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Downgrading Corruption

August 27, 2018

Anyone concerned about the NYPD’s apparent apathy toward its seemingly intractable battle against police corruption might shudder at the response of the Commission to Combat Police Corruption to a Staten Island man who maintained he had been illegally surveilled by security vendors at the 9/11 Museum.

“The Commission conducts studies and analyses of the anti-corruption efforts of the New York City Police Department,” wrote its executive director Marnie L. Blit, whose correspondence was forwarded to NYPD Confidential. “We do not conduct any investigations into allegations of misconduct or corruption by police officers, public officials, or non-members of the NYPD. Therefore we are unable to assist you.”

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialThe Commission to Combat Police Corruption is the last vestige of an anti-corruption agency, specifically created, as its name suggests, to combat police corruption by monitoring the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

Or, as the department’s IAB website puts it: “While IAB’s investigations are not made public, the NYC Commission to Combat Police Corruption provides oversight and a level of transparency through continual evaluation of the NYPD’s anti-corruption programs and efforts.” If you believe that, readers, there’s a bridge you might want to purchase.

Until the election of Rudy Giuliani and his appointment of Bill Bratton as police commissioner in 1994, fighting corruption had been the department’s highest priority since the Knapp Commission of the early 1970s revealed widespread, systemic department corruption at every level right up through the police commissioner’s office.

Albany even appointed a Special State Prosecutor with subpoena power to monitor what was then the department’s Internal Affairs Division. 

Despite the next police scandal unearthed by the Mollen Corruption Commission of the early 1990s that included the fact that Internal Affairs Chief Daniel Sullivan hid corruption from Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward because he feared Ward’s volatile temper, Giuliani and Bratton maintained that Internal Affairs could fight police corruption on its own. The Special State prosecutor was disbanded, replaced by the Commission to Combat Police Corruption.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialNeither Bratton, who returned in 2014 for a second tour under Mayor de Blasio, nor his predecessor Ray Kelly, the longest serving and most powerful police commissioner in city history, concerned themselves with corruption. Kelly focused on fighting terrorism. Under Giuliani, Bratton focused on fighting crime; under de Blasio on engaging with minority communities. Prioritizing corruption only made the department — and them — look bad.

Perhaps that explains why Bratton was caught off guard when the feds stumbled into a perceived web of top brass corruption, involving “rent-a-cop” schemes to aide selected members of Brooklyn’s Hasidic community, which had flowered, undetected or unreported, under Kelly.

Although such behavior has proven thus far to be mostly misconduct rather than criminality, the feds will get another bite at the apple to prove otherwise this fall when deputy inspector James Grant goes on trial for allegedly having sex on a plane with a prostitute, paid for by Hasidic businessman, Jeremy Reichberg.

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittAs for Internal Affairs, it is headed these days by Deputy Commissioner Joseph Reznick, who since his appointment four years ago has been neither seen nor heard. Is this a further indication that the department feels corruption is no longer a problem and that the public is more concerned with other issues? If so, they’re playing with fire.

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