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Monday, January 23, 2012

RIOC Does Not Want You To Have Full and Timely Information About Roosevelt Island Public Safety Events - Why?

Surveillance Image From Hawkinspi

Reported previously on the refusal of Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) to provide timely and full reports concerning Roosevelt Island Public Safety Incidents. The problem continues. For example, last week I sent the following request to RIOC's Press Spokesperson (RIOC Public Safety Director Keith Guerra is no longer permitted to respond to press inquiries):
I am following up on my inquiry regarding the 1/3- 1/4 unlawful surveillance arrest.

Please advise what was the nature of the unlawful surveillance.

Also, please provide additional details as to what happened regarding these incidents from the 1/18 - 1/19 daily public safety report.

Malfunction Con Edison Transformer - At 560 Main Street. FDNY shut off the power to it. Con Edison notified.

Investigation - At Lighthouse Park. Complaint against NYPD K-9 Training.

Oil Spill - At R.I. Bridge walkway. Corrected by Dept of Bridges personnel. No injuries.
RIOC's Press Spokesperson replied:
as we agreed to a while back, all the detail I can provide you with is time, location, and information about whether or not someone was injured. For everything else, you'll need to go through a FOIL request.
I responded to the Press Spokesperson copying RIOC Senior Staff and RIOC Directors:
Nothing was agreed to that precludes RIOC staff from providing additional information about Roosevelt Island Public Safety incidents in a timely and complete manner.

By requiring FOIL requests to be submitted for such simple questions regarding particular events which do not involve any individual or personal privacy interests merely increases the perception of many residents in the Roosevelt Island community that RIOC Staff is attempting to hide unpleasant or embarrassing incidents from becoming public.

Why is it necessary to FOIL what type of complaint was made about the NYPD K9 training at Octagon, what happened with the oil spill at RI Bridge Walkway and the Con Ed Transformer issue? Also, why won't RIOC provide further details about the unlawful surveillance arrest mentioned below or the Public Safety Officer who for no apparent reason crashed into 2 parked cars in front of PS/IS 217 recently.

There has been speculation that the officer may have been texting while driving. By providing timely and accurate information, RIOC will prevent unfounded rumors from spreading throughout the community. I find it difficult to understand why RIOC does not understand this simple concept.

I know this is not your decision but RIOC staff can easily provide this information without requiring any FOIL process. To do otherwise, only contributes to the appearance that RIOC staff is deliberately hiding information from the public.
 I also asked RIOC:
The RIOC December Public Safety Blotter reports on the 12/13 Child School Gun incident as follows:

JUVENILE RELATED (INCIDENTS)
12/13/2011 566 Main St NYPD ARREST Male student threatened staff with a gun and fled the scene.  Male was apprehended by NYPD and taken into custody.  Parents notified and on scene.

Does this report confirm that there was a gun present during the incident or that the student only claimed to have a gun and did not in fact have one? Also, why is this categorized as a Juvenile Related Incident? According to RIOC's statement, the student was 18.
RIOC's Press Spokesperson replied:
blotter doesn't confirm anything, just says there was a threat. It was categorized as a juvenile incident because it  happened in a school and psd did not know the student was 18.

21 comments :

YetAnotherRIer said...

I think I am with the RIOC here. Sorry, Rick. I know it would be awesome for everybody to have full transparency into our law enforcement department but let's be real. Not going to happen. I am perfectly happy with what the RIOC is giving us. Do I need to know if the kid owned a gun or was just threatening so? Do I need to know what complaints against the K-9 unit was filed? Not really. No.

CheshireKitty said...

There seems to be an effort to suppress uncomfortable information about RI. 

It started when the Wire stopped printing the details of the PSD blotter, which was one of the most interesting features of the paper.  The Wire says the blotter is available on-line but not everyone will go to the trouble to look it up.  Even so - why not print the police blotter since it is newsworthy.  It gives everyone a heads up on crime trends on RI.  

The reason RI crimes are not more widely publicized is that the big housing/investment companies do not want prospective tenants/owners scared off by an ongoing drumbeat of crime on RI.  So, the uncomfortable information about RI is suppressed.  

At least we have the blog which makes an effort to put up the police blotter and also ask PSD for more details regarding crime on RI.  

PSD/RIOC will stonewall about releasing more details; some of this has to do with privacy concerns - that's understandable; but mostly it's because the State of NY/RIOC, and the developers want to keep the illusion going that RI is somehow "safer", is a "special" place almost like a Disneyworld in the E. River, etc.; otherwise, the mega-dollars that the State and the developers poured into the place go to waste if people don't move in because of the crime..

YetAnotherRIer said...

You know that there are many other theories why law enforcement wants to control that flow of information, right? It doesn't take a conspiracy theory. But I agree, a partial reason is to keep parties doing business on this island happy. As I said below... there must be a balance with something as delicate as crime reports. It's a bit puzzling to me that this is not common sense.

Westviewer said...

How much does our Public Safety cost RIOC?  The vast majority of the incidents reported end with something like, aid refused, or search made with negative results, or item secured in office.    Is it worth it?  

jimmy laroche said...

Its not that serious. Try getting info for NYPD incidents or other agency incidents... Good luck! We have it pretty good, lets not loose what we currently have going for us.

jimmy laroche said...

Also, some things just cannot be published. Ever hear of an "ongoing investigation?".

Westviewer said...

What are the statistics from the actual police precinct?   Those would give us a more accurate sense of the crime rate here than whatever it is that pubic safety and RIOC choose to put out.

Westviewer said...

Statistics from the 114th Precinct, which includes Roosevelt Island: 
http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/crime_statistics/cs114pct.pdf

How many of those crimes occurred on the island? 

roozevelt said...

Of course it's worth it.  Why do you think Rick wants the information he seeks.  Having our own Law Enforcement entity here to handle all the quality of life issues that the NYPD won't handle is necessary.  I doubt that crime stats are being hidden.  They are posted on the RIOC Website.

theohiostate said...

I agree with both of your comments.  I don't think anybody is trying to hide anything.  In the incident with the student, the NYPD handled it.  Why are you hounding RIOC.  Go ask the NYPD!

jimmy laroche said...

Yea, Rick.. no offense but the nypd will laugh you off the phone and give you a run around to call their deputy commissioner of public information at 1pp. Then when you call they will requesy your press card, if you have one. Then you will wait until they verify, so that can take who know!

zoilalexie said...

The NYPD probably won't give Rick any information.  He won't waste his time bashing them, but he'll bash the RIOC for not giving him information, because he can get away with it.  I wonder why they feel the need to give him anything at all.  Most of it is trivial info at best.

YetAnotherRIer said...

I am a cynic, so please forgive me, but.... "Why do you think Rick wants the information he seeks." Imagine the PSD officer who crashed into a parking car was actually texting when it happened. Don't you see the headline on this blog already? Or if the youth indeed had a gun on him. Rick would have a field day with this.

TheFactFinder said...

I just want to know how was texting a factor? Perhaps he/she moved over to double park to do his/her job, but didnt realize how close they were? Maybe the officer was distracted by an incident? There are a 101 possible reasons.

Anything to stir the pot, huh Rick?

Just so you know rick before you say well the officer was not allowed to double park, well your wrong. Law enforcement are generally exempt from petty violations in performance of their duties. Same goes for an exemption of talking on a cellphone for law enforcement.

Westviewer said...

I'm sure that "our own law enforcement entity" thinks it's worth it.   I'm also sure the crime statistics are not being hidden, but our "entity" would like us to believe that there is actually more crime here than there actually is, in order to justify the large size of their force.   For example,  teenage boys "hanging out" may be obnoxious, but they are not a gang, in the criminal meaning of that term. 

jimmy laroche said...

Why were my comments deleted?

RooseveltIslander said...

Jimmy, your comments were not deleted. For some reason, they never appeared on this thread. Did you register with the Disques commenting system before commenting?

If you are still having problems with comments, send me an email and I will try and fix whatever is wrong.

RooseveltIslander said...

Public Safety Department is budgeted at $1.662 million according to RIOC 2012/2013 Fiscal Year Budget (page 9)
http://rioc.com/pdf/12-13ApprovedBudget.pdf

Also, from the 2012/2013 Budget at Page 9

" ... management is committed to limiting the current Public Safety
level to 41.50 employees (PS Director, Deputy Director, Captain, 37
Public Safety Officers, and an administrative assistant and a part-time
crossing guard), the same level that has been maintained the past three
years.  Even though a number of recent events have placed additional
demands on the public safety department:  (i)  The NYPD request to post a
public safety officer at each Tram station during rush hours (7am-10am
& 4pm-7pm). (ii) The full occupancy of Southtown Buildings 5 & 6
has increased overall population. (iii) Multiple construction projects,
construction workers, traffic and dangerous work sites. (iv) Opening of
Southpoint Park has increased more areas to patrol and an increase of
visitors to the Island. (v.) Increase in gang activity requiring special
training, overall crime has decreased on the Island.  As discussed
under the Capital Projects section, The “Island Security Camera Project”
will enable the increase in demands to be met through enhancing patrols
and also strategic Island surveillance..."

RooseveltIslander said...

Public Safety Department is budgeted at $1.662 million according to RIOC 2012/2013 Fiscal Year Budget (page 9)
http://rioc.com/pdf/12-13ApprovedBudget.pdf

Also, from the 2012/2013 Budget at Page 9

" ... management is committed to limiting the current Public Safety
level to 41.50 employees (PS Director, Deputy Director, Captain, 37
Public Safety Officers, and an administrative assistant and a part-time
crossing guard), the same level that has been maintained the past three
years...."

CheshireKitty said...

I agree with Roozevelt - it is worth it even if we are in the 114 Pct.  It's a densely populated area with only 1 street - thus the need for vertical patrols as well as multi-modal patrol capabilities such as bicycle, segue etc.  This role would have been filled by the NYC Housing Police if the island was a NYC project.  Instead, a specialized police force, the PSD, was started; it's definitely needed and a smart solution to the problem of maintaining order and ensuring security.  

zoilalexie said...

When I moved here in 1996, we had the same amount of officers and our population was half as much as it now.  So, I don't believe management should limit the officers.  They should get more, especially with a new College Campus coming here soon.