Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RIOC Operations Committee Receives Report On Status Of Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department - Crime Low and Decreasing, Use Of Tasers Being Requested

The June 4 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Operations Committee meeting held a review of the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department. Public Safety Director Keith Guerra reviewed the current state of the department as compared to how it was before he became Director four years ago. Mr. Guerra provided statistics showing that crime on Roosevelt Island is low and has been decreasing. I missed the meeting but here's the audio web cast of what happened. Mr. Guerra's remarks begin at the 3 minute 40 second mark and end at 1 hour 12 minute mark.

At the 25 minute mark, Mr. Guerra asks the RIOC Operations Committee Directors to consider allowing Public Safety Officers to be equipped with Tasers to better protect the officers from injuries caused by suspects resisting arrest, for help gaining compliance from suspects as well as preventing disturbed people from injuring themselves.

Here's an example of a taser demonstration:

On the other hand, Gothamist reported in October 2011:
Tasers, or "Conducted Energy Devices," are an increasingly popular method of "non-lethal" force in police departments across New York State, as well as being trusted companions at the ballgame. However, according to a new report [pdf] from the NYCLU, "police officers are using Tasers in inappropriate, irresponsible and downright deadly manner." As the saying goes: shoot 50,000 volts of electricity into somebody's chest first, ask questions later.

Studying 851 Taser incidents from eight police department across the state (including the NYPD), 60% of those cases did not meet the expert-recommended standards that restrict the use of a Taser to "situations where officers can document active aggression or a risk of physical injury." 40% of the incidents involved "at-risk subjects" like the elderly, children, the visibly infirm, or those who were seriously intoxicated or mentally ill....
Will have more on Taser issue in future posts.

Mr. Guerra also mentioned the possibility of bringing explosive detection dogs to monitor Roosevelt Island transportation facilities at the 22 minute mark.

Full audio web cast of RIOC June 4 Operations Committee meeting is here.

Below is the April 2012 Roosevelt Island Public Safety Blotter

and Public Safety Statistics for January - April 2012.


Mark Lyon said...

If they need weapons, I would rather see PSD armed with firearms over TASERs.  I spent a considerable amount of time, on behalf of the estate of a former client who died after being shocked, researching the lethality and use of TASERs.  It turns out that officers were far more likely to use them in circumstances where other methods of obtaining compliance could have been safer for all involved.  With a firearm, they understand and respect the severity of escalating force to that level.

The next operations meeting is intended to cover bike and red bus issues. I hope that the Corporation will work with Alta Bike Share to get stations on the island (and that they take down the "no overnight bike parking" signs for private bikes).  Being able to take a bike from Motorgate to the Subway/Tram and back at the ends of my commute, instead of waiting for the Red Bus, would be awesome. I'm certain others would enjoy it as well.

While thinking about the Red Bus, though, I'm shocked by the silliness of paying my quarter each way. I often see people board and not pay (not just students), completely unchallenged, which makes me feel like a fool for ponying up my change each way. According to the budget, the fares will be going up this year to help recoup some of the $1,068,960 expected subsidy.  It appears that the Red Bus will cost $1,554,960 to operate in the 12-13FY.  

Wouldn't it be easier and more effective to pass that cost along as an assessment for each residential unit?  I can't find anything on RIOC's site that gives an accurate count of residential units, but the USPS EDDM system shows 4,992 residential mail locations in 10044. That's around $312/year/unit.  Less than a dollar a day per apartment. Not a bad deal at all.  With a bit of balancing, the impact on low-income tenants could be reduced without having a significant impact on other apartments.  The bus would be faster, since it could operate like the MTA's Select Bus Service where people can board from any door, having already prepaid.

Westviewer said...

PSD has a huge presence on Main Street, complete with green lights suggesting a real police station.  Now they want to be armed.  What do they ultimately want -- a police state?  Consider carefully what you wish for.  There has recently been a $4.5 million verdict for the family of someone killed by a TASER.  Our PSD is known for its overreactions.  Think of the consequences.   

zoilalexie said...

It's par for the course to see such a slanted view of a tool that could better equip our Island Officers (who do a great job while being unarmed).  I've seen first hand the disrespect shown to them as they try to keep order in our community.  They caught the piece of slime that stole my daughter's cell phone, and he faught with the Officers who were arresting him.  One of the Officers injured his hand in the scuffle, but they were able to bring him in.  I think they should have Tasers and Firearms, so they can better protect themselves and the good citizens of the island as well.

Mark Lyon said...

The problem is that stories like this ( ) are not a rarity.  When equipped with the ability to use "non-lethal" force, officers sometimes decide to deploy it at times where it is not required.  See also the UC Davis Pepper Spray incident.

Westviewer said...

Yes, some people are ready for a police state.

Jesse Webster said...

A terrible idea to equip these security guards with Tasers. They already have an escalation point -- the NYPD. If crime is low and trending lower, the risks of potential abuse of "non-lethal" force far outweigh any perceived benefit.

theohiostate said...

Jesse must live in a bubble.  This is New York City, and last I checked, even though crime stats may be trending down, there's always the possibility of something bad happening.  Also, they're not Security Guards.  They're Peace Officers just like the Coop City Officers where my parents live.  They carry guns there.  These people do the same job as the NYPD.  They should be equipped as such.

CheshireKitty said...

That's very interesting, Mark.  I think you would make a good addition to the RIOC Board. 

CheshireKitty said...

Is it or is it not time for the PSD to be absorbed by the NYPD?  Has a "critical mass" of population/activity/visitors etc been reached where we may be better served by the PD?  

Anonymous said...

If PSD was dissolved all Roosevelt Island would be to the NYPD is a simple sector.there would be no permanent law enforcement presence car nypd would come onto the island,drive down main st and leave just like they do now. even though they aren't armed,if PSD left the island,I would move off of here cause the island criminals would start running rampant

theohiostate said...

You make a good point, but that's why there's Training.  I'm sure our officers will receive the proper training - in when to use and when not to use.  Ultimately, they are charged with making split-second decisions.  We have to trust that they will only use their various articles of equipment, when they need to.  That's a Law Enforcement officer's job.  The department here is small enough to make sure they get the training they need.  That might be harder in larger departments like the NYPD - which has over 30,000 officers.

YetAnotherRIer said...

"While thinking about the Red Bus, though, I'm shocked by the silliness of paying my quarter each way."

Don't you think that the buses will be even more crowded if they were entirely free? I guess there are two ways to look at the purpose of busing on our small island: a convenience service or a service for those who really need it. You could argue for something in between but that's left as an exercise for the reader. I personally am all in favor for raising the price of the bus. I am also in favor for making entering and exiting a lot easier. We should look at the Select Bus model (which is used by many transit agencies all over the world as well): it's based on an honor principle. You buy a ticket and keep it with you while you ride. At random times conductors would board the bus and check everybody's tickets. Something along these lines. The bus is too crowded to do something like that but it's just a thought experiment right now.

"I often see people board and not pay (not just students), completely unchallenged, which makes me feel like a fool for ponying up my change each way."

That's not really an argument for making the bus free.

Westviewer said...

You are an optimist.  

Mark Lyon said...

The crowding is an issue - unlimited services will probably get more use.  But, it's possible to estimate and charge for that additional use as well.

I recognize that assessing each residential unit for the cost of red bus operations is likely not going to happen (it would require modifications to the leases, etc).  But, offering a "yearly pass" at a reasonable price might tempt some tenants to chip in a larger share than they might be paying now.  For instance, a number of MP and Octagon residents would probably be happy to pay a reasonable premium in exchange for unlimited rides and the elimination of the spare change hassle. Anything extra extracted from people buying a pass would offset the current red bus deficit and possibly even support increased buses or frequency.
In my ideal system, RIOC would offer a series of services for residents that could be purchased on a "per apartment" basis - everyone on the lease (plus children) would be entitled to enjoy the purchased benefits.  I could see combining red bus, motorgate parking, sportspark and tennis memberships into a single "RIOC Pass" card with discounts for buying multiple services.

Using RFID or other cards on the Red Bus would require some (potentially expensive) modifications to the fare box, but if the cards had large, clear photos it is possible that no reader would be needed - just flash the card to the driver and they could hit the "no fare" button on the box.  If the photo were the full size of the card and the services were identified with a colored border, it would be easy to ensure nobody is using someone else's pass.

roozevelt said...

PSD can not be absorbed by the NYPD.  They are State Officers, not City.  The Inspector from the Precinct came here and said we would not get more of an NYPD presence, other than the 1 Officer that Patrols here 5 evenings a week.  He also said the PSD does a good job, and that's why crime is so low here.  Be happy we have them.

mpresident said...

The lady with no legs that parks herself in front of the door of 10 river road, at the bus stop in front of 10 river road, and, my favorite, at the end of the check out line at Gristedes, should be considered part of the crime problem.  Remember, panhandling is against the law.  I have reported her to Public Safety multiple times, as well as MP management and Gristedes management. She is like a cockroach.

Jesse Webster said...

Yes, I do live in a bubble. It's called Roosevelt Island. My main concern with PSD is that it wants to expand its ability to use force, but lacks an objective outside investigative panel to look into misconduct. NYPD has the Civilian Complaint Review Board, and PSD should have something equivalent. Until that point, I don't think they should have access to additional weapons.

YetAnotherRIer said...

I agree. She's a bit annoying. She's been improving, though, and I haven't seen her panhandling in a while now. She used to sit right at the exit doors of Gristedes...

Josie Chamla said...

She was very threatening to me one day as I walked along Main street with my 2 young children.  She demanded money (wheeled herself right in front of me, held out her hand and shouted "MONEY" from me, and when I explained that I don't carry cash, she became abusive shouting at me that I BETTER START CARRY CASH CAUSE NEXT TIME SHE WONT BE SO NICE....  She was actually very intimidating and my children were scared.

chet7 said...

“Five seconds after a Taser disables a subject the subject is back to normal”   This statement fails to acknowledge that it is more common for officers to continue Tasing a subject than to simply let up once they’ve hit the ground.  You can see several videos on youtube of this dangerous and inappropriate use of Tasers in attempts to subdue dastardly U.S. citizens from exercising their constitutional rights to assembly and free speech.  Tasers are NOT non lethal…, they are less lethal than being shot.  However the police seem to have a great deal more disgresion in using Tasers than firearms.  The potential for abuse is there and unfortunately many officers carrying are living up to their potential. 

Mark Lyon said...

I actually just saw another taser use article:

RIformenotu said...

PSD should tase those Southtown dogowners for walking on the prohibited sidewalks with their dogs.  Maybe then they'll finally get the message that dogs are *not allowed in public* anywhere on the island, as it should be.  People with dogs don't have civil rights and should be subject to use of force and ticketing just by being in public on Roosevelt Island.

Salvatore Anthony Hoo said...

I could not agree with you more. Between her and the half man who pan handles at the train EVERY day,  they are a problem. Not to mention thge impression it makes on this great Island when new people come to visit for the 1st time.

CheshireKitty said...

I never heard that dogs are not allowed in public on the island.  You should confirm that with Public Safety/RIOC before making such a statement. My impression is that they are allowed in public, on the sidewalks but not on designated green areas, although other green areas such as small green strips near the sidewalks may be OK.  The owners just as everywhere in NY must clean up after their dogs.  Because it's such a tiny island and green space is at a premium, there are regulations prohibiting dogs from walking on some of the parkland, as at Blackwell Park.  That doesn't mean dogs are not allowed out in public.  

Marissa Leigh said...

No self respecting adult should be writing a statement like that. This Island may not have been dog friendly 35 years ago and there were no cell phones, internet, or blogs for ignorant people like you to post idiotic comments either but you seem to be enjoying the last luxury. Things change and this Island has changed and is now DOG FRIENDLY! Most of the expensive buildings we live in ARE DOG FRIENDLY -We dog owners respect the places on the Island where we are / are not allowed. Dogs are allowed on the Island and you should really get used to this fact because the dog population will only increase once Related opens their new buildings. 

NYCIslander said...


JimmyLaRoche said...

Its a shame. Almost like we live in England and not within new York city! Hello people it's dangerous out there!

JimmyLaRoche said...

7 hours later and not one single reply?

Why are we so scared to face reality?

Mark Lyon said...

RIOC apepars to be moving forward with implementation.  Via facebook: 

Community meeting hosted by the Public Safety Department on the Taser Implementation Program. The Roosevelt Island community is invited to attend a presentation led by Keith Guerra, Director of Public Safety on the planned Taser Implementation Program. The presentation will take place Thursday July 12th, 6:00 PM at the Manhattan Park Theater Club, located at 8 River Road. Representatives from Taser International and a Police Sergeant/Taser Instructor will also be in attendance. Following the presentation, there will be a Q&A session in regards to the plan. 

JimmyLaRoche said...

Good for them AND for us.

Although I agree with you that they should have guns instead, as the taser sounds likes a plan B approach to their required tools.

RooseveltIslander said...

 I don't think the Taser demonstration indicates RIOC is moving forward with implementation but is merely providing an opportunity for Mr. Guerra to make his case for the need to the community.

In the past, RIOC Directors have opposed arming Public Safety Officers with tasers and/or guns. It will be interesting to see what new rationale and evidence Mr. Guerra provides to demonstrate the need for RIOC Directors to reverse their previous policy and to now arm Public Safety officers with Tasers.

JimmyLaRoche said...

Evidence? Seriously?

Home > Facts & Figures > Officer Fatality Data >  Causes of Law Enforcement Deaths
Causes of Law Enforcement Deaths
Over the Past Decade (2002-2011)

CAUSE OF DEATH 2011 2010  2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 TOTAL
Aircraft Accidents  1 2 4 3 3 3 2 3 1 7 29
Auto Crashes  41 50 38 44 61 46 43 51 52 44 470
Beaten  1 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 2 9
Bicycle Accident  0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 3
Boating Accident  0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
Bomb-Related Incident  1 0 0 2 0 0 1 2 0 1 7 
Drowned  4 3 0 1 4 0 4 3 4 3 26
Electrocuted  1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 4
Fall  4 1 0 0 3 0 4 1 2 0 15
Horse-Related Accident  0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 
Job-Related Illness  18 15 17 19 19 21 23 19 9  13 173
Motorcycle Crashes  5 6 3 9 10 11 5 10 11 7 77
Poisoned  0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
Shot  70 59 49 40 69 54 60 59 50 60 570
Stabbed  2 0 0 2  0 1 1 1 1 2 10
Strangled  1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2
Struck by Falling Object  0 0 0 0 1 0 2 1 0 1 5
Struck by Train  2 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 2 7
Struck by Vehicle  11 14 11 18 14 16 16 13 13 14 140
Terrorist Attack  1 0 0 0 5 1 0 1 0 0 8
Total  163  154 122 141 190 156 162 165 149 157 1,559
Updated April 2012

ADDITIONAL DATA 2011  2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
Female Officers Killed 11 7 2 14 6 7 5 9 6 15
Alcohol-Related Deaths 14 21 9 14 25 15 15 26 14 13
Drug-Related Deaths 9 12 5 8 21 12 10 15 13 2
Officers Killed Wearing Body Armor 63% 64% 66% 64% 71% 64% 55% 53% 74% 62%
Updated April 2012

JimmyLaRoche said...

You are seriously dillusional. Are you going to do a law enforcement job with no real defense tools?

A stick is not enough if you encounter a man with a knife or gun.

The escalation of force for police is to match or use one above the level they are using on you. So.. If the subject is using a bat, an officer can use a gun. If a subject is using their fist, an officer can use his mace or stick. If a subject has a knife or gun... Well... Now what? Run? No! Use a gun!

theohiostate said...

The NYPD has the CCRB because it employs over 35,000 Officers.  And, that panel gets paid to conduct their investigations. 

We have 37 officers here.  Also, what body oversees Coop City, Parkchester, Seagate or Peter Cooper Village?  Smaller Public Safety Departments don't need a panel.  Plus, who's going to pay that panel, you Jesse?

JimmyLaRoche said...

I have known of parkchester and Peter cooper from visiting friends in their building developments.

Here is the thing, those departments are private and don't fall under a specific government entity such as psd.

Their duties are nowhere near the same as psd. The most I seen them domes write a parking ticket. They make no arrests and do not do field police work.

The island is truly unique as we are "isolated" and depend on psd, whereas those communities do not.

I know that a year or so ago, one of our elected officials made a state police/ law enforcement "ccrb" style panel for governmental law enforcement agencies. This was to include ri psd, but haven't heard anything else.

An Xia Wei said...

Really? Have you ever actually tried smiling and saying hi to either? I do it every time and each time get a very polite greeting. I bet they have lived here longer than most of us. 

Mark Lyon said...

From a ninth circuit opinion issued today:

...metabolic acidosis, a condition under which lactic acid—a  byproduct of physical exertion—accumulates more quickly than the body can dispose of it, causing the pH in the body to decrease. The condition makes sudden cardiac arrest more likely.

Plaintiffs-appellants, Michael’s parents, Evelyn and Robert,and his daughter Holly (collectively  “Rosas”) brought thislawsuit against TASER, as manufacturer of the M26, asserting that Michael died because it had provided an inadequatewarning of the dangers of the product to the officers who usedit. They pursued both strict liability and negligence theoriesunder California law based upon this failure to warn. At thetimes in question, TASER provided warnings that read in relevant part:"While the medical evidence strongly supports the[M26] will not cause lasting effects or fatality, it isimportant to remember the very nature of physicalconfrontation involves a degree of risk that someonewill get hurt or may even be killed due to unforeseencircumstances and individual susceptibilities.Accordingly, the [M26] should be treated as a serious weapon and should only be deployed in situations where the alternative would be to use other force measures which carry similar or higher degrees of risk.The Rosas claimed that TASER also should have warned thatrepeated exposure to the M26 carried its own risks, particularly the risk that it can cause fatal levels of metabolic acidosis. 


The warning in 2009 was changed to include: 

“The ECD can produce physiologic or metabolic effects which include, but are not limited to, changes in acidosis. . . . Reasonable efforts should be made to minimize the number of ECD exposures and resulting physiologic and metabolic effects.” It continues by warning law enforcement officers to pay special attention to “physiologically or metabolically compromised” suspects, including those with cardiac disease and the effects of drugs in their systems. These individuals, TASER warns, “may already be at risk of death or serious injury . . . [;] any physiologic or metabolic change may cause or contribute to
death or serious injury.” 

KidKilowatt said...

Sorry to revive a stale thread, but I just noticed this. The "half man" is named José Rodriguez. He's had more than his share of problems, and in my experience he's a pretty nice guy, although I certainly don't know him well and I know he has his ups and downs.

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