Dirty Little Secrets in NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau

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

He made the CCRB complaint as a result of how he was treated over an issue about real estate. While he was an NYPD officer, he also owned property in Staten Island and was accepting tenants from the federally funded Section 8 program. Since Section 8 is technically operated by city government, he was accused of doing business with the city while a city employee.

DePaolis was never charged with a crime, and the disciplinary charges were eventually settled for a minor penalty. Unhappy with how he was treated in the dispute, however, he complained to the CCRB, which then made him a target of the Internal Affairs Bureau, he says.

"He made a complaint to the CCRB, and for that reason, they have been torturing him," says DePaolis's lawyer, Rae Downes Koshetz. "That's the way they send a message. And it's certainly a poor use of taxpayers' money to be paying someone $100,000 to stare at a video screen."

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

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For many years, Koshetz was the deputy commissioner of trials for the department. She says that in recent years, the department has found ways to get around the adversarial disciplinary system in which officers get to defend themselves.

"The courts have let the police commissioner have a lot of discretion in assignment," she says. "There really has been an institutionalized circumvention of due process [in the NYPD]. They use punitive assignments to punish people."

Most recently, DePaolis received a favorable write-up in the Staten Island Advance in a story about a woman who committed suicide by jumping off the Staten Island Ferry. The woman, who had no next of kin, was going to be buried in Potter's Field, but DePaolis and the director of a local funeral home have offered to put up the money to bury her properly. Since the article, he was able to track down a relative of the dead woman. "During the wake, they actually gave me a round of applause," he says. "It was a feeling I couldn't even explain to you."

In a period when the NYPD is down thousands of officers, one has to wonder why a career guy like DePaolis is sidelined, yet listed as full duty. One would think he could be useful as an investigator.

Finally, there is the story of a gay detective in Internal Affairs, who filed a lawsuit against the NYPD and persuaded a judge to allow him to file it anonymously under the name "John Doe."

John, a 33-year-old former stockbroker who grew up on Long Island, claims that he has been harassed repeatedly for his sexual identity since he started as a police officer in the 103rd Precinct in Queens. The harassment got so bad that he asked for help in a letter that was hand-delivered to the police commissioner by his father.

"I wanted out of that environment," John says. "They said, go to IAB."

In May 2007, John transferred to Internal Affairs, but not before a fellow cop told him, "This will follow you wherever you go," the lawsuit says.

John, who was asked to take complaints from the public, describes a "frat-house" environment in IAB, where flirting between male and female cops was commonplace, and terms like "fudgepacker," "meat gazer," "homo," and "faggot" were used constantly about civilian complainants, and often directed at him. At one point, a sergeant came over to him with a banana between his legs and asked him, "Is this the size you like?"

John claims in his lawsuit that he told these co-workers not to use the epithets, and even suggested they shouldn't handle complaints filed by gay people because they were so intolerant toward them.

At another point, a co-worker walked over to John's desk and said, "You're a meat gazer. I just caught you looking at my package." For more than a year in 2008 and 2009, this co-worker called John a "meat gazer" several times a week, the lawsuit says.

Another time, John claims, a police officer simulated a vagina with two fingers and told him, "Your kind does not know what to do with it."

"The most disturbing thing is that it has been continuing for years," says one of John's lawyers, Ishmael Secondas. "They don't have tolerance for gay people. The comments were outrageous. Humiliating, degrading comments."

John began filing complaints about the anti-gay remarks and his claims of harassment. "I was upset and stressed out about the harassment and abuse, and so I filed an IAB complaint," he says. "After I filed the complaint, they told me they were taking my gun and shield, and ordered me to see a department psychiatrist."

The first question that the psychiatrist asked him was whether he was going to bring a lawsuit, he says. "My first thought was, how is that question relevant?" he says.

After that, John got his gun and shield back, and was moved to a unit that issues parking placards for NYPD employees. Even though he was a detective, he was given a clerk's duties. "Half the place is staffed by detectives, but they aren't even performing detective duties or functions," he says. "They actually have clerks doing the same work."

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