of government surveillance authorities," Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in a joint statement accompanying the letter.
"We look forward to working with the Administration as we find a path forward on this issue."
Holder, along with top intelligence officials, is set to outline a series of reforms to the country's surveillance efforts for President Obama. The announcement could come as soon as this week.
The reforms are likely to focus on the National Security Agency's (NSA) collection of records about phone calls, which have raised alarms among privacy advocates since the program was unveiled in documents from former contractor Edward Snowden last year.
Agents at the NSA need to get a court order to search those records, but no similar order is necessary for the National Security Letters.
Nadler and Cicilline asked Holder why the FBI uses the secret letters because federal officials seem to be able to get the same information through the phone records database.
In a speech last month, Obama said he was wary of requiring that National Security Letters be approved by a judge.
"I have concerns that we should not set a standard for terrorism investigations that is higher than those involved in investigating an ordinary crime," he said.
Obama did, however, support increased transparency for the letters. Currently, companies have limits on disclosing the government's requests for information they receive.