Tag Archive: NYPD

Feb 10 2015

Brooklyn DA Gets It Right: Update

Up date: 2/11/2015 15:00 EDT

From the NYT:

A New York City police officer was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn on several felony charges, including second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in an East New York housing project.

The officer, Peter Liang, appeared in a suit and tie and stood silently as a prosecutor read the charges against him in the death of the man, Akai Gurley: the top charge of manslaughter as well as criminally negligent homicide and second-degree assault, both felonies, and misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment and two counts of official misconduct. [..]

He pleaded not guilty before Justice Daniel Chun of Brooklyn and was released on his own recognizance.

It has been reported that a New York City police officer has been indicted in the shooting a young black man in a Brooklyn housing project stairwell on November 20 of last year. According to three sources close to the grand jury proceeding, rookie Police Officer Peter Liang, 27 will be charged in the death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley inside the darkened stairwell of the Pink Houses in East New York, Brooklyn. There was no comment from the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. An official statement on the charges is expected Wednesday.

On the night of Nov. 20, Gurley and his girlfriend, 28-year-old Melissa Butler, left Butler’s seventh-floor apartment inside the Louis Pink housing projects. The pair tried to take the elevator but it wasn’t working, so they entered the building’s stairwell.

The building’s superintendent had requested that the New York City Housing Authority fix the lights in the stairwell months earlier, but when Gurley and Butler entered, it was still dark.

Just as they entered stairwell, two first-year police officers — Liang and his partner, Shaun Landau — entered from the eighth floor. The two cops were conducting a “vertical patrol,” in which officers walk the stairs of public housing buildings in order to prevent crime.

According to multiple reports, Liang was carrying his gun in one hand and a flashlight in another, when he opened the door to the stairwell. At that moment, a bullet was fired from Liang’s gun, striking Gurley in the chest. Gurley managed to get down two flights of stairs before collapsing on the fifth floor, where a neighbor called 911 and Butler tried to administer first aid.

Gurley — a father of a 2-year-old daughter, and who had been planning on surprising his mother in Florida for Thanksgiving the following weekend — was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The indictment comes after grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, a borough of New York City, voted not to charge the white police officers who killed two black men, Michael Brown, 18 and Eric Garner, 42, that raised serious questions about the grand jury system, and the relationship of local district attorneys with the police.

This could not have been an easy case for DA Thompson but, it will now be decided in a public trial before a jury if Off. Laing should be held responsible for Mr. Gurley’s death.  

Jan 19 2015

Mutiny on the Hudson

The president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, has been publicly attacking Mayor William de Blasio over what he perceives as the mayor’s lack of support for the department. Mr. Lynch and what now appears to be a small group, having been throwing public temper tantrums since a grand jury on Staten Island refused to indict a police officer for the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died when the officer used the banned choke hold trying to arrest him for a misdemeanor. Since then the bad boys in blue have turned their backs on the mayor at the funerals for two police officers killed by a deranged man in the Brooklyn and booed him at police academy graduation ceremonies. If Mr, Lynch thinks these childish tactics gain sympathy from the public or the department’s rank and file, he is very mistaken.

In a new poll taken by Quinnipiac says that a large majority of New Yorkers disapprove of Mr. Lynch and his bullying:

New York City voters across racial lines disapprove of recent protests in which police officers turned their backs on de Blasio at the funeral of two police officers slain in the line of duty, a new Quinnipiac poll says.

Black, white and Hispanic voters disapprove of the decision by police officers to turn their backs 69 percent to 27 percent, the poll says.

New York voters of all races also disapprove of comments by police union leaders who said de Blasio had “blood on his hands” after two officers were shot and killed in Brooklyn while sitting in their patrol car in December. [..]

Voters said that those comments were “too extreme” by a margin of 77 percent to 17. The poll found that “there is no party, gender, racial, borough or age group which finds the comments ‘appropriate.'”

That’s not all. It appears that many of the PBA members are displeased with Mr. Lynch, as well:

Members of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association nearly came to blows on Tuesday during a meeting of delegates in Queens. There was pushing, shoving and lots of screaming at Patrick Lynch, president of the 23,000-member union. [..]

“This is what my members want!” a cop yelled near the end of the raucous meeting. “They want more cars, better vests, more manpower!”

And then the cop – one of about 350 in attendance – took a verbal jab at Lynch, who has called on de Blasio to offer a mea culpa for his continued lack of support for police.

“They don’t want an apology,” he said.

At the peak of the clash, about 100 cops were standing and screaming at Lynch, sources told the Daily News.[..]

The battle lines were clear when the meeting took an ugly turn. The Lynch supporters were generally from Manhattan and his detractors were delegates from Brooklyn and the Bronx, sources said.

New York Daily News columnist and a host of Democarcy Now!, Juan González thinks that Mr. Lynch needs to lose his job as head of the PBA for more reasons than his loud mouth and temper tantrums:

All these outbursts against de Blasio cannot obscure the fact that Lynch’s 15-year reign has been marked by bitter feuds with every mayor, by a rote defense of cops accused of unjustified use of lethal force, and by the repeated failure to win new contracts for his members except through state arbitration. [..]

Many police stationhouses in this city are in shameful disrepair, yet the PBA has done little to demand improvements.

More importantly, the union has gone five years without a contract. “Seventy-two percent of the unions settled in de Blasio’s first year and we missed the boat,” one PBA member said.

For the fourth time in the last five rounds of labor negotiations under Lynch, the PBA and the city are headed toward state arbitration. Lynch supporters say he’s gotten better raises than other city unions that way. But most labor leaders abhor arbitration because the results are generally unpredictable.

In 2008, for instance, arbitration saddled rookie cops with ridiculously low $25,000 starting pay. It took years for the PBA to undo the damage.

This time, Lynch can only hope for a two-year pact through arbitration. For thousands of cops hired since 2012, a settlement that only covers the two years before they joined the force will leave them with nothing.

The rise of New York’s police unions

By David Firestone, The Gusrdian

Many cities have experienced occasional outbreaks of the “blue flu”. Police officers get angry over a contract dispute or an argument with the mayor, and for a few days, refuse to report for work or write fewer tickets.

But only New York City has ever experienced decades of sustained militancy by its police unions – from repeated work slowdowns like the one now taking place, to riotous mass rallies and public denunciations, political campaigns, and well-funded legislative pressure. [..]

New York’s uniformed force is nearly three times as large as the next biggest force (in Chicago), giving its five police unions a far stronger voice than elsewhere. But sheer size cannot explain the outsize role the unions have long played in the police policies of the city, one almost equal to that of the police brass and city hall. [..]

Their most important ally over nearly a century has been the New York state legislature, which has used its constitutional ability to micromanage the city’s laws and finances to reward the police unions in countless ways. Those unions control a large bloc of votes, can cripple a campaign by portraying a candidate as against law and order, and take generous advantage of the state’s high political contribution limits. According to an analysis of campaign filings by the Guardian, the five police unions (one each for patrol officers, sergeants, lieutenants, detectives, and captains) have contributed more than $1.4m to the campaigns of state officials since 2010.

Even now, the unions are using their sizeable political power in Albany to try to strip the police commissioner of his ability to discipline officers for misconduct, whether it is corruption, brutality or engaging in a slowdown. In the final hours of last year’s session, both legislative chambers overwhelmingly passed a bill that would turn over all disciplinary proceedings to an arbitrator controlled by the unions.

Despite its diversity, the NYPD leans conservative and Republican. So long as the the Republicans control the New York State Senate and Governor Andrew Cuomo panders to them, the police will continue to ride rough shod over the people who pay their salaries and who they are committed to “preserve and protect.”

Jan 13 2015

NYPD: Over-Policing and Under-Disciplined

New York City’s first police inspector general released a scathing report on the use of chokeholds by the NYPD.

The city’s first inspector general for the NYPD issued a stinging report Sunday questioning whether cops unnecessarily resort to prohibited chokeholds as a “first act” when words could calm things down instead.

In his first report, Inspector General Philip Eure found that in 10 recent cases involving chokeholds – the same banned maneuver responsible for the July 2014 death of Eric Garner – the cops received little or no discipline from higher-ups.

Eure questioned why, in four of the 10 cases, cops wound up using chokeholds as a “first act” against citizens who’d only confronted them verbally, not physically. [..]

Though the report focuses only on the 10 cases, the IG said the pattern he discovered has inspired him to examine a broader sample of use-of-force cases “in order to ascertain whether police officers are escalating encounters and using force too quickly in a systemic manner.”

The other problem that the report revealed that despite the call for “serious punishment” from the Civilian Complaint Review Board, most of the officers received a “slap-on-the-wrist loss of vacation days, “instruction” about police policy or no punishment at all,” all approved by then Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

One of the results of the massive slowdown by NYPD after the murders of Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos is that crime rates were not impacted, adding to the argument that “Broken Windows” may be broken policy.

CompStat data showed that summons for parking, moving and criminal violations for the previous week are still down about 74, 65, and 71 percent compared to numbers last year. But the drop from the week before that compared to last year was even greater: all three categories showed declines of 90 or more percent.

Year-to-date murder, rape, robbery and felony assault complaints are down across the, CompStat data shows. [..]

For the critics of “broken windows” theory policing, which stipulates that paying close attention to smaller, quality-of-life issues will prevent greater crime, the NYPD slowdown has inadvertently lent them ammunition. Critics believe the mode of policing, fully supported by Mr. Bratton, unfairly targets minorities and isn’t proven to prevent spikes in crime.

Current Police Commissioner William Bratton, the author of the “Broken Windows” policy, thinks differently

“The trending of that would take a period of time that can’t be measured in the space of a week or now in the space of almost two weeks,” Mr. Bratton said. “We have certainly, undoubtedly the residual benefit of 20 some odd years of changed behavior in the city and that’s not going to be undone in the space of a couple of weeks.”

That, however, is a direct contradiction to his statement on the slowdown at a press conference , when he stated that “911 calls were being responded to, arrests were continuing to be made, and crime has continued to go down.”

He can’t have it both ways. Since 2012, the numbers support the latter. In an article at Salon by Blake Zeff, there were two factors that are proving the critics right.

Ironically, it was Kelly and Bloomberg who would help disprove their own argument. Amid increasing dissatisfaction and public protest, Kelly reportedly ordered precinct executive officers in 2012 to “audit the stop activity to assure better quality.” In 2013, the use of the tactic fell dramatically, which a law enforcement source tells Salon also derived from two additional pressures. First, then-candidate de Blasio spent much of his campaign attacking the practice, arguing that it was racially discriminatory (in the famous “Dante ad” featuring his teenage son, the younger de Blasio said his father would be “the only candidate to end a stop and frisk era that targets minorities”). As the issue got more attention and de Blasio’s campaign surged (largely on the popularity of this argument), this source says, cops were less inclined to pursue the tactic.

The second factor was a federal judge finding the practice unconstitutional, and ruling that, as implemented, it discriminated against minorities. The result was that in 2013, Bloomberg and Kelly (while unsuccessfully appealing that federal ruling) would oversee a massive decrease in the tactic’s implementation, with under 200,000 stops recorded – less than a third the number from just two years before. The result: crime continued to fall.

Could it happen again? That was the big question heading into this year, as de Blasio promised to scale back the practice even further (though not eliminate it), while maintaining strong safety numbers. A verdict was returned this week, with the city announcing that amid a 79 percent drop in stops from last year, crime continued to fall by 4.6 percent, reaching a record low in modern city history.

Blake Zeff joined Lawrence O’Donnell, host of MSNBC’s “Last Word,” to discuss the controversial policy.

At Vox.com, contributor Dara Lind thinks that both sides have gotten this wrong and presents a radical idea

Now, it appears that the NYPD is returning to its usual policy: interacting with residents, but mostly by calling them out for quality-of-life violations. That’s certainly how Bratton believes the NYPD can keep New York safe. But both the slowdown policy and the aggressive “speedup” going on now aren’t effective ways to reduce crime without antagonizing communities.

In fact, evidence suggests the most important thing police can do to reduce crime is to be physically present in neighborhoods – not whizzing by in squad cars, but out on the street interacting with residents. That’s the thesis of “hotspot policing,” a more recent trend in policing strategy.

The premise of “hotspot policing” is that when police focus their efforts on places – not people – who are most susceptible to crime, they’re most able to deter criminals from operating out in the open. (You’d think that criminals would simply shift their bases of operations, but that’s not what happens.)

What makes hotspot policing work, according to a series of studies from criminologists and case studies from police departments like Minneapolis, is police being out of their cars and physically in neighborhoods alongside residents for a certain amount of time. To be most effective, police need to engage with residents in friendly ways, like cleaning up graffiti, rather than writing up the people who painted it. When both of those conditions are met, crime doesn’t just go down when police are around, or even right after they leave – a month of regular hotspot policing can reduce crime in the area for weeks afterward.

It’s past time that the leadership of the police unions stop sniping at the De Blasio administration and sit down to talk about departmental discipline, better police tactics and healing the rift with the people of NYC.

Jan 06 2015

Crime Rates Dropped In NYC & Around the Country Last Year

Homicide rates are falling in most major cities across the US, especially in cities like New York, Detroit and Chicago. What is most notable in NYC is that the overall crime rate has fallen in 2014, the first year of the de Balsio administration, despite the end of “stop and frisk,” which was declared unconstitutional as carried out by the NYPD.

While this is good news, the NYPD has continued to throw its prolonged temper tantrum. Again on Sunday at the funeral for slain NYC Police Officer Wenjian Liu, a group of thin skinned members turned their backs to the screen as the mayor spoke. Since the slaying of the two officers on December 20, arrests and ticketing had fallen dramatically in all five boroughs

Police union leaders have denied the declines represent any organized work action, though they have urged their members to put their own safety first, which could curb enforcement in all but the clearest situations that called for an arrest.

The sustained declines, however, suggest something of a coordinated effort, even if it was not sanctioned by union leaders.

“People are talking to each other,” Edward D. Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said on Sunday. “It became contagious.”

Even though both the mayor and his police commissioner William Bratton are touting  “Broken Windows” and a modified “stop and frisk,” declaring the policies are “here to stay,” the slow down may prove that the policies are broken. Civil rights attorney and former Brooklyn, N.Y., prosecutor, Charles F, Coleman, Jr. believes “Broken Windows” is a failure and it’s time to drop it.

At this point, there has been no significant impact to public safety because of the slowdown-during which tickets and summons for minor offenses have dropped more than 90 percent-and we’ve seen anything but the doomsday crime spree that Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch seemed to hope might cause widespread fear among New Yorkers.

Lynch, who leads the NYPD’s largest and most influential union, has been very critical of de Blasio in past weeks, accusing him of expressing anti-policing sentiments in his remarks after the Staten Island grand jury’s nonindictment in the Eric Garner choke hold case. [..]

In many ways, the slowdown is backfiring terribly and should force a bigger discussion about not only the need to revisit the “broken windows” approach to law enforcement in urban communities but also the age-old trend of funding America’s cities on the backs of the poor.

The broken-windows approach to law enforcement, which de Blasio endorsed during the early days of his tenure, is essentially Reaganomics’ trickle-down theory of policing. (Remember how well that worked out?) The idea is essentially that focusing on strict policing of smaller offenses will deter larger crimes from happening. However, the notion that police, by cracking down on low-level crimes like selling loose cigarettes and open containers, are going to deter hardened criminals is a dubious theory at best. This is, in part, because economics drives most real crime more than any other factor. [..]

So what is the real takeaway from the NYPD slowdown where “broken windows” is concerned? We already knew that it was flawed in theory, and we have seen it fail miserably in application. One wild and crazy idea is that this approach to policing and the slowdown are both about little more than power and economics. The Police Department is attempting to flex its muscles to remind de Blasio and the thousands of nonviolent protesters who have dared to speak out against NYPD practices that the city needs them. The message is essentially that, even beyond the prevention of crime, police are still needed to help generate critical amounts of revenue for the city’s operating budget.

These silly games aren’t limited to the Big Apple, however. From as far away as Ferguson, Mo., we’ve witnessed how municipalities balance their budgets on the backs of the poor through the financial windfall created by excessive fines and tickets (which, as an aside, invalidates the claim that there’s no such thing as police quotas). The same thing can be said forWashington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles and scores of other cities across the country. Pat Lynch is no doubt aware of this, and beyond any ineffective fear tactics, his real play here may very well be an intentional swipe at the city’s pocketbook, which could threaten to hijack next year’s budget.

If anything, that seems like a real crime worth policing.

Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s “All In,” addressed the massive drop in crime, the slow down and “Broken Windows” with author and former NYC police officer Pater Moskos.

It’s time for the end of this discriminatory policy and focus on the real concerns of our communities, jobs and education.

Dec 29 2014

The NYPD Gets on My Last Nerve

First let me say this: Supporting the police while calling for reform and justice are not mutually exclusive. Lives matter, all of them. This is not a zero sum game. That said, some of the members of the NYC Police Department and the bigots that support the institutionalized racism of the agency have gotten on my last nerve.

The vast majority of police officers are good people, just as the vast majority of people who are protesting in the streets across this country are good people. But some of the leadership, politicians and talking heads in the mainstream media need to shut up and listen. The people of this country deserve to be heard. The heads of the police unions in NYC seem to have forgotten that they are the employees of the people of NYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was elected by 74% of those who voted in November, is their boss. He was elected to reform an increasing out of control and militarized police department. He’s doing a good job. You can tell by the squealing of the racists who can’t see beyond their own hatred of people who just want to live in peace, make a decent living and raise their children in a safe city. People should not have to fear the police.

For the last 20 years under two Republican corporate administrations, the NYPD was expanded and given unprecedented powers. The commissioners that were appointed by Mayors Rudolph Guiliani and Michael Bloomberg, that includes the current commissioner William Bratton, ran the department like it was an army and felt that they were not accountable to its citizens. The policies of “Broken Glass” and its offshoot “Stop and Frisk” were inherently racist and have led to the feeling of distrust in the minority communities of the city. It has led to the abuse and deaths of mostly young men of color and, now, two good men, NYC police officers, have been assassinated by a deranged man seeking vengeance. The union heads, especially NYC Police Benevolence Association President Patrick Lynch, decided to make the death of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Lui a political football for their hurt feelings.

What is Lynch so fired up about? He is vilifying Mayor De Blasio because the mayor, as the parent of mixed race children, spoke the truth about what every parent of a child of color must tell them about the police:

“This is profoundly personal to me,” de Blasio said. “I was at the White House the other day, and the president of the United States turned to me, and he met Dante a few months ago, and he said that Dante reminded him of what he looked like as a teenager. And he said, ‘I know you see this crisis through a very personal lens.’ And I said to him, I did.”

De Blasio went on to note that he and his wife, Chirlane McCray, who is black, “have had to talk to Dante for years about the dangers that he may face.”

The mayor described his son as “a good young man, [a] law-abiding young man who would never think to do anything wrong” — but he noted that “because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.” [..]

he mayor described “that painful sense of contradiction that our young people see first, that our police are here to protect us, and we honor that, and at the same time, there’s a history we have to overcome.”

“For so many of our young people, there’s a fear,” de Blasio said. “And for so many of our families, there’s a fear.”

It has been bad enough that since the mayor made that statement that Mr. Lynch went tirade in an attempt to make the police the victims and not the innocent people they have abused and killed. He and other members of the NYPD have only exposed their racism.

Besides the incredibly insulting act of turning their backs on Mayor de Blasio as he was leaving Woodhull Hospital after the deaths of the two officers, what got me really angry with these bigots were two incidents that showed just how completely ignorant some of the police really are. The first was this stupid and, very likely expensive stunt by an anonymous “group of current and retired NYC Police Officers, Detectives, and Supervisors”

Friday morning, a small plane flew over New York City with a banner attached that read: “De Blasio, Our Backs Have Turned to You.” The sign, a reference to some NYPD officers protesting against Mayor de Blasio following the shooting deaths of Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos last weekend, was the work of a “large and unified group of current and retired NYC Police Officers, Detectives, & Supervisors,” according to blogger and former cop John Cardillo. [..]

Ashley Chalmers, the owner of the plane, told the New York Daily News that the people who rented it “wish to remain anonymous,” though Cardillo said he was contacted by the NYPD group on Friday and asked to release a statement.

Stay classy, guys, exposing, not only your bigotry, but the need to learn to write a sentence.

Then while attending the funeral of Police Officer Rafael Ramos, some of the police officers decided it was the place to throw a temper tantrum insulting the memory of a fallen officer and his grieving family:

Thousands of police officers from across the nation packed a church and spilled onto streets Saturday to honor Officer Rafael Ramos as a devoted family man, aspiring chaplain and hero, though an air of unrest surrounding his ambush shooting was not completely pushed aside.

While mourners inside the church applauded politely as Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke, hundreds of officers outside turned their backs on him to protest what they see as his support for demonstrators angry over killings by police.

The rush of officers far and wide to New York for Ramos’ funeral reminded some of the bond after the Sept. 11 attacks and Superstorm Sandy. Vice President Joe Biden promised that the “incredibly diverse city can and will show the nation how to bridge any divide.”

Still, tensions were evident when officers turned away from giant screens showing de Blasio, who has been harshly criticized by New York Police Department union officials as a contributor to a climate of mistrust that preceded the killings of Ramos and his partner, Wenjian Liu.

All this poutrage by Mr. Lynch, former Mayor Guiliani and company directed at Mayor de Blasio is because he spoke to the terrible fact that police departments throughout this country treat people of color differently and minority children, especially the boys, must be given “the talk.

“If you are stopped by a cop, do what he says, even if he’s harassing you, even if you didn’t do anything wrong. Let him arrest you, memorize his badge number, and call me as soon as you get to the precinct. Keep your hands where he can see them. Do not reach for your wallet. Do not grab your phone. Do not raise your voice. Do not talk back. Do you understand me?”

The mayor gave the talk to his biracial teenage son so this wouldn’t happen to him.

And as John Cole at Balloon Juice noted

And let’s remember what is so particularly ugly about this- this is motivated as much by the desire to not reform and to maintain the current institutional racism as it is the current contract talks and union elections. Fuck Patrick Lynch and his goons.

If some members of the NYPD don’t like the reforms that Mayor de Blasio was elected to enact, they can go find other jobs. There are plenty of qualified people, who are working two and three underpaying jobs,  to replace them. Either that or learn to listen.

Jul 13 2013

Napolitano Stepping Down From Homeland Security

The Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano is steeping downin September to take up the position of president of the University of California system:

Janet Napolitano, the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security and former governor of Arizona, is being named as the next president of the University of California system, in an unusual choice that brings a national-level politician to a position usually held by an academic, The Times has learned. Her appointment also means the 10-campus system will be headed by a woman for the first time in its 145-year history.

Napolitano’s nomination by a committee of UC regents came after a secretive process that insiders said focused on her early as a high-profile, although untraditional, candidate who has led large public agencies and shown a strong interest in improving education.

UC officials believe that her Cabinet experiences — which include helping to lead responses to hurricanes and tornadoes and overseeing some anti-terrorism measures — will help UC administer its federal energy and nuclear weapons labs and aid its federally funded research in medicine and other areas.

Her position in the Obama administration may be difficult to fill according to some insiders but this hasn’t stopped Sen. Charles Schumer who jumped at the opportunity to throw out New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s name:

“The Department of Homeland Security is one of the most important agencies in the federal government,” Schumer said in a statement Friday. “It’s leader needs to be someone who knows law enforcement, understands anti-terrorism efforts, and is a top-notch administrator, and at the NYPD, Ray Kelly has proven that he excels in all three.” [..]

Schumer noted that Kelly’s experience as former head of Customs and Border Patrol gives him “top-level federal management experience.”

“There is no doubt Ray Kelly would be a great DHS Secretary, and I have urged the White House to very seriously consider his candidacy, “Schumer’s statment continues. “While it would be New York’s loss, Commissioner Kelly’s appointment as the head of DHS would be a great boon for the entire country. Janet Napolitano has done an outstanding job, and if I had to give her a grade on her tenure, it would be ‘A+’. We need someone just as good who can fill her shoes.”

Former House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-L.I.) also touted Kelly for the job Friday.

Just the fact that Peter King put his stamp of approval on Kelly should be reason enough to reject him but there are some very serious problem’s with Kelly that have arisen during his tenure as NYPD Commissioner. Marcy Wheeler thinks that maybe Schumer must want all American Brown youth stopped and frisked

Not only is this a batshit crazy idea because of all the authoritarian things Ray Kelly has done in NYC, from harassing hundreds of thousands of African American and Latino youths to spying on Muslims.

But note how Schumer doesn’t mention the other, equally important part of Homeland Security: keeping the country safe from things like Chinese hackers and natural disasters.

How’d Kelly do at organizing a response to Hurricane Sandy? Maybe we should ask Occupy Sandy about that?

Charles Pierce at Esquire Politics Blog noted that he doesn’t see “how anyone gets confirmed without being barbecued on the White House lawn.” But if Kelly gets the nod, he’ll bring the charcoal. I’m with you, Charlie, I’ll bring the lighter fluid and matches.

The last person we need in charge of DHS is a racist, authoritarian who agrees with the FBI that peaceful protest is a “terrorist threat.” The best thing that could happen, DHS gets abolished and we end the “War on the Constitution”.

Jun 27 2013

NYC Council Reins in Bloomberg & NYPD

Late last night the New York City Council passed two bills that will reign in an out of control NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Passed with veto-proof majorities, the pair of bills aim at increasing oversight of the Police Department and expanding New Yorkers’ ability to sue over racial profiling by officers.

One, known as Intro 1079, would create an independent inspector general to monitor and review police policy, conduct investigations and recommend changes to the department. The monitor would be part of the city’s Investigation Department alongside the inspectors general for other city agencies.

The law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, leaving the matter of choosing the monitor to the next mayor.

The other bill, Intro 1080, would expand the definition of bias-based profiling to include age, gender, housing status and sexual orientation. It also would allow individuals to sue the Police Department in state court – not only for individual instances of bias, but also for policies that disproportionately affect people in any protected categories without serving a significant law enforcement goal.

Mayor Bloomberg is expected to veto both bills. The council has 30 days from its next full meeting to hold an override vote.

Queens councilman Pete Vallone (D), who voted against the bill, gave a preview of the over the top rhetoric that will be used to convince New Yorkers to tell their council members to not override the mayor’s veto:

“New Yorkers went to bed a long time ago, safe in their beds,” Vallone said after the vote. “But they are going to wake up in a much more dangerous city.”

The Mayor and Police Commissioner Raymaond Kelley have already played the Al Qaeda and “be afraid” cards

“Every tort lawyer is gonna buy a new house and a new car right away,” Bloomberg said. “They’re not even gonna have to wait for the cases to come in.” Kelly added, “City council might as well have named the legislation, the ‘Full Employment for Plaintiffs Attorneys Act’…Take heart Al Qaeda wannabes.” [..]

“This is not a game, this is a life-threatening thing…This is life and death, this isn’t playing some game…It’s very nice to have a lawyer and everybody after say you should have done this and you should have done that, but when the other guy maybe has a gun in his pocket, that’s a different story.”

The most laughable moment in that press conference came from Mayor Bloomberg when asked if there is an independent body who oversees NYPD policy like an Inspector General would:

Yes there is. It’s called the Mayor…The police commissioner in our city works for the mayor serves at the pleasure of the mayor, and I can just tell you I’m not a professional in this but I have every single policy that this police department has the police commissioner has explained to me, kept me posted on it and when I talk to other experts, I’m convinced that they are the exactly the right thing.

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) urged people to listen carefully:

“There have been a lot of bald-faced lies told about this bill,” [..]

“We can have safety and can have police accountability at the exact same time,” he said. “If you don’t live there, if you haven’t been going through it … please side with us.”

Michael Bloomberg has turned the NYC Police Department into his own private army, which was witnessed in the crack down on Occupy Wall St.’s peaceful demonstrations and occupation of Zuccotti Park. It’s long past time that City Council acted taking back the NYPD for the people.

Feb 23 2012

Guilty For Being Muslim

It has been known since last Summer that the New York City Police Department has has an intelligence unit coached by, and in conjunction with, the CIA which focuses on the Muslim community. This is being done even tough the CIA is prohibited from spying domestically on Americans. It was revealed in an Associated Press report that besides targeting Muslim communities, mosques and businesses inside the five boroughs, the surveillance has extended to Newark, New Jersey] (pdf) and Long Island (pdf).

The NYPD has been dispatching undercover officers called “rakers,” into minority neighborhoods to monitor daily life in bookstores, bars and other local common places, reported The Associated Press, citing a “months-long” investigation. Informants called “mosque crawlers,” monitored sermons and imams. Intelligence officers reportedly also gathered information on cab drivers and food cart vendors. [..]

The AP also reported that the NYPD operates far outside its borders in New Jersey and surrounding regions and targets ethnic communities, mainly Muslims, in specific ways that no federal agency could without violating civil liberty laws.

In October the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a motion challenging the partnership in court to determine whether the spying operations violates an existing court order from 1971, revised in 2003, that restricted the NYPD’s ability to conduct surveillance targeting political and religious activity.

“The NYPD’s reported surveillance of local Muslim communities raises serious questions concerning whether the Police Department has violated court-ordered restrictions on its ability to spy on and keep dossiers on individuals,” said NYCLU Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg. “In order to know whether the NYPD is violating the court order, we need a more complete explanation of the NYPD’s surveillance practices.”

The NYPD has an ugly history of racial profiling in black and Hispanic communities:

In 2010 alone, the NYPD engaged in more than 600,000 stop-and-frisks searches; 84% of those stopped were of black or Latino. Time and again, police officers have used force when stopping blacks or Latinos. Half of these stops have been cited as “furtive movements”, a label that portrays black and brown people as clandestine. The stop-and-frisk widespread problem that is racially discriminatory under the ostensible excuse that the practice is necessary in fighting crime. Sadly, this procedure has not proved to reduce crime or make the city any safer.

The department has gone as far as monitoring Muslims who change their names

The NYPD monitors everyone in the city who changes his or her name, according to internal police documents and interviews. For those whose names sound Arabic or might be from Muslim countries, police run comprehensive background checks that include reviewing travel records, criminal histories, business licenses and immigration documents. All this is recorded in police databases for supervisors, who review the names and select a handful of people for police to visit.

The program was conceived as a tripwire for police in the difficult hunt for homegrown terrorists, where there are no widely agreed upon warning signs. Like other NYPD intelligence programs created in the past decade, this one involved monitoring behavior protected by the First Amendment.

Earlier this week, AP reported that the NYPD had monitored Muslim students all over the Northeast:

One autumn morning in Buffalo, N.Y., a college student named Adeela Khan logged into her email and found a message announcing an upcoming Islamic conference in Toronto.

Khan clicked “forward,” sent it to a group of fellow Muslims at the University at Buffalo, and promptly forgot about it.

But that simple act on Nov. 9, 2006, was enough to arouse the suspicion of an intelligence analyst at the New York Police Department, 300 miles away, who combed through her post and put her name in an official report. Marked “SECRET” in large red letters, the document went all the way to Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s office. [..]

Police trawled daily through student websites run by Muslim student groups at Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers and 13 other colleges in the Northeast. They talked with local authorities about professors in Buffalo and even sent an undercover agent on a whitewater rafting trip, where he recorded students’ names and noted in police intelligence files how many times they prayed. [..]

Though the NYPD says it follows the same rules as the FBI, some of the NYPD’s activities go beyond what the FBI is allowed to do.

Kelly and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg repeatedly have said that the police only follow legitimate leads about suspected criminal activity.

But the latest documents mention no wrongdoing by any students.

Glen Greenwald rightfully notes the “hallmark of a Surveillance State is that police agencies secretly monitor and keep dossiers on not only those individuals suspected of lawbreaking, but on the society generally, including those individuals about whom there is no suspicion of wrongdoing.” and he calls out the blatant lies of Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long claimed – preposterously – that the NYPD does not target communities for survillence based on their religion, but as AP notes:  “In one section of the  report, police wrote that the largest immigrant groups in Newark were from Portugal and Brazil. But they did not photograph businesses or churches for those groups.” That’s because “‘No Muslim component within these communities was identified,‘ police wrote.” In the wake of this latest evidence, Bloomberg seemed to abandon that denial, shifting instead to justification: “The police department goes where there are allegations. And they look to see whether those allegations are true,” said the Mayor. “That’s what you’d expect them to do. That’s what you’d want them to do. Remind yourself when you turn out the light tonight.”

No, Mr. Bloomberg, you do not make us safer by violating our rights and the laws of this country. This is not the sign of a healthy society, as Glenn concludes:

the essential expression of the American Surveillance State: we can and will know everything about what you do, and you will know virtually nothing about what we do. In a healthy society, that formula would be reversed: the citizenry (with rare exceptions) would know most everything about what their government does, while the government would know nothing about what citizens do in the absence of well-grounded suspicion that they have done something wrong. Yet here we have the NYPD wandering outside of its jurisdiction in order to spy on the innocuous activities of a community of a religious minority (not even the Newark Mayor was informed about this), and the most disturbing part of it all is how common it now is.

Somebody needs to rein in Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD.

Aug 25 2011

NYPD: CIA Blue

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the New York Police Department has been aggressively gathering domestic intelligence. With help from the CIA, the department’s intelligence unit dispatches undercover officers to keep tabs on ethnic neighborhoods – sometimes in areas far outside their jurisdiction. Keith discusses the details with Associated Press reporter Matt Apuzzo, who exposed the story with his colleague Adam Goldman.

NYPD CIA Anti-Terror Operations Conducted In Secret For Years

NEW YORK – Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Police Department has become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, targeting ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government, an Associated Press investigation has found.

These operations have benefited from unprecedented help from the CIA, a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying.

The department has dispatched undercover officers, known as “rakers,” into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They’ve monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as “mosque crawlers,” to monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing.

Neither the city council, which finances the department, nor the federal government, which has given NYPD more than $1.6 billion since 9/11, is told exactly what’s going on.

Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD’s intelligence unit.

My City Council representative will be getting a call, so will Mayor Bloomberg