One Police Plaza

The Mighty Quinn and the Inspector General

March 25, 2013

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is either New York City’s greatest hypocrite or its greatest politician.

How else to explain her sudden support of an Inspector General to monitor the police department, together with her statement that she would retain Ray Kelly as police commissioner?

“I believe that people can work together incredibly productively and not agree on every little, every particular thing,” the Post quoted her, explaining these two diametrically opposed positions.

Who is Quinn kidding, if not the people of New York City?

Appointing an Inspector General [She says she has the votes in the Council to override a promised veto by Mayor Michael Bloomberg] is hardly a “little” thing.

It is a direct attack on Kelly’s abilities, leadership and legacy.

It’s also an attack on Kelly’s boss, Mayor Mike, who in 12 years as mayor has granted Kelly more power than any police commissioner in the history of the city [to say nothing of making Kelly the longest serving], while abdicating his mayoral responsibilities and failing to supervise him.

Bloomberg is a billionaire dilettante when it comes to law enforcement. He doesn’t understand that when it comes to the NYPD he has to keep more than his big toe on their collective necks.

That’s apparently why he has played deaf, dumb and blind to Kelly’s excesses and abuses.

True, as Bloomberg has said, Quinn’s ideas for an Inspector General are, indeed, political.

True, parts of her plan seem misguided, such as placing the I.G. within the supervision of the Department of Investigation, another mayoral agency.

And, true, Quinn’s and others’ mandate for an I.G. appear wider in scope than anything in the recent past.

But one thing is also true. Appointing an Inspector General is a direct reaction to the department’s lack of accountability and transparency during Kelly’s 12-year reign as commissioner. It is an attempt to bring some sort of control over an agency and a police commissioner who, thanks to Mayor Mike, has operated for those 12 years with no outside supervision.

Two decades ago, after Rudy Giuliani replaced Kelly with Bill Bratton, Kelly was quoted in Time magazine about the dramatic crime decreases that Bratton initiated. “It goes to the question of what kind of policing we want in America. You can probably shut down just about all crime, if you’re willing to burn down the village to save it,” Kelly said.

Since Kelly has returned as commissioner in 2002, he has all but burned down the village.

That’s why the department’s policy of Stop and Frisk has run amok, with issues of its legality currently playing out in federal court.

Plenty about Stop and Frisk makes sense, such as focusing on black and Hispanic gangbangers between ages 14 and 20, who commit most of the city’s violent crimes.

But under Kelly, the policy has morphed into five millions stops, mostly of young black and Hispanic males, most of whom, it appears, committed no crime.

The lack of outside supervision is also why Kelly’s anti-terrorism policies have alienated virtually the city’s entire Muslim population while producing virtually nothing, although you’d never know this from listening Kelly or his spokesman, Paul Browne.

Take Kelly’s over-hyped Overseas Spy Service, which has stationed detectives in 11 countries. At a recent forum at the 92nd Second Street Y earlier this year, moderator Stephen J. Adler, the President and Editor-in-Chief of Reuters, pressed Kelly on whether there had “been any actual tips about potential attacks in New York City that you picked up overseas in any of these offices.”

Kelly’s answer: “No.” [See NYPD Confidential, Jan. 14, 2013.]

Or take Kelly’s and Browne’s assertions that in spying on Muslim communities in New York and other parts of the country, “We only follow leads.”

Maybe the two of them explain to an Inspector General the reasons for the NYPD’s “Somali project,” in which a half-dozen detectives from the Intelligence Division spent parts of 2008 surveilling Buffalo’s Somali community. This despite the fact that the NYPD’s Buffalo law enforcement official helping them gather the intelligence said he “was not aware of any trends or crime patterns attributed to the ethnic Somali community.” [See NYPD Confidential, Feb. 27, 2012.]

What has Bloomberg said or done about this? He has said and done nothing.

Meanwhile, in response to the idea of an Inspector General, Bloomberg and his fellow billionaires who own the Post and the Daily News have trumpeted on their editorial pages the canard that the NYPD has more outside supervision than any other police department in the country.

This is not just a joke, readers. It is — [dare we say it] — a lie.

Take the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which Bloomberg has cited as one of these outside supervisors.

Section 440 of Chapter 18A of the city charter mandates that the police department cooperate with the CCRB by making department officials available for questioning by its investigators.

But when the CCRB investigated alleged police abuse regarding the mass arrests and detentions at the 2004 Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden, Kelly forbade his officers to speak to the board’s investigators. This continued for 14 months, from the summer of 2004, to December, 2005. [See NYPD Confidential, Sep. 16, and Dec. 16, 2005.]

What did Mayor Bloomberg say or do? He said and did nothing.

Or take the Mayor’s Commission to Combat Police Corruption, which Bloomberg and his pals cite as another outside monitor.

In the spring of 2005, amidst reports that the police department was systemically downgrading crime reports from felonies to misdemeanors so that Bloomberg could call New York “the safest big city in America,” the commission’s chairman, Mark Pomerantz, a former federal prosecutor with a long law enforcement pedigree, sought police records to investigate the matter.

Kelly refused to provide them.

What did Mayor Bloomberg say or do? He said and did nothing.

As a consequence, Pomerantz resigned. [See NYPD Confidential, April 22, 2005.]

Then two years ago, after police whistleblower Adrian Schoolcraft made similar allegations about the 81st precinct, where he worked, Kelly announced a committee of three former federal prosecutors to examine whether the downgrading was city-wide.

In a department press release, Kelly said that the committee, composed of David Kelley, Sharon McCarthy and Robert Morvillo, would “complete its work over the next six months with the full cooperation of all units in the Police Department.”

“The integrity of our crime reporting system is of the utmost importance to the department,” the release read.

It’s now nearly two and a half years later. Morvillo has died. The committee has produced nothing.

What has Mayor Bloomberg said or done about the lack of a report? He has said and done nothing.

Maybe an Inspector General can discover what happened to the committee’s report.

Perhaps the most important issue an Inspector General should investigate is Kelly’s relationship with the non-profit Police Foundation, which raises millions of dollars for the department but has become a personal and professional slush fund for Kelly and his terrorism projects: such as the overseas detectives, whose expenses the foundation pays for.

In 2010 Kelly forced the resignation of the foundation’s longtime executive director, Pam Delaney, replacing her with a puppet who is afraid to speak to her or to the media without Kelly’s permission.

In a city where cops are not permitted to accept a free cup of coffee, where city employees cannot accept a gift of over $50 with anyone doing business with the city, and where police corruption had long been a way of life, Kelly now has the foundation paying his yearly $1,500 membership at the Harvard Club as well as paying thousands of dollars each year for his food and entertainment there. At least through 2010, he refused to disclose the names of his guests to the foundation, citing “security concerns.”

Nor did Kelly list any of these benefits on his city financial disclosure form, an apparent violation of city ethics rules. After this column reported his Harvard Club freebies, he amended his disclosure forms to reflect them.

The foundation also paid nearly $400,000 to a “marketing consultant,” who devoted his time to getting favorable press coverage for Kelly while introducing him to the rich and famous.

Beginning in 2006, the foundation paid Hamilton South nearly $100,000 a year to serve as Kelly’s high-powered public relations man. South’s P.R. push went into full swing around 2008, when Kelly considered running for mayor and was lining up support. [See NYPD Confidential, Oct. 25 and Nov 1, 2010.]

What did Mayor Bloomberg say and do about Kelly’s placing himself above department rules and regulations and making him the sole arbiter of what is correct for himself?

The answer: He piloted Kelly to Kelly’s Florida home on his own private jet en route to his own weekend home in Bermuda.

He also provided Kelly with front-row Yankee seats in his box during the 2009 World Series. [A state ethics panel reprimanded then Governor David Paterson for accepting free tickets to the same World Series.]

As for Kelly’s mayoral bid, Bloomberg subsequently short-circuited it by announcing he would run for a third term, violating his pledge to support the city’s two-term mayoral limit law.

Apparently, the Police Foundation’s largesse was not enough for Kelly and his terrorism projects. An Inspector General might also investigate the NYPD’s own secret non-profit, the NYPD Counter-Terrorism Foundation.

The foundation’s president was Stephen Hammerman, the department’s former head of Legal Affairs. Its secretary was Joe Wuensch, Kelly’s chief of staff.

The foundation was established in 2006 to pay $180,000 to a former CIA official, Marc Sageman, to become the department’s first “scholar in residence.”

Donors contributed a total of $300,000 but their names have remained secret. [See NYPD Confidential, Nov., 7, 2011.]

What did Bloomberg say or do about a city agency with a secret non-profit foundation, funded by secret donors? Once again, he has said and done nothing.

As for Sageman, he is a leading advocate of the theory of the “lone-wolf” terrorist, which the NYPD now pursues without the assistance of the FBI, which seems to have washed its hands of such cases.

So far, the results have included the conviction of a man with a borderline mentally retarded intelligence, guilty pleas of two men with psychological histories and the upcoming trial of a third man with both a limited IQ and psychological problems.

Maybe an Inspector General might ask Quinn and the other mayoral candidates if they believe the city is safer because of their arrests.

INSPECTOR McCORMACK’S TESTIMONY. If federal judge Shira Scheindlin concludes that the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk is a racist policy she’ll need more proof than last week’s testimony of the 40th precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack.

News reports — as well as MSNBC television personality and the city’s number one race-baiter Al Sharpton, who has already called for McCormack’s suspension — have cited as racism McCormack’s secretly taped remarks to Officer Pedro Serrano to arrest “the right people at the right time at the right location.”

But there’s a more nuanced interpretation.

McCormack also told Serrano that certain people should not be stopped, such as an elderly person violating park rules by playing chess, or a 48-year-old woman who took a shortcut through a park that was closed for the night.

And he told Serrano that “99 per cent of the people in this community are great, hardworking people, who deserve to walk to the train, walk to their car, walk to the store,” without fear of getting shot.

It’s not often — maybe never before — that NYPD Confidential agrees with Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Browne, who said — in response to Sharpton’s call for McCormack’s suspension: “Deputy Inspector McCormack did what a good commander is supposed to do — direct officers under his command to protect the public.”

The NYPD has had outside monitors in its past, most recently the State Special Prosecutor, who supervised the department’s efforts to combat police corruption of the old-fashioned kind that the department was best known for: money and drugs.

Appointed by the governor in the wake of the Knapp Commission corruption scandal of the early 1970s, the special prosecutor lasted for two decades, monitoring the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

Should the Inspector General go that route, it might begin by investigating the case of former narcotics detective Stephen Anderson. Rejected by police departments in Seattle and Mesa Arizona, and dismissed from the Nassau County police department, he was, nonetheless, accepted into the NYPD in 2000. [An Inspector General might also want to investigate that.]

In 2008, Anderson pleaded guilty to planting drugs on people. The department is now using him — a convicted drug dealer and admitted thief and perjurer, to make cases against other narcotics officers in an attempt to reduce his own prison time. In at least one case, the NYPD has accepted his testimony, with no corroborating evidence, to dismiss a cop. [To be continued.]

With editing by Don Forst


Copyright © 2013 Leonard Levitt