NYPD Confidential - An Inside Look at the New York Police Department
Home Page
All Columns
Contact Leonard Levitt
Search this site
Printable versionSend to a friendEmail Leonard LevittSign up to get column in email

Get a link in your mailbox to your weekly NYPD Confidential column as soon as it is published! Click on the button above right on this page — or here — to sign up for this feature.

Cronyism Tops Sensitivity

September 3, 2018

We’ve heard a lot about the NYPD’s sensitivity to concerns of minority communities. What we've heard less about is cronyism at the top ranks of the department.

In the recent promotion of Paul Deentremont to deputy chief, sensitivity and cronyism collided. Cronyism came out on top.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialDeentremont was commanding officer of the 47th Precinct in the Bronx when in February 2012, Officer Richard Haste, part of the precinct’s Narcotics Enforcement Unit, chased an unarmed teenager he suspected of marijuana possession. Haste followed Ramarley Graham, 18, into his building, broke down his door, then fatally shot him in his bathroom. Haste said he believed Graham had a gun.

After an initial indictment was thrown out on a technicality, a second Bronx grand jury declined to indict Haste. Last year, he was found guilty in a departmental trial and immediately resigned, forfeiting his 10-year vesting package. The city paid Graham’s family $3.9 million.

In a series of news conferences, the Graham family and numerous city activists pressed the NYPD to discipline Haste’s partner, Officer John Mcloughlin, and their supervising sergeant, Scott Morris. Last December, Morris was suspended for 30 days without pay, then resigned without the “good guy” letter that would have allowed him to carry a weapon and obtain a security job. Mcloughlin was docked 45 vacation days and placed on dismissal probation for a year, meaning he could be fired for any infraction.

But what about Deentremont? Although he had no direct involvement in Haste’s pursuit and shooting of Graham, some held him accountable for the narcotics unit’s numerous technical violations, which may have played a part in Graham’s death. For example, in rules laid down by former Commissioner Ray Kelly to avoid misunderstandings and misidentifications, narcotics unit officers like Haste were supposed to work in uniform. The day Haste pursued Graham to his death, he and the others were in plainclothes.

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittTen months after Graham’s shooting, in December 2012, Kelly transferred Deentremont out of the Bronx to the backwater Fugitive Enforcement Division. Kelly couched the transfer as part of larger shake-up so that Deentremont would not appear to be singled out. Kelly also ordered a review of the narcotics unit’s tactics but never made the results public.

By 2015, under then-police commissioner Bill Bratton and Chief of Department Jim O’Neill, Deentremont had been promoted to full Inspector — commanding the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Operations, run by Dermot Shea. When O’Neill became police commissioner in 2016, he appointed Shea to the three-star position of Chief of Crime Control Strategies.

Last November, Deentremont retired. But a few months later, he took the unusual, though not unprecedented, step of returning to the NYPD, which officers can do within a year of their retirement, pending the police commissioner’s approval. His return coincided with Shea’s appointment as chief of detectives.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialUsually when an officer returns after retirement, he goes to the bottom of the promotion list. But in July, only months after his return, Deentremont was promoted to deputy chief in the Chief of Detectives Office.

So how does Deentremont’s promotion square with the department’s sensitivity to concerns of minority communities? Neither Shea nor Deentremont returned calls from NYPD Confidential.

But as another chief put it: “You’ve got a story there.”

« Back to top
Copyright © 2018 Leonard Levitt