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Sunday, February 10, 2013

RIRA Calls For Removal Of Top Management At Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department And Plans February 16 Public Demonstration Against Brutality - Requests Governor Cuomo Investigate And Provide Oversight For Public Safety Department

Roosevelt Island policing and Public Safety issues were the subject of February 6 Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council meeting. As previously reported, RIRA's Public Session portion of the meeting included a presentation by NYPD 114 Precinct (which covers Roosevelt Island) Commander Deputy Inspector Stephen Cirabisi, a RIRA commendation award for NYPD Officer Dino Sitaris and a report from Manhattan District Attorney Community Affairs Officer Linda Janneh-Jones on the Trespass Affidavit Program as well as questions from residents. Here's video of that portion of the RIRA meeting.

Following the Public Session, the RIRA Common Council unanimously approved resolutions calling for the removal of top management at the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Department and and a February 16 public demonstration to address Public Safety Concerns.

Here are the resolutions:


Whereas, the residents of RI feel that PSD uses excessive force.

- Whereas, the residents disagree with the "maximum enforcement" and "zero tolerance" policies used under Director Guerra and his leadership.

- Whereas the residents feel that a hostile, abusive, and intimidating atmosphere is created by the Public Safety Department, as directed by its leadership.

- Whereas, the RIRA Public Safety Committee has expressed these concerns and made suggestions for reform for many years

- Whereas there has been virtually no improvement in Public Safety's behavior or its relationship to the community.

- Whereas Director Guerra does not objectively review or investigate the complaints made against his officers.

- Whereas the situation has been worsening significantly in the past year

- Therefore, RIRA requests RIOC terminate the services of Director Guerra, Deputy Director Bryan, Lieutenant Yee, and other top PSD leadership as RIOC may deem necessary.
Resolution #2
The Public Safety Committee, forwards to the RIRA Common Council, a request that the RIRA Common Council endorse, sponsor and promotes a peaceful demonstration, scheduled for February 16, 2013, to be held in the Good Shepherd Plaza, to address Public Safety Concerns.
More information on the February 16 Public Safety Demonstration

available at the Roosevelt Island Citizens Blotter Facebook Page.

Also, unanimously approved by the RIRA Common Council were these letters to NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo and NY State Senator Jose Serrano. An excerpt from the introduction of both letters:
As members of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association’s (RIRA) Public Safety Committee it is our responsibility to explore reports and patterns of law enforcement misconduct, when brought to our attention by residents of our community. We consider this the most important aspect of the Committee's mission.

There is widespread awareness by Island residents of inappropriate, aggressive and unacceptable behavior on the part of various officers under the command of the Director of Public Safety Keith Guerra and his predecessors. These repeated occurrences represent a pattern and a culture of abuse and incompetence that is completely intolerable and even illegal. These accounts have accelerated to a point where parents are afraid when their children are outside, because they fear the consequences of their interaction with Public Safety. Teenagers, dentists, pacifists, journalists, and parents at a little league game have witnessed this aggressive behavior....
Here's the full text of RIRA letters to Governor Cuomo and State Senator Serrano and video of the RIRA discussion moderated by RIRA Public Safety Chair Erin Feeley-Nahem.

Part 1

and Part 2 (a few moments between Parts 1 and 2 are missing as I changed cameras when battery power died).

RIOC has provided no statement or comment on these matters. There is litigation pending in the Jones incident.

UPDATE 2/12 - Roosevelt Island's NY State Senator Jose Serrano issued this statement regarding the Jones incident and Roosevelt Island Public Safety issues:
Roosevelt Island residents have approached my office with concerns about an incident allegedly involving Anthony Jones and the actions of the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department. These allegations are troubling, however I believe that the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation acted appropriately in referring the incident to the State Inspector General for thorough review. It is important that the Inspector General be given the opportunity to independently investigate these allegations and make an appropriate determination. As the State Senator representing Roosevelt Island, I will continue to support legislative reforms to ensure there is sufficient oversight of those empowered to protect the public's safety and general welfare. I believe the legislation introduced by Assemblyman Kellner to create a State Civilian Complaint Review Board to investigate any alleged misconduct by state police forces, like Roosevelt Island Public Safety, is an important step towards inspiring public confidence.


Mark Lyon said...

On 2/11, in a short 30 minute meeting, the Audit Committee met and instructed the corporation to issue an RFP for an internal audit of the Public Safety Department.

Listen here:

Frank Farance said...

To Resign Or Not Resign, That Is The Question.

Director Guerra:

Here's some serious advice from one executive to another. In our younger days, our instinct was to Fight Back on all challenges. But as one gets older and listens to other experienced executives, we find that they have the ability to Resign, even though they could continue The Fight. From your perspective, what is the reason for you and Deputy Director Bryan to continue? You've lost the community (see the Facebook page ""), the complaining will get louder, officers/executives will be probably have criminal charges against them. Really, you're not going to repair this for yourself or for Mr. Bryan.

Now there are some useful things you could do, like disciplining officers. And your Board has an interest in gathering information about these events and, hopefully, you're cooperative rather than requiring a subpoena to get you to answer questions. Ditto for Mr. Bryan.

In the meantime, your Board should be gathering all your records, including the status reports, phone calls, etc. across those dozen or so eight-hour shifts while Mr. Jones was in your custody. As you told me, your department policy is to have reports from multiple officers to give a fuller perspective of what is going on, so there should be an abundance of reports for your Board to review.

Also, your Board needs to interview Lt. Yee to understand what extent he was covering up the abuse of Mr. Jones. As we've heard, Lt. Yee was offering his own medical opinions, giving the doctor a misleading story about pneumonia rather than telling the doctor that Mr. Jones was roughed up in his arrest. While it is unclear whether or not officers have the obligation to tell the truth about the circumstances about a subject's medical condition, I'm guessing that the officers have the obligation NOT TO MISLEAD the doctors about a subject's medical condition. It seems that the origin of the pneumonia story was from Lt. Yee (acting as Doctor Yee), which contributed to Mr. Jones not having the right medical treatment until a day later. And we've heard that Lt. Yee was coaching the doctor (and other PSD staff) on particular points to include/exclude in their reports, this should be investigated, too.

And you need to think about your Exit Plan for you and Mr. Bryan.

GeorgeProzakis said...

As a professional in this field it is in my experience that charges brought up on the officers would be highly unlikely. This was not a civilian situation. These things happen who knows how many countless of times in the nypd. Lets not say charges might get brought up because they are not. The evidence presented is still single sided and can be explained though a professionals view. Those professionals are in the field of policing. I know we are not taught strikes, kicks, baton strikes and blows to be brought up on charges.

That sounded like an empty threat which should not be even broadcasted.

Frank Farance said...

Just reporting what I heard: the legal machinery is moving forward on Public Safety, maybe we'll hear more soon.

GeorgeProzakis said...

I still cannot foresee this happening. If it was to happen, something would have happened already.