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The CCRB: A Black Woman’s Accusation

November 10, 2008

Over the past year, the 13 people who comprise the increasingly wobbly Civilian Complaint Review Board have managed to harm it more than the seven years of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s flouting the city charter and not cooperating with the agency’s investigations.

Seeking “diversity,” the board, in October, 2007, hired 61-year-old Joan M. Thompson as its executive director, or Number Two person, to run the agency’s day-to-day operations: investigating low-level police misconduct, directed largely against black and Hispanic city residents.

Now, a year later, some people are saying Thompson is “in over her head,” as one person put it. She, in turn, now accuses the CCRB of racial discrimination.

As if Thompson’s charge were not embarrassing enough, one board member is said to bear a grudge against CCRB chairwoman Franklin Stone, the agency’s Number One person, and sent copies of Thompson’s complaint to city council members, ensuring that her accusations would become public.

Thompson’s problems at the CCRB began from nearly her first day.

A news release at the time of her hiring said the CCRB had conducted a nation-wide search before settling on her. Her past positions included Director of Employment Opportunity at the Baltimore Police Department and Assistant Commissioner for Equal Employment Opportunity at the NYPD — the latter, a meaningless job with a fancy title.

Sources familiar with her situation say she gained no friends at the CCRB by siding with the police department over its controversial stop-and-frisk policies, citing a Kelly-sponsored RAND corporation study that found no racial profiling. Her stance was at odds with that of most people in the so-called civil rights community.

Meanwhile, within a month of her hiring, Thompson claimed she was subjected to racial remarks such as “black bitch,” apparently by CCRB staffers she hasn’t named. When she reported this to chairwoman Stone, she says Stone “replied in a screaming manner that she ‘didn’t believe’ me.”

Furthermore, says Thompson, Stone subsequently subjected her to “retaliatory action,” which, according to her complaint, included “scrutinizing my work” and evaluating “my performance.”

Wrote Thompson: “Not only has there never been a black Executive Director in the history of CCRB but no prior Executive Director had ever been evaluated.”

Let’s get a grip. Job evaluation? Scrutinizing one’s work? This is racial discrimination?

No Story Here?
Can it be true? Is our old friend Lieutenant Pete Martin about to receive a three-quarter, tax-free, line-of-duty disability pension?

Can it also be true that the normally sane Queens District Attorney, Judge Richard Brown has hired Pete as his advance man?

Readers of this column may remember Pete as a big shot in the Lieutenants Endowment Association, who loved to help his friends obtain three-quarter, tax-free, line-of-duty disability pensions.

Take Assistant Chief Mike Collins of DCPI, under whose auspices Pete hung his hat for many years until he retired a few months ago to work for DA Brown.

Back in the day, when Pete and Mike were assigned to Manhattan detectives, they were riding in a department car that was rear-ended at a light outside 909 Third Avenue at 55th Street by one Jaswinder Singh of Jamaica, Queens. Pete and Mike each filed a notice of claim with the city for $2 million for unspecified injuries. Neither, though, followed through with a lawsuit.

Four years later, during the 2004 Republican National Convention outside Madison Square Garden at 8th Avenue and 34th Street at 1 A.M. Sept 3, Mike suffered a trip and fall injury. “Aided was on duty and injured while performing assigned duties,” the line-of-duty injury report read. “Recommended LOD.”

Sole witness to his trip and fall: Lieutenant Pete Martin.

So for which of his injuries is Pete reportedly about to receive his line-of-duty disability?

And how did Pete set himself set up with the Queens DA’s office, where he is said to have been given a car and other trappings normally reserved for higher ranking officials?

Finally, who is the middle-man who made this deal and what is the quid pro quo?

Moreover if Pete gets his three-quarters, how can he continue to supervise other detectives and do advance work for the judge?

Pete hung up the phone when we called.

Said Brown of Pete: “I like him. He is just a volunteer. There’s no story here.”

PBA: No Louima Redux.
A police officer may or may not have sodomized alleged marijuana smoker Michael Mineo with a nightstick or a radio antenna last month on a Brooklyn subway platform, but the Patrolmens Benevolent Association is making every effort to ensure the union’s behavior invites no comparison with its actions following the police sodomy and torture of Abner Louima in 1997.

The PBA played the heavy then. Shortly after police officer Justin Volpe sodomized Louima in the bathroom of the 70th precinct, the PBA conducted a secret basement meeting with the four suspects that included a union trustee and a union attorney.

In addition, one of those four suspects, Officer Thomas Wiese, was a PBA delegate. Furthermore, the union’s in-house law firm represented two other suspects, leading a federal appeals court to rule that the union’s lead attorney, Stephen Worth, who represented police officer Charles Schwarz, had a conflict of interest in that he also represented the union, which was on the hook for damages to Louima.

In the end, the PBA paid Louima $1.625 million, the first time a police union paid off on a police abuse claim.

With the Mineo case, PBA general counsel Mike Murray is ensuring there is no conflict of interest. Each cop defendant has a different attorney from unrelated law firms.

There’s even a separate lawyer for the PBA delegate whom whistleblower transit cop Kevin Maloney approached for help in revealing what he saw on that subway platform.

Not that there aren’t some familiar faces from the Louima case. PBA attorney Stuart London, who defended Police Officer Thomas Bruder (he was acquitted) now represents police officer Alex Cruz, one of the officers suspected of allegedly jabbing Mineo.

John Patten, who represented Sgt. Michael Bellomo in the Louima case (he, too, was acquitted), is representing police officer Richard Kern, who Maloney reportedly fingered as Mineo’s alleged attacker. Said Patten: “I’m confident of Kern’s innocence.”

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Copyright © 2008 Leonard Levitt