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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Update On NY State Inspector General's Roosevelt Island Public Safety Letter - Brutality Allegations Not Addressed In Letter Because IG Did Not Want To Duplicate Public Safety Audit, IG Will Continue To Monitor RIOC's Compliance With Public Safety Audit Recommendations

The New York State Inspector General (IG) sent this August 7, 2014 letter to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Charlene Indelicato addressing issues regarding the arraignment of RIOC Public Safety Department prisoners in hospital rooms. (The full background of the IG Letter is available at this August 13 post).

 Image Of Anthony Jones Handcuffed To Hospital Bed From Channel 7 News Video

The IG investigation was initiated by requests from NYC Council Member Ben Kallos (at the time, a candidate for City Council)

 Image Of Ben Kallos At 2013 Roosevelt Island Public Safety Rally

and RIOC Board members who asked the IG to investigate brutality allegations charged against the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department by members of the community following the January 2013 Anthony Jones incident.

 Image From February 16, 2013 RIRA Public Safety Rally

However, as reported last August 13:
... the Inspector General's investigation  was not about brutality allegations brought against the RIOC Public Safety department, Instead the Inspector General's investigation was limited to:
... whether sufficient policies exist to ensure the timely arraignment of hospitalized prisoners in arrests made by RIOC Public Safety Department, and if so, whether these policies were followed in the Jones case...
The IG letter noted:
 ... Because the issue of excessive force was being addressed through litigation, my office did not investigate it....
Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Chair Erin Feely-Nahem commented on the IG Public Safety letter:
... We find it incomprehensible and unacceptable that the IG's letter focuses solely on the Anthony Jones incident in relation to PSD policies toward hospitalized detainees, rather than the clear pattern of abuse and misconduct of the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department under the regime of Keith Guerra.

The PSC documented numerous cases of Island residents and visitors who were the recipients of unprovoked violence and unconstitutional policing over many years. These testimonies were forwarded to the IG office by the RIOC Board and Ben Kallos's office.

The posture taken in the IG letter criticizes the PSD for failing to properly arraign Anthony Jones, thereby jeopardizing a credible prosecution, rather than the false arrest and brutal mauling that almost took his life. The PSC registers our strong rejection of the narrow scope of the IG letter which ignores the victims of a dark period in Island history.

Island residents united in a struggle that led to Guerra's resignation. We will continue to fight for the record to be set straight.
During the August 21 RIOC Governance Committee meeting (full audio web cast here), I asked RIOC Board Members about the IG Public Safety letter and why it was limited to RIOC hospital arraignment policies. RIOC Director Margie Smith responded that all the brutality reports received by RIOC were sent to the IG. Ms. Smith indicated she does not know if the IG will follow up with further investigation of the brutality complaints. RIOC President Indelicato agreed with Ms. Smith's assessment.

Here's the discussion.

RIOC Director David Kraut added that though he is not a regular reader of the Roosevelt Islander blog, he knew that the IG Letter and brutality allegations were an active topic of conversation and did not wish to publicly comment as long as the "Bloggeratti" were "writing first drafts" on the topic.

RIOC President Indelicato noted that the Jones litigation was settled, RIOC did not pay out any of the settlement money and there was no non-disclosure agreement signed by the parties. The settlement payment came from another NY State entity.  RIOC Assistant General Counsel Arthur Eliav cautioned the Directors about speaking on this matter publicly and added that RIOC was defended and indemnified in the lawsuit by the NY State Attorney General.

Earlier today, I spoke with Bill Reynolds of the IG's Office about the IG's August 7 Roosevelt Island Public Safety letter to RIOC President Indelicato. Mr. Reynolds confirmed that the IG received information on Roosevelt Island brutality allegations dating back to incidents occurring in 2006.

According to Mr. Reynolds, the IG's August 7 Roosevelt Island Public Safety letter did not address any of the issues relating to the brutality allegations because it would have duplicated the work by T&M Protection Resources who prepared the Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department Operational Audit. A copy of the Public Safety Audit dated December 6, 2013 is here.

Mr. Reynolds noted that the IG worked closely with and strongly supports the T&M Protection Resources policy recommendations contained in the Public Safety Audit and will continue to monitor RIOC to insure compliance with the recommendation. Among the recommendations made by the IG was the removal of the former Public Safety Department Director who resigned in June 2013 and to:
... Redefine the focus of RIOC PSD from a strict enforcement model to more of a community service model.T&M was informed by the interim RIOC PSD Director that he has instituted measures toward implementing this recommendation including enhanced department leadership and supervision, increased high visibility foot post assignments and an emphasis shift way from the strict enforcement model toward a community service model. Reported results include a decrease in enforcement activity and in citizen complaints....
Click here for the full Public Safety Audit including policy and procedure recommendations which will be monitored for compliance by the NY State Inspector General.