Dirty Little Secrets in NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau

Witch hunts, injustice, and just plain incompetence in the secretive police-department-within-a-department

Dirty Little Secrets in NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau

Earlier this year, the Voice uncovered a troubling pattern of how the NYPD operates, relying on secretly recorded tapes to show that street cops are under intense pressure to achieve seemingly contradictory goals set down by their superiors. Years of recordings, lawsuits, and testimonies by active and retired police officers reveal that Ray Kelly's police department has been on an intense program that punishes innocent bystanders while intimidating and harassing actual crime victims.

We've heard relatively little, however, about the NYPD wing that is supposed to be watching for these kinds of injustices: the Internal Affairs Bureau. Until now.

More officers have come forward, telling the Voice that the secretive police-department-within-a-department is as troubled as the rest of Kelly's operation. To illustrate this, we will look at three unrelated Internal Affairs cases: One involves a Queens woman who says she was stalked, harassed, and impregnated by an NYPD sergeant; the other, a veteran detective stuck in a dead-end job requiring him to watch surveillance video all day; and the third, a gay cop in the Internal Affairs Bureau itself who faced constant harassment over his sexual identity. (The NYPD did not respond to detailed questions about these cases.)

Filing a lawsuit as "John Doe," a gay detective in IAB says he is constantly harassed.
C.S. Muncy
Filing a lawsuit as "John Doe," a gay detective in IAB says he is constantly harassed.
Persecution complex: The Internal Affairs Bureau at 315 Hudson Street
Ashlei Quinones
Persecution complex: The Internal Affairs Bureau at 315 Hudson Street

Details

NYPD Tapes: The Series
The NYPD Tapes Part 1
Inside Bed-Stuy's 81st Precinct
The NYPD Tapes, Part 2
Bed-Stuy street cops ordered: Turn this place into a ghost town
The NYPD Tapes, Part 3
A Detective Comes Forward About Downgraded Sexual Assaults
The NYPD Tapes, Part 4
The WhistleBlower, Adrian Schoolcraft
NYPD Tapes 5: The Corroboration
A Bronx police officer secretly tapes his precinct

Follow continuing coverage of the NYPD Tapes here at our Runnin' Scared blog.

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Taken together, the three cases highlight several themes about the current Internal Affairs Bureau.

For one, all IAB complaints are supposed to be confidential. That rule is necessary because police officers who complain about their colleagues can and do face retaliation. But the reality seems to be that an officer's home command will find out fairly quickly that an Internal Affairs complaint has been made. Several officers have complained to the Voice that shortly after they filed complaints with Internal Affairs, their home commands knew about it and then pursued various types of retaliation against them.

Second, whether big or small, IAB cases seem to plod through the system at the same snail's pace. There doesn't seem to be any mechanism to deal quickly with a minor case—an office dispute, for example. Thus, cases drag on, and aggrieved, frustrated cops turn to the courts to resolve their issues. That, in turn, costs the city more money in legal bills and settlements.

Third, it's impossible—even for the people who file the complaints—to find out what was done and what happened with a complaint. Internal Affairs investigators often don't return complainants' phone calls.

Fourth, it seems that often, very little happens with a complaint—and it takes a long time not to happen.

Finally, the system is fairly capricious, and its decisions are often puzzling. In two cases with similar circumstances, one detective might be allowed to retire without charges, while another might be charged and face termination. And because of the insular nature of today's NYPD, it's not likely you'll find out why. Police officers who fall out of favor are just as likely to receive an unfavorable assignment as face a charge—a point made by a former departmental trial commissioner now in private practice.

The gay detective assigned to Internal Affairs tells the Voice that there were times when IAB bosses did not take complaints seriously, gave them short shrift, wrote out reports to make the complaints seem less serious than they were, and allowed cases to linger on unresolved. He recalls one Internal Affairs detective who often spent time at work using the Internet to shop for clothes and plan vacations, and another co-worker who routinely looked at pornographic photographs at work.

"The classic line of 'It's under investigation' just means it's gathering dust on someone's desk, particularly in my case," says the officer, who asked the Voice not to use his name. "There is no confidentiality. I had no sense that the complaints were taken seriously or treated confidentially."

One of the IAB's primary responsibilities is to protect the public against cops who abuse their positions. Consider, then, the case of Jessica Varney, a 23-year-old African-American woman from Queens who fell prey to a sergeant in a Ridgewood, Queens, precinct, who used his badge to pressure her to date him, then stalked her and ultimately threatened her with violence, according to a notice of claim filed by her attorney, Joel Berger.

Varney was impregnated twice by the sergeant. She had an abortion the first time, but carried the second child to full term.

She tells the Voice that she met Sergeant Robert Ellington in October 2008, a period when she was fighting with her landlord at 1874 Harmon Street in Ridgewood over lead paint in the apartment and other matters.

Ellington was initially helpful about the dispute, she says, and then solicitous, calling her every day, and eventually persuading her to go out with him. "He asked me if I liked Italian guys. He said he wanted to get to know me more," she says. "He got very personal, talking about divorcing his wife. I was shocked. I didn't know this guy."

Ellington eventually persuaded Varney to go out with him, but she expected something simple, in the neighborhood. Instead, he took her to Atlantic City.

Varney says she was very uncomfortable about the whole thing, but she went along with it. Next, he brought her to his house on Long Island. "That's when things got weird," she says. "He has this camera, and he says, I like you, find you attractive. My wife doesn't satisfy me."

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3 comments
SuzannahBTroy
SuzannahBTroy

ps Lt Agnes opened my case but refused to answer emails asking for Sgt Chen's and Vergona's badge number.

SuzannahBTroy
SuzannahBTroy

Unlike Lt Angelo Burgos, Sgt Chen. DI Ed Winski, Chief Banks and new commander Timoney responded to me not treating me like IAB players and Lt Agnes of the try not to laugh -- the Integrity Bureau.

Capt Timoney said I am sure IAB will respond promptly. I said no disrespect but IAB responds like a turtle in molasses.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dh9TedhfthE&sns=em

The link has a link in the text portion of Dr Fagelman's Delita Hooks false cross complaint that Det John Vergona used to threatened me with false arrest and finally succeed in coercing me to drop charges Sat Oct 29 2012. Coercion is a serious crime. Check the 2 links. I was clearly the victim but they did a criminal background check on me. I have no record. I will be filing the next stage of my lawsuit against Ray Kelly and IAB head Campisi nov 15 which will have a retaliation page laying out the many reasons NYPD and IAB fixed this like many other crimes like a Las Vegas Casino. Kelly and Campisi notified me via their lawyer they want to defend Det Vergona. IAB let him retire and we could not track him down on Staten Island. The Honorable Judge sided with me and said help me. Ray Kelly and IAB chief let me know where retired cop Vergona lives!!!! One Police Plaza. You all told me Kelly was corrupt! I understand. Ray Kelly taking free rides on Air Bloomberg for him and his wife a big clue. He isn't allowed to take a free cup of coffee.

Vergogna in Italian means shame. I have 2 audios. I at The First Precinct with PO Migori turning me away and Sgt Chen who said I could report Delita Hooks can't muster the courage or humanity to face me, u hear me call DI Winski, IAB and CCRB.

2nd audio IAB Sgt Mary O'Donnell. Both are on YouTube. You hear her say case closed.

IAB lt Fikru said the video speaks for itself but he was only investigation O'Donnell. He won't return my calls.

Time for a new Commission in to NYPD IAB corruption. I will be the 2nd to last to testify and will include Rosemari Nam's motion to dismiss that shows Lt Burgos opened and closed my case for 24 hours. He didn't think Ron Kuby's letter 2 day after my weekend date to be false arrested 19 days after the assault and battery at Dr Fagelman with Drlita Hooks false cross complaint and Ron writing Suzannah Troy drops the charges against her attacker... He uses the word attacker. IAB I learned does not know the meaning of the word "coercion". Coercion is a crime, not a policing tool. I will submit Kelly and Campisi's lawyer letter offering to pay for retired Vergona's legal bills - oops- the tax payers pay for NYPD IAB ........... U fill in the word.

dornell2004
dornell2004

i need to know why is the 70 precents officers only target the minority who live on flatbush. they will arrest this young man on illegal tresspass, even if they know a tenant. no first warning just given them paper trail.when is the injustice going to stop.

 
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