New York 1 News

July 25, 2002

NYPD Opposes Revealing Identities Of Undercover Officers

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on Wednesday called a judge’s decision to reveal the true identity of undercover officers in court proceedings “deeply disturbing.”

State Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Cropper has ordered three undercover cops to reveal their names during testimony in the trial of a homeless man accused of selling $10 bags of cocaine in Washington Square Park. The officers have refused, thereby jeopardizing the prosecution. But the commissioner said he backs them.

“It’s my view that demanding an undercover officer to reveal his or her true identity in court is simply bad public policy,” Kelly said. “It is also unnecessary."

Kelly joined Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch and other police union officials at a news conference Wednesday to blast the ruling, saying the precedent could compromise undercover sting operations and endanger the lives of undercover officers and their families.

“Armed with an officer’s true name, it would be relatively easy for anyone, including those seeking to do harm, to use the Internet or other means to track down that officer’s home address and other personal information,” Kelly said.

“This judge should not be on the bench if she feels that the only way she can do her job is to jeopardize everyone in this city,” added Lynch. “This is a dangerous precedent for the judge to set. Judge Cropper is wrong, and so is any judge that has the same mindset as this, and it must change now.”

Kelly said the common practice is to allow undercover officers to testify using a shield number or fake name. Officials from the detectives union and the PBA said that's the way it should remain.

“Her actions I would equate as an irresponsible act of terrorism against the Police Department, the detectives, and the criminal justice systems,” said Mike Paladino of the Detectives Endowment Association.

Meanwhile, Kelly is writing to the city's district attorneys and to administrative judges to point out the risks the issue brings to the safety of undercover cops and the public.

To illustrate the danger of revealing an undercover officer’s identity, Kelly spoke of an incident on May 22, when an undercover cop was shot in the hand and arm in a "buy-and-bust" operation for illegal guns in Brooklyn.

“One of the gun dealers had become suspicious of the officers who were posing as gun buyers and ordered an associate to kill him, saying, 'These guys are D's, detectives, shoot them,” Kelly said.

NY1 contacted Justice Cropper's office for a comment, and was referred to the Office of Court Administration, where a spokesperson said Cropper would not be issuing a statement.

A spokesman for the city’s special narcotics prosecutor’s office, which is handling the case, said they are reviewing transcripts from the court and applicable laws as to whether or not they will appeal the case.