Thursday, January 31, 2013

"This Is Our Island, Not Your Island" Says Roosevelt Island Public Safety Officer To Kids Reports Mom At Residents Meeting Yesterday With RIOC Directors On Recent Brutality Allegations

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Operations Committee (audio web cast of public portion of meeting here) met yesterday to discuss the recent brutality complaint brought against the Public Safety Department. The meeting was held in executive session, closed to the public, at RIOC headquarters with RIOC Chairperson Darryl Towns in attendance. Mr. Towns rarely, if ever, attends RIOC committee meetings. His presence indicates the serious nature of these charges.

Members of the public were directed to sit, not in the waiting area of RIOC offices, but in a room far away from the conference room with a Public Safety Officer stationed in the corridor between the public and the conference room door

so as not to overhear what was said in the meeting. Following the executive session, the Operations Committee meeting was moved to a meeting room space at 2-4 River Road to accommodate the approximately 20-25 residents who wished to attend the public portion of the meeting and to speak on the issue of the Public Safety Department's relationship with the community.

The Public portion of the meeting began with Chairperson Michael Shinozaki announcing that they could not speak about the brutality allegation because it was the subject of pending litigation and that the matter has been submitted to the NY State Office of the Inspector General for review.

Here's a report from Channel 7 on the alleged brutality incident and the full Press Conference on the matter from post yesterday.

After the RIOC Operations Committee discussed several Agenda matters not involving the alleged brutality incident, members of the public made it known that they wanted to express their thoughts to the RIOC Directors on this incident and the relationship of the Public Safety Department with the community.

The common theme of residents complaints against the Public Safety Department were that the:
... culture of public safety has become to coin a common phrase a bullying culture...
... I don't understand why I have to feel that I have to protect my kids from Public Safety...
One parent noted that children were told by a Public Safety Officer
... this is our Island not your Island...
Another view expressed by a parent was:
... I am on the fence with Public Safety. I have seen abuse but I have also seen way more Public Safety Officers doing what they are supposed to do...
  which led to a brief heated discussion among friends.

At the end of the meeting the RIOC Directors were asked by me if after listening to all of the comments from residents, do they recognize that a management problem exists at the Public Safety Department. RIOC Director David Kraut said:
... these were all things we are looking at... 
but he couldn't comment more right now because of the pending litigation regarding the brutality allegations.

Here's the full Public Safety Discussion at night's RIOC Operations Committee meeting.


Mark Lyon said...

Here's a first - PSD is now posting "community outreach" signs in the Manhattan Park elevators.

Mark Lyon said...

Here's a copy.

rilander said...

I wrote to several officials about this situation, including our NYS Assemblyman Micah Kellner. This is the response I got and I hope that as many people as possible flood the city, state and island offices with complaints. That includes Mich Kellner, Jose Serrano, Jessica Lapin, Scott Stringer, Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo as well as RIRA and RIOC. Let's not let up the pressure until PSD's current regime is gone!

This latest tragic incident of brutality that was inflicted
on a resident of Roosevelt Island by peace officers employed by the Island’s Public Safety Department is appalling. I agree that swift action is necessary to
ensure that there is a trustworthy, professional police presence on the Island.

Actions of this nature highlight the importance of passing my legislation, A.956, which would create the New York State Civilian Complaint Review Board. This would be an independent and impartial body empowered to investigate allegations of misconduct by police or peace officers employed by the State of New York (NYS) and/or its agencies, public authorities, and public benefit corporations, and to recommend disciplinary action where appropriate. Currently, no such oversight body exists to mediate between the public and the myriad police and peace officer forces employed by NYS and its various entities to ensure greater accountability on the part of these security forces.

Both officers and members of the public will benefit by
having such complaints investigated in a fair, consistent and transparent manner by an independent and impartial body. While this is only one piece of the long term solution to restoring confidence and a better working relationship between the residents and the Island’s Public Safety Department, I believe that it is an important one.

I look forward to working with everyone that lives and works
on Roosevelt Island to ensure a safe and secure environment.

rilander said...

Their idea of outreach is taser, mace and brutality, especially to island kids!

Mark Lyon said...

In the short term, perhaps equipping PSD officers with cameras and requiring their use during encounters would help reduce issues.

Numerous manufacturers make effective solutions:

Eastwood Rez said...

I did not attend the meeting last night, but from what I saw in this video, there is a disconnect here. While I can acknowledge that Public Safety has a tough job, patroling this island unarmed, they have to do a better job of interacting with the residents. Having said that, the thing that bothers me is that these meetings are generally dominated by people who have either been in trouble with the law, or their kids have been in trouble with the law. I'm sorry, but blaming the law enforcement officers for your (or your kids) actions is not right. Maqueeva Francis' sons have been in trouble with the NYPD, and I've heard her complain about that too. At some point, you have to say maybe it's them. Or, maybe it's me - the way I brought them up. Sasha was right, you have to take accountability for the way your kids act. I agree with Frank that they should not have to arrest every time, and can give a break first and then if the behavior persists you go to the next step, but I don't agree that Guerrera must go. He's better than Frye, Norwood and Hetherington ever were (Don't know if I spelled any of their names correctly). I think some of his officers need to be re-trained over again. Most of them do what they're supposed to do the way they're supposed to do it.

YetAnotherRIer said...

I don't understand what is wrong with "this is out Island not your Island". The way I see it it can be interpreted in two ways. 1) it is PSD's island and 2) this island belongs to ALL of us and we have to play nice as a community.

I guess it depends on the context when what was said but Eastwood Rez is right. You only hear complaints from people who are always in trouble with the law in the first place. It is hard to be impartial and give them the benefit of a doubt that there is indeed something fundamentally wrong with how the PSD is run.

Chris Fuller said...

If I were on RIOC I would insist that somebody proofreads this stuff before it gets posted around the island.

mpresident said...

But the smoke in the hallway, the kids playing in the hallway, the baby strollers parked in the hallway, and the students holding meetings in the hallway are all really annoying. I pay way too much to live in a college dorm (populated by children).

Mark Lyon said...

True, though the one teen on my floor who likes to use the hall for studying or making phone calls is at least courteous and non-disruptive. I could do without the people who don't seem to understand the AVAC chute. There's no reason to leave your broken bags of trash all over the carpet. Open the door and drop it down.

Frank Farance said...

mpresident: Then your complaint should be to your managing agent. Public Safety can't do anything about a baby stroller in the hallway. And a call or letter from the managing agent to the tenant will have a better effect (both for you and your neighbor). In Island House we'll occasionally have someone smoking (cigarettes) in the hallway or stairwell. A call to the managing agent will get it taken care of immediately (they have an interest in this, too). Ditto for Mr. Lyon's neighbors who are unable to use the AVAC.

mpresident said...

I have complained to management, to no avail. That is why I am glad to see a sign from anyone addressing the issue.

Appropriately enough, the screamer child has thrown himself on the floor in front of the elevator and is yelling on the top of his lungs right at this moment (hence his name "the screamer").

Frank Farance said...

As for the flyer on Public Safety's (Police State) outreach, I don't feel comfortable having Public Safety tell us tenants how they are going to police our private property. A note from the managing agent would be better because it would accommodate the tenants' needs and not sound like a Police State. I will contact other tenants to see if they feel Public Safety should not be putting notices in our buildings, and they should come from the managing agent. To paraphrase Public Safety, this building is OUR building, not YOUR building.

Ya know, whenever I've heard this idea of Police State on Roosevelt Island, it went in one ear and out the other as hyperbole. But now, after seeing this flyer, I'm starting to think there is some truth to the Police State idea. I started looking around at all the places one can stand on the Island without trespassing, and the only place is one's own apartment (because we have a lease). Everywhere else can be construed as trespassing, except for the street where one can stand but (as Mike Shinozaki pointed out) one can be arrested for jaywalking.

Frank Farance said...

mpresident: Have you contacted your tenants association?

Makeva Francis said...

My kids got a bad rep from PSD constantly harassing them. You must have missed the part when I said my children do not have a criminal records at all. My children have been wronged by PSD and so has many others and just because PSD place cuffs on someone does not make them guilty. I'm sure if this were happening to your family member you would see things differently. Do you know me or my children? It's obvious that you don't or you would feel and know differently.

Makeva Francis said...

For your information you heard me complain about my children issues with PSD not NYPD. NYPD treated me and my family with respect when PSD claimed my son robbed someone. NYPD put my son In a line up and the guy said the kid that robbed him was not my son. As I said in the meeting my children are not angels they both are graduates of H.S, they are current college students and they don't have criminal records. I'm sure that's surprising to you.

Why be a coward and hide behind some screen name?

mpresident said...

Dear Frank, as a former RIRA president and long time resident, I'm sure you would know that Manhattan Park has no tenants association, despite many attempts to get one off the ground.

Thankfully the screamer has gone to bed and the people upstairs have stopped dropping their marbles.

CheshireKitty said...

That comment was outrageous and hurtful. This is antithetical to the role that the police should play. The word police is related to the word for city - polis. A city is where everyone lives together in peace, otherwise you have no city. The citizens do not form "blocs" or factions and certainly a police officer should not go around spouting hurtful, more or less discriminatory, remarks to a citizen who has as much right to live in that city, or polis, as anyone else. It is indeed her island - as much as it is everyone else's!

CheshireKitty said...

Individual buildings should hear from their building management what is OK and what isn't OK. In walking along the river, on occasion I have walked across MP development from the W. promenade to go to Motorgate, or the Post Office. Am I trespassing if I in any way walk through MP, or even if I sit in the MP square (the park) (which I've also done many times)? Is all that private property? If so, we need to be told. Maybe the Wire could put together a detailed map/list of where it is OK and where it is not OK to go. I sometimes walk by Capobianco Park to go from the E. Promenade to Main St. Is that also not permitted? There are many building plazas in Manhattan - mini-parks - where for years I've sat and munched a sandwich for lunch. I never thought this was trespassing - other people were doing the same thing, eating lunch while sitting on ledges in front of buildings, or in the mini-parks or plazas by buildings. Could the Wire or the blog please find out from whoever is in charge if it is OK to rest on a ledge or in any of the numerous planted or park-like areas here on RI. And if it is not OK here, then why is it OK in Manhattan?

Frank Farance said...

mpresident: Yes, you are right. And, Yes, you should have a tenants association to represent your interests. I've heard some people were trying again. I'll ask about the status at the upcoming RIRA meeting. Mr. Lyon, maybe you cat let us know?

YetAnotherRIer said...

It is hurtful to you because you assume a certain context. You are not unbiased enough to look at this with an objective eye.

Frank Farance said...

Guerra says PSD complaints can be given to the CCRB, is this true?

[letter sent to RIOC Board]
Mr. Lewis, Mr. Shinozaki, Director Guerra:

After the Summer 2009 RIRA Town Hall meeting with Public Safety, Director Guerra explained complaint handling as follows:


Rick: "I asked Mr. Guerra how Roosevelt Island residents can make complaints against actions by Public Safety Officers. He replied:"

Guerra: "Some folks choose to make complaints to me verbally, and can do so by calling me or coming in to see me in person. Others choose to lodge their complaints in writing, and can do so by filling out a Complaint Form and submitting it. That complaint will be investigated by the Integrity Control Officer (ICO). The last option is to lodge their complaint with the CCRB. A paid investigator will receive the complaint and forward it to the appropriate body."

I have some questions:

- Is there an Integrity Control Officer?
- Who is that person?
- Are they employed by RIOC or some other entity?
- Is this the NYPD CCRB or some other CCRB?
- Who is the point of contact for this CCRB?
- How does the CCRB process work with RIOC, as described by Director Guerra?

Frank Farance