How To Cure the Police Crime Plague

We are experiencing a police crime wave. More than 40 New York City police officers have been arrested so far this year for crimes including criminally neg­ligent homicide, manslaughter, assault, sodomy, and robbery. During 1984, 81 police officers were arrested. During the past two months, two sergeants — the backbone of the department’s command structure — have been accused: one of stun-gun torture, and another of being a hit-and-run killer.

During 1984, 6698 complaints of bru­tality or verbal abuse were filed with the civilian review board — an increase of 2000 over the previous year. Peer pres­sure for cover-ups — communicated by superior officers — has created a “blue wall of silence” to shield lawbreaking by law enforcers. Clearly, the mayor’s busi­ness-as-usual election-year study com­mittee of power brokers is an insufficient response to this civic crisis of confidence.

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The purpose of this article is to outline five specific, systemic, attainable reme­dies to the epidemic of police abuse. But first I want to make some general obser­vations to try to keep matters in perspec­tive and prepare the reader to better un­derstand where the writer is coming from:

Crime is just as serious a problem in this city as police brutality. New York’s population is not being adequately pro­tected and does not feel safe. This is es­pecially true in black and Latin commu­nities, where the crime rate is the highest. According to the New York Times poll published last Thursday, 36 per cent of blacks named crime as the “most impor­tant city problem” while only 12 per cent mentioned jobs and 9 per cent said housing.

We need more police, more jail cells, faster trials, and tougher sentences for violent recidivists. We need to appreciate what a difficult job being a cop is. We tell them to be aggressive, but not too aggres­sive. The police department can’t be ex­pected to rectify all the failures of soci­ety’s other institutions — the economy, the schools, the courts, the drug-enforce­ment agencies.

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The police are only human. We pay them to do a dirty job that most of us can’t do. Police work under extraordinary stress inside a subculture of violence. Most of them do it honorably. I am respectful, even as I criticize and urge reforms.

One reform that this article will not suggest is the appointment of a special prosecutor for police brutality. This is a pointless, simplistic demand that is being promoted by loony media militants like Reverend Al Sharpton and lawyer Clay­ton Jones.

Mario Merola, Elizabeth Holtzman, and John Santucci have done nothing to justify superseding them in police cases. Their integrity and independence have been exemplary. That is why the PBA has attacked these D.A.s — and demanded a special prosecutor in the Eleanor Bumpurs case.

As an unreconstructed, Jeffersonian democrat, I believe in accountability to the electorate. It is better to have an elected prosecutor making these sensitive decisions than an appointed prosecutor who is only responsible to the politician who selected him or her.

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A special prosecutor would quickly become an institutional prosecutor, little different from the five D.A.s. The existing networks of relationships and pressures would merely shift to the new, unelected personality. Moreover, the first time a special prosecutor made a decision that Sharpton or Jones disagreed with, the demand would go up to supersede the special prosecutor with an extraspecial prosecutor.

Police brutality is perceived as a racial issue by both blacks and whites. And there is a significant racial component to it. But the deeper, more universal issue is abuse of authority: guns and nightsticks in the hands of unstable persons, official irresponsibility that victimizes all kinds of people.

In 1984, almost as many whites as blacks filed grievances with the civilian complaint review board. Last year, 38 per cent of all the complaints against police were brought by blacks, 37 per cent by whites, 20 per cent by Hispanics, and 5 per cent by Asians and others. In 1982, 30 people were killed by police deadly force in New York City — and 20 of them were Hispanic. Last month a black police offi­cer, Mervin Yearwood, was indicted for killing Paul Fava, 20, who was white, on a Bronx subway platform. Yearwood says Fava jumped the turnstile. A mostly white group called Citizens Against Police Injustice has been active on Staten Island for the last five years. Two of its leading members are a retired city police detective and a Transit Authority police sergeant. They cite 10 cases in which citi­zens were beaten up or unjustifiably killed by police guns.

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Dr. Hyman Chernow — white, well-off, and elderly — was crossing Park Avenue when he was run over and killed by police sergeant Frederick Sherman, who was allegedly drinking on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day. And two of the cops arrested off-duty for assault this year — officers Paul Witchel and Russell Bjune — allegedly beat up women. Bjune was indicted for assaulting a woman entering a Brook­lyn abortion clinic that he was picketing.

This week Sergeant Rudolph Hays pleaded insanity at the start of his trial in Queens in the shooting and killing of Sharon Walker after a traffic accident last December.

Police violence and misconduct poten­tially affects everyone, and it ought to be perceived that way. There seem to be more nuts entering the NYPD than there are leaving the Reagan administration.

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These are my five specific proposals to restore the honor of the New York Police Department:

1. Require all new police officers to live within New York City. This would reduce the “occupying army mentality” of many suburban cops, lead to more off-duty arrests, pre­vent some crime, and help the city’s economy.

Most of the police officers arrested this year live outside of New York City. All five of the cops accused of the stun gun torture in the 106th Precinct live on Long Island. Lieutenant Steven Cheswick lives in Wantagh. Sergeant Richard Pike lives in Selden. Loren MacCarey lives in Com­mack. Michael Aranda lives in Freeport. Jeffrey Gilbert lives in Elmont. Police Officer Joseph Vecchio, who was indicted for manslaughter in Brooklyn, lives in Lynbrook. Officer Alexander Forbes, who was indicted for criminally negligent ho­micide in Manhattan, lives in Orange County.

A police department commanding offi­cer with 20 years on the force told me: “Living in the suburbs breeds an attitude of fear, paranoia, and disrespect for the population. It creates a feeling of not be­longing, of feeling like an alien.”

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The police should not feel separate from the population. They should not live separately. If all New York cops used the parks, paid taxes, voted, and sent their children to schools in this city, their outlook would be different. Cops should not fear or loathe the population that employs them.

Many of the public statements made by Phil Caruso, the head of the New York PBA, have been inflammatory and unconstructive. Caruso lives in Sayville, in Suffolk County. The entire executive committee of the PBA is white, and al­most all of them live outside the city.

There was once a residency law for all city employees — the old Lyons Law — but it was repealed during the 1950s as the municipal workforce started moving to the suburbs. The time has come again to require city residency for all future police officers.

Prospective residency laws enacted by other major cities, like Chicago, have been upheld by the courts and have worked out well.

Eventually, police officers should be assigned to precincts near their homes, and should patrol their own neighbor­hoods. Both of these recommendations were made by the prophetic Conyers Committee after it conducted police bru­tality hearings in New York two summers ago.

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2. The training and screening of police recruits should be radically changed. The training program should be patterned after the state police: 26 weeks in a barracks boot-camp setting where psycho­logical weaknesses can’t be hidden and new values can be instilled.

The New York Police Department has been suffering from an erosion of disci­pline and competency over the years, starting perhaps with the notoriously poorly prepared police academy class of 1969, which was rushed through the academy because of fear of riots. Most new recruits have no military experience, and for a high proportion of cops, this is their first job. Because of the hiring freeze during the fiscal crisis, 50 per cent of the force now has less than five years’ experience. Last year, 58 per cent of citi­zen complaints were made against officers with less than three years on the job.

Almost every cop I talked to for this article told me off-the-record that the department has a severe and growing drug problem among these younger officers. The combination of tension and tedium on the job, access to drugs confiscated from arrested dealers, and the prolifera­tion of drugs in the working-class culture has increased the abuse of Quaaludes, co­caine, and marijuana by police officers. This makes them more irritable, para­noid, and sometimes out of control. Dur­ing 1984, seven police officers were ar­rested on drug charges — five for possession, two for sales.

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The statistical evidence of the general breakdown of discipline in the depart­ment is strong. Last year, about 100 cops reported they lost their guns; 20 years ago this was unheard of. Last year, about 360 squad cars were cracked up in acci­dents — 60 more than the previous year. At a public forum last November, Com­missioner Benjamin Ward commented offhandedly: “These young patrolmen to­day seem to have a penchant for wreck­ing cars.” Ward later explained that many new cops have never driven a car before joining the department.

The idea for a boot-camp environment police training was suggested to me by Thomas Reppetto, the well-respected president of the civic watchdog Citizens Crime Commission. Reppetto is a former commander of detectives in the Chicago Police Department and author of The Blue Parade, a history of the police in America.

Says Reppetto: “Police recruits can hide a drinking problem, or a drug prob­lem, or a violent temper, or a bad racial attitude in the police academy during an eight-hour day. But they could not hide such weaknesses under the stress of a 26-week barracks training-and-testing situa­tion. This would screen out a lot of bad apples that the psychological test seems to miss …

“The training for the New York City Police Department should be as high-lev­el and as tough as the FBI or the state police. New recruits have to get their val­ues straight. Right now a lot of young cops are influenced by TV and the mov­ies. The message they get from Starsky and Hutch and Dirty Harry is not to play by the rules. A lot of voices are telling cops it’s okay to get the bad guy any way they can. We need completely different training methods to create the peer pres­sure to act the right way.”

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3. Recruitment of blacks and Lat­ins should be made a higher priori­ty. Their numbers must be in­creased in positions of authority in the police department.

New York City today is half black and Latin. But only 10 per cent of the police force is black and 8 per cent is Latin. Of 232 captains, only one was black as of October 1984. Of the 2700 recruits who graduated from the academy during 1983, 1880 were white, 252 were Hispan­ic, 198 were black, and 22 were Asian.

The perception of every white police officer I spoke to is that affirmative ac­tion has lowered the standards of the de­partment. And to a limited degree this is true, although I would argue that bend­ing the old rules is an acceptable price to pay to create a department that reflects this city’s wonderfully diverse population.

Height requirements have been low­ered to accommodate minority and fe­male applicants, and under recent rule changes an applicant with a minor crimi­nal record can become a police officer.

But Tom Reppetto argues: “Affirma­tive action for minorities should be con­tinued. It is not a factor in the break­down of discipline.”

The goal of an integrated police force is both prudent and ethical. You cannot have an 80 per cent white police depart­ment when 70 per cent of the crime vic­tims are nonwhite.

One useful idea, proposed by Basil Pat­erson, is that the city invite the Guard­ians — the fraternal society of black cops — to play an upfront role in recruiting, with an emphasis on high school graduates who are likely to pass the sergeant’s exam.

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4. Implement the idea of a Police Corps. Under this plan, young men and women of all racial and ethnic groups would be offered college scholarships in exchange for serv­ing three years as police officers after graduation.

The Police Corps is the brainchild of Adam Walinsky, a former speechwriter for Robert Kennedy and a former chair­man of the State Investigation Commis­sion. Walinsky says:

“This proposal would give us more po­lice at an attainable cost. It would bring idealism and intelligence to police work. It would recruit the most qualified mi­norities. It would make citizens feel like we are really doing something to fight crime, instead of giving up and saying crime is insoluble …

“We would offer young people a free, four-year college education, just like the army and the marines do. And these young people would give us a couple of summers’ worth of training. After that, they would give us three years of service in the NYPD at an entry-level rate of pay that we could afford. Our goal is 20,000 Police Corps cops in New York City.

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“As the economics work out, we could support a kid to the tune of $8000 or $9000 a year for four years of college and pay him or her a reasonable salary and benefits — say about $20,000 a year the three years of police service. And at the end of the whole program — the whole seven years — it costs less than half of what it costs for the average year of po­lice service under the current labor contract.”

The concept behind this is affirmative action while upgrading standards. We are now creating a two-class police depart­ment. Blacks are not being promoted to captain, and not enough are passing the sergeant’s test. Under the Police Corps, blacks and Hispanics could go to college, become cops, and then pass the ser­geant’s exam if they choose to remain on the force after the three years.

This bold and creative innovation has been endorsed by Bronx D.A. Mario Mer­ola, former deputy mayor Basil Paterson, U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani, conser­vative columnist William F. Buckley, the Daily News, and The New York Times. The PBA is opposed in private, but pub­licly will not attack it. Meanwhile, most politicians try to ignore the Police Corps idea and stick to their comfortable, boil­erplate rhetoric about crime.

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5. Create a civilian complaint review board as a truly independent institution outside the police de­partment. This can be accomplished by an act of the City Council or state legislature, or administratively by the mayor.

The present complaint board was im­proved and given more staff in 1983. But citizen complaints still must he filed in the intimidating atmosphere of a police station, and investigations by the board are still under the command of a deputy chief of the NYPD.

The present review board received 4676 complaints in 1983 and 6698 last year. There are two or more unproven complaints on file against 300 police offi­cers. The PBA has won a court injunction preventing these multiple allegations from being used for evaluation or disci­plinary purposes by superior officers.

When Congressman John Conyers held his police hearings in New York in 1983, Mayor Koch complained that the hearings would “embolden criminals.” But judging from the increased number of cit­izen complaints, capped by the recent revelations of torture in the 106th Pre­cinct, what occurred was that the mayor’s hysterical overreaction to the Conyers hearings emboldened brutal cops to feel that they had a license from City Hall.

Now, more than ever, an independent civilian review board is needed. Police Commissioner Ward said this year: “I can live with an outside board.”

The resistance comes from the mayor and the PBA. ■

1985_village Voice article by Jack Newfield on Police Misconduct

1985_village Voice article by Jack Newfield on Police Misconduct


Deadly Force: The Debate Over Police Violence

It happens in the dark of the night in an instant of justifiable fear. The police finger clutching the trigger may be only a twitch ahead of a gunman’s equally fatal fire. But almost as often, the victim turns out to have been armed only with “shiny object,” pliers, a fishing rod, or a flashlight. When he has nothing, a police report explains later that the dead man “seemed to be reaching into his waistband in a menacing manner” or began to back a car in the direction of a cop approaching from behind.

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In a city where the death penalty has been perhaps the most con­troversial public issue for a decade, cop bullets killed 39 people last year. The trials lasted seconds. Two hundred have died this way since Ed Koch became mayor in 1978. And until the recently aborted and now rescheduled congressional hearing on police brutality (set for September 19), there was little public debate of these officially sanctioned executions. The Koch administration is now engaged in an attempt to mythologize its police record and to discredit those who raise the issue as partisans who have invented it to advance a 1985 mayoral campaign. But tongue­-lashing police is hardly the way to build a broad-based coalition for a mayoral run and no one knows that better than the poll-armed incum­bent. Indeed it is the mayor who seized on the politically ill-timed urge by blacks to press this issue now and is using it to polarize the 1985 campaign. The best way to gauge Koch’s role in fanning this media fire has been to follow its handling in the pages of the New York Post, which began a drum beat of stories about the canceled July congressional hearing weeks before it was scheduled to occur. But no amount of mayoral or Post hype, nor any of the distorted statistics Police Commissioner Robert McGuire bandied about in his undelivered but released congressional testimony, can con­ceal a host of shocking facts about police violence in the Koch’ years:

A steady, downward trend in fatal police-shootings, begun at the end of the Lindsay era when tough new regulations on firearm use were implemented, and continuing through the Beame years, has been reversed under Koch. Police killings dropped from a record-smashing 93 in 1971 to an average of 28.5 in the two years prior to Koch. In the five Koch years for which complete numbers exist (1978-82), there has been an average loss of 36 lives a year, a statistical leap of 25 per cent. This year’s numbers are consistent with that trend: 23 deaths as of last week.

The increasing death toll in New York also bucks a national decline. The same nationwide survey that Commissioner McGuire based his misleading congressional testimony on reveals that New York cops, virtually alone among those of the major cities cited by McGuire, have been killing more citizens in the Koch years than in the immediately preceding years. While Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Houston, Baltimore, and Washington — all cities named by McGuire as worse than New York — improved during the Koch years covered by the survey, killings were up only in New Orleans and New York.

In 1982 city police killed twice as many Latins as blacks (20 to 10, according to the department’s official statistics). This disturbing new trend, inconsistent with the Hispanic population percentage and crime rate, began the year before when, for the first time, there were more Hispanics killed than blacks. The department did not seem to have focused on this trend until questioned by the Voice; they now point out that so far in 1983, the rate of Hispanic shootings is down. If anyone has a political motivation for their abdication on the police violence issue, it is the quiescent and generally pro-Koch Latin elected leadership, especially Bronx congressman Robert Garcia, who did not even attend the explosive July hearing.

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Garcia is so uninformed about the changing ethnic dynamic of deadly police force that he told the Voice: “I think the situation has gotten better.” Bronx assemblyman Joe Serrano, whom Koch is wooing as a possible running mate on a 1985 citywide ticket in a transparent effort to split black and Latins says he was not invited to participate in the congressional probe. “I believe there’s a problem between police and the Hispanic community, but I don’t think it’s attributable to a City Hall administration,” said Serrano. East Harlem assemblyman Angelo Del Toro was the only Latin elected official who came to the recent hearing though Garcia says he hopes to attend the upcoming one.

Compared with the final Beame years, black deaths are also up under Koch. In 1976 and 1977, cop bullets killed 14 blacks a year. Since then, an average of 16 blacks a year have died. Blacks deaths haye dropped in the two most recent Koch years, while the Hispanic toll soared. Iron­ically, fewer blacks were killed last year than in any year for which the city main­tains ethnic death data. But so far in 1983, the black death toll is already ahead of last year’s final total.

Whites are also being killed at a slightly higher rate in the Koch years, and these are some of the most inexplicable killings.

New York cops are killing more people at a time when criminals are shooting fewer of them. Four cops a year have been killed under Koch, one more than the average number of cop suicides in the same period. While this is slightly higher than the average of the two years preceding Koch, it is half the cop death rate of the early ’70s. There has also been no statistically significant change in the number of cops wounded; so the rising use of fatal force by police is occurring in a less threatening overall environment.

In statements that the mayor and Commissioner McGuire prepared but did not deliver for the congressional hearing — and in a host of related public ap­pearances — they have tried to make the case that this city’s police are the most restrained in the nation. The essence of McGuire’s argument is that the rate of police shootings here has declined signifi­cantly owing to “an institutional commit­ment by the Police Department to actively promote racial understanding, com­munity outreach, and a department representative of New York’s diverse popula­tion.” He said “studies revealed” that NYC has “the lowest incidence of police shootings of any major American city.” Yet the only national study cited by McGuire specifically — that of the Inter­national Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) — puts dozens of other cities ahead of us.

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As an exhibit to his testimony, McGuire concocted a chart, which is in­correctly attributed to the IACP study, listing four cities worse than New York in the rate of police homicide per 100,000 population. Actually, the IACP study charts 54 cities and New York is 25th. McGuire chose to diagram only cities we were ahead of. He had to look no farther than across the river to find one we are behind: Newark, New Jersey. On every measure selected by McGuire himself, all of which are adjusted for population, Newark is better than New York: fewer deaths per police officer on the force, fewer correlated with the violent crime rate, fewer per 100,000 people. The mayor’s testimony that New York’s rec­ord “is superior to that of every major American city” is pure hoax.

Confronted by the Voice with the rising death figures, Deputy Police Com­missioner Kenneth Conboy preferred to discuss the drop in shooting incidents as a clearer indicator of the impact of de­partmental policy on the cops on the beat. But in fact, the entire recent drop in discharge incidents is attributable to a reduction in firings at animals (due to a toughening of the regulations). The an­nual discharge rate under Koch is virtually indistinguishable from the rate of the final two Beame years if all that is counted is shots fired at human beings. The first statistic cited by McGuire in his testimony, and the only one mentioned twice, is the 39 per cent drop in discharges­ since the new regulations in 1973. But once the reduction in animal firings is factored out, McGuire and Koch can claim no role in this downward trend; it all occurred before they took office. Indeed, the category of firings that McGuire’s own academic experts say is most likely to involve excessive use of force — namely shootings by off-duty police officers — has risen dramatically under Koch, from a prior average of 82 to 100.

Despite increases in fatal and off-duty-incidents, disciplinary action against cops who shoot has declined significantly during the Koch years. In the two years prior to Koch, 4.9 per cent of all gun firings resulted in a departmental finding that the officer had violated regulations and that charges and specifications would be brought against him. For the four Koch years (they stopped releasing the data in 1982) an average of only 3.9 per cent of the ­incidents reviewed led to a violation finding and the bringing of departmental  charges. This full point plummet sets a mood in every station house in the city.

All of these stats involve only the use of police firearms, not nightsticks or any other potentially abusive police action. One index of the overall rise in all kinds of police violence is the doubling of civil claims filed against police since Koch took office, leaping to 1340 last year. Settlements of claims against the police by the city also reached an all-time high in the 1982/83 fiscal year just ended — up to $9.1 million or almost $44,000 per settlement (three times the year before). Of course some of the cases settled involve incidents that go back years, prior to Koch becoming mayor.

McGuire made much in his testimony of the role of the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), a misnomer for wholly police-staffed commission charged with reviewing all citizen complaints against police. McGuire testified: “As long as I have been police commissioner, I have not heard or received any complaint questioning CCRB’s integrity, diligence, or objectivity.” Where has he been?

Ninety-eight per cent of all the complaints filed in the Koch years — 43,283 complaints — evoked no disciplinary response, making it a vast dead letter department. During the Koch years its budget has been slashed and the already infrequent disciplinary actions ordered by CCRB have been sharply reduced. In the two years preceding Koch, an average of 469 cops were disciplined for all infractions. In the five Koch years, this average dropped by a third to 301. Fewer cops are being disciplined even though the number of complaints filed has been increasing every year.

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Of the 52 cops ordered to do “command discipline” last year, only 2 per cent ­were given the maximum penalty by their precinct commanders — five days without pay. Almost 70 per cent were merely “warned and admonished.” Last year’s total of 215 disciplinary actions is a third of the Beame total of 1976. No wonder Ed Koch is the most popular mayor the PBA has ever had. No wonder Brooklyn’s black congressman Major Owens, in testimony he prepared for the brutality hearings, called the CCRB “an expunging agency whose primary purpose has become the removal of complaints from the files of officers.”

Some of McGuire’s statistical muddle seems deliberate; some is merely the result of his use of a different set of base years than the Voice analysis. I have compared Koch numbers with the two prior Beame years; McGuire has drawn some similar comparison but used the four Beame years. I used the average of the the final two Beame years (one year could be an aberration) because they represent the bottoming out of a consistent downward trend. McGuire’s insistence on a four-year average ignores the significance of this trend and softens the upturn in his own years.

In some instances, though, McGuire’s footwork is not merely fancy — it’s fan­ciful. None of three national survey charts ostensibly taken from the IACP volume (Kenneth J. Matulia, A Balance of Forces) and submitted as exhibits by McGuire, actually appear anywhere in the inch-and-half thick volume. Conboy told the Voice they were separately prepared by the IACP. But the author of the IACP study, Matulia, told the Voice that he’d submitted nothing to the department: “They must have made it up themselves. It’s not mine at all. They may have taken their statistics from mine, but they didn’t take the total context.” The McGuire charts erroneously attributed to Matulia do not even carry on them the years cov­ered by the data, most unusual for a statistical study. The only date cited in the charts or McGuire’s speech is 1982, when the IACP study was published. In fact the data only cover the first two Koch years — 1978 and 1979.

Similarly, McGuire cites an academic study on the racial content of New York police shootings and does not point out that the period studied was 1971 through 1975. He tries to leave the impression that the data is more current both by omitting the dates of the study and by saying that it was “concurred in by Professor James Q. Wilson of Harvard in 1981.” Wilson did cite the study favorably in a 1982 article, but he did not reconfirm the old hypothesis with new data covering more recent years. He simply pointed to it as the only data that existed on the issue. McGuire’s omissions are an attempt to stretch the data to cover his own era.

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The commissioner concluded the sec­tion of his speech on police killings with a single underlined statement that is wholly untrue: “The number of deaths resulting from police shootings within the city of New York is substantially less than that of other comparable major American cities.” In fact, no city has anything approaching the number of deaths New York has; the second highest from the survey data McGuire used is Houston with 20, almost half our total.

The most outrageous claim made by Koch and McGuire in their prepared tes­timony, however, relates only indirectly to brutality. Both cited the increased num­ber of black and Hispanic cops hired un­der their administration. McGuire at least had the decency to note that the almost 7 per cent leap in minority officers was “in part due to court-ordered quotas.” What McGuire did not say is that the city fought the affirmative action decisions of the federal courts all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and that even after losing at the Circuit Court level, the department refused to hire any cops for a while rather than hire the minority cops that the courts had ordered. Even a pro-Koch mi­nority leader like Joe Serrano told the Voice that the police department’s minor­ity hiring record “is a disaster.”

McGuire played a personal role in de­signing the racially discriminatory test that the courts threw out. When he announced the results of that test on August 30, 1979, he proclaimed: “I have always believed it is a healthy sign for a police department to reflect the makeup of the community it serves. The results show that it is possible, through normal testing procedures, to increase minority repre­sentation in the department.” Three hun­dred sixty-seven of the 415 police recruits hired on the first eligible list resulting from that test were white. The city was stopped by the courts when the second group of recruits was even whiter: 342 out of 380 in a city where the eligible work­force is judicially defined as one-third mi­nority. Those were the numbers the mayor fought to defend for years in the courts, vowing at one point (July 1980) in language straight from a southern schoolhouse steps scene in another era: “I will never give in.” Now he is trying to take credit, testifying simply: “The de­partment has increased its representation of blacks and Hispanics.”

As recently as this April, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the only Latin organization that has played an important part in opposing both racial violence and hiring dis­crimination at the Police Department, filed another suit against the latest city police exam. This time they are charging that only 34 of the 616 who passed the lieutenants’ exam are minority. In 1981, they also successfully forced a settlement of a challenge to the most recent ser­geants’ exam. Virtually every exam for each rank, given in the Koch years has been really flawed. The black anger over police behavior is unquestionably tied to the persistent racism of its hiring prac­tices.

Politicizing Police Pain

In Ed Koch’s first month in office, Rev­erend Herbert Daughtry and other lead­ers of the Black United Front met with the mayor at City Hall to press a series of demands concerning the use of police force. BUF had been created a couple of years earlier, prompted by the police slaying of a black youth in Brooklyn. While nothing came of that and a subsequent BUF meeting with Koch, these dis­cussions initiated what has really been a significant though largely subterranean issue that has dogged the Koch years. BUF has been the persistent activist, or­ganizing countless demonstrations, often putting thousands of protestors in the streets, focusing on one questionable kill­ing after another. I reported on a police riot that featured widespread clubbings during one BUF demo in 1979. The doz­ens of affidavits and complaints filed by those hurt then have never been answered by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

One BUF leader, David Walker, has become an archivist of police-inflicted pain. Surviving victims, witnesses, and the relatives of the dead have been drawn to Walker and Daughtry as the only de­pendable voices for their fury. They troop out to Walker’s Bed-Stuy office from all over the city.

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In a moving speech Daughtry prepared but did not deliver, at the aborted hear­ing, he recites the litany of horror deaths that are one-day stories in the media but fester on the streets of this city’s black and Latin neighborhoods for years. In 1978, black businessman Arthur Miller was choked to death by an army of cops, none whom was ever indicted or disciplined. The ostensible cause was a sanitation vioiation.

The next year Luis Baez, a young, disturbed Puerto Rican, was shot by a platoon of cops after Baez’s mother had summoned them to her house in an effort to calm him. Twenty-one bullets were fired into what Daughtry recalls was “his frail body.” No one was punished.

Another Latin, Peter Funches, a totally disabled Vietnam veteran, “shell­-shocked and on medication,” was beaten to death by cops. Daughtry’s account: “In June 1979 his wife, recognizing that he was having problems, called the Veteran’s Administration for help. They never came. In the meantime Peter began to react to his Vietnam experience and got into his car and commenced driving. He drove until he ended up on a street in the Bronx and for whatever reason, police cornered him.” According to witnesses who came to BUF, “the police broke open the car with crowbars and beat Peter Funches to death.” Daughtry says that differing police explanations of Funches’s death went from a car crash to his wield­ing a knife at them, but that no knife was found and no crash occurred.

Daughtry closes his speech with a list of the minority youths killed by cops go­ing back to the early ’70s and asks an anguished question: “I wonder what the Irish or Italian or Jewish or Polish people would say if black officers were killing their children, not to mention men and women.” The importance of Daughtry’s speech is not the accuracy of the fine points of each story (though the police offer no other persuasive versions of the three deaths cited here from the speech). It is that this history makes a fraud of the Koch claim that there is no real police violence issue, only a campaign charade. Daughtry’s chronicling of the hot inci­dents of the Koch years proves the op­posite. The campaign for ’85 hasn’t manu­factured the brutality issue; instead this sort of real problem over time has created the momentum for a political campaign, felt at the most grass-roots level.

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This is one time when the impassioned shouts and the random anecdotes get us closer to the truth of a hard problem than the seemingly cool efficiency of a forth­right commissioner with a batch of charts in his hand. No campaign agenda could produce the massive number of people who jammed the Harlem State Office Building and talked to each other, after the hearing was abruptly closed, about hundreds of incidents for the rest of a hot day. John Conyers, the congressman who called the hearings, would have to have been a political prophet to have first laid the basis for these hearings way back in the summer of 1980. The Voice reported after the Miami riot that Conyers’s sub-­committee on crime began investigating police brutality and cited New York as one of three cities “with particularly ex­plosive potential” (NYC, June 2, 1980).

The Voice has examined a series of police violence incidents during the Koch years. One category of incidents is made up of all 39 fatal shootings in 1982. Another is a loose compilation of beatings and killings, some suggested by BUF’s Walker, some by attorneys who represent victims in these kinds of cases (including the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund), and some by law enforcement agencies. These incidents are not typical of police use of punishing or deadly force; they are ones that rise to the level of a questionable case or a filed complaint. Though Koch and McGuire deride any critical version of a police act that hasn’t been filed as a charge with the Civilian Review Com­plaint Board, the CCRB record of disposi­tions and its entirely in-house structure does not encourage the filing of the com­plaints. Dave Walker’s storefront on Nostrand Avenue is more of a civilian review vehicle for police complaints than the CCRB bureaucracy.

The Voice has attempted to get both a police and citizen version of these inci­dents. The police version is contained in incident reports that are filed with the department. Though the department en­couraged this reporter to read individual incident reports when I was doing a simi­lar story in 1980, and freely provided the reports, they refused Freedom of Infor­mation requests for the same access for this story. Instead, they prepared for the Voice one-paragraph summaries of each report. They answered some additional questions on specific incidents. They re­fused to inform the officers involved of our request for interviews. Our own attempts to reach those cops at their precincts did not produce a single officer willing to dis­cuss the case. Since union, departmental, and legal reasons might legitimately pre­vent officers from discussing these cases, the Voice asked both the department and the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association to arrange a confidential group interview with cops who had actually been in shoot­ing incidents. We offered to print excerpts from that taped interview, without com­ment and without identifying the cops by name or printing details that would’ve revealed a specific incident. The purpose was to let cops explain what runs through their heads during and after these inci­dents. We struck out everywhere. Despite these limitations, we’ve pieced together these glimpses of the violence behind the current storm:

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One Year’s Deadly Tally

Of the 39 shot dead last year by cops, 20 were armed with guns and four had knives. On the other hand, David Ramsey, a 25-year-old Hispanic, was shot in the back of the neck while sitting unarmed in his car. The officer, in civilian dress and leaving an unmarked police van, claimed that Ramsey tried to back his car into him. Though department regulations ban firing at moving vehicles, the officer has not been disciplined. Thirteen months after Ramsey’s death, a Brooklyn grand jury cleared the cop. The criminal proceeding ended four months ago, but a departmental case is “still open.”

A 31-year-old black, Otis Morrison, was shot in the park adjacent to the 113th Precinct stationhouse in Queens. At least four cops went into the park looking for Morrison, who was creating a disturbance. So close to their home base and with Morrison so overmatched, the cops none­theless killed him when they mistook a pliers in his hand for a gun. No criminal or disciplinary action was taken.

Rudy Santos, an unarmed 18-year­old Hispanic, was shot by cops executing a narcotics search warrant at a Manhattan apartment. They said he “reached into his waistband in a menacing manner.” A number of narcotics arrests were made in the apartment. Thirty-five-year-old black Edward Latchman took 15 police bul­lets from four different cops after he cut a fifth with a knife. Police claimed they tried throwing garbage at him and firing Mace at him before emptying their guns. Neither incident led to any action against the cops.

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Ironically, though, the two most ques­tionable police killings of 1982 involved white victims. Nine whites were killed last year, continuing an upward trend. An­thony Ruggerio, a 25-year-old transit employee who had passed the police exam and was awaiting appointment, was shot dead at point-blank range on the shoulder of a Staten Island road. He had been interrupted by an unmarked police car that pulled alongside his car to watch him and his girlfriend, parked and half-naked, engaged in midnight sex. The police were in civilian clothes and, according to their own initial statements, did not identify themselves. Ruggerio’s girlfriend said: “Tony was frightened and worried. We both thought that they might be weirdos or perverts. So he got out of the car and he smashed the passenger window with a fishing pole.”

From a sitting position in the car, one cop shot Ruggerio square in the chest. Seventy-five white demonstrators marched on the Staten Island District Attorney’s office, but no indictment was handed down. A departmental probe wound up handled by the cop’s own su­pervisor who had made newspaper state­ments clearing the cops immediately after the shooting. The officer remains a detec­tive in the “crimes against the person” squad.

Another 25-year-old, Richard Sirignano, was shot twice by an off-duty cop who had spent the night at four different bars and, earlier in the evening, drawn his gun on six bar patrons and frisked one in an unrelated argument. Sirignano and two Red Cross operations assistants had been talking on a street corner for a half hour, and when they started to walk across the street, the cop appeared to drive right at Sirignano. Sirignano and officer Charles Tschupp Jr. got into an argument. Tschupp claims Sirignano hit him with a bottle. Queens D.A. John Santucci, who ultimately in­dicted Tschupp, says that “at the time the officer fired his weapon, the deceased al­legedly was in retreat, not advancing on the officer, and therefore did not repre­sent a threat to the officer’s safety.” After a series of beneficial and inexplicable rul­ings by Queens State Supreme Court Jus­tice Herbert Posner, Tschupp won a hung jury. He didn’t even take the stand. San­tucci may try him again. Tschupp is suspended from the force, and is being defended by the PBA.

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Another Few Bite the Dust  

The 1982 questionable killings are replicated by other disquieting deaths of in recent years, beyond the notorious deaths of Arthur Miller, Luis Baez, and Peter Funches. Voice reporter Jill Nelson, in a cover story (“Cops Who Kill,” Janu­ary 28-February 3, 1981), documented the extraordinary Brooklyn slaying of two young black men, construction worker Ricky Lewis, 24, and 18-year-old Kenny Gamble, in a fusillade of police bullets. Cops opened up on a carload of six young blacks, subsequently claiming that one of the passengers had earlier been involved in a shoot-out with a plain-­clothes cop. There was never a charge that any of the other five were involved in the alleged shooting incident, nor that anyone in the car was armed during the blast-out.

Several eyewitnesses questioned by re­porter Nelson said that Gamble, already wounded, emerged from the bullet-rid­dled car with his arms in the air and took four more shots in the chest, followed by a beating and kicking. One of the survi­vors in the car told the Voice: “I was layin’ on the sidewalk and I looked up and saw the police comin’. They was runnin’ and firin’ away at the car. I just seen a big clump of smoke, I could see the fire jumpin’ out of the barrels, oh man. They was steppin’ through the smoke and kept on firin’. I didn’t expect to live. I thought they were killing everybody in the car. The police laughed and said, ‘They all dead.’ ” No one was ever indicted or dis­ciplined for the two deaths; the city reached an out-of-court cash settlement with one of the victims’ families. A black accountant, college graduate Vernon Lawrence, who grew up with the dead Lewis, arrived at the scene that night as the ambulances drove off. He watched 30 cops: “They were congratulating them­selves, singing ‘Another one bites the dust.’ ”

In another Brooklyn killing this March, 19-year-old black Larry Dawes died after he and a friend were chased on their moped by a cop car. Dawes’s com­panion and several witnesses claim that the cops rammed the moped into a parked car. The police say they chased the moped for 12 blocks after it ran a red light. Dawes’s companion, Corey Gibson, told the Voice that he was thrown under the parked car and watched one cop kick Dawes’s body. Last week a grand jury decided not to indict the cops involved and the Police Department is “just get­ting involved” in its own reveiw of the case.

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During a New Year’s Eve party in 1981, a Harlem cop killed an unarmed 39-year-­old woman, Ruth Alston, claiming that she and two other women were striking him from behind. In another incident nine days later, 19-year-old Donald Wright was shot at point-blank range in front of a Harlem shoe store by a cop who’d escorted the youth out of the store after getting involved in an argument with him. Neither incident led to an indictment, though the officer who killed Wright, the only black cop involved in the deaths detailed here, was removed from the po­lice force. Alston’s family eventually won a $50,000 settlement and Wright’s a $125,000 settlement with the city.

A 15-year-old white Queens kid, John Cortese, was shot to death this March by an off-duty cop while he sat unarmed in a locked car. Cortese had brushed the cop’s personal car in a minor traffic accident and had driven from the scene. Cortese headed his car to his Astoria home and, in an alleyway near his home, got stuck. The cop got out of his car and started to ap­proach Cortese. According to the recent indictment of the officer by D.A. Santucci, “the officer fired into the driver’s door window after jumping out of the way as it started to move again. When the shot was fired the officer was not in danger of being hit by the car.”

Billyclub Beatings

But the police incident that pro­voked the current controversy and com­pelled the congressional inquiry did not result in a citizen’s death. It was a beating case and what turned it into a political issue was the mayor’s fast and foul lip. The black man beaten was Reverend Lee Johnson, a first-year graduate student at Union Theological Seminary. Reverend Donald Shriver, Union’s president, issued a press statement describing how a traffic summons escalated into police striking Johnson with a flashlight and a nightstick, amid a barrage of racial epithets. The beating and insults were carried from the street to the sta­tionhouse. The Koch response was one of disbelief: “I find it certainly possible, but nevertheless strange, that in the heart of Harlem two white cops would inten­tionally, in violation of the law, harass a minister. It’s possible. It could have hap­pened … but again, in a police precinct filled with large numbers of black officers?”

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The Johnson incident was followed a week later and with less media attention by an allegation from Kenneth Woods, the co-owner of one of Harlem’s best­-known restaurants, Sylvia’s, that he was roughed up and verbally insulted by of­ficers from the same precinct. ” ‘None of you motherfuckers ain’t shit,’ ” busi­nessman Woods says one cop swore. ” ‘All of you are the God damn same. ‘ “

The documented beating incidents are as multiracial as the shooting cases. On July 29, Julio Castillo, a 42-year-old Hispanic bus driver with 12 years seniority, was driving to his Manhattan home in a rush after receiving a call on his beeper from his wife, who’d recently been hospi­talized. A cop car pursued him the last mile or so for a traffic violation. Castillo recalls getting out of the car and the of­ficer coming toward him with a gun in his hand. “I was in tears explaining to him that I live there, that my wife was ill and that I needed help. He kicked me in the stomach. I fell back and I don’t know how my head got cracked. One witness said he hit me with the butt of his gun.” Until Castillo made clear that he intended to press charges against the cops, none were filed against him. Then he was hit with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. After Castillo filed a CCRB complaint, police investigators showed up unan­nounced at his house one night. The first thing they said was “Have you thought about not considering the whole thing?”

A white victim, Richard Sim­monson, a 38-year-old dentist employed by the NYU College of Dentistry, was jogging through Washington Square Park in the early evening of April 18, 1982. A slow-moving police car crossed his path and Simmonson collided with it, one hand slapping against a window. Simmonson,  who thought little of it and kept running, was subsequently chased the wrong way down a one-way street by the officers and clubbed twice with a nightstick. The cop then tried to bring the nightstick up be­tween his legs to hit him in the genitals, but Simmonson avoided the blows. The cops then just drove off. An initial CCRB investigation led to a quickly closed case, but NYU lawyers got District Attorney Robert Morgenthau’s office to force the CCRB to reopen the case. On its second go-around, the CCRB concluded, “The Board has found the complaint substan­tiated and has determined that the appro­priate action in this case is to have the officer involved instructed by his Com­manding Officer … regarding his respon­sibility to conduct himself properly in his contacts with the people we serve.”

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The Voice has examined details of half a dozen similar cases — Lamont Heywood, who had an electric revolving brush thrust down his throat in the Lower East Side stationhouse and Nero Rich­ardson, a 16-year-old disturbed youth whose mother called the cops who beat him into a hospital bed. Each case has elements that lend some plausibility to police denials, but the bruises and the wounds are real. The frequently clean criminal records, before and after the inci­dents, are real. The credibility of the vic­tims — most of whom were employed and pressing legal suits — is genuine. And the paucity of governmental response to ei­ther individual charges or the persisitent patterns of abuse is disturbing.


Ed Koch has misrepresented the num­bers of blacks and Latins he’s appointed to top positions. He’s lied about the percentage of the city budget that’s spent on services for the minority poor. He’s built a mosaic of deception around every important race question raised since he’s been mayor. Now he’s distorting the num­bers of minorities who’ve been beaten and killed by the Police Department he’s charged with running. The media has let him get away with this hype in part be­cause Koch’s are always white lies, issued with an air of efficiency and countered only by black accusers without a press office of their own.

Police violence did not end with the riots they once prompted. Indeed, in the Koch years, when indifference or hostility to black concerns has become city policy, the nightstick and police gun have been working overtime. The only two cases chronicled here that led to criminal charges against cops involved the Queens D.A. prosecuting a Brooklyn cop for the death of a white. Koch is not responsible for that; the interdependence of prosecutors and police paralyzes such cases everywhere. But serious departmental action is now as rare as any by a prosecutor.

Conyers’s subcommittee hearings will surely provoke remedial ideas. As­semblyman Del Toro and others are al­ready pushing a bill to reform the CCRB, as is City Councilman Fred Samuels. But the father of one of the white victims of fatal police force, a man who has spent a lifetime working in law enforcement him­self, said he’d rejected a lawyer’s sugges­tion that he participate in Conyers’s hear­ing. “I never miss Mass,” is his way of fighting back. “Every night and every day I pray that those cops will be punished.” He has filed a federal suit and is de­terminedly waiting to force the cops he believes lied about the death of his son to take the stand. That is the way individu­als insist on pecking away at the institu­tionalized police violence that has so many ways to insulate itself.

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Cops live with fear. They do it to pro­tect us. But that does not license them also to instill fear. And to do it to many of us. The theory is that a mayor’s politics and pronouncements reach the troops on the line. That is difficult to square with 93 dead in the Lindsay year of 1971. But Lindsay did something about that, and the 1972 change in police regulations, plus a curtailment of “buy and bust” drug raids by police, dramatically and persistently lowered the death rate until Koch was elected.

When all the figures are adjusted for population, neighboring Newark, with a black mayor, a black police commissioner, an increasingly black police force (30 per cent), and an overwhelmingly black and poor citizenry, is doing far better than New York in restraining the use of police firearms. There were five times as many police killings in Newark in the first half of the 70s’ (25) than in the second half (five). Deputy Police Commissioner Con­boy argues that Newark is simply not comparable because of “the management issue,” the sizes of the two forces. While it is true that this comparison can be stretched too far, it is hardly a useless one. Police death tolls in Atlanta and Detroit, for example, did Newark-like nosedives with the rise of black political power and the election of black mayors.

The race message of the Koch mayor­alty has been as clear for cops to see as it has been for blacks and Latins. The mes­sage has also been translated into hard numbers at the CCRB and in disciplinary dispositions. The cop response in the streets won’t change unless the mayoral rhetoric or the institutional handling of the violence cases does. That is a life-or-­death fact for an undetermined number of potential police victims, not an organizing tool on a political calendar.

From The Archives Protest Archives THE FRONT ARCHIVES Uncategorized

Chicago 1968: Blood Outside the Arena

Chicago in August: Prelims are Bloody

CHICAGO — The lid blew off Monday night.

In the Amphitheatre:

Hubert Humphrey made his pact with the South and John Connally became his Strom Thurmond.

Eugene McCarthy’s badly organized campaign continued to unravel.

The boomlet for Teddy Kennedy turned out to be a fantasy of Bobby’s orphans.

In the street:

The cops chased, Maced, tear-gassed, and shot blanks at the kids who were in Lincoln Park an hour after curfew.

All over the city people were randomly stopped and questioned.

Tom Hayden was arrested on charges which three witnesses including two lawyers insisted were false.

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By 3 a.m. Tuesday the liberals had been routed at the convention, the kids had been repulsed on the street. Everywhere you walked, from midnight on, there were plainclothesmen. They frisked you with their eyes like whores strip potential clients, and if you looked the least bit suspicious they tailed you as you continued down the street. Almost every noise was martial: fire sirens, the squawking of two-way radios, cop cars racing from place to place, the idle chatter of police on duty.

We were with Tom Hayden when he got arrested, at 11:55 p.m. in front of the Hilton Hotel. He had come by for a few minutes intending to go straight on to Lincoln Park, when he ran into some friends who were staying in the hotel. They invited him up to their room, but as Hayden sought to enter the hotel through its revolving doors a middle-aged man in street clothes stopped him.

“We don’t want this man here,” he told Hayden’s friends.

“But he’s our guest,” one of them answered.

“No, he’s not welcome at this hotel,” the security officer insisted.

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One of Hayden’s friends followed the security officer into the hotel to complain about the decision to his superiors. For a few minutes Tom stood around talking with a small group of people. Then suddenly, Ralph Bell, a plainclothesman dressed in khakis and a red and yellow checked shirt, came running down Michigan Avenue yelling, “He’s our man, arrest that man.” A uniformed policeman who had been directing traffic grabbed Hayden and threw him on the ground. He was arrested, according to the arrest form at the 114th Precinct Station in Chicago, because he “called the police names and spit at them.” We were present during the entire scene and we are certain that Hayden never called the police a name. Since he was grabbed from behind it would have been difficult for him to spit at the arresting officer.

It is clear that the moment that Hotel Hilton’s security officer saw Hayden he decided to call the police. Since this was Hayden’s second arrest of the day on extremely tenuous charges it is apparent that the Chicago police have decided to harass the Mobilization leader throughout the convention week.

For three weeks both Hayden and Rennie Davis have been followed 24 hours a day by detectives. Hayden says that his tail has repeatedly threatened to kill him. But the police’s harassment of the Mobilization is far more extensive than that. Photographs of Hayden, Davis, and other key figures in the radical movement have been distributed to all hotel doormen in the city, and at bus terminals, train stations, airports. (The “Red Squad” of the Chicago police force is one of the most efficient in the country, according to people who live here. During a demonstration against the House Un-American Activities Committee three years ago, for example, policemen took pictures of every participant and put them in a film of people who were likely to assassinate the President or Vice-President of the United States, the Chicago American reported at the time.)

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Now the harassment seems to extend to people who are just casually involved with the radical movement. A taxi driver who took a young couple to the office of the National Mobilization Against the War in Vietnam was questioned by police about the conversations he had overheard. It is widely assumed here that the telephones of everyone connected with the Mobilization are tapped.

We got to the precinct station where Hayden was booked and were let inside because we had come to bail him out. We over­heard the police mocking the kids they had arrested. “We had to fumigate this place after we led all those animals through,” said one. An officer apparently nicknamed “Killer” who carried a revolver on each hip and smoked a long cigar, was complaining that he had been scheduled to screw two airline stewardesses that night. “I’m going to kill those Yippies who lost me that good lay,” he said. Ten minutes later be came back into the room. “Well, one of them said she would meet me later on. I guess I can wait till tomorrow night to get me some action.”

We stood around the precinct station for two hours waiting for Hayden’s bail to be set. Finally, one of the police told us that the procedure would take at least two hours more while Hayden was fingerprinted. “But he was already arrested once today,” Newfield said. “Oh, we didn’t know that,” the officer answered. “Since that’s the case we’ll bring him down here right away.”

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We spent the next hour walk­ing with Hayden through down­town Chicago, trying to dodge his tail. Every few minutes we would hear fire trucks setting out to chase down some false alarm that bad been set off by the hip­pies. After one particularly com­plicated trek through back alleys and down side streets we were stopped by two detectives who got out of their car to ask u where we were going. It wasn’t clear whether they recognized Hayden or suspected any strang­er who walked along an unusual route. James Ridgeway of the New Republic showed the detec­tive his White House press pass and Newfield took out his official press pass to the convention. “We’re just trying to show this friend of ours the back streets of Chicago,” he explained.

Walking down Clark Street we met a black pimp and two black whores, all of them wearing McCarthy buttons. The chicks were wearing gaudy pink sun­glasses. “Say, man, you want to meet some girls?” the pimp asked, “No, not tonight man,” said Hayden, “I just got out of jail.”

“Oh yeah, what jail?” the pimp asked. “The 11th Precinct Station,” Tom replied. “Man, I know those parts real well. I’ve been in every jail in this city,” the pimp said.

At about 3:30 Tom got into a taxi, hoping to evade the tail who threatened to murder him. We went hack to the lobby of the Hilton Hotel where we ran into a weary and depressed Fred Dutton, former aide to RFK and JFK. Dutton told us that he saw no hope for stopping Humphrey. He had just spoken to Edward Kennedy, he said, he was convinced that the movement to draft the Massachusetts senator was a pipe dream.

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Dutton, who surely must have felt that it Robert Kennedy had lived this convention would be nominating him, showed his despair with the events of the evening. He had been listening to Nick Von Hoffmann, a reporter for the Washington Post who bad been watching the police beat the Yippies on the Near North Side. Von Hoffmann was visibly angry. “I was over at the pig palace watching the pig master at work,” he said. “But I got too disgusted so I decided to watch his hired sadists on the beat. You know that they don’t make arrests any more. They can’t be bothered with lawyers, courts, any of that stuff.”

“Yeah, they just maim people and leave them hidden,” added a delegate from New York.

Dutton turned to Von Hoff­mann and told him passionately that “it’s up to you guys to keep reporting that stuff. There’s not much we can do any more — not the politicians, not even the kids. You have to keep telling the public what’s going on.”

Meanwhile, a cherubic-faced teenager walked between the drunks and the celebrants, try­ing to distribute Ted Kennedy for President leaflets. There were few takers.

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Reminder: Two NYPD Officers Are Being Investigated For Killing/Beating New Yorkers

Hurricane Sandy and the presidential election have dominated the headlines here in the Big Apple for the last two weeks. But let’s not forget what was going on in New York before that bitch Sandy dropped by: two NYPD officers are under investigation for what could potentially be pretty appalling crimes.

In one case, a detective fatally shot an unarmed National Guardsman on a Queens highway for no apparent reason. In the other, two NYPD officers in Brooklyn beat the crap out of a man in a Crown Heights synagogue — also for no apparent reason.

Both officers are under investigation by both the NYPD’s internal affairs division and prosecutors in their respective counties. In neither case have district attorneys determined whether they will file criminal charges against the officers, prosecutors told the Voice this morning.

In the case of Detective Hassan Hamdy, a 14-year NYPD veteran who
fatally shot Guardsman Noel Polanco on October 4, prosecutors say “the
matter is still under investigation and there is no timetable for its

As for NYPD Officer Luis Vega, who was seen on video
beating the crap out of Ehud Halevi for doing little more than sleeping
on a sofa, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office says the same thing:
“It is still an investigation. I do not have a timetable as to when
there will be a decision.”

Both cases seem to be blatant
instances of overzealous cops abusing their positions of power — and we
wouldn’t want a hurricane to cause these stories to fall by the

We will say this: if a regular citizen were caught on camera dishing out a beating like the one Vega gave Halevi, we probably wouldn’t be waiting a month later to find out whether that person was getting charged with a crime.


New York Pols Wonder How Many NYPD Beatings Aren’t Caught on Tape

As we reported yesterday, a Crown Heights man was roughed up by a NYPD officers because they mistakenly thought he was trespassing when they found him
sleeping on a couch in a synagogue and outreach center for troubled
youth in Crown Heights.

Following the two-minute-long beat-down — during which he was punched in the head, pepper-sprayed, and beaten with a club — he was hit with a felony charge of assaulting a police officer, as well as four
misdemeanor charges and four violations, including trespassing,
resisting arrest, and harassment.

Luckily, the beating was caught on tape, and it’s clear the victim, Ehud Halevi, never assaulted anyone. Nor was he trespassing — or harassing — anyone. He was asleep.

The incident has prompted local pols to question how many similar beatings — and BS criminal charges — occur but are never questioned; in most cases, it’s the word of a suspected criminal versus that of a cop — a scenario where the cop wins almost every time.


“If not for the clear evidence of this video, we might believe that
Mr. Halevi had committed the crime he was accused of, which included
assaulting an officer of the law,” says Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind,
an Orthodox Jew who represents Brooklyn. “But the video
proves this was a lie. How many similar claims by law enforcement
officers are equally fictitious?”

Others, including City Council
member Jumaane Williams, say the video is indicative of poor training
from the higher-ups at the NYPD.

“This is another low for abuse of police power. Good policing does
not require the excessive use of force Halevi endured and that New
Yorkers are now seeing on their televisions,” Williams says. “The NYPD is an institution to be
trusted, not to be feared. Clearly that message was not absorbed by
these officers, which calls into question once again the standards of
training that they receive from their superiors.”

The NYPD’s story
is that Halevi was drunk when he was awoken by the officers — who were
called by a janitor who thought Halevi was trespassing at the synagogue
— and that he became belligerent when they asked him to leave.

however, had permission to be at the temple, and had been staying there
for the past month. When he tried to explain this to the officers —
after having been abruptly woken up — he refused to leave, and briefly
resisted as the officers tried to throw cuffs on him. Then he got the
crap kicked out of him.

The officer involved in the beating
has been placed on modified duty as the NYPD’s internal affairs bureau
investigates the incident. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office also
is looking into the incident.


Here’s a Video of NYPD Thugs Beating the Crap Out of Defenseless Man. His Crime: Sleeping.

There’s good news and bad news.

The bad news: There’s a new video showing two NYPD officers beating the crap out of a defenseless, unarmed man at a synagogue and outreach center for troubled youth in Crown Heights.

The good news: At least they didn’t shoot him.

The video — first posted on the web by, a Jewish news service that covers Jewish news in Brooklyn — shows the victim getting woken up by officers as he slept on a couch in a recreation room at the Aliya (Alternative Learning Institute for Young Adults) center.

What happens next is disturbing. See for yourself below.

The cops apparently thought the young man was trespassing. When he told them that he wasn’t — and offered to prove it — the cops tried to arrest him.

As you can see in the video, he briefly resists — putting his hands behind his back as he continues to tell the cops that he had permission to be there.

The cops, apparently, didn’t want to hear it. So they beat the shit out of him — punching him, hitting him with a truncheon, and even pepper-spraying him — for more than two minutes.

Adding insult to what we can only assume is substantial injury, the victim, Ehud Halevi, was hit with a felony charge of assaulting a police officer, as well as four misdemeanor charges and four violations, including trespassing, resisting arrest and harassment.

The kicker: he was allowed to be there — sources confirm that Halevi had the center’s permission to sleep on the couch. They say he’s been staying at the center for about a month — without incident — and it’s unclear why the cops were even there.

We reached out to Halevi. We’ll let you know if we hear back.