In the wake of the Voice‘s ‘NYPD Tapes‘ series, the commanding officer of Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct has been reassigned to the Bronx.
Deputy Inspector Steven Mauriello, who was heard repeatedly haranguing his cops to hit quotas and sweep people off corners, has been moved to the Bronx transit command. Word seeped out about the transfer on the eve of the holiday weekend. The NYPD did not comment on the transfer.
Councilman Al Vann, who represents parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, had called for Mauriello’s ouster after reading the Voice series, which relied on tape recordings made over 18 months by a police officer in the 81st Precinct.
Police supervisors were heard ordering cops to make arrests that could have led to violations of civil rights, ordering them to stop New Yorkers just to hit quotas, and ordering them to be extremely skeptical about the claims of crime victims, to the point of telling them not to take complaints in certain situations.
The practices highlighted in the Voice series, however, are not limited to Mauriello’s command, and his transfer does not address the broader issues raised in the series.
The series has galvanized other sectors around the city to look at the effects of some of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s central policies. In Bedford-Stuyvesant, a group of elected officials and clergy have met several times to discuss strategies to force change in some of Kelly’s policies.
In Harlem, last week, about 100 people meet in a church basement to talk about questionable stops and questionable low-level arrests that may have been linked to the quota pressure coming from police headquarters. That meeting stemmed in part from the series, and in part from lingering concerns among people in that neighborhood. On hand were lawyers from the New York Civil Liberties Union to take statements and offer advice to people who felt they have been unfairly arrested.
One of those was Rev. Bruce Edwards, pastor of the Family Christianity Fellowship, who was arrested essentially for asking questions of officers after they approached him which he was sitting in a Mercedes-Benz on 125th Street.
Edwards, a former auxiliary police officer, told the crowd that after he pointed out to the officer that he “was a public servant,” the officer grew testy and arrested him on disorderly conduct charges.
“I am not used to being spoken to like that,” Edwards said. “And I eventually spent the night in jail. When the arresting officer found out that I was a pastor, his hands started to shake.”
The Bloomberg administration, meanwhile, is facing a series of challenges to its stop-and-frisk policies. Critics charge that the tactic, which results in a tiny percentage of arrests, has violated the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each year.
In addition to a class action lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, critics have zeroed in on a database that the NYPD is keeping of the names and personal information of people who were stopped, but not arrested.
Last week, despite strenuous lobbying by Bloomberg’s people and Kelly’s people, the state Senate and the state Assembly passed a bill that would prevent the NYPD from keeping the personal information of people who were not arrested in the database. Gov. Paterson is said to be reviewing the measure.
Meanwhile, Councilwoman Letita James told the Voice on Saturday that she and other Brooklyn politicians have requested a meeting with United States Attorney for the Eastern District, Loretta Lynch, to discuss elements of the ‘NYPD Tapes’ series and the stop-and-frisk issue.
James told the Voice that when it comes to the stop-and-frisk policy and the database of names, Bloomberg “just doesn’t get it.”
Lastly, the week brought the unwelcome news that the City Council and the Bloomberg administration had slashed the funding for sexual assault victims’ groups. In all, more than $400,000 was cut, forcing the advocacy groups to lay off staff and cut back services.
The cuts seemed particularly short-sighted given the disclosures in the Voice of instances where the NYPD downgraded felony sexual assaults to misdemeanors, and acted skeptically about victims’ accounts.
Following those articles, Police Commissioner Kelly had empaneled a group of senior NYPD officials to examine the problem and consider ways to prevent it.