New York 1 News

September 7, 1999

NYPD Using Undercover Cops to Nab Violent Officers

It's cop versus cop, with undercover cops trying to bait potentially abusive officers into losing their cool. Police Commissioner Howard Safir calls it an effective way to weed out the bad apples. He says "There is no predictability when you do integrity testing. The results speak for themselves. And we don't have a quota and we certainly should not have a quota. If people pass they pass and if they don't pass they don't pass." Just four officers have failed since Safir started the Force Related Integrity Testing program nearly two years ago. One officer was charged criminally, another was reprimanded, but the NYPD declined to reveal details of their cases. The other two cases are still under investigation. The Department says it targets cops with excessive civilian complaints and histories of abuse. But Pat Lynch, the head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, says it's uncalled for. Lynch says "What you are doing is putting New York City cops in a dangerous situation. We have an unpopular job to do. Why should we be committing a crime to see if something happens? This is a cops life we are dealing with. What if the cop feels his life is in danger. You are putting other cops in a dangerous situation. That's just not right. If there's not a problem, why should we create one?" The department says it conducts at least 600 sting operations a year. Advocates say scenarios involving undercover cops posing as civilians who get into heated arguments with other routine traffic stops, drug deals, and domestic disputes, expose how the cop reacts in the situation and helps the department target just what officer has a propensity for violence. Tom Reppetto of the Citizens Crime Commision says "Most people did not know that this was going on including police officers, but now that it is in the public domain, I suspect the department feels that they have refined the techniques, they are comfortable with it and now of course, police officers will be on the alert." Because the next abusive the meet may be another cop in disguise.