Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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‘Tale of Two Cities’ reveals hypocrisy of new mayor
By Bob Friedrich — Saturday, March 1st, 2014 ‘The Queens Times Ledger’ / Queens
(Edited for brevity and NYPD pertinence)
It has become clear what Mayor Bill de Blasio had in mind with his Tale of Two Cities parable. He presented it as an allegory of the haves and have-nots, but neglected to tell us who they are.
Not to worry. His behavior over the past two months has given us a clue. One set of rules for him and his minions, and another for everyone else. Every week yields another demonstration of privilege without responsibility, actions without consequences. The Tale of Two Cities has morphed into “do as I say, not as I do.”
Day Camps Queens
The latest example of this egregious behavior followed the mayor’s press conference in which he talked about traffic and pedestrian safety and his Vision Zero plan to make the streets and roadways safer. To accomplish this, new rules were proposed that would be aggressively enforced to reduce pedestrian fatalities.
Even the mayor would comply — at least, that is what he told the press corps when he said he would take personal responsibility.
Just days later, after lecturing the public, de Blasio was caught on video running multiple stop signs, speeding, partially blocking a crosswalk and zigzagging from lane to lane without signaling. Infractions that would cost us our licenses was simply business as usual for the mayor and his security entourage. When asked about it, he shrugged it off.
Next came the pictures of the mayor jaywalking in Brooklyn against the Do Not Walk sign while talking on his phone. An elderly Asian man was shoved to the ground by police and arrested in Manhattan for the exact same infraction less than a month earlier.
The Tale of Two Cities doesn’t end there. Last month Pastor Orlando Findlayter, an early supporter of the mayor, was stopped for a minor traffic infraction. It was discovered he had a suspended license and two outstanding warrants stemming from his arrest in a protest, enough for most people to spend the night in jail. Not so with the pastor. Whether it was the pastor’s close ties to de Blasio or the personal phone call from the mayor to the NYPD inquiring about him, it certainly reeked of special treatment that none of us would have been afforded. The next day’s front page headlines got it right, “A Bail of Two Cities.”
It should be evident by now that the Tale of Two Cities is nothing more than a tall tale in which the mayor and those close to him do as they please without consequence or accountability. Do as I say, not as I do arrogance in such a young administration is destructive and corrosive.
Precious Pee Wees
Unfortunately, this behavior is now de rigueur with those normally in place to oversee the mayor. De Blasio’s handpicked City Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), and city Public Advocate Leticia James, both longtime supporters and loyal sycophants of the mayor, are blind to these transgressions and sit by, refusing to question or challenge him.
When Mark-Viverito neglected to report rental income on her tax returns, she simply said sorry and received nary a slap on the wrist. But when city Sanitation worker Lenworth Dixon, 56, accepted a $20 tip for removing an extra-heavy load of trash, he was not only fined $1,500 but was also fired, according to the city Conflict of Interest Board ruling. In this Tale of Two Cities, an apology does not carry much weight unless you are among the anointed few.
De Blasio is right about the Two Cities. One is an arena of privilege and perquisites for the well-connected, and the other is inhabited by the taxpaying pawns who receive no special exemptions.
Confines of the 48 Precinct
Police shoot man after he points gun at them
By Rebecca Harshbarger — Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 ‘The New York Post’
Police wounded a man in the Bronx Saturday after he pointed a gun at them, authorities said.
The officers were inside the Sake II Restaurant on East 187th Street in Belmont around 7:30 p.m. when they heard an argument outside.
When they came outside, the cops saw Jayson Ramos, 22, pointing a gun at three people, according to police.
Instead of dropping his weapon as ordered, Ramos allegedly ran off—then stopped and pointed his gun at the officers on Beaumont Avenue, cops said.
An officer shot him in the left leg—but Ramos managed to run two more blocks to Cambreleneg Avenue before being apprehended, police said.
He was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital where he was listed in stable condition, police said. The officers were taken to Jacobi Medical Center to be treated for tinnitus.
Ramos, who lives in East Harlem, was charged with criminal possession of a loaded firearm, reckless endangerment, and criminal possession of a weapon with the intent to use, according to cops.
Armed Bronx Man Shot and Wounded by Police: NYPD
The 22-year-old man faces multiple charges including criminal possession of a weapon
By Unnamed Author(s) — Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 ‘NBC News 4 New York’
Authorities say a Bronx man is in stable condition after being wounded by police when he was seen pointing a gun at people.
According to police, three officers were inside a restaurant in Belmont around 7:30 p.m. Saturday when they heard a disturbance outside. When they went to investigate, they saw a man pointing a gun at three other people.
Authorities say the officers ordered the man to drop the weapon and gave chase when he fled. Officials say the man turned and fired at police, and one officer fired his gun. The man was hit in the leg but continued to run. He was taken into custody a short distance away.
The 22-year-old man faces multiple charges including criminal possession of a weapon.
Witnesses say police pursuit in Queens led to crash that put man in critical condition, hurt 6 others
Cops could not confirm what witnesses say was a police pursuit gone wrong in Corona, Queens. A Honda Civic blew a red light and struck two other vehicles.
By Peter Gerber AND Thomas Tracy — Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 ‘The New York Daily News’
A man was clinging to life and six others were hurt Saturday following a multiple car crash in Queens, officials said.
Witnesses at the scene said the crash may have been sparked by a police pursuit, but cops could not confirm those claims late Saturday.
The carnage began at about 5:30 p.m. when a Honda Civic blew a red light on 99th St. at 57th Ave. in Corona and struck two vehicles — including a Mitsubishi Montero containing five people — before striking two parked cars, officials said.
Paramedics rushed seven people to area hospitals.
One unidentified man pulled from the Honda was in critical condition. A second man was in serious condition. The rest had minor injuries.
Witnesses said cops responded in seconds.
Latest NYPD Brass Changes Include New Transportation Chief
By Dean Meminger — Saturday, March 1st, 2014; 7:52 p.m. ‘NY 1 News’
Police Commissioner William Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio presided over a promotions ceremony Friday at One Police Plaza, where a few key positions within the department were also announced, including the new chief of transportation. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Chief of transportation hasn't been considered a high-profile position in the New York City Police Department until now, with the efforts by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton to reduce the number of deaths because of car accidents. So Chief Thomas Chan will be in the spotlight.
"He is going to be a central leader in efforts to achieve Vision Zero and to end this epidemic of traffic fatalities in this town," de Blasio said.
Chan was transferred to transportation after heading up the community affairs bureau. He said that his goal is to work with multiple city agencies.
"Enforcement, engineering, education. Those are three areas that we're going to concentrate on," Chan said. "Not only enforcement, but educating the public, getting our school kids, targeting our seniors, who, unfortunately, some of them have been more higher share of victims."
Other promotions include Chief Kevin Ward, who is now chief of staff. Carlos Gomez leaves the Bronx and takes over as chief of the housing bureau, a position that Joanne Jaffe held for 10 years. She's now promoted to chief of community affairs. The mayor and police commissioner have stressed improving police-community relations.
"We have an unbelievable opportunity at this time to not only to build bridges, but to create pathways and roadways and open up courtyards and streets, and do everything we can to work with the community and build those relationships," Jaffe said.
Responsible for getting police officers to do better is Benjamin Tucker, who has been named deputy commissioner of training. He joined the NYPD more than 40 years ago and most recently worked in President Barack Obama's office of drug control policy.
Bratton said that his senior staff is now in place, and that he doesn't plan to micro-manage the positions.
"I have a busload of some of the best executives and leaders in the country," he said. "We intend to take that bus on the road through every corner of the city of New York."
Lots of communities will be waiting to see what that bus brings.
19 Pct. Police Officers Michael Konatsotis and David Roussine
NYPD cop revives unconscious toddler on Upper East Side using old EMT skills
Officer Michael Konastosis and his partner David Roussine were rolling along E. 74th St. when they were flagged down by a young family whose daughter was limp and turning blue, officials said. Konastosis performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as Roussine drove everyone to the Weill-Cornell Medical Center.
BY BARRY PADDOCK AND THOMAS TRACY — Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 ‘The New York Daily News’
A volunteer EMT turned NYPD cop fell back on his paramedic training to revive an unconscious baby girl in Manhattan on Saturday, officials said.
Police Officer Michael Konatsotis and his partner David Roussine were patrolling the Upper East Side at about 2:30 p.m. when they were called to a report of a baby with difficulty breathing on E. 74th St. near Third Ave.
“You hear a baby unconscious and your heart kind of sinks because they’re so innocent,” said Officer Roussine, who is just a year out of the academy.
In 45 seconds, the two officers were approaching the corner and were flagged down by the young family.
The panicked father was cradling a 15-month-old toddler in his arms. She was limp, unconscious and turning blue, officials said.
Konatsotis, 45, who was a volunteer EMT in Flushing, Queens, when he was in his 20s, took the baby from the father and immediately started performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as Roussine drove everyone to Weill-Cornell Medical Center, alerting hospital staff of their arrival.
“I just looked at this beautiful child in dire need and (all my training) just kicked in,” Konatsotis said. “I knew the baby needed air and we did what we had to do.”
After three attempts at mouth-to-mouth during the six block drive to the hospital, which officer Roussine made in one minute and 20 seconds, the baby gave out a belch and took a breath – alerting everyone that she was going to be fine.
“It felt great to see that baby breathing,” Konatsotis said. “We were ecstatic that the baby was coming around and the color started coming back to her face. It was great to see that baby crying. I gotta tell you, we were like big kids in there crying with her.”
“When you wear this uniform, sometimes it makes you feel good to make a difference in somebody’s life,” he said.
The baby was in stable condition Saturday evening, officials said.
2 NYPD Officers Save Unresponsive Baby In Manhattan
By Unnamed Author(s) — Saturday, March 1st, 2014; 8:15 p.m. ‘CBS News’ / New York, NY
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two police officers are being hailed heroes after their swift actions saved a baby who was unconscious and not breathing.
Police told 1010 WINS officers Michael Konatsotis and David Roussine were responding to a call at 207 East 74th St. in Manhattan around 2:20 p.m. Saturday when they were met on the street by a mother and father holding their 15-month-old girl.
Police officials said officer Konatsotis, a former EMT, determined the baby to be unresponsive and not breathing, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Officer Roussine then quickly ushered the parents into the back of the police cruiser and rushed to Cornell Hospital while Konatsotis continued to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the child in the front passenger seat.
Konatsotis was able to revive the child and she regained consciousness before they reached the hospital, 1010 WINS reported.
“As soon as we pulled up, the baby gave a burp and it was just an amazing feeling. The color started coming back and the air came back and we saw this beautiful baby starting to cry and that was the greatest sound that we heard,” Konatsotis told 1010 WINS.
Officials said the baby was in stable condition Saturday evening and is expected to make a full recovery.
Police Commissioner William Bratton tweeted praise for the officers on Saturday, saying “Unbelievable job by Police Officers Konatsotis & Roussine saving a 15m/o baby w/ CPR today. True #heroes!”
Baby brought back by cop performing CPR
By Natasha Velez and Larry Celona — Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 ‘The New York Post’
An Upper East Side baby was saved from the brink of death Saturday morning — thanks to the hero cop who breathed precious life back into her in the front seat of a speeding police car.
Parents Diana and Jason Schechter burst into tears of joy in the back seat as Officer Michael Konastosis performed four chest compressions and mouth to mouth, and little Norah began breathing again.
“The baby let out a belch, and we were ecstatic — the color started coming back into her face,” Konastosis told The Post.
The police car continued to Cornell Hospital, where Norah, age 15 months, was treated and released.
The parents had called 911 from their East 74th Street home when the baby stopped breathing, and Konastosis — a former EMT — happened to be nearby with partner Officer David Roussine.
Drivers beware: More speeding, stop-sign tickets being issued on Staten Island, data shows
By John M. Annese — Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 ‘The Staten Island Advance’ / Staten Island
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Slow it down, lead foot!
Police officers on Staten Island have been handing out hundreds more tickets for speeding and stop sign violations than usual each month since October, according to an Advance analysis of NYPD statistics.
The numbers come alongside a corresponding decrease in cell phone and seat belt violations.
That shift in focus came on the heels of remarks in October by Assistant Chief Edward Delatorre, the NYPD borough commander for the Island, who told the Advance that aggressive drivers "will be feeling our presence shortly."
According to statistics on the city's web site, cops issued some 598 "disobey sign" summonses in January, 562 in December, 685 in November and 608 in October - compared to just 439 in September, 388 in August, 421 in July and 380 in June.
And the Island has seen a similar increase in speeding violations - 534 in January, 344 in December, 417 in November, and 320 in October, compared to 200 in September, 208 in August, 239 in July and 275 in June.
The overall number of moving violations on Staten Island has remained relatively steady - typically between 3,900 and 4,400 each month, with a few spikes.
October saw 4,700 moving violations here, and police doled out 5,641 and 5,320 in April and May respectively, an increase apparently driven in small part by a two-month seat belt enforcement surge.
Delatorre said on Thursday that the recent spike is part of an ongoing initiative by police on Staten Island - enforcing speeding and stop sign laws in spots where drivers might not expect to be pulled over -- like remote sections of Arthur Kill Road and Rossville Avenue.
"These are quiet areas where people may not expect the police to be," he said.
SHIFT IN FOCUS
The statistics showed a drop-off in cell phone summonses:
• 243 in January, 236 in December, 289 in November, and 374 in October, compared to 424 in September, 473 in August, 599 in July and 476 in June.
Seat belt violations have also decreased :
• 225 in January, 246 in December and 302 in November, compared to 407 in October, 441 in September, 511 in August, 564 in July and 546 in June.
Recently, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his "Vision Zero" initiative to reduce traffic deaths, by proposing lower city speed limits, and installing more speed cameras across just the city, not just in schools zones as the law currently allows.
The mayor announced his Vision Zero working group's recommendations at an elementary school on Manhattan's Upper West Side, just a block from an intersection at which three pedestrians have been killed in the last month.
Adding more speed- and red-light ticket cameras and lowering the default city speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph would require approval of the state legislature in Albany.
"We're going to make the case for greater authority to allow us to place cameras wherever they are needed to protect out people," de Blasio said
AIMED AT SPEEDERS
NYPD Chief Thomas M. Chan, head of the NYPD's Transportation Bureau, told the City Council last week that the department plans to add 200 speed guns to bolster enforcement. That would more than quadruple the 56 guns shared among the city's 77 precincts, according to published reports.
Chan also said traffic enforcement would be made part of an officer's daily work assignment.
Ret. 1st Grade Detective Robert Addolorato New Moreland Commissioner Chief of Investigations
New Moreland Chief
By Unnamed Author(s) — Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 ‘WGY News Radio’ Albany, NY
The Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption appointed Robert Addolorato as the new Chief of Investigations, officials said in a release Friday.
Addolorato, who has diligently served as an instrumental member of the Commissions' Investigations team since its inception, will take over the duties of Danya Perry, who has left the Commission to pursue other career opportunities.
"On behalf of the Co-Chairs, we are pleased to announce the appointment of Robert Addolorato. As a retired NYPD First Grade Detective, Robert has spent his entire career fighting crime and corruption on both the local and state level,” said Co-Chairs, William Fitzpatrick and Milton Williams. “We would also like to thank Danya Perry for her outstanding contributions to the Commission’s mandate. Her tireless efforts contributed to an outstanding preliminary report which made recommendations to toughen and improve existing laws and procedures. We have an excellent team of investigators who will continue the work of our ongoing investigations that began in July 2013. We wish Ms. Perry well in her future endeavors."
Legislator wants probe into city police hiring
By Wes Duplantier — Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 ‘The CT Post’ / Bridgeport, CT
BRIDGEPORT -- Nearly two months after a group of city firefighters asked the federal government to investigate alleged discrimination in the local fire service, a state lawmaker wants the city to review its hiring practices in the Bridgeport Police Department.
State Rep. Charlie Stallworth charged Friday that the city's police department is not hiring enough female and minority officers to adequately represent Bridgeport's population.
"I believe the police department needs to be a reflection of the city, and that people in the city of Bridgeport need to be given an opportunity to work in their own city," said Stallworth, pastor of the East End Baptist Tabernacle Church.
City officials, however, contend the police department goes to great lengths to recruit minority candidates from all neighborhoods in the city.
Bridgeport Police Department spokesman William Kaempffer said Friday that the department puts a lot of effort into recruiting city residents and people of various ethnic backgrounds to join its ranks. That outreach includes going to churches, community events and neighborhoods with large minority populations.
"We spend a large amount of time before we administer a test -- months and months and months -- all over the city trying to get city residents to become part of our public safety team," Kaempffer said.
Stallworth, D-126, said he is not seeking a federal inquiry by the U.S. Department of Justice like the group of city firefighters. He also said he's not calling for a review by the state Legislature, which recently convened its spring session.
Instead, Stallworth said, he wants an investigation by the city, its Civil Service Commission and community leaders, including local politicians and religious leaders from the Hispanic and African-American communities.
Stallworth, who wants to be part of the process, said including community leaders would bring people who "have no vested interests and no commitments when it comes to returning political favors."
The Bridgeport Police Department said 43 percent of its 425 sworn officers are of minority ethnic backgrounds, with Hispanic officers comprising about 27 percent of the police force and African-American officers making up about 15 percent.
There are also 43 female officers on the force, according to police department officials. If women are also counted as a minority, the proportion of minorities in the police department rises to 48 percent. As their own group, female officers comprise about 10 percent of the total sworn officers, the police department said.
In the 2010 U.S. Census, 34.6 percent of Bridgeport's population was African-American and 38.2 percent was Hispanic. Women made up 51.7 percent of the city's population, according to census data.
Stallworth said the gaps between the census counts and the police figures are unacceptable. He said the current system of background checks makes it too easy for minority candidates to be eliminated from the hiring process.
Kaempffer said all candidates who are city residents get bonus points on their hiring exams. The current bonus increases a candidate's score by 10 percentage points. Kaempffer said in the future, that bump will rise to 15 percentage points.
"In a city that is very diverse, that will assist minority candidates in achieving their goal" of joining the police department, Kaempffer said.
He said the police department also wants to be reflective of the city and to hire the best people for the job.
Although Stallworth said "several" people had expressed concerns to him about the department's hiring practices, he declined to offer any specifics. Stallworth said Friday he plans to speak with Mayor Bill Finch and the police department about his concerns within the next two weeks.
Ruben Felipe, Finch's deputy chief of staff, said both emergency agencies -- the police department and the fire department -- try to hire people from different backgrounds.
"We go above and beyond to try to ensure our police officers and firefighters reflect the diversity of our city," Felipe said. "As always, we will be happy to sit down with state Rep. Stallworth to discuss any of his questions."
In late December, a group called the Firebirds Society wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice alleging hiring, promotional and disciplinary discrimination within Bridgeport's fire department.
At the time, City Attorney Mark Anastasi categorically denied that the city discriminates against any female or minority firefighting candidates.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania [New Philadelphia PD Interview And Interrogation Policy]
Police brass clarifies 'confusion' about new policy
By DAVID GAMBACORTA — Saturday, March 1st, 2014 ‘The Philadelphia Daily News’ / Philadelphia, PA
THERE WERE some mix-ups, and maybe a few cops who were just plain ticked off.
Either way, the Philadelphia Police Department issued a "clarification" missive to officers earlier this week about the department's new interview and interrogation policy, which went into effect on Jan. 1.
The memo noted that "it is entirely reasonable under the Fourth Amendment to temporarily detain all persons found at a crime scene. It is also expected," according to a copy obtained by the Daily News.
The three-page note makes it clear that temporarily detaining people at a crime scene wouldn't conflict with a passage in Directive 151, the new interview policy, which states that a complainant or witness can refuse to be taken from a crime scene to a detective division for questioning.
"There was some confusion," said Capt. Francis Healy, who crafted the new interview and interrogation policy with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project.
"Some officers were concerned that we couldn't detain people temporarily anymore, but every police agency does that," Healy said. "Of course, if you don't want to stay, you're free to leave."
Healy said he had heard that some cops who were unhappy with the new policy were "taking things to the nth degree" and overly emphasizing the fact that witnesses could leave.
"I'd call it malicious compliance," he said. "Some officers just don't like change, but they have to change whether they like it or not."
The Innocence Project lauded the new policy, which puts strict limits on how long suspects can be held for questioning, and takes other steps to safeguard against false confessions and false identifications.
Several investigators who spoke with the Daily News anonymously said the new policy could make it more difficult to solve homicides, shootings and other violent crimes.
As of Thursday night, the city had recorded 45 homicides - compared with 32 a year ago - and the clearance rate is about 40 percent, a police representative said.
"I still feel like they wrote this policy up without considering the ramifications," said one investigator, who didn't want to be named. "If you give people a reason not to come in for questioning, they won't. The real litmus test will be in the spring and summer, when we start seeing more shootings."
Said another veteran officer: "If we follow the letter of the law on this, how many homicides do you think we'll solve? Zero."
Healy said cops made the same predictions years ago when they were first required to recite the Miranda warning to suspects. But crimes were still solved.
"We're not going to scoop up people against their will . . . [but] we're also not going to shoo everybody away at a crime scene," he said. "Our job is to convince people of how important it is for them to come in [to be interviewed]. We also need to treat them with respect and courtesy."
43 names on list of cops flagged because of credibility questions
By Scott North, Diana Hefley and Rikki King — Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 ‘The Herald’ / Everett, WA
EVERETT — It’s a list that no cop wants to join.
Tell a lie. Bend a rule. Get rough with a suspect for the wrong reasons. The consequences can last a career.
In Snohomish County, police misdeeds, great and small, can wind up catalogued by prosecutors in what are called Potential Impeachment Disclosure files.
The people named in those records — 43 in all, most no longer carrying a badge — often are referred to as “Brady cops.” That’s a nod to Brady v. State of Maryland, the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that defendants must be told about potentially exculpatory evidence in criminal cases, including questions about police witness credibility.
Maintaining those files is an important and at times unpopular function of law enforcement, Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe said. The case management database at the prosecutor’s office is programmed to automatically flag the officers whenever they surface as witnesses in a case.
“A potential consequence of not disclosing something could be the reversal of an important case, even a dismissal,” Roe said.
Still, the information about “Brady cops” is not something local prosecutors freely share. For years, they’ve required defense attorneys to agree to court orders placing limits on what they can do with those details unless the information is admitted for use at trial.
The prosecutor’s office has been using court rules to keep the files secret, even though records about police misconduct are rarely shielded from public disclosure.
Police witnesses occupy a special place in criminal cases. They gather, secure and introduce the evidence that prosecutors rely on at trial. Their dispassionate, just-the-facts testimony can carry extra credibility. Doubts about truthfulness or competency can be devastating.
“Brady” questions surfaced late last year as lawyers began preparing for the murder trial of the man accused of fatally shooting 15-year-old Molly Conley along a Lake Stevens roadside in June. Meanwhile, a court battle looms over what jurors will be told about the misdeeds of two fired Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies who 19 years ago played important roles in investigating the fates of two young women near Everett. Patti Berry was stabbed to death; Tracey Brazzel is still missing and presumed dead. Prosecutors say DNA links a convicted rapist to the “cold” cases. The man’s lawyer recently obtained a court order for all records about the former deputies’ misconduct. Neither is listed among the county’s “Brady” cops.
The Herald in January got access to the county’s “Brady list” information using state public records laws. That required assistance from Seattle open-government attorney Michele Earl-Hubbard. She handled resistance from lawyers representing people on the list. One of those named in the files brought a lawsuit, then quickly dropped it. The man was surprised to learn that he was a “Brady cop,” years after retiring from his police career. His name has since been removed from the files, because he’s unlikely to ever again be called as a witness, Roe said.
The prosecutor’s office supplied the newspaper with details about the 43 men and women on the list. Of those, 10 still are working in local law enforcement: six as deputies at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, one as a Washington State Patrol trooper and one officer each at police departments in Everett, Lynnwood and Granite Falls.
While some on the list engaged in behaviors that led to prison sentences, most are there for more mundane conduct. Examples include being less than truthful about sharing a rumor about a coworker or not being truthful about missing a deadline for filing paperwork about a minor traffic accident.
More surprising, perhaps, are the officers who aren’t found in the files.
Former Everett police officer Troy Meade isn’t in the impeachment disclosure files even though the prospect of being named a “Brady cop” was one of the grounds that an arbitrator found for upholding his termination.
Meade was fired by the city of Everett in 2011, two years after he shot a drunken man seven times from behind. A jury acquitted Meade of murder but stopped short of calling the shooting self-defense. The city found that Meade’s explanations for opening fire simply didn’t measure up.
Former Edmonds police officer Daniel Lavely isn’t listed, either. A jury last year convicted him of custodial sexual misconduct, finding that he engaged in sex with a woman he’d detained. Lavely denied sex with the woman but admitted that he lied and falsified records about how much time he spent with the woman.
Now serving a year in the Snohomish County Jail, Lavely resigned from his police job about eight months after the May 2012 incident.
Neither of those former officers have impeachment disclosure status. Part of the reason for that is they’ve never been nominated for inclusion by the police departments where they worked, Roe said.
City of Everett prosecutors maintain their own potential impeachment disclosure files. They don’t list Meade, city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said.
“Officer Meade had been on administrative leave for two years when he was terminated, and any open cases involving him had been resolved or dismissed,” she said. “As a result, it is highly unlikely that he will ever be called as a witness. However, it is fair to say that if Officer Meade was still with the police department, he might be given a (impeachment disclosure) designation.”
Why they’re on the list
The person on the county prosecutor’s list the longest is still working as an Everett officer. He landed there nearly 14 years ago after police supervisors decided he hadn’t been entirely truthful when he claimed to have misplaced an accident report in his patrol car for a month.
A sheriff’s deputy, still working patrol, has the distinction of having twice been listed in the impeachment disclosure files; in 2006 for problematic testimony in drunken-driving cases and in 2012 for a lack of candor over his involvement in a child-custody dispute. Another is on the list for having “exacted some street justice” by threatening and assaulting a man after he injured a motorcycle officer in a crash. What happened could be important in a trial because a juror may be convinced the deputy would exhibit bias towards a suspect accused of assaulting an officer, prosecutors concluded.
Paul Watkins, a former Lynnwood deputy police chief, is in the files after getting sent to federal prison for stealing thousands of dollars from the department’s evidence room. His dishonesty landed him on the list.
Prosecutors also cited honesty as an issue for former Granite Falls police Sgt. Pat White. He was demoted in August after city officials discovered he had a card identifying him as the police chief. An internal investigation also found he hadn’t filed nearly half of the police paperwork he was expected to complete over a number of years.
One former deputy was surprised to learn that he was still in the prosecutor’s file, more than a decade and a half after he retired. Another lost her sheriff’s office job after filing paperwork that misrepresented the circumstances of a 2012 fender-bender accident involving her patrol car. She recently was reinstated after binding arbitration.
Questions about secrecy
Questions about the county’s handling of “Brady cops” came into sharp focus last year when longtime Everett defense attorney Mark Mestel objected to the secrecy order sought by prosecutors who had reason to question the truthfulness of a Lake Stevens police officer.
The officer was listed as a prosecution witness because he had been working the night Molly Conley was killed in an apparently random drive-by shooting. Mestel represents Erick Walker, the Marysville man facing murder, assault and other charges in connection with the fatal gunfire.
Prosecutors ultimately dropped former Lake Stevens officer James Wellington from their witness list. He was fired in December after becoming the focus of at least seven internal investigations and for failing a “last-chance” employment agreement.
Wellington landed in the prosecutor’s impeachment disclosure files for being less than candid when supervisors questioned him about the severity of his drinking problem, records show. By the time his name surfaced in connection with the Conley murder case, The Herald already had reported about his being disciplined for smelling of alcohol at work and his involvement in a controversial arrest of a Marysville man that led to a $100,000 settlement in a civil-rights case.
Mestel has practiced law in counties across Washington, but he said he’s never been asked to sign protective orders elsewhere. Such orders don’t stop information from getting out, particularly when it is subject to public records laws, he said.
Prosecutors here try to clamp down on information in impeachment disclosure cases as a form of “public relations with the cops,” he said.
“The State thinks nothing of airing my client’s dirty laundry, though it has quite a different view of airing the misconduct of police witnesses,” Mestel said.
Snohomish County’s approach to impeachment disclosure questions gets high marks from the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. The state association adopted a model policy last year, borrowing largely from the policies in Snohomish and King counties, said Tom McBride, the association’s executive secretary.
“Snohomish County has been a pioneer,” he said.
Roe said he developed the policies for the prosecutor’s office, working closely with his former boss Janice Ellis, who is now a Snohomish County Superior Court judge.
Each year his office sends a letter to local police agencies, asking chiefs and other top administrators for information about officers whose behaviors may make them eligible for inclusion in the files.
While many people in law enforcement understand why that’s necessary, “Cops feel very strongly about their reputation being impugned,” Roe said.
Getting named a “Brady cop” can figure into being forced out in some police departments. Indeed, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs supported draft legislation this year that would have allowed the state criminal-justice training commission to decertify officers who have a finding of untruthfulness or are convicted of certain offenses.
“We just don’t think those people ought to be law enforcement officers,” said Don Pierce, WASPC’s legislative director and a retired police chief.
The bill died in committee after opposition from police unions, according to WASPC. Efforts to make changes in arbitration laws also have met with heavy resistance.
In Snohomish County, Roe’s practice is to explain in writing to the officers that the impeachment disclosure designation doesn’t necessarily mean his office won’t call them as witnesses in future cases. Before adding them to the list he gives them an opportunity to make a case against the decision, in person.
That’s changed his mind in a few cases. The opposite also has been true, too, he said.
It is a rare decision and never made lightly, Roe said.
“Most cops, frankly, are doing what we pay them to do,” he said.
Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 ‘The Seattle Times’ Editorial:
Make Seattle Police discipline coherent, transparent, timely
The review and discipline process for Seattle police officers is an administrative sham with endless delays. Make it credible for all involved
THE current turmoil at City Hall over the handling of Seattle Police Department disciplinary proceedings is a grand political farce.
Pull on some rubber boots and wade into this mess, and one thing becomes readily apparent. SPD discipline must be made coherent, accountable and transparent. And timely.
Right now the aerobic arm waving, finger pointing and agonizing reappraisals over whom or what might be reviewed, rescinded or hugged is all about not offending political allies.
Ostensibly to clear a backlog for the next chief, Interim Chief Harry Bailey reversed officer misconduct findings in six cases a little over a week ago. Within days, city officials, who first supported the decision, said those cases would be scrutinized to see if any of the findings should be reinstated.
Invoke enough outside assessments by outside consultants and maybe it will all go away. Not a chance, Mayor Ed Murray.
The time is ripe with pending labor negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild to insist on a fresh start. The current system does not benefit police officers or the public.
Establish timelines, procedures and deadlines for making and upholding disciplinary decisions when misconduct is found after investigating citizen complaints.
What is in place is a joke that invites artful word play that can be used to string out and stall disciplinary proceedings seemingly forever. For example, officers can ask for an arbitrator, but the city might be reluctant to spend the money to hire one.
Mayor Murray is in an ideal spot at the beginning of his term to reshape the process.
For starters, give the Seattle City Council and Seattle residents a full accounting of how many cases have been reopened, and how many cases are at issue in the current kerfuffle.
Can anyone at City Hall actually explain the path ahead to settle outstanding appeals and describe it for city residents?
How does Seattle resolve the backlog with integrity, in a way that is fair to citizens and law enforcement officers alike before moving on to new protocols and procedures? The city should spend the money to hire an arbitrator or more than one. After endless evasions inside a broken system, the expense is almost irrelevant.
Then use the next round of contract negotiations to establish transparent proceedings, with one appeal opportunity, and a definite deadline for it all to happen.
Make the proceedings subject to state open-records laws. Everything is happening on the taxpayer’s dime, and access to the information helps inform the public about the quality of service they receive along the chain of command from the police precinct to the mayor’s office.
Seattle has a Community Police Commission and an Office of Professional Accountability, and both are undercut by disciplinary procedures that diminish their roles. Civilian oversight and expertise is trumped by cozy dealings.
Seattle also has a federal Department of Justice monitor to ensure a negotiated settlement agreement on police practices and use of force is carried out. Seattle attracted DOJ attention because of fundamental problems with police behavior and management failures. Significantly the monitor, Merrick Bobb, is watching how the discipline cases are resolved.
The link between the consequences of marginalizing local checks and balances and the resulting need for federal intervention seems even more clear with this latest debacle.
The time for a fresh, coherent, disciplined start begins with the upcoming round of police guild negotiations. Beyond all the political fumbling is a deeper management issue that can be corrected.
An end to warrantless email searches?
By Kate Tummarello — Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 ‘The Hill’ / Washington, DC
Legislation in the House that would end the warrantless searches of email records is gaining steam.
Privacy advocates had grown frustrated in recent months as Senate legislation that would curtail the email powers of law enforcement was thrown off track amid revelations about National Security Agency surveillance.
But they are increasingly optimistic that an update to the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) — which allows law enforcement agencies to obtain things like emails without a warrant if they have been stored electronically for more than 180 days — could see action in the House.
The Email Privacy Act from Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.), Tom Graves (R-Ga.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) has 181 co-sponsors in the House, and the authors are “still pushing to get more,” according to a Yoder spokesman.
“There’s a lot of growing support for that bill,” said Mark Stanley of the Center for Democracy and Technology. “A lot of members of Congress see this as a common sense thing.”
More than 40 lawmakers have signed onto the bill since November, pushing the total close to the magic number of 218, which would represent a majority of the House.
“A lot of members of Congress see this as a common sense thing,” Stanley said.
Passage of legislation to limit warrantless email searches appeared to be a done deal last year until revelations about National Security Agency surveillance rocked the debate.
The focus on the activities of the NSA shifted Congress’s focus from law enforcement access to national security, shunting the email issue aside.
Email privacy reform “doesn’t have that direct connection to the NSA issue the way a bill like the USA Freedom Act does,” Stanley said, referring to legislation from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that would scale back the government’s sweeping surveillance programs.
While the debate over NSA surveillance has largely increased awareness about digital privacy concerns, it has also taken attention away from the specifics of email privacy reform.
The intricacies of requiring warrants for stored emails are “not as widely understood as the threats from the NSA,” said Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom.
“Everyone has been so focused on the NSA,” he said. “That’s the story.”
“What we’ve seen is just an amount of information that has overtaken Congressional offices and the American people,” added Mark Jaycox, legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“ECPA certainly has taken a back seat, like many other tech reforms,” he said, pointing to an attempt to update the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the statute that was used to prosecute the late Internet activist Aaron Swartz.
Privacy advocates think the administration has missed an opportunity to make progress on what they argue is a critical online privacy issue.
“There has obviously been a loss of trust with the public and the tech community” due to the NSA revelations, Stanley said, and passing email privacy reform would be “a great way to show the privacy and tech communities that they do support these privacy issues.”
Last year, proponents of reform were focused on a bill from Leahy and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) that would require law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant before accessing the content of electronic communications.
The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and had momentum, but civil agencies — led by the Securities Exchange Commission — protested the legislation, saying it would interfere with the way the agencies currently conduct investigations.
While Leahy continues to push his bill alongside surveillance reform, little progress has been made since his committee’s vote.
But with the NSA debate cooling down, Congress is beginning to look at other tech issues, according to Jaycox.
“I think they’re finally coming up for air,” he said, pointing to recent movement in both chambers on patent litigation reform, which has been a priority for the tech sector. “There’s finally some space to maneuver.”
If the House considers and passes an email privacy bill — which advocates predict could easily happen in the coming months — the Senate will be pressured to follow suit, privacy groups argue.
“That’ll show the Senate where the House, and it will also show the force behind the bill,” Jaycox said.