RIRA Public Safety Committee Recommends Studying Replacing Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department With Off Duty NYPD Officers, Seeks Greater Access To Public Safety Incident Information and Results of Prior Investigation
Follow up Initiatives:and the letter sent by RIRA Public Safety Committee to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Acting President Don Lewis requesting an investigation into the Steuber arrest.
Vertical Patrols of Wire buildings. Report from member’s constituents is that if the patrols are being done, they are not visible. One member spoke of seeing the patrol for the first time on the 7th floor in 560. Westview and Island House representatives have not seen Officers anywhere but at the door station of the buildings. Discussion focused on PS staffing issues, as presented in the WIRE article by Frank. Committee is interested in obtaining a break down of how the 37 Officers are utilized, and their ranks.
Traffic Control: PS Officers are being seen at bottom of the ramp on Saturday, during the Farmer’s Market, usually directing traffic. Week day shifts vary in quality with a couple of days a week when the PS vehicle is parked at the bottom of the ramp, with the lights going, but with the officer sitting inside the car rather then outside it directing traffic.
Motorgate Patrols: There appears to be less visibility of vehicles driving through Motorgate than in the past. Members stated that they never see PS Officers on the stairs, or on foot patrols in other areas inside Motorgate, where individuals urinate creating quality of life issues.
Parking Enforcement: A member stated that there are still problems around South Town with unauthorized vehicles not been ticketed. In one instance a vehicle was illegally parked, with Jersey Plates, and a Florida Hang Tag. When PS Officers had it brought to their attention they did not take any action. Residents complain that they never see officers on foot patrols. Another member mentioned that she had not been seeing flagrant abuse of parking enforcement in the North Town area.
Investigation into the Stueber incident: The Committee discussed the Resolution which was adopted by the RIRA Common Council in October 2012 requesting an investigation into this incident . Committee members' noted that they were unaware of any investigative action that might have been taken by RIOC, concerning this incident. Following a discussion on tactics It was decided that the Committee Chair would write a letter to RIOC requesting an update on what steps had been taken to investigate the Public Safety Officer's handling of this incident.
Women's Safety: Laila voiced her concern, for the women on the Island, following the incident she experienced when a young man exposed himself to her while they were on the Manhattan side elevator of the Tram, then came across to the Island. She reported it to PSD but has not heard any updates. The Committee agreed that they would follow up with Director Guerra on what progress had been made on the case. Other ideas discussed for actions that might be explored were as follows: an educational campaign on Women's safety, creation of flyers for distribution within the community, a discussion with Director Guerra on what his department can do to make the women feel safer.
Committee’s Goals for the new term:
The following motion was put to the committee, seconded and adopted by a unanimous vote. The committee agreed to make a Public Call for volunteers to be part of this study group.
“To create a study group whose purpose is to explore the viability of replacing the PSD with an off duty detail of NYPD officers.”
Committee as would like to see the following changes initiated:
a) Increase the community’s access to information concerning the changes within the PSD, as well as information of the specifics of crimes on the Island.
b) Hold quarterly Town Hall Meetings with Public Safety Director to allow a forum for the community to be kept informed of updates and where residents are able to bring their concerns to the table.
c) Respect and answer questions from the Community's media, to allow the dissemination of facts through the community's media channels.
Visibility: More foot patrols of Officers throughout the Island.
Professionalism: Increased training of Officers focusing on: de-escalation techniques, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Sensitivity.
Community Safety Education: Increase public safety education campaigns to include women's issues.
Next Meeting set for 1/16/13 @ 7:30pm in the Senior Center
Minutes respectfully submitted by Erin Feely-Nahem
October 2012 Common Council meeting is here.
RIRA Common Council member Frank Farance adds:
I've heard parents complain that they fear Public Safety more than any gang influence. Some recent events are on-going problems that parents have known for years.
On New Years Eve, eight teenagers (ages 15-19) were arrested for trespassing: waiting in a Westview stairwell (because it was too cold outside) for one of their friends to come down from his apartment so they could go to an event off-Island. None of the kids were making noise, drinking, smoking pot, or making a nuisance. They were all handcuffed and, rather than walk from 591 to Public Safety, were put in police cruisers to drive 200 feet (for a big perp display), then put in holding cells. They were all issued summonses for trespassing and released later on. One of the adult teenagers possessed unopened bottles of alcohol, another adult teenager possessed pot, the remainder kids had done nothing wrong, they were just waiting for a friend to then leave.
The kids need to have their Miranda Rights read to them as soon as they were in custody, i.e., somewhere between putting their hands up against the wall and being handcuffed. Public Safety officers should be reading them their rights because Public Safety (as we can see from its criminal complaints and testimony) can, has, and will use their statements against them. Lieutenant Yee was on duty that night and supervised the arrests. Yee has two decades of experience and there were a handful of officers that helped, but none of them have the training to read Miranda Rights properly? PSD needs to train their officers to read Miranda Rights at the point in time when the suspect no longer has the freedom to move (they are in custody). Also, the under 18 kids need to have their parents called (which was not done for all kids).
As for trespassing, this is both a problem for Public Safety (way too aggressive enforcement) and the managing agents. Did you know you could be arrested for going to the Good Shepherd Church? Walking down the alleyway next to the September 11 memorial to the west promenade, you could be arrested for trespassing ... and that applies to many areas that we believe are public spaces but, in fact, they are not. You can arrested for trespassing walking in the hallways in building you live in (as discovered by some Roosevelt Landings parents). I spoke to Jennifer Jones at RY Management to get a better understanding of where/when one can just merely "stand" (assuming no noise, no alcohol, no drugs, etc.). She believes there is no such place on Roosevelt Island where one has the "right" to stand. She might be right, and this requires study, but Public Safety is the big problem here because they enforce this unreasonably and harshly.
A single 114th Precinct officer on his scooter is able to do more to create quiet and shoo away kids (the right approach) than all of Public Safety. Public Safety doesn't see the damage they do to the kids: a 16-year-old girl in Island House who grew up here, has never had any problems with Public Safety, has been back and forth in all the building with her friends is now traumatized by being handcuffed, put in cell, and having a complaint she must defend in court (taking a day off from school, possibly hiring an attorney, etc.). Creating these criminal complaints means either (1) the kids or parents have to spend thousands of dollars defending them, or (2) if they can't afford an attorney, pleading (which creates a criminal record that has a life-long effect).
As another example, some boys were skateboarding by the church, a PS officer asked them to move to the Island House courtyard. After they moved, another PS officer picked up one of their skateboards, said nothing, and walked away. He wouldn't explain why he took away their skateboard. So now they have to get a parent involved to get their skateboard back when there was nothing that they did wrong.
At this point, really, Public Safety is not the helpful neighborhood force, they are the entity that takes away your possessions without explanation, the entity that your teenage kids get ensnarled in that gives you handcuffs, arrests, cells, and a criminal record ... when you've been doing nothing wrong. It's easy to see why parents find Public Safety more troubling than gangs, and rightfully so.
RIRA's Public Safety committee, chaired by Erin Feely-Nahem, will be convening a study group to investigate how NYPD might replace PSD. Residents are welcome to participate in the meetings.