THE PROFESSIONAL ENVY OF THE WORLD
"Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan" is a much-quoted phrase. The unparalleled success of the New York City Police Department has enhanced the careers of many in politics and law
enforcement. Everyone wants credit for the astounding crime statistics that have won back the streets for the citizens of this colossus on the Hudson.
When I retired in 1992, the homicide statistics
for New York City were truly frightening. Over 2000 victims had been autopsied at the medical examiner's office that year.
Drive-by shootings in minority neighborhoods terrorized the African-American and Hispanic communities. Innocent children fell victim in the open warfare of the drug gangs. No one claimed credit for those statistics.
In December of 1991, I was transferred from the 120th Precinct to Midtown North Precinct.
I spent most of my time assigned as the Duty Captain for the entire Manhattan South Borough comprised of ten patrol precincts. The street conditions in the Times Square area were a disgrace. Sex shops competed with the legitimate theatre for customers. Tourists quickly fled the area after a Broadway Show.
Many times, duty captains in Manhattan performed back-to-back tours of duty.
Sixteen hours of patrol could be exhausting. It was during one of those long tours that I was directed to respond to a report of shots fired in the West 20's.
"Manhattan South Duty Captain, K"
"10-85 the 10th Precinct patrol sergeant regarding shots fired"
A shooting meant hours of investigation and report writing.
I was dead-tired and answered the dispatcher with a terse "10-4"
As we rolled up on the scene, I could see the NYPD Emergency Service truck and a number of 10th Precinct radio cars blocking the
narrow street with a number of unmarked cars.
There were a few uniformed cops on the scene, but most were in civilian clothes. They wore the now familiar windbreakers with yellow lettering. Some were New York City Housing cops, but most were federal law enforcement personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
The street was a residential street with walk-up apartments.
There were no NYC Housing Authority buildings in the area. The street-wise Emergency service cops immediately caught my attention and we had a short parlay about what had occurred. Although a large number of shots had been fired, no NYPD cops had fired their weapons. There were no reported injuries. It had been a joint NYC Housing Authority PD and Federal operation.
The 10th Precinct patrol sergeant, who had apparently been recently promoted, was relieved to see me. He was a little nervous making his report.
As we spoke, a Deputy Inspector with the
NYC Housing Authority Police approached and identified himself. I learned that the federal officers had fired the shots during the execution of a search warrant in the ground floor apartment at the location.
It was odd that no Housing Authority property was involved. As we spoke, I asked to see the search warrant. The Inspector was momentarily confused by my request.
He didn't have the warrant in his possession. He could see that I had no intention of entering the shooting scene until I saw a valid search warrant. When a search warrant is executed, the warrant itself must be in the possession of the executing officers.
Only then did the ranking federal officer on the scene come forth and identify himself. He showed me the search warrant that had been endorsed for execution during nighttime hours, and also had been
endorsed for "no-knock" execution. The Criminal Procedure Law of the State of New York requires execution of a search warrant between 0600 hours and 2100 hours, unless the issuing judge endorses the
warrant for "anytime" execution.
Executing officers must give announce their presence and purpose unless the same judge authorizes the "no-knock" provision. Most search warrants that involve the possibility of violence are endorsed. The warrant authorized a search for weapons and controlled substances. The patrol sergeant copied the details on the search warrant and we proceeded to the shooting scene in the apartment.
As I stood in the hallway, I noticed two slightly built females sitting in handcuffs with their backs against the wall. The tenement building was seedy and poorly lit.
The broken door of the apartment was ajar. I stuck both hands inside my trouser pockets, as was my custom when I entered a crime scene.
There were bullet holes in the floor, in the walls, and
the ceiling of the apartment.
I asked if the apartments above, behind, and adjacent had been canvassed. The possibility of injuries to innocent parties was possible. The officers involved had been armed with the highly acclaimed 9mm cartridge. Expended shells littered the floor of the apartment.
I was relieved to find that no injuries had been sustained as a result of the shooting. There were only small quantities of contraband recovered. No firearms were found in the apartment.
Because no NYPD police officer had discharged his weapon, I directed the patrol sergeant to prepare an informational "Unusual Occurrence Report". Although no NYPD cops had fired their
weapons, as the Duty Captain I had direct responsibility to ensure that the shooting was a "good one". In effect, as the NYPD Duty Captain, I represented the Borough Commander at the scene.
As the highest ranking patrol supervisor on the scene, the buck stopped with me. I was directly supervising the activities of not only the NYPD cops, but the NYC Housing Authority cops and their supervisory officers, and the Federal officers as well.
I hadn't been a captain
long when I responded to the scene of a fatal shooting. The shooter was an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. When I arrived on the scene,
the 120th Precinct cops had isolated the shooting scene and the DOA lay spread-eagled on the ground. Police Officers Richie Rodriquez and Frank Gigante were among the first responding cops from the 120th Precinct. They gave
me a quick account of what had allegedly occurred. Three FBI agents were present and gave statements to me regarding the shooting. Witnesses supported the account given by the agents.
The preliminary investigation was done by the NYPD, the investigation was referred to the NYPD detectives, and the Staten Island District Attorney conducted a Grand Jury
investigation. In essence, the Federal law enforcement agents were being investigated by the NYPD.
PHOTO BY TONY CARANNANTE, COURTESY OF STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
I would hazard to guess that many other captains of police with the NYPD have had occasion to supervise federal law enforcement agents performing duty within the confines of New York City.
The presence of Joint Task
Forces in New York City comprised of federal agents and detectives from the NYPD necessitates incidents where NYPD duty captains and higher- ranking supervisors are oftentimes called upon to investigate
serious incidents involving these mixed units.
PHOTO BY TONY CARANNANTE, COURTESY OF STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
It is no accident that the
entire global law enforcement community looks to the City of New York and the performance of the New York City Police Department for
inspiration in coping with the crime that engulfs their lives. The success of a program that has gained international recognition was originated, developed, and implemented by the bright minds inside the
NYPD. No grants were given by the federal government to develop COMPSTAT. No federal "Think Tank" gave birth to this truly brilliant method of fighting crime.
No, the "think tank" was comprised of leaders of the NYPD who should be given the lion's share of credit for making COMPSTAT the premier crime-fighting tool that it is. One book that cops and
especially detectives should read and re-read is "NYPD Battles Crime", written by Eli B. Silverman of John Jay College. This book gives the rationale for COMPSTAT.
It explains just how COMPSTATwas developed, who developed it, and who should receive the credit for its astounding success in the "renaissance" of New York City.
First Deputy Commissioner Patrick E. Kelleher had a lot to do
with the implementation of COMPSTAT. He is retiring, but we should not forget his contribution to the life of our city.
Publisher of NY Cop Online Magazine with First Deputy Commissioner Kelleher
PHOTO BY NY COP ONLINE MAGAZINE
To quote from "NYPD Battles Crime":
"Maple, in conjunction with Chief Patrick Kelleher, executive officer
of the Patrol Bureau's office, and Kelleher's key staff members,
Lieutenant William Gorta and Sergeant John Yohe, pressed the
Precincts to generate crime activity statistics on a weekly basis.
During the second week of February 1994, all precincts provided
A hand count of the seven major crimes for the first six weeks of
1993 compared to the same period in 1994. The Patrol Bureau's
Staff computerized this crime activity and assembled it into a
document referred to as the "COMPSTAT BOOK". The first Compstat
book included current data on a year-to-year basis for crime
complaints and arrest for every major felony category, as well as gun arrests.
The data was compiled on citywide, borough, and precinct levels.
When it was discovered that some of the arrest statistics were in-
Accurate, precinct commanders were made accountable for all errors.
Elevating the level of responsibility for gathering crime statistics
From a clerical task to an administrative obligation signaled that there
Was a new regime in town."
When he was still Chief of Patrol, Anemone had direct operational
Command over all the precincts. With Anemone's supervision and the
Backing of Chief Kelleher and Deputy Commissioner Maple, the core
Group, as Gorta put it, "had the juice to make it work." Sergeant Gene Whyte,
A key staff member, explained the situation this way: "When the first
Compstat book was shipped to precinct commanders, it was like a bill. The
Price for being a commander was to do something about the crime in your
Area." From that point forward, the Compstat book became more accurate
As arrests were downloaded directly from the NYPD's On-line Booking
Eli B. Silverman, "NYPD Battles Crime", Innovative Strategies in Policing, Northeastern University Press, Boston 1999, Chapter 5, p 100
COMPSTAT has been a resounding success in the fight against crime. It has been an NYPD success story. It has now been implemented in many other cities with equal success.
The advent of SATCOM (Strategic and Tactical Command) in Patrol Borough Brooklyn North was the one of the most successful implementations of COMPSTAT in a major effort to fight the scourge
of drugs. Assistant Chief Joseph P. Dunne was the commander of SATCOM.
"Dunne's success and his presentation skills at headquarters Compstat
Meetings gained him the hierarchy's attention. Within just a few years, he rose from
Captain to deputy inspector to inspector and then deputy chief in 1995...
........Brooklyn North was reconstituted as SATCOM (Strategic and Tactical Command)
Brooklyn North in April 1996. SATCOM is a unique NYPD venture. As its commander,
Dunne has greater authority than any of his seven other borough counterparts. He
Not only presides over all of SATCOM's patrol forces, but also has unprecedented
Command of all detectives, drug investigators, and housing police who previously
Reported to their separate borough and headquarters superiors. "He's the king of
The police here," remarked a cop under Dunne's command."
Ibid. Chapter 7, p 148
SATCOM, under the leadership of Dunne succeeded beyond all
expectations. The concept of borough commanders having such unity of command was not new. Patrol Borough Staten Island, has only three patrol precincts and the borough commander has directly
supervised all patrol, detective, and staff functions much like a local police chief in his own right. This has worked well for Staten Island for many years. In fact, it seemed
as if the NYPD selected chiefs to command Staten Island who were destined to rise to higher rank. Commanders such as Patrick
Murphy, Joseph Borelli, and Chiefs Nicastro, Simonetti, and Ryan would rise to top positions with the NYPD. The current borough commander of Staten Island, Assistant Chief Eugene Devlin has
reduced crime with equally dramatic results. However, never did a borough commander have such complete autonomy like Chief Dunne in the deployment of units from Narcotics and public morals as
well as other specialized units.
To quote Professor Silverman again:
"If SATCOM is so successful, why has it not been in the vanguard of subsequent NYPD
reform? Has it failed to live up to its billing by the former police commissioner William Bratton as
"the professional envy of the world"? Has it not fulfilled its designation by Chief Anemone as a
"management laboratory, a smarter way of doing business.....a signature piece....the NYPD''s boldest attack on narcotics"?
Ibid. Chapter 7, p 175
Now that Dunne has been made the First Deputy Commissioner, there is hope that SATCOM will continue to reduce the scourge of crime that is spawned by narcotics. The geographical basis for
Command in patrol boroughs must be expanded to all patrol boroughs.
The possibility of Federal oversight of the NYPD due to the Draft Report of the United States
Commission on Civil Rights raises a number of serious concerns for the citizens of the City of New York. A very real concern is that New York City Police Officers will be saddled with voluminous
reports and duplication of effort to satisfy federal monitoring of the NYPD. Will
COMPSTAT be a casualty in this? Will the "profiling" of criminals through the comparing of
Computer statistics be considered "racial profiling"? Can precinct and narcotics detectives identify patterns criminal conduct from computerized statistics if they could be accused of
Could professional envy be the motivating factor in this? Is the success of COMPSTAT and the
NYPD the reason for the attacks on the finest police department in the world?
Now is the time for the citizens of the City of New York to come to the support of their cops. They deserve our undying thanks.
All citizens should educate themselves about this issue by obtaining and reading the "The NYPD Response to the Draft Report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights - Police Practices and
Civil Rights in New York City". The conclusion of that response says in part:
"The United States Commission on Civil Rights squarely accuses the NYPD of racial profiling in its
Stop and Frisk practices, and particularly in the case of the Street Crime Unit. For such a critically serious finding, the Report does not contain a shred of the necessary analysis to even try to prove its
apparently predisposed conclusion, even on its own terms. The Commission has not examined the demographics of suspect descriptions provided by victims, has not determined what proportion of
stops were self-initiated by officers, and has not concluded what percentage of stops were legally justified."
"Unless the Commission is suggesting that officers ignore descriptions and continuing crime patterns, this information will and should be utilized to help develop reasonable suspicion to legally stop a
The Response concluded by saying:
"In sum, it is the view of the NYPD that the Report is an unfortunate exercise in shoddy reporting, in
lieu of legitimate research methods, in order to publicly defame the reputation of the Department. As such, the Report is so poorly prepared that it is an embarrassment to the United States Government."
The bureaucrats in Washington didn't bring about the rebirth of our city; it was our own cops. The federal government would do well to look elsewhere to monitor the conduct of police. The NYPD is
the finest and the professional envy of the world of policing.
Copyright © 2000 Edward D. Reuss
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