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As the NYPD girds itself for the looming revelations of a wide-ranging ticket fixing scandal which could envelope up to 400 police officers and union delegates, there is another scandal that has been somewhat overlooked by the local media, but is equally toxic to the department’s public image.
And neither Police Commissioner Ray Kelly nor Mayor Michael Bloomberg will say a word about it.
On October 31, 2009, high-ranking NYPD officials ordered Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft forcibly taken from his apartment to a psychiatric ward at Jamaica Hospital in Queens, just three weeks after Schoolcraft made misconduct allegations about 81st Precinct superiors to department investigators.
He was held for six days in the mental ward, and then released without being given a coherent explanation for his ordeal. Schoolcraft had documented more than a dozen instances of under-reporting of crime in the 81st Precinct. He claims his forced stint in the mental ward was retaliation for making those allegations.
Throughout 2010, The Village Voice reported extensively on the controversy in its “NYPD Tapes” series. Notably, medical records obtained by the Voice showed that police officials misled doctors about Schoolcraft’s behavior that night.
Under New York State Law, a person cannot be committed against his will unless he is a threat to harm himself or harm others. A tape of that evening made by Schoolcraft clearly indicates he was neither a threat to himself or others. That tape will take center stage if and when the Schoolcraft lawsuit reaches a jury.
Since then–a period of 18 months–Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have not offered a single explanation to New Yorkers for the violations of Schoolcraft’s civil rights. Meanwhile, he remains in limbo, suspended indefinitely without pay, while dozens of other officers accused of serious misconduct are being paid their full salaries.
Nor, incredibly, has the Police Department released one report, document or even scrap of paper which explains the NYPD’s handling of the episode, or details the department’s conclusions about Schoolcraft’s allegations, despite repeated inquiries from the Voice over the past year.
Nor has any outside agency–federal, state or local–had the courage to perform its own investigation into the episode.
The episode sits there like the proverbial elephant in the room, as Mayor Bloomberg lurches through his third term.