Chief-Leader
October 1, 2012

 

Bronx Bombers: Mayor, PBA Leader Blast DA

Rip Cop Interviews on Stops

By MARK TOOR

PATRICK J. LYNCH: Unhappy with double-checking.     

PATRICK J. LYNCH: Unhappy with double-checking.

 

Mayor Bloomberg and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Patrick J. Lynch aren’t often in agreement, but last week they both criticized Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson for requiring cops to speak personally to an Assistant District Attorney about trespassing arrests at public housing projects.

The policy was first reported by the New York Times, which said the DA’s Office was concerned that many people stopped, frisked and arrested for trespassing were innocent despite reports filed by police officers. No other DA’s office has such a policy.

Questions DA’s Priorities

“We are 7,000 police officers short while serious crime is on the rise,” Mr. Lynch said. “A police officer’s time is better spent on patrol preventing crime than repeating information that has already been attested to on an arrest report.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s reaction was more acidic. “If you want to bring crime back to New York, this is probably a good way to do it,” he said. “...In terms of the allegations that in public housing some of the cops have been stopping without having any justification, we’ve been unable to get one example, if I understand it, from any of the people that have complained. So I think the District Attorney should really take another look at what he’s doing.”

His remarks contradicted a statement reported in the Times that was made by Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly’s Counsel, Katherine Lemire. A top official of the Civilian Complaint Review Board said Ms. Lemire stated in 2010 that she had “found many instances in which officers were incorrectly stating the required standard for a question or stop” at public housing.

Police spokesman Paul J. Browne subsequently told the Times that Ms. Lemire learned only of “several” instances—not “many.”

DA Defends Prerogatives

Mr. Johnson issued a statement saying: “All we are doing is making sure that there are no gaps in the communication of necessary information. The officers are answering our questions, and we’re making the judgments that we were hired to make.”

The Bronx DA’s policy also extends to arrests made under Operation Clean Hallways, in which owners of private apartment buildings sign agreements allowing the NYPD to patrol them. The program is being challenged by a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Many residents of public housing and Clean Hallways buildings complain that police stop and frisk them, and arrest them if they are not carrying identification—even if they are in pajamas taking out the garbage. Friends and visitors also are arrested or summonsed even if they tell officers whom they are visiting in the building.