Archive for the ‘NYPD’ Category

Quick followup.

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

Those two NYPD cops who claimed they had “consensual sex” with a woman who they arrested?

They’ve been indicted.

Typically, when officers are charged with crimes, their colleagues come to court in a sea of blue uniforms to support them. But on Monday, not one officer appeared in court with Detectives Martins and Hall.

Random notes from the legal beat.

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Andrew M. Cuomo, the corrupt governor of the state of New York, has vetoed knife law reform. Again.

“In so doing, the Legislature has gone far beyond the innocent laborers carrying these knives for legitimate purposes and has grossly disregarded the concerns of law enforcement,” he wrote.

“the concerns of law enforcement”. Would this, by any chance, be the same law enforcement that says it is okay to have sex with an 18-year-old woman who is under arrest and in custody because “it was consensual”?

Speaking of having sex with teenage girls, a judge in Oakland dismissed conspiracy and bribery charges against a former Oakland PD officer.

Walterhouse faced two felony counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice after he was accused of tipping off a prostitute to an undercover FBI sting operation on International Boulevard on Oct. 13-14, 2016. The stings included finding suspects and victims of child sex-trafficking.

But Judge Murphy said the information Walterhouse offered was unsolicited advice and said it seemed like a “puppy love situation.” Walterhouse was infatuated with her, the judge said, and perhaps offered the information because he wanted to have sex with her.

Brad Heath, a reporter for USA Today, is tweeting that the DA for Suffolk County, NY, has been indicted for obstructing a federal civil rights investigation.

On the importance of having a good backup strategy.

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

I’m shocked that Borepatch and ASM826 aren’t on this like flies on a severed cow’s head at a Damien Hirst exhibition. But apparently it falls to me, as the ex-backup guy.

A non-profit organization in NYC called Bronx Defenders wants to study the NYPD’s asset forfeiture records. They filed a request for this information (under New York’s Freedom of Information law) in 2014, and litigation is ongoing.

The latest revelation? Not only is the NYPD saying they don’t have the technical capability to pull the data Bronx Defenders wants…

New York City is one power surge away from losing all of the data police have on millions of dollars in unclaimed forfeitures, a city attorney admitted to a flabbergasted judge on Tuesday.

More from Ars Technica:

…an attorney for the city told a Manhattan judge on October 17 that part of the reason the NYPD can’t comply with such requests is that the department’s evidence database has no backup. If the database servers that power NYPD’s Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS)—designed and installed by Capgemini under a $25.5 million contract between 2009 and 2012—were to fail, all data on stored evidence would simply cease to exist.

When it was activated in 2012, Capgemini vaunted PETS—which was built using SAP’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software platform as well as IBM DB2 databases—as a flagship public sector project. The company went as far as submitting PETS as a nominee for the 2012 Computerworld Honors awards. But the system was apparently designed without any scheme for backing up the database or any sort of data warehouse to perform analytics on the data.

Adding to this, the NYPD now actually disputes that the PETS database runs on DB2:

Neil tells me our whole argument is that the NYPD’s database is not an IBM database so he definitely didn’t say that NYPD personnel said “the database is in IBM.” He says he was referring the Petitioner’s expert, not any NYPD personnel. The “He” would be Robert Pesner, the Petitioner’s expert, not NYPD personnel.

Okay. So it doesn’t run on DB2. What the frack does it run on, and why are there still no backups?

(It looks to me like both Backup Exec and Commvault have DB2 agents. But I’ve been out of the business for a while, and can’t tell if those have been deprecated.)

Edited to add: Now the NYPD is saying that PETS is backed up:

Contrary to some published reports suggesting that NYPD does not electronically back up the data in its Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS), all such data is backed up continuously in multiple data centers.

Which, I guess, is good for the NYPD. But as Ars points out, it isn’t consistent with the statement in court that there are no backups of the forfeiture database, unless that database isn’t stored in PETS after all. That seems like the more likely explanation, but it raises the questions: where is it stored, why isn’t it backed up, and why is the NYPD so secretive about those first two questions?

Random jumbled notes: August 6, 2017.

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

I had no idea Tillman Fertitta could command that kind of money. (Also: the Rockets are worth more than the Clippers? And $85 million to $2.2 billion over 24 years? That’s an APR of about 14.5%, if I ran the numbers right. Anyone want to check me? ETA: Actually, I think I left a “0” off when I was doing the calculation the first time: it looks more like a 26% APR. ETA again: No, I was right the first time. I haven’t had enough coffee this morning.)

Speaking of return on investment, here’s a stock tip from WCD: sell this one short.

Over the past decade, the DNA laboratory in the office of […] chief medical examiner emerged as a pioneer in analyzing the most complicated evidence from crime scenes. It developed two techniques, which went beyond standard practice at the F.B.I. and other public labs, for making identifications from DNA samples that were tiny or that contained a mix of more than one person’s genetic material.

Now these DNA analysis methods are under the microscope, with scientists questioning their validity. In court testimony, a former lab official said she was fired for criticizing one method, and a former member of the […] Commission on Forensic Science said he had been wrong when he approved their use. The first expert witness allowed by a judge to examine the software source code behind one technique recently concluded that its accuracy “should be seriously questioned.”

A coalition of defense lawyers is asking the […] inspector general’s office — the designated watchdog for the state’s crime labs — to launch an inquiry into the use of the disputed analysis methods in thousands of criminal cases. While the inspector general has no jurisdiction over the court system, any finding of flaws with the DNA analysis could prompt an avalanche of litigation. Previous convictions could be revisited if the flawed evidence can be shown to have made a difference in the outcome.

“Oh, man, you’re not writing about the APD crime lab again, are you?” Actually, I’m not: this time, it’s the New York City DNA lab.

I still really would like to read an “explain like I’m five” piece from someone who really knows DNA and DNA testing. On the one hand, nobody (myself included) wants innocent people to go to jail. On the other hand, it increasingly seems to me like a lot of these issues resolve around subtle and sometimes disputed interpretations of statistics and statistical data.

This also points up something that I keep thinking about, and deserves a longer essay: how do we, and how should we, validate scientific investigative techniques used in criminal prosecution? It isn’t just DNA: how did comparative bullet-lead analysis ever become accepted? Or bite-mark analysis?

And what do we currently think we know, that ain’t necessarily so? Is there statistical evidence that supports the use of drug dogs, or is it possible that this is a “Clever Hans” phenomena? Has anybody ever done a controlled study?

The great Cardinals scandal of 2015 was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to high-tech sports cheating. (I know there’s a lot of biology and chemistry involved, but for some reason I don’t think of doping as “high-tech”.)

I’ve got a vague idea for a book series about a white hat computer security expert who specializes in investigating technological sports cheating: hacking other teams databases, abusing smart watches, maybe drone surveillance of practices, tapping into sideline radio communications…sort of a Myron Bolitar meets hacker riff. If anybody wants to take this idea, feel free.

Quick random notes: September 2, 2017.

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

Obit watch: Shelley Berman, noted stand-up comic.

Performing in upscale nightclubs and on concert stages, including Carnegie Hall at the height of his fame, he found humor in places where his borscht belt predecessors had never thought to look: ‘‘If you’ve never met a student from the University of Chicago, I’ll describe him to you. If you give him a glass of water, he says: ‘This is a glass of water. But is it a glass of water? And if it is a glass of water, why is it a glass of water?’ And eventually he dies of thirst.”
“Sometimes,” Mr. Berman told The New York Times in 1970, “I’m so oblique, even I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

(I’m going to have to start using “Were you very fond of that cat?” in conversation.)

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Before you answer that: the dinner is actually a testimonial being put on by an association of retired NYPD detectives. There will be two honorees:
John Russo, “who investigated the murder of Karina Vetrano, who was killed while jogging in Howard Beach, Queens, last year.”

And the other one? Retired detective Louis Scarcella.

Mr. Hynes eventually helped to overturn the guilty verdict of David Ranta, partly blaming Mr. Scarcella for botching the murder case. When Mr. Thompson became the district attorney in 2014, he began a broad investigation — still ongoing — of what was ultimately more than 70 of Mr. Scarcella’s old cases. So far, prosecutors have reversed the convictions in eight of those cases, and judges have overturned another few, but the district attorney’s office has repeatedly maintained that Mr. Scarcella has not committed any punishable conduct or broken the law.

The event’s sponsor is aware that Mr. Scarcella is a polarizing figure. John Wilde, the retired detective who organized the evening, claimed he chose to honor the detective not in spite of the controversy, but because of it.
Mr. Scarcella did not prosecute the defendants who ended up in prison; he investigated and arrested them, Mr. Wilde said. Many people had a hand in the convictions that went wrong, but at least so far, Mr. Wilde added, only Mr. Scarcella has gotten any blame for the cases, and the ordeal has taken a toll.

Just as a reminder:

Detective Scarcella and his partner, Stephen Chmil, according to investigators and legal documents, broke rule after rule. They kept few written records, coached a witness and took Mr. Ranta’s confession under what a judge described as highly dubious circumstances. They allowed two dangerous criminals, an investigator said, to leave jail, smoke crack cocaine and visit with prostitutes in exchange for incriminating Mr. Ranta.

Obit watch: July 27, 2017.

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

June Foray, one of the greatest voice talents ever. (Edited to add 7/28: NYT obit.)

I’ll quote at length the A/V Club obit just to give you some idea of the scope of her work:

…it would probably be easier to list the beloved animated series she didn’t appear on: Her versatile voice showed up in The Flintstones, Peter Pan, Mister Magoo, dozens of Looney Tunes shorts—with director Chuck Jones supposedly once noting that “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc, Mel Blanc was the male June Foray”—The Twilight Zone (where she voiced murderous doll Talky Tina), Woody Woodpecker, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Get Smart, Curious George, Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends, Alvin & The Chipmunks, The Smurfs, DuckTales, The Real Ghostbusters, Tiny Toon Adventures, Gummi Bears, Garfield And Friends, Rugrats, Felix The Cat, Mulan, Family Guy, The Powerpuff Girls, and, of course, Rocky And His Friends (and its 2000 film version).

She was 99. What a life.

This isn’t quite an obit, but I want to put it up anyway:

The baby is Angelina Liu. She’s the daughter of Sanny Liu and Officer Wenjian Liu of the NYPD.

Officer Liu and his partner, Rafael Ramos, were ambushed and killed in their patrol car on December 20, 2014. The suspect later committed suicide. The Liu’s had been married for three months: Mrs. Liu asked the doctors to harvest and preserve her husband’s sperm so that she could have his child.

Awful lot of dust in the air, you know? F’ing allergies or something.

Random notes: June 1, 2017.

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

The NYT is offering buyouts to some of the staff.

In a memo to the newsroom, Dean Baquet, the executive editor, and Joseph Kahn, the managing editor, said the current system of copy editors and “backfielders” who assign and shape articles would be replaced with a single group of editors who would be responsible for all aspects of an article. Another editor would be “looking over their shoulders before publication.”

I probably would not have noted this story if it wasn’t for another aspect of it: the paper of record is also eliminating the “public editor” position.

Mr. Sulzberger, in a newsroom memo, said the public editor’s role had become outdated.
“Our followers on social media and our readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog, more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be,” he wrote. “Our responsibility is to empower all of those watchdogs, and to listen to them, rather than to channel their voice through a single office.”

Am I reading this right? Is Sulzberger basically saying he plans to turn the role of the public editor over to the screaming mob – you know, the screaming mob that threatened to cancel their subscriptions because the paper published views by someone they disagreed with?

On Tuesday, The Times announced the creation of the Reader Center, an initiative that appeared to overlap somewhat with the public editor’s role. The center will be responsible for responding directly to readers, explaining coverage decisions and inviting readers to contribute their voices.

Or am I reading this wrong?

Speaking of “reading this wrong”, there has to be more to this story than meets the eye:

A New York City police sergeant who fatally shot a mentally ill woman in her Bronx apartment in October was charged on Wednesday with murder in the woman’s death.

The charges are “second-degree murder, first- and second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide”. He’s already been suspended without pay, and was “stripped of his badge and gun and placed on modified duty” after the shooting.

Initially, the police said that Sergeant Barry persuaded Ms. Danner to drop a pair of scissors, but that she picked up a bat and tried to swing at him. Only Sergeant Barry was in the bedroom with Ms. Danner.

Some people might say that I’m a cop groupie, and that I want to make excuses for cops. It’s true that I’ve been through two citizen’s police academy classes. I think I have an informed perspective on how the police work. But I also think I’m a rational and reasonable person. I’m a lot more sympathetic to the views of people like Grits and Radley Balko than I probably let on (though a lot of that has to do more with the courts and jails than boots-on-the-ground police work).

I wish we did a better job of handling mental illness in this country. I think the APD, in particular, is making great efforts in this area. But a lot of their recent shootings have been of emotionally disturbed/mentally ill people. I wish that wasn’t the case. But in all the recent cases I know about, unless new evidence has emerged, these were emergent situations where either an officer or a bystander was in immediate danger and the police officers didn’t have a choice on how to respond.

Someone in one of my CPA classes made the point: we expect the police to solve, in 30 minutes, family and social problems that have taken years – even generations – to emerge.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, said Sergeant Barry had not followed police protocol for dealing with people with mental illness. Specifically, he did not use his stun gun to try to subdue Ms. Danner, and he did not wait for a specialized Emergency Service Unit to arrive.

I quoted Tam back in October when this happened, and I’ll borrow from her again:

A baseball bat to the cranium is lethal force and don’t kid yourself otherwise. You start lethal forcing at me and I’m gonna lethal force right back at you to make you stop.

And if Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill don’t believe a baseball bat is lethal force, I invite them to join me in Times Square and let me swing baseball bats at their heads.

The “didn’t wait for ESU” thing may be more defensible, but that’s a policy violation, not a murder charge. And if he believed someone was being carved up with scissors, or was doing themselves harm, was he supposed to wait for ESU to arrive, whenever that was? I’ll also concede the point that the officer may have lied about the circumstances: I hope not, but if that is the basis for the prosecution, it should come out at trial. Meanwhile: body cameras.

And finally, speaking of “lethal force right back at you”, I should have noted this story last night. But it was still kind of emergent, and I had a bad day yesterday.

Two bounty hunters show up at a car dealership because they believe a wanted fugitive may make an appearance. They may, or may not, have identified themselves as “federal agents”.

After several hours, bad guy shows up. Bounty hunters corner him in an office. Bad guy goes for his gun, apparently drops it on the desk, goes to retrieve it. There’s a scuffle.

And when it is all over, both bounty hunters and the bad guy are dead.

I don’t know what lessons can be learned from this. Maybe “don’t drop your gun”? Or “if you have the tactical advantage, press it”? It just seems bizarre and worth noting.

New York, New York, it’s a hell of a town…

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

..the cops are crooks and the gun dealers are too. The mimes are food for the bums underground! New York, New York!

(Sorry, had to shoehorn that in somewhere.)

Anyway, more indictments in the NYC bribes for gun licenses scandal. NYT version here, but I prefer the NYPost version Mike the Musicologist sent me.

Paul Dean and Robert Espinel, worked in the NYPD’s Licensing Division before retiring, and allegedly approved permits for kickbacks including cash “food, alcohol, parties, dancers and prostitutes” from gun expediters, the newly unsealed complaint says.

So, wait. The cops were being bribed with hookers? Because I’m thinking, if I’m a crooked cop, I can just go out, flash my badge, and get my own hookers. But maybe there’s less risk of an IA investigation if you let someone else procure the hookers for you. Trade offs.

Dunn and Espinel…

…allegedly accepted bribes and kickbacks from gun expediters, including Gaetano “Guy” Valastro, 58, a retired detective who owns firearms store Valastro International Tactical Academy in Queens and is also charged in the scandal.

Should I feel bad for Valastro? On the one hand, he’s a party to a massive scheme to shake down citizens for exercising their rights. On the other hand, he’s trying to run a gun store in Queens: can you blame him if he felt like he had to go along to get along? On the gripping hand, he’s a retired cop who decided to run a gun store in Queens, instead of someplace in free America.

In a separate complaint, also unsealed Tuesday, a fourth man, John Chambers — the former prosecutor who calls himself the “Top Firearms Licensing Attorney in New York” on his website touting his legal services — allegedly bribed NYPD Sgt. David Villanueva, 43, with Broadway shows, tickets to sports game and an $8,000 Paul Picot watch to expedite gun licenses, sometimes as quickly as a day.

Here’s that website for you. Note the URL. I wonder how much that cost him.

(Also: someone please tell me the “Broadway shows” Villanueva got tickets for included “Hamilton”.)

Have to go back to work now. Will update later if I see any more revolting developments.

Obit watch: January 11, 2017.

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Michael Chamberlain, ex-husband of Lindy Chamberlain and father of Azaria Chamberlain.

You may remember the Chamberlains from the “dingo ate my baby” case, which I have touched on before.

Detective Steven McDonald of the NYPD. Det. McDonald was shot by a 15-year-old boy in 1986. The shooting left him completely paralyzed from the neck down.

A plainclothes police officer when he was shot, Officer McDonald remained on the Police Department’s payroll afterward as a first-grade detective, at times appearing at roll calls and offering support for wounded officers.
His son, Conor, who was born six months after the shooting, is a sergeant with the New York Police Department and represents the fourth generation of the family to serve in the department.

Noted.

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

The conviction of John Dwayne Bunn for the killing of Rolando Neischer, an off-duty corrections officer, has been overturned.

In 1991, Mr. Bunn, then 14, was arrested on charges of killing Rolando Neischer in the Kingsborough housing project in the Crown Heights neighborhood. According to trial testimony, two men on bicycles had approached a parked car in which Mr. Neischer was sitting with another officer, Robert E. Crosson, and ordered them to get out. A gun battle followed and Mr. Neischer was fatally wounded. Mr. Crosson, who was shot and wounded in the fight, survived and eventually identified Mr. Bunn and a second man, Rosean S. Hargrave, as the gunmen. Both men were later convicted of Mr. Neischer’s murder.

Why was the conviction overturned?

…the judge wrote that his “malfeasance in fabricating false identification evidence gravely undermines the evidence that convicted the defendants in this case.”

And who is the judge referring to here? Our old friend Louis Scarcella.

Art update.

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

The Jerry Orbach Memorial Art Car is funded.

I’m looking forward to getting my bumper stickers.

Questions: which one should I put on? I’m kind of partial to “My child is a honor student…”, but feel free to argue your case in the comments.

And which one should I take off to make room? Right now, I’m thinking: as much as I liked CHeston, and as much of an NRA supporter as I am, the “My President Is Charlton Heston” one is faded almost to the point of being unreadable. It might be time to let go. (And I’ve got window stickers out the wazoo.)

NYPD blues.

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Quickies:

Bobby Shmurda has been sentenced to seven years in prison. He does not seem to be happy with his legal representation.

(Previously.)

In Quick Response, de Blasio Calls Fatal Shooting of Mentally Ill Woman ‘Unacceptable’

The two men pledged a thorough investigation, and even as the inquiry was still in its earliest stages, the department took disciplinary action against the officer, Sgt. Hugh Barry, stripping him of his gun and badge and placing him on modified duty less than six hours after Ms. Danner was killed.

Sergeant Barry persuaded her to put down a pair of scissors she was holding in her bedroom, according to initial police accounts. But then, according to those same accounts, Ms. Danner picked up a baseball bat and tried to swing at Sergeant Barry. He fired twice, fatally wounding her, the police said. Several other officers were at the scene, but none of them, except Sergeant Barry, were in the bedroom.

I could rant about this at some length, especially the “use a stun gun” part. But that’s already been done better by somebody else.

I love this line, which Tam added since I first read her post:

The use of force spectrum is not like baseball. You do not have to touch every base. If you need to run straight home from second, that’s perfectly legal.