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.

Peters's NYPD Gun Claim: "A Flat-Out Lie"

November 26, 2018

Of all Mark Peters’s claims against the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, none is more perplexing than that of a 2016 meeting with top staffers from City Hall, the Department of Investigations and the NYPD. During the meeting, Peters claimed that “a senior NYPD official conspicuously displayed his gun and later told a third party he had done so to intimidate the DOI officials.”

Asked the name of this senior NYPD officer, a DOI spokeswoman who contacted her ousted former boss said Peters did not “want to go beyond his letter.”

But a former law enforcement official with firsthand knowledge of the meeting and who asked for anonymity, described Peters’s claim as “a flat-out lie.”

“His paranoia is such,” the official added, “that people in law enforcement refer to him as ‘J. Edgar Peters,’” a reference to the FBI’s discredited former Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Peters — who was fired on Nov. 16 by de Blasio after an independent investigator’s report that he had “exceeded his lawful authority” — made his gun claim in a Nov. 19 letter to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and chairman of the Council’s Oversight and Investigations Committee, Ritchie Torres.

The meeting — at which the NYPD refused Peters’s demands to turn over what the department felt was “sensitive information” — was attended by NYPD Commissioner Jim O’Neill, who has also stated that the gun incident never happened. Two other top NYPD officials were also present: O’Neill’s chief of staff, Ray Spinella, and then-Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters Lawrence Byrne. Spinella was the only NYPD officer there in uniform and would have carried his firearm as uniformed cops do.

Also in attendance were then-First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris; Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter and former NYPD Commissioner and then-Department of Education Special Commissioner of Investigations Richard Condon. Peters had attempted to take over Condon’s duties after his retirement in 2017.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialHowever, Anastasia Coleman, a former Brooklyn prosecutor Peters had appointed to replace Condon, objected, saying Peters’s takeover went beyond his legal authority. Peters fired her and demoted her top deputy. She then filed a whistleblower complaint, leading to the appointment of the independent investigator.

This is not to say that Peters’s investigations of the de Blasio administration were not without merit. They revealed lead paint in city-owned buildings; the misuse of a city car by a correction commissioner who has since resigned; and the NYPD’s understaffing of its Special Victims Unit.

But as DOI has evolved, the commissioner’s role has become a collegiate one: to support and protect the mayor — not, as Peters did, to attack and embarrass him.

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittIf nothing else, Peters’s firing shines a light on the limitations of the DOI. As currently perceived, perhaps the office cannot effectively investigate City Hall lapses, mismanagement or corruption. Perhaps another agency, say the public advocate, would be a more effective investigative agency.

Like the mayor, the public advocate is an elected position, independent of City Hall and the City Council. Granting the public advocate subpoena powers could be a game-changer.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialThe danger is that, with wider powers, the office could become the venue for a politician with his or her own agenda à la Peters, who had served as treasurer of de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign. Just think, the two had been friends.

« Back to top
Copyright © 2018 Leonard Levitt