Why Is the NYPD Hiding Its Communications With Donald Trump?


After learning that Donald Trump made an unsuccessful request to speak to NYPD officers at roll call last month, we had a few questions. Did Trump’s campaign run his prepared remarks by NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton first? Did Trump himself appeal to Bratton’s sense of public sector impoverishment? Who thought this was a good idea?

“Our interest is staying out of the politics at the moment and not to provide photo-ops,” Bratton told reporters after he was asked about Trump’s request.

Believing that the NYPD would be eager to show the public how swiftly and professionally they placed principle above politics, we asked for all records of communication between Trump and the NYPD for the better part of 2016 under the state’s Freedom of Information Law. Our request was denied.

“Such information, if disclosed, would reveal non-routine techniques and procedures,” Lieutenant Richard “Black Hole” Mantellino, the NYPD’s most prolific Records Access Officer, wrote to the Voice.

Lieutenant Mantellino cited Section 87(2)(e)(iv) of New York’s FOIL, which allows government agencies to withhold records “compiled for law enforcement purposes” that would “reveal criminal investigative techniques or procedures, except routine techniques and procedures.”

Robert Freeman, the executive director of the state’s Committee on Open Government, and one of the foremost experts in New York’s FOIL, called the NYPD’s determination “ridiculous.”

“How could it be that a communication from Donald Trump, or most anyone else, could be characterized as an investigative technique or procedure?” Freeman asked. “Even if the communications said, ‘I’m flying into the Bronx on Tuesday,’ you might not want to disclose the details in advance, but months after the fact? How could it be demonstrated that disclosure would reveal investigative techniques?”

Freeman added, “The more we talk about it, the less sense it makes.”

The Voice has appealed the NYPD’s determination. Surely, saner minds will prevail.