New York Daily News

Oct. 23, 2011


Cop morale low after string of NYPD scandals puts department under fire


    Patrick Lynch ran un-opposed for his seat as president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. Rob Bennet for News
Julia Xanthos/News
Cop morale is low following a string of recent incidents, including a series of apparently strongarm police tactics in dealing with the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

It's a tough time to be one of New York's Finest.

With the NYPD facing a blizzard of damning incidents in recent months, cops and police brass say morale among the force is perilously low.

"The morale in the whole department is in the crapper," a veteran Bronx cop told the Daily News.

"You can't be a police officer no more," he said. "You're a robot. You're under the microscope. You're under video surveillance. We feel like the perpetrators now, the way we're being displayed."

A ticket-fixing scandal has hung over the department like a black cloud for the past two years. But the negative press has intensified in recent months with the emergence of several new scandals.

A spate of false drug busts -- known as "flaking," cop talk for planting cocaine on innocent victims -- led to the arrests of eight cops and a sweeping NYPD shakeup.

Earlier this month, NYPD Officer Michael Daragjati was hit with federal civil rights charges for falsely arresting a black man on Staten Island because of his race.

And a series of apparently strongarm police tactics in dealing with the Occupy Wall Street protesters -- most notably, NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna's use of pepper spray on two women -- has left the department with a very public black eye.

"Everybody is really shaken," said a Bronx cop who has been on the force for 10 years. "A lot of guys are afraid to do their jobs, but that's what happens. One or two guys can tarnish the whole department."

Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said, "Morale is as bad as I've ever seen it."

"And it will not improve until staffing increases and management gets [the Internal Affairs Bureau] off the backs of police officers who are just trying to do their jobs," Lynch added.

A narcotics cop said he was the target of jeers while making arrests last week.

"You planted the drugs! You put it on him!" onlookers hollered at him, the cop recalled.

"You just have to ignore it," the 15-year-veteran noted.

The growing malaise has even reached the upper echelons of the NYPD.

Roy Richter, head of the Captains Endowment Association, said the flaking controversy in particular has made it difficult for honest cops to do their jobs.

"I've had conversations with my members who expressed their frustrations about how it's a difficult time for executives in the Police Department," Richter said.

Several New Yorkers said they still have faith in the men and women in blue.

"They have a gun and some of them abuse their power," said Leon Jacobs, 24, a security guard from the Bronx. "But without cops, it would be a worse war zone."

With Matthew DeLuca