Friday, April 19, 2013

Roosevelt Island March And Rally Against Public Safety Department Abuse To Be Held Sunday April 21 - NYC Elected Officials, Civil Rights Activists And Victims In Attendance

Following up on its February 16 demonstration against reported allegations of Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department brutality incidents, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Committee will be holding a march and rally this Sunday April 21 to "Stop Public Safety Dept. Abuse"

According to the RIRA Public Safety Committee:
The Roosevelt Island Residents Associationʼs (RIRA) Public Safety Committee (PSC) is organizing a second major public action on April 21, 2013 endorsed by RIRAʼs Common Council. Our central demand remains the removal of Public Safety Department (PSD) Director Keith Guerra and his top leadership and the ring of PSD Officers who have engaged in unprovoked physical violence and abuse. This focus is based on the overwhelmingly clear pattern of harassment, brutality, petty charges ending up dismissed in court, and cover-ups & lies against Island residents and visitors from boroughs.

Roosevelt Island in Manhattan, New York City is a close knit, diverse community of working- class and middle-class peoples of many nationalities and backgrounds. Our community brings together young people with families, the disabled and physically challenged, seniors living proudly independent lives, and working people and professionals from all over the world. Our island has always enjoyed a peaceful environment, however criminal behavior and violent assault has ironically become centered on the very entity that is supposed to shield us against it: the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department.

The case of Anthony Jones, detained on false charges and beaten to near death by PSD officers, and the vigorous pursuit of justice for him by his mother, backed by the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Committee and RIRA as a whole, has, finally, created the atmosphere and conditions whereby other Island residents are coming out with their accounts of PSD abuse and violence.

On 2/16/13, a historic rally of some 300 people jammed into Good Shepherd Community Center in perhaps the largest protest event held on Roosevelt Island. Since then the PSC has expanded its work documenting PSD abuse under the Guerra regime. PSC activists and supporters -- especially direct victims, and their families, of PSD violence, harassment, and bogus detention -- have attended meetings of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) to press our concerns. RIOC has requested and has been receiving numerous signed, documented complaints. Weʼve reached out to elected officials on local and state levels representing Roosevelt Island for their support. Our struggle received signicant media coverage on and off the Island and is projected to exceed it in our next Rally.

So far our demands remain unmet, although there has been some motion toward investigation of PSD abuses by RIOC and submission of complaints to the Inspector General of New York State. We are not discouraged by the slow pace because we understand we are up against entrenched interests and are under no illusions about the bureaucratic labyrinth of obstacles we face. We understand it will take a sustained legal and peaceful campaign of education, mobilization, and intelligently directed pressure to bring about the changes needed. We will stay in the streets and every other arena open to us to expand our campaign, increase our numbers, press our demands until victory is won.

THE MARCH & RALLY: We call on all opponents of police brutality and supporters of justice across NYC to join us April 21 at 1 PM for a legal, peaceful, and determined march down Main Street (at Roosevelt Islandʼs Good Shepherd Church, adjacent to Trellis Diner) to press our demands & concerns. We will gather inside Good Shepherd Church after the march to hear an impressive list of prominent speakers from across New York, island activists and victims of PSD abuse.

The precondition for any “reforms” in the training and methods of PSD personnel must be the IMMEDIATE REMOVAL of Chief Keith Guerra and his top leadership from their posts. We demand that their employer, RIOC, act on this without further delay.

During the Public Session of the April 4 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Board Of Directors meeting, Assembly Member Micah Kellner stated to the the RIOC Directors that the community has:
... lost trust, lost faith in Public Safety and in a democracy a police force can only enforce the law with the consent of the people and right now that is just not going on...

... there clearly needs to be reforms and clearly needs to be a rebuilding of trust between the community and public safety...
Mr. Kellner's full remarks are below.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Director Keith Guerra is not allowed by RIOC to respond to the charges leveled against him other than this February 15 statement he sent to the community:
I am aware of the community unrest regarding an incident which recently occurred on the island. While I am not at liberty to discuss the details of the particular case, due to pending litigation, I do want you to know that I am listening to you, and I want to reassure you that this office does not tolerate excessive use of force nor constitutional rights violations that put members of the public at risk.

The mission of the Public Safety Department is to reduce crime and fear, promote public safety and improve the quality of life for all those who live, work or visit this wonderful island. Sometimes that vision involves finding the median between serving those who call upon us, and the enforcement on those we encounter from those calls for service. Over the last 5 years, we have been able to decrease crime on the island without a "Zero Tolerance" or "Maximum Enforcement" initiative, as some have purported. This decrease has been confirmed by the Commanding Officer of the 114th Pct., who particularly noted that Index Crimes on Roosevelt Island were down by 7 from the prior year. Please note that this is extremely challenging in an already low crime area. Our Community Outreach initiatives of various informational Summits and Safety Days have enabled us to provide added services. Our Community Basketball Games and the Young Adult Program at Sportspark have provided a better connection between our agency and the young adults in the neighborhood. Additionally, we have been able to have approximately 900 Bicycle helmets and 10 Car Seats donated to the community to provide safety for not only the children but for all residents on the island. I realize that there is still more work to be done.

One of the community’s concerns is the establishment of a Civilian Complaint Review Board. The current procedure has been in place long before I arrived. I am willing to work with you and the RIOC Board concerning this. Assemblyman Micah Kellner and I have spoken in the past about his proposed legislation and I have never been opposed to his suggestion. In fact, I welcomed it. Although this will not be an easy process, I believe that if we work together on this issue, we can make a difference.

As for the particular case in question, all I can do is ask for your patience in allowing the due process to take its course. Please reserve your final judgment until that time. I have, in the past, and will continue to work with the community to form a better understanding and working relationship between PSD and the community it serves.

Keith Guerra, Director

Roosevelt Island

Public Safety Department
For the  good of the Roosevelt Island community, I hope the new RIOC President Charlene Indelicato rejects the policies of her immediate predecessors Leslie Torres and Don Lewis to allow a more open and transparent communications policy as did former RIOC President Steve Shane.

In the meantime, RIOC is considering body cameras for Public Safety Officers and undertaking a Public Safety Department Audit review as well as undergoing an investigation by the NY State Inspector General regarding the brutality allegations.


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David Enock said...

Re: Guerra's February 15th Statement

Public Safety Director Keith Guerra issued a statement in which he claims, over the last 5 years, his department has been able to decrease crime on the Island without a "Zero Tolerance" or Maximum Enforcement" initiative. It is hard to believe, without any empirical or hard data evidence to support his claim, that PSD decreased crime on Roosevelt Island. Even the NYPD, FBI, scientists, sociologists and anthropologists differ wildly about the cause of what has been not only a citywide but a nationwide, downward trend in crime for decades. Guerra does not know why crime has been decreasing on the Island and to try to claim credit for it is to deceive people into thinking otherwise. And, judging by the number of cases of alleged abuse and the latest brutal attack on a young resident that put him in the hospital with a broken rib and punctured lung, It would be safe to say, also unknown to Guerra, Zero Tolerance and Maximum Enforcement are in effect.

David Enock
531 Main Street
New York, NY 10044

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I guess the only way to really compare is by ARREST NUMBERS and overall ACTIVITY.

In police work, being proactive helps combat crime. Even the "windows theory" works wonders.

I guess if those statistics can be had, perhaps there might be a correlation.

Then the breakdown of crimes have to occur as well.

Petit larcenies usually make a person graduate to grand larcenies, perhaps even burglaries. Everything has a "butterfly effect" in policing.

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