From the Village Voice: “FOILed Again: Freedom of Information Laws Are Just That — Laws. So Why Does the NYPD Get to Keep Breaking Them?”

Indeed.  The Freedom of Information Law is very clear.  It is intended to be an administrative process, not a legal process in court.  However the NYPD is having none of that.  Basically they slough off FOIL requests any way they can and wait for the courts to force them comply with the law.  For the NYPD the FOIL law is only what a particular judge says in a particular case.  They treat the FOIL process with total contempt.  Why the courts do not find a way to penalize the NYPD for consuming court time with matters that should be handled administratively I do not know.

From the Voice:

Talk to open-government advocates or journalists or lawyers, virtually anyone who’s ever filed a FOIL request with the NYPD, and you’ll hear the same stories. Delays that stretch for months, if not forever. Exorbitant fees, like the $36,000 the department is demanding from NY1 in exchange for some video footage. Just getting through to the NYPD can be an impossible task. Try calling certain records officers and you’ll get a voicemail too full to accept more messages. Try emailing a request and you’ll be told that’s not allowed, even though the courts have ruled — unequivocally — that it is. Requests for even innocuous information are met with reflexive secrecy. Robert Freeman, director of the state’s Commission on Open Government, remembers fielding a call from a guy who wanted to know the length of the Queens Midtown Tunnel. He FOILed the NYPD, and was told the information was too sensitive to release. (It’s listed on Wikipedia as 6,414 feet, if you were wondering.) When the New York World and MuckRock designed a test of FOIL responsiveness last year, sending identical requests for a list of employees to various state and local agencies, the NYPD took three months to reply that it had no such list.

. . .

In October, the Voice filed what should have been an easy request. We asked for every FOIL letter the department had received, and every response it had sent out, for a two-month period. It’s the sort of request that’s routinely fulfilled elsewhere; at the federal level, this kind of information is periodically released by official ombudsmen as a matter of course.

What did we get from our request? Fifty-six pages of nothing. A series of meaningless index numbers stripped even of the names of requesters, with no explanation for the effective denial. It would have been easier to write [F*CK] YOU on our letter and send it back by return mail.

It’s impossible to assess the scope of the NYPD’s FOIL dysfunction — that would require the department to comply with FOIL — but it’s a real and apparently worsening problem. “The department, when it comes to the timing and scope of its FOIL responses, is awful. Infamously awful,” says Gideon Oliver, a civil rights attorney who’s tangled with the NYPD over FOIL for years, especially on cases involving political activists. “There are so many systemic problems that many people I talk to just don’t even bother trying to FOIL the police department anymore.”

“It has more than a chilling effect,” agrees Norman Siegel, another civil rights attorney, of the NYPD’s brazen stonewalling. “It has a frozen effect.” And he doesn’t think it’s an accident. “I think its part of a deliberate strategy. Nobody likes someone second-guessing them.”

Even longstanding civil rights organizations face the same problems from the department. Chris Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union says his organization is routinely forced to sue for NYPD records. “I can’t think of any agency that we have more trouble with than the NYPD,” he says. “It’s the culture of the NYPD, and that culture is completely contrary to the spirit of FOIL.”

FOIL and the laws like it passed in every state, mostly in the reform-minded 1970s, weren’t designed just for crybaby journalists, but for every citizen. They’re the laws that allow you — in theory at least — to pry open the black box of government. They are the laws that keep you informed about what your government does in your name. And it’s impossible to overstate their importance; FOIL laws have helped to expose corrupt policing, inadequate government oversight, deadly boondoggles, and graft of all kinds.

The effect of this kind of obstruction isn’t just a problem for government watchdogs or lawyers or the press. If well-funded, savvy requesters can’t make the law work, what chance do average citizens have, people without the time or wherewithal to badger public officials into complying with the law?

. . .

The NYPD isn’t doing anyone a favor when it deigns to comply with the law, and its moaning about resources wouldn’t be tolerated in any other context. If the mayor permitted sexual harassment in his offices because eliminating it would be too much work, he’d be tossed out of office, and rightly so. FOIL isn’t a second-rate law, or a law with an asterisk: It’s the law. Simple as that.

The department’s protestations also ignore the fact that federal agencies like the FBI, or even local ones like the Los Angeles Police Department, are able to handle FOIL requests with infinitely more professionalism than Commissioner Bill Bratton’s NYPD. No government agency is perfect, but many perform far better than our city’s police department. It’s the height of arrogance to suggest that the NYPD is somehow special.

. . .

[. . .] maybe the solution has been staring us in the face all along.If the NYPD wants to go to war on FOIL — if they want to go to war on us — why not make it a war of attrition? Gather an army of like-minded attorneys, suit up, and sue.

If Mayor DeBlasio wants to change the culture of the NYPD (the above-the-law, we-are-the-law, the out-of-civilian-control culture of too many in the department) then forcing the NYPD to obey the Freedom of Information Law is a place to start.  He could fire the internal pillars of resistance to the FOIL (the internal pillars of the undesired culture) and hire people with respect for democracy, the constitution and the law.

The Eric Garner Murder — NYPD stop hiring psycho ward cops

Eric Garner, 43, father of six, grandfather of two.

Eric Garner was murdered by a police chokehold during a questionable arrest.,

It turns out, per retired police Captain Ray Lewis, of Occupy fame, that police officers are selected to be high in aggression and low in sensitivity through the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) test.  This is turning the test on its head, it could be used to select very suitable and moral officers.  Used improperly as described it will select the emotionally walking wounded just raring to lash out on their psychological pain and anger, plus actual psychopaths.

How Cops Are Vetted For Aggression & Insensitivity | Interview with Capt. Ray Lewis

It is clear from incidents such as the Eric Garner murder, that this has been instituted here.  It is also shown by the police murder of disturbed individuals when neighbors or family call for police assistance.  High in violence and low in empathy, that would explain these occurrences.

It’s also evident from the following Village Voice article in which drunk rookie cops were allowed to run wild, beating up a cab driver for some perceived slight, even roughing up another police officer, and then remained unpunished.  I never understood how this was allowed until I saw Capt. Lewis’s statement on the MMPI.  A lengthy quotation follows:

New York’s Finest Police Cover-Up

Ten cops beat up cabbie, then cuff one of their own for trying to stop them.

The evening began normally enough, he says. According to his very detailed notes, he finished his tour at the 3-0, and met up with some colleagues at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que under the West Side Highway. Then, after dinner and one drink, he headed to the Vudu Lounge at East 78th Street and First Avenue for a Christmas party organized by Captain William Pla, the commander of Manhattan North Impact, a unit composed of rookie officers sent to flood high-crime areas.

Acosta parked across the street, walked inside, paid Pla the $60 party fee, and chatted with some of the officers present. At about 11:30, the captain told everyone the party was over, and Acosta left.

He crossed the street, sat in his car, and made a couple of calls on his cell phone. He got out of his car to respond to what turned out not to be an accident, and then noticed someone being assaulted across the street in front of the bar.

A group of rookie cops had spilled out of the Vudu Lounge. Traffic on northbound First Avenue was going very slowly at that moment, and the rookies took the opportunity to cross against the light.

The young officers crossed in front of a yellow taxi driven by Levelle DeSean Ming, a 41-year-old Brooklyn man.

Ming had just come back from a trip to Kennedy Airport. He was about 10 hours into his shift. At the time, he was making about $400 a day as a hack, but he had to kick back half of that to the cab owner. He had child support and other debts to worry about.

“I was sitting there, and I tapped the horn, and I said to myself, ‘Wow, people don’t know how to act when they’re drunk,’ ” Ming tells the Voice in an interview. “But this guy heard me, he was intoxicated, and he said, ‘What did you say?’ ”

That guy, Ming later learned, was Police Officer John Virga. Virga reached through the window and punched Ming three times in the face. Ming says he opened the driver’s side door and began to get out, but Virga slammed the door against Ming’s chest three times, bruising his ribs.

Ming finally got out of the car, which turned out not to be a great idea. “I got out, he punched me more, I fought back, and then other people jumped in, punching and kicking me,” he says. “I got knocked down. I got beat up bad. They must have hit me 30 or 40 times.”

The telephone switchboard in the NYPD’s dispatch center began to light up with calls.

“You got to get the cops over,” says a Park Avenue doorman from New Jersey in his 911 call, who spoke to the Voice under the condition that his name be withheld, and happened to be in his car right behind Ming’s cab that night. “They’re beating the shit out of a cab driver. About 15 guys. They’re fucking jumping him.”

Seconds later, the doorman adds, “They’re getting a two-by-four. I’m witnessing a big two-by-four being picked up.”

“He honked his horn,” the doorman tells the Voice. “They went ballistic, started punching his window, being dickheads. The cabbie did nothing wrong.”

He continues to confirm details of Acosta’s story: “The traffic was very slow. These guys came stumbling out in the street. One of them stepped in front of his taxi. All the cabbie did was honk the horn. They came over screaming at him and tried to pull him out of the taxi.”

“I could have been the same guy,” he says. “They didn’t belong in the street. They obviously had a few drinks in them, and they thought they could do whatever they wanted.”

In the second 911 call, a man tells a police dispatcher, “There’s a fight breaking out here, right in the middle of First Avenue.”

In the third call, a woman looking down from her window says, “A bunch of young people are chasing another person into the street. Oh, my God, they’re in the middle of First Avenue.”

“Any weapons?” the dispatcher asks.

“I saw a whole group chasing after one person, and I could hear somebody screaming, ‘Let him go, let him go.’ ”

Acosta was off-duty. He could have kept driving, let the incident take its course, let uniformed cops handle it, but he wasn’t the type of officer to walk away when there is a potential crime taking place.

“The altercation appeared to be growing,” he writes in his notes. “I observed Captain Pla, his female companion, and several other people and other sergeants and lieutenants on the sidewalk watching the altercation escalate. . . . To me, the situation appeared to become violent, so I decided to take police action by intervening and dispersing the crowd.”

One of the off-duty rookies was indeed holding a two-by-four, and was pushing his way through a crowd that appeared to be attacking the cab driver. Acosta identified himself and tried to grab the piece of lumber. “I’m a cop, let go,” Acosta said. At that point, the cop dropped the two-by-four and took a swing at Acosta’s face.

Acosta pushed his way through to Ming, the cab driver. He persuaded Ming to get out of the situation by getting back in his cab. Acosta put himself between the cab door and Ming, as the irate rookies tried to grab the driver, and tried to push the crowd back. With help from another off-duty sergeant, he ordered the crowd to disperse.

The woman with Captain Pla started screaming at the off-duty cops involved in the fight. “You’re animals,” she shouted. “You’re savages. What are you doing?”

In the aftermath, as police sirens wailed toward the scene, several of the officers involved in the fight tried to flee. But they were stopped by plainclothes anti-crime officers.

Ming says some of the rookies told him to leave the scene. “I was like, wait a minute, there’s something else going on here,” he says.

It was only when the rookies were stopped by the anti-crime officers that Ming learned they were cops. “When I saw the shields, I was like, all this time, they are cops?” Ming says.

In the aftermath, a detective drove Ming to the precinct for questioning. In the car, the detective pledged to help him out. “He says, ‘If you have any problems, let me know,’ ” Ming says. “He tells me I didn’t deserve any of this.”

A sympathetic captain wandered by as Ming was waiting to be interviewed by Internal Affairs. “We don’t need cops like that,” he told Ming. “They’re not acting with good conduct.”

Pla, Acosta says, remained on the sidewalk as the melee occurred, watching but not taking action. He says that, as the senior officer present, Pla should have intervened.

“He knows these guys, they work for him, he should have done something,” Acosta says. “If those cops had been civilians, they would have been arrested.”

As uniformed officers from the 19th Precinct began to arrive on the scene, Acosta says that Pla made a phone call.

As the anti-crime officers removed the off-duty cops from their car, Acosta walked up behind a uniformed officer named Mazzilli, who was looking on, tapped him on the shoulder, and said, “Officer, I’m a cop and I saw what happened.”

Mazzilli spun around and grabbed Acosta by the wrist and demanded he remove his hand from his pocket. But because of the way his wrist was being held, Acosta couldn’t take his hand out of his pocket.

Mazzilli, Acosta says, got angry, and repeated his demand. Acosta replied, “Listen, I’m a sergeant. Take it easy. I will do what you want, but you have to let go of my wrist.”

“I don’t give a fuck who you are,” Mazzilli replied.

Mazzilli struck Acosta once in the face and threw him face-down to the ground. The irate officer then handcuffed Acosta. Acosta sustained bruises and a small cut to his face. He also hurt his back in the fall. He was dizzy and upset.

A sergeant subsequently uncuffed Acosta and had him sit in the unmarked SUV. While he was sitting there, he noticed that Captain Pla was still on the scene. He tried unsuccessfully to call and text Pla. There was no response.

He was approached by a lieutenant, who asked for his identification card. He asked the lieutenant if he could leave the SUV to speak with Pla.

“I pointed across the street to Captain Pla and I said, ‘That gentleman right there, he’s a captain,’ ” Acosta testified. ” ‘He saw everything that happened.’ ”

The lieutenant refused.

“Captain Pla can’t do shit for you,” the lieutenant said, according to Acosta. “You’re better off just sitting in the car and shutting up.”

Acosta was taken to the 19th Precinct stationhouse, where he spent most of the night in the roll call room, while investigators tried to sort out the incident.

He was sitting in the muster room with a delegate from the Sergeants Benevolent Association when he was approached by an Inspector Harrington. The inspector wanted Acosta to sign a statement that read that he had broken up the fight, but failed to identify himself when he approached Officer Mazzilli.

“Listen, this is an unfortunate incident. This is what you’re going to say,” the inspector said, according to Acosta.

Acosta refused to make that statement because it wasn’t true. He had repeatedly identified himself. “I told my delegate that I don’t know what’s going on here, but I’m going to say the truth of what happened,” he says.

He told the SBA delegate, “This is fucked up. How am I in this situation? How are cops beating someone else? There’s an off-duty captain that sees the whole thing, and he’s not being brought back here. This is wrong.”

In the often topsy-turvy world of the NYPD, Acosta now became a target for disciplinary charges. He was told that he was being placed on modified assignment for the “good order of the department,” and his gun and shield were taken from him.

What is going on here is very clear.  The elites have turned their backs on community policing and the idea of ‘serving and protecting citizens.’  The 1% have decided to dominate the 99%.  Thus they select emotionally damaged violent individuals as cops and then license their misbehavior.  As a civilized nation we seem to be going backwards.  In Brazil, the police even shoot homeless children, just as if they were dogs.

Does Mayor DeBlasio know about this use of the MMPI?