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Bloomberg’s Insult to New Yorkers

March 6, 2006

The Mayor’s Commission to Combat Police Corruption has issued its annual report, detailing its work from January through July of 2005. It is an insult to every New Yorker.

The report includes the commission’s review of closed departmental investigations; of the Police Academy’s curriculum and training; of the department’s whistle-blower protection and retaliation investigations; of false statement claims and of the safeguards in the filing of false motor vehicle reports. It also summarizes its most recent report on the background and screening process for civilian employees.

In short, the commission – which lacks subpoena power and is therefore toothless by definition – examined matters no one cares about.

Not included in its report was the commission’s most significant event during that time – the resignation of its former chairman Mark Pomerantz.

Pomerantz resigned after Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly refused to release documents the commission had sought to determine whether the NYPD was downgrading felonies to misdemeanors so that the city’s crime rate would appear lower than it actually was.

The allegations – printed in Newsday two years ago – were made by Patrick Lynch and Ed Mullins, the presidents of the patrolmen’s and sergeants’ unions.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg – who appointed Pomerantz and who during his 2001 mayoral campaign had promised a “more transparent” police department than existed under his predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani – didn’t utter a peep when Pomerantz resigned.

Suffice it to say, the police department under Bloomberg and his commissioner Kelly is now less transparent than it had been even under Giuliani.

Pomerantz is no mere do-gooder with his head in the clouds. He was a career federal prosecutor who helped convict ex-cop Frank Livoti in the death of Anthony Baez of the Bronx, following Livoti’s use of a department-banned choke-hold. Now working for the midtown law firm of Paul, Weiss, he declined comment.

To replace him, Bloomberg appointed another former prosecutor and big-foot attorney, Michael Armstrong. Thirty-five years ago, Armstrong served as counsel to Whitman Knapp, whose commission on police corruption discovered organized “pads,” or payoffs, at virtually every level of the department.

But that was 35 years ago. As a person familiar with the current commission’s work – or lack thereof – said of Armstrong, “He is an older man now.”

Asked why the circumstances of Pomerantz’s resignation were not included in the report and whether he was pursuing the documents Pomerantz had unsuccessfully requested, Armstrong replied, “All I can say is no comment.”

 

D-Day for Eric. Decision day is approaching for Captain Eric Adams. It may even come this week.

Adams – a constant critic of Commissioner Kelly who publicly criticized his and Bloomberg’s actions over last October’s subway terrorism scare – was slapped with departmental charges the day after he filed for retirement. Adams has said he sought to resolve the issue without going public by taking a minor hit but that Kelly refused.

Now let’s compare Kelly’s actions towards Adams with four recent departmental disciplinary cases.

In 2004, police officer Mark Faljean was found guilty in Brooklyn Criminal court of sexually abusing another officer’s wife. He was fined just two months pay. Last November he was allowed to retire a month shy of his 20th year on the force so that he could receive a full pension.

Last July, Lieut. Anthony Perotta, a thirteen-year veteran, was suspended for exposing himself to a civilian supervisor in an elevator. In October, he was allowed to vest out and retire, also keeping his pension, although he won’t begin receiving it until 2113.

Last December Inspector Robert Wheeler shot a robbery suspect in Washington, D.C., fled the scene, then called local police to inform them of the robbery. But he failed to tell them he had shot a suspect or that he was a New York City officer. The next day he returned to New York but didn’t fess up until the following day.

For three weeks Kelly took no action against him. He then placed him on modified assignment, the mildest penalty possible. So far as is known, no charges have been filed against him.

Finally, there’s Deputy Commissioner Garry McCarthy, whose trial in a New Jersey traffic court continues this week. The trial stems from a traffic ticket issued to his daughter by Palisades Parkway police in February, 2005.

McCarthy testified that he had had two glasses of wine shortly before the incident, that his gun was in his waistband, that he allowed his wife to back his department-issued Ford Explorer into oncoming traffic at a Palisades service station, that he cursed at the ticketing Palisades detective who McCarthy said had cursed at him first, and that, despite his wife’s urging, he refused to leave the scene.

The Internal Affairs Bureau has done a full work up and sent two officers to observe the trial. So far Kelly has done or said nothing.

Unseen all last week [since the body of Imette St. Guillen was discovered]: Commissioner Kelly. Mayor Bloomberg answered questions about her death.

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Copyright © 2006 Leonard Levitt