The Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption: Commission

Re: The Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption: Commis

Postby admin » Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:41 pm


According to every police officer who cooperated with the Commission, it was common practice for policemen to make payments to each other for services rendered, ranging from the payment of a couple of dollars for typing up arrest reports to the payment of hundreds of dollars for choice assignments.

In any large organization a certain amount of favoritism is bound to exist, but generally it does not progress to the point where favors are routinely bought and sold, as was the case in the Police Department. A likely explanation for intradepartmental gratuities is that the system permitted officers assigned to desk jobs to share in the profits realized by those in the more lucrative outside jobs. For example, as Officer Phillips explained, when a plaincothesman vouchered many thousands of dollars found in a raid, the officers at the precinct assumed that he kept back a goodly sum for himself and expected a tip of at least a few dollars. This practice wreaked a genuine hardship on honest officers, who had to payout of their own pockets to get things typed. The Commission heard numerous allegations of police officers paying other officers to handle routine work. In the course of the various investigations, investigators encountered considerable specific evidence of this practice, of which the following are typical.

Payment for Paperwork: Police duties often involve a good deal of paperwork, ranging from evidence vouchers, complaints and arrest reports, which must be filled out in special form with numerous copies, to requests for departmental recognition. Sergeant Durk told the Commission that it was standard practice, citywide, for an arresting officer to pay $5 to the desk officer and $2 or $3 to the clerical man for each gambling arrest. On the arrest of a prostitute, payments were $2 to the desk officer and $1 to the clerical man. When an arresting officer brings in evidence connected with an arrest, it must be vouchered, which in the case of a large number of bills means that the serial number of each must be listed -- obviously, a laborious process -- and the desk officer's assistant, who is called the 124 man, is given the job. According to Sergeant Durk, the 124 man was also given a couple of dollars to expedite matters.

When a police officer feels he has done an outstanding bit of police work, he will often put in a request for a departmental citation, which must be typed up in a special form. Patrolman Droge testified that it was customary for the clerical man to receive $5 for this service, but he pointed out that the clerical man "probably would type it up for you whether you gave him $5 or not, but it would certainly be expedited if $5 were included." However, he went on to tell of the first time he gave a request for recognition to a clerical man to be typed, when he had been on the force only six weeks and had not yet learned that the clerical man should be tipped: "When I handed in the scratch copy with no $5 ... there was no recommendation. There was no interview. It was never sent in."

Payment for Temporary Assignments: The roll call man in each precinct is in charge of making temporary assignments, designating men to fill in for others who are on vacation, out sick, or in court. He was routinely paid $5 or so by patrolmen in exchange for plum assignments, particularly for lucrative ones like riding in a sector car. Patrolman Phillips paid one roll call man $25 for a week's assignment to an unmarked car, and both Droge and Logan stated that the practice of paying for temporary assignments was a common one. Payments were also made for getting one's choice of days off and of vacation dates. Phillips testified that the roll call man in a busy precinct could make $200 a month in this way.

Payment for Permanent Assignments: The Commission heard numerous allegations from policemen that in some precincts, police officers bought permanent assignments from the administrative lieutenant for various amounts, commonly $500. Some officers were confident that lieutenants on occasion would split this money with precinct commanders.

The Commission also heard numerous unsubstantiated rumors that appointment as a detective could be bought for a price which ranged from $500 to $2,000. While working for the Commission, Patrolman Phillips at one point contacted a policeman serving as a high police official's chauffeur to discuss the possibility of buying his way into detectives. While wearing a transmitter, Phillips held several conversations with this patrolman, who told him that the usual price was $500, but that since Phillips had once been a detective and had been demoted, the price for him would be $1,000. The proposed transfer could not be pursued because it would have conflicted with Phillips' other undercover activities.

Buying Medical Discharges: The Commission received several allegations that in the past police officers have bribed certain police surgeons to certify that they were permanently disabled, making it possible for those officers to retire early and receive all or part of their pensions. One doctor, a former police surgeon who has been retired for twenty years, told the Commission that surgeons took such kickbacks when he was in the Department, and that he believed the practice still to be in existence. The Commission was unable to corroborate these allegations.

A number of high-ranking police officers have in recent years received disability retirements only to take civilian jobs as arduous as those they left. Officers who retire with disability pensions, who later get paying jobs, may technically have their pensions reduced or eliminated. However, an officer at the Pension Unit told the Commission that this is never done -- a policy which might encourage fraudulent disability retirements. This practice is, of course, not necessarily the result of bribery.

An encouraging sign that current attitudes may be better than those reported in the past was the action of the current chief surgeon who, when serving as a police surgeon in late 1970, turned in a patrolman for attempting to bribe him, and the patrolman was suspended without pension.

Sale of Information: Patrolman Phillips testified that police officers would on occasion sell each other information to be used in blackmailing criminals. This most often happened among plainclothesmen, when one of them had information on a criminal outside his jurisdiction, in which case he would sell the information to another plainclothesman who had jurisdiction, and the plainclothesman who had bought the information would then use it to make a score.

On one occasion, Phillips reported to the Commission that he had just been approached by two plainclothesmen who used an illegal wire recorder to bug pay telephones in an effort to get information on gamblers. When they had the information, they would threaten the gambler with arrest and score him. In this fashion, the officers had obtained information on a bookmaking operation outside their division and were seeking to sell it to Phillips. Under Commission surveillance, Phillips bargained with them about buying the information and about buying recording equipment from them. Since the Commission's investigation was drawing to a close the deals were never consummated.


Payments like those made to the clerical man, roll call man, desk officer, and the 124 man (the desk officer's assistant) should be easier to eliminate than corruption on the street because they take place in the station house in full view of many supervisory officers, and because the amounts are usually small.

The practice of buying assignments poses a more serious and difficult problem, but one which the Department's announced policy of accountability could go a long way toward solving. The commander of a precinct is directly responsible for the assignment of his men, and where the commander is both honest and conscientious the problem need not arise.
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Re: The Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption: Commis

Postby admin » Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:58 pm

Chapter Fourteeen: GRATUITIES

By far the most widespread form of misconduct the Commission found in the Police Department was the acceptance by police officers of gratuities in the form of free meals, free goods, and cash payments. Almost all policemen either solicited or accepted such favors in one form or another, and the practice was widely accepted by both the police and the citizenry, with many feeling that it wasn't corruption at all, but a natural perquisite of the job.

Free Meals

The most universally accepted gratuity was the free meal offered to policemen by luncheonettes, restaurants, bars, and hotels. Despite the Commission's announced lack of interest in investigating instances of police free meals, investigators found it impossible to avoid noticing such instances while going about their private affairs or while engaged in investigating more serious matters.

Early in his administration Commissioner Murphy took a strong stand with respect to such freeloading and stirred up a good deal of animosity among rank and file policemen by inveighing against even a free cup of coffee.

The Commissioner's position was somewhat undermined by his handling of what was undoubtedly the most highly publicized free meal served to a New York policeman in recent years. Assistant Chief Inspector Albert Seedman -- in March of 1972when he was under active consideration for the post of Chief of Detectives -- hosted a dinner for his wife and another couple at the New York Hilton. The bill for dinner, which came to $84.30including tip, was picked up by the hotel. When the check for this meal was discovered by Commission investigators during the course of a routine investigation, a Commission attorney immediately brought it to the attention of Seedman, who had in the meantime been appointed the Chief of Detectives. Chief Seedman then explained that the hotel management had invited him to dine in return for performing a security check for the hotel -- a service normally provided by the police at no charge. This information was turned over on a confidential basis to Commissioner Murphy, who relieved Chief Seedman of his command pending an inquiry.

A week later the Commissioner released a statement outlining a version of the affair which was significantly different from the one Chief Seedman had given our staff attorney. While he originally had ascribed the free meal (including tip) to an invitation from the hotel in specific recognition of services rendered, the statement released by the Commissioner indicated that he had gone with his friends to the hotel fully expecting to pay for the meal, had simply made "no fuss" when the management failed to present a bill, and had covered his embarrassment by leaving a "large tip." Having accepted Chief Seedman's revised version of the affair, Commissioner Murphy restored him to command of the division, announcing that he had committed no "serious wrongdoing".

[Homicide Division Chief] Perhaps. But I left fingerprints all over her apartment, even on the shower faucet. Because, gentlemen, Excellency, I took a shower afterwards.


[Commander] Strange. Everyone left fingerprints on the faucets, cups and door handles, except for you.

-- Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, directed by Elio Petri

This incident had a significant effect on the already cynical attitude of many policemen. It was difficult for police officers to take seriously Commissioner Murphy's stern warnings against receiving" any buck but a pay check," when they apparently did not apply to one of the Commissioner's top aides. Several police officers commented wryly to Commission investigators that at last a meaningful guideline had been established for free meals: "It's okay -- up to $84.30."

In fact, of course, the average patrolman was found to eat nowhere near that well. Free meals were indeed available to almost all policemen throughout the City, but patrolmen rarely dined in style. Every patrolman knew which establishments on his beat provided free meals, and these were the places where he lunched each day. Uniformed policemen generally ate modest-priced meals in cafeterias, luncheonettes, restaurants, bars, or in the employee cafeterias of hotels. Commission employees observed countless uniformed patrolmen eating in such establishments, then leaving without paying and sometimes without even leaving a tip. Most often, no bill was even presented.

Many thousands of free meals were consumed by policemen each day and the sheer numbers created problems for the most popular eateries. Some luncheonettes which did a particularly heavy police business either offered a discount or charged policemen a token fee, most commonly $.50.

It was not only the policeman on patrol who felt that his lunches should be provided free. Numerous examples were reported to the Commission of officers in the station house sending radio cars to local restaurants to pick up meals for police officers whose duties prevented them from getting out on the street.

Nor were take-out orders always limited to food. Patrolman Phillips testified that it was not uncommon for policemen assigned to a radio car to pick up a "flute" -- a Coke bottle filled with liquor -- which they would deliver to the station house. In most instances, however, take-out orders involved the same sort of low-priced meals obtained by police officers on patrol. The Commission obtained a list used in one precinct house apparently setting out the dates on which certain eating places were to be approached for sandwiches, pizza, and other food to go.

The owner of one home-delivery food business which sold $2.00 fried chicken dinners found that his dinners were so popular with the police in his local precinct that they were ordering eighty to ninety dinners a week from him. This was substantially cutting into his profits, so he decided to start charging the police a nominal price of $.50 per dinner. This angered the police, who began issuing summonses to his delivery cars on every trip they made, resulting in $600 in summonses in one week. The owner called the Police Commissioner's office and explained his problem, and soon afterwards, he stopped receiving summonses. However, he had already dropped the $.50 charge per dinner.

Not all patrolmen were as restrained as the general run, and some were observed eating in rather fashionable establishments. Two patrolmen in particular confronted Commission investigators with a situation difficult to ignore by pulling up nightly to the back entrance of a fairly high-priced downtown restaurant located directly under the windows of the Commission's offices. The officers were served in their car by a uniformed waiter with a tray and a napkin draped over one arm.

Non-uniformed officers generally ordered less modest meals than uniformed patrolmen. Plainclothesmen, detectives, and high-level officers, who worked in civilian clothes instead of the conspicuous blue uniform, patronized a much wider selection of restaurants than the uniformed force, including many clearly in the luxury category. And the meals they ordered were often grandiose compared with the cafeteria- style food favored by uniformed men.

William Phillips, when assigned as a detective in a midtown precinct, regularly patronized, with other detectives, the very best restaurants, where he received gratis what he called" electric-chair meals." He reported that as he sipped the last drop of brandy after an enormous feast all he could think was" pull the switch, I'm ready to go!" Free meals of this sort, which in Phillips' case could add up to hundreds of dollars in one week, obviously presented a more serious but much less frequently encountered problem than the hot dog traditionally demanded by a patrolman from a vendor.

The owner of one of New York's finest French restaurants reported to the Commission that he was approached by policemen demanding free dinners. When he flatly turned them down, they took retaliatory action: The restaurant was located on a street where parking was illegal before 7:00 P.M., and the police began showing up every night at 6:55 to tow away cars belonging to patrons.

The Commission discovered that there was a certain etiquette among police officers concerning free meals in restaurants. In most precincts an officer could not eat free in a restaurant on another man's beat without first getting his permission. Officers also tried to time their free meals for restaurants' slow periods, to avoid taking up tables which might otherwise be used by paying customers. And thoughtful policemen in at least one precinct installed a wall chart containing a box for each eatery in the precinct, where officers made an appropriate entry every time they had a free meal, the idea being to keep track of the police traffic and spread the burden fairly. Also, some restaurants offered free meals only to officers in a position to do them a favor in return. At one luncheonette in the Bronx where a Commission attorney was dining with his wife, the waitress took a patrolman's order for food to go, then went to the manager and asked, "We don't charge him, do we?" The manager took one look at the officer and said, "You can charge that bastard as much as you like. It's only the ones from the Forty-Seventh [that we take care of]."


The Commission's interest turned to hotels after a former hotel security officer came in with hotel records indicating that at least one hotel was paying off police in free meals, free rooms, and cash payments at Christmas. Commission investigators then interviewed security officers and general managers at ten major hotels in the City, all of whom flatly denied giving gratuities in any form to the police.

The Commission's next step was to subpoena personnel and records reflecting police gratuities from seven large hotels, two of which were among those questioned earlier. The result was a paper flood of meal checks, meal tickets, room records and hotel logs. An initial examination of these records showed that large numbers of policemen -- as well as other public officials -- were receiving gratuities from hotels, chiefly in the form of free meals. This practice was described in detail by security directors and managers who this time were subpoenaed for testimony under oath.

The pattern of free meals that emerged was similar to that the Commission had found in independent restaurants, with patrolmen generally eating in the hotels' employee dining rooms, coffee shops, or less expensive restaurants, and higher-ranking officers ordering lavish meals in the hotels' more expensive restaurants.

Records from several of the hotels showed that they each fed as many as 300 to 400 meals a month to policemen in their employee dining rooms, mostly to patrolmen in uniform. The value of these meals was usually under $2.00 each. To get free meals in the employee dining rooms, the policemen generally went to the security office, where their uniforms -- or in the case of non-uniformed officers, their shields -- served as identification. They were either asked to sign the meal checks or hotel logs with their names and ranks or were given meal tickets to be turned in in the dining rooms. When the names given in the hotel checks and logs were checked against the precinct rosters. a sizable percentage of them proved to be false (including two uniformed officers identifying themselves as Whitman Knapp and Sydney Cooper, who was then chief of the Department's anti-corruption force).

In these same hotels, higher-ranking officers (sergeants, detectives, inspectors, lieutenants, captains, and one chief inspector) ate in the hotels' better restaurants, ordering the most expensive items on the menu, with the tab rarely coming to less than $20 per person in the larger midtown hotels. And the volume was substantial: over $500 a month at most hotels checked and $1,500 a month at the Statler- Hilton.

Hotels also were found to provide free rooms to police officers upon request. The ostensible reason for this was usually that the officer lived out of town and had to be in court early the following morning. In practice, however, policemen often took rooms when they were neither on official business nor scheduled to make a court appearance the following day. Occasionally, a group of them would book a free room for an afternoon in order to watch an important ball game on the TV provided by the hotel.

Free Drinks

In the course of its investigation into bars, Commission investigators could not help but observe numerous uniformed police officers imbibing free drinks -- both on duty and off. Bar owners and policemen also told the Commission that it was common practice for bars to offer free drinks to policemen.

As discussed above in Chapter Eight, three patrol sergeants in the Nineteenth Precinct regularly spent their entire tours going from one bar to another. While the behavior of patrolmen was less extreme, there was plenty of drinking on duty and off by them, too, with no evidence of any attempt by superiors to stop it. One example of a superior's laisser-faire attitude occurred in the presence of Commission investigators at an East Side bar. Three patrolmen, in uniform and on duty, were in the bar, one drinking a mixed drink, one a beer, and one coffee. The uniformed sergeant for the sector, who was on patrol and theoretically responsible for supervising the patrolmen, entered the bar, stayed for five minutes, then left. The patrolmen continued to drink during and after his visit.

Christmas Payments

Payments to police at Christmas by bars, restaurants, hotels, department stores, and other retail businesses have long been a police tradition. Although the Department has made efforts to halt the practice, at the time of the investigation it still continued. A particularly rigorous campaign was waged against the practice in December of 1971, with the reported result that officers collected their Christmas gratuities in January, after the campaign was over.

Christmas money was usually collected in a fairly organized fashion. Early in December, lists were made up at many precinct houses, division headquarters, and squad rooms, on which were entered the names of all the businesses in their jurisdiction from which the police expected Christmas payments. The list was then divided up among the various officers, each of whom was to go to the businesses on his list and collect. He either collected a flat fee to be divided up later at the station house by participating officers, or he presented a list, broken down to include the various officers.

Patrolman Phillips described how Christmas graft was collected when he was a detective in the Seventeenth Precinct some years ago:

"Well, Christmas was an organized operation, and the squad clerical men had the master Christmas list, which was kept locked up at all times. Each detective at Christmas time was given a list of between ten and fifteen establishments. The money was all brought in. It was divided equally among all the detectives in the squad. The lieutenant and sergeant had their own Christmas list. They did not participate in ours."

When asked how long the master list was, Patrolman Phillips said, "it was quite a long list, ten or fifteen yellow pages ... [it contained] every hotel, almost every bar, every cabaret, and other business establishments in the Seventeenth Precinct." He said that the Christmas pad came to $400 or $500 per man in that precinct, not counting individual payments, which usually added another $200 or so. Phillips also reported that specific amounts were set aside for transmittal to higher ranking supervisors, right up to the Chief of Detectives. The Commission was unable to verify whether the money was actually transmitted.

The Christmas lists presented to hotels in particular were quite detailed, giving amounts to be paid to police officers of all ranks, up to and including the borough commander and Chief Inspector. (Again, the Commission obtained no direct proof that these monies were ever actually received by the officers named on the lists.) One Christmas list obtained from a large hotel set forth specific amounts to be given to each of the detectives assigned to the squad with jurisdiction over that hotel.

While lists of this sort reflected a practice as widespread as it was long-standing, the lists themselves could not always be accepted on face value since, as in the case of the detective list, they often reflected proposed rather than actual payments. During the Commission hearings the lieutenant in charge of the detective squad mentioned above requested and was given the opportunity to testify that he had never received the payment reflected on the list and the hotel personnel who provided the list acknowledged that not all payments on it were actually accepted.

The giving of gratuities to high-level police officers was a common practice. Former Chief Inspector Sanford Garelik acknowledged in executive testimony before the Commission that, as a field commander, he had received gratuities from businessmen with whom he came in contact in the course of his duties. Instead of returning these gifts or asking that they not be sent, he stated that he attempted to respond by giving return gifts of equal value.

Free Merchandise and Other Gifts

A number of merchants gave policemen gifts for services rendered and free merchandise. These included such items as free packages of cigarettes solicited by policemen from tobacco shops and grocery stores, free bags of groceries from retail stores, free service at dry cleaners and laundries, and free goods from factories and wholesalers. In his public testimony before the Commission Patrolman Droge stated that in one precinct in which he had served, police officers had used their tours to make the rounds of a bread factory, a frankfurter plant, and an ice cream plant, among others, stocking up on goods to take home. "I recall one police officer," said Droge, "who felt that if he didn't go home with a bag of groceries, then his tour wasn't complete."

Tips for Services Rendered

Policemen often accepted or solicited payments for services performed during their tours of duty. Some of these services were legitimate parts of their jobs, like guarding foreign diplomats, for which they should not have been tipped, and others were services which should have been performed by private guards rather than by City-paid policemen, like escorting supermarket managers to the bank.

Foreign consulates, many of which have City policemen assigned to guard them, have been known to offer gratuities to the police in various forms. Some would send cases of whiskey and champagne to precinct houses. Others made gifts of gold watches and money to various police officers.

When City marshals served eviction notices, they would notify the police, and when a car responded, the marshal paid $5 to the patrolmen in the car for handling the eviction.

When managers of many supermarkets and liquor stores were ready to take the day's receipts to the bank, they called the local precinct house and asked that a patrol car be sent over. The policemen in the car would then give the manager a ride to the bank, for which they received "anywhere from a couple of packs of cigarettes to $4.00."

Proprietors of check cashing services, who open up shop in the morning with large supplies of cash on hand, frequently had standing arrangements to have a patrol car waiting outside each morning when the proprietor came in.

Proprietors of burglarized stores and factories, if they arrived at the scene before the police did, paid $5 a man to each officer who showed up. However, if the police arrived first, they often helped themselves to merchandise.

Since our investigation, the Department has issued an order requiring that, when patrol cars manned by patrolmen reach the scene of a burglary before the sergeant gets there, the cars must be inspected by the sergeant before they leave the scene. Although this sounds like a sensible reform, a precinct commander and other police officers told the Commission that they felt the required procedure was demeaning and unlikely ever to be followed, as it would result in the public spectacle of a police supervisor searching for evidence of theft by patrolmen.


Almost to a man, legitimate businessmen questioned by the Commission about why they offered gratuities to the police claimed that they did so "to promote good will." Almost all expected to receive either extra or better service than that given to the general public, and many expected the police to overlook minor illegal acts or conditions.

Restaurants and bars expected police who dined and drank free to respond promptly if they were ever called in an emergency and to handle such calls with more discretion than usual. If the police ever had to arrest a man in one of the hotels which offered free meals and Christmas money, the management could be fairly confident that instead of charging into the dining room in the middle of dinner and making the arrest in full view of all the diners, the police would probably make the arrest much more discreetly.

Another benefit to bars, restaurants, and hotels was that patrons were allowed to park and double-park illegally in front of their establishments.

In many instances it is unfair to infer that payments of a gratuity necessarily reflected a shakedown by the police officer involved. A bar owner, restaurateur, or other businessman is usually most happy to have a police officer in or near his premises, and in a good many situations, payments -- particularly Christmas gratuities -- were made simply because the police officer became friendly with the local merchants in his patrol area. Gift giving, however, was very rarely a reciprocal matter in the sense of friends exchanging gifts on an equal basis. If, as in the case of some high-ranking officers ,a return gift was made it was always in response to an original overture by someone who usually stood to gain by the presumed good will.

The fact is that the public by and large does not regard gratuities as a serious matter. While some may be offended by the occasionally arrogant way in which some police officers demand what they consider to be their due, most people are willing to allow a police officer who spends long hours providing protection for an area to stop in for a quick free meal or cup of coffee at an eating establishment which enjoys the benefit of his protection. Indeed, an investigation of hotels in New York conducted a few years ago by the New York County District Attorney came up with essentially the same evidence as that found by the Commission of hotels providing free meals and a prosecutorial judgment was apparently made not to pursue the matter even though criminal violations were involved.

Officers who participated in Ethical Awareness Workshops recently sponsored by the Department have reached an interesting conclusion. They felt that no police officer should ever accept a gratuity of any sort. Their reasoning was twofold: One, that even a series of small gratuities -- like cups of coffee -- would, in certain instances, affect an officer's performance of his duty, and two, that acceptance of gratuities is demeaning to a professional police officer. However, it is doubtful whether such standards could reasonably be imposed throughout the Department.

The general tolerance of gratuities both by policemen and by the public gives rise to the question whether some system should be developed whereby gratuities are specifically condoned as long as they are not excessive. At the time of our investigation, there was a de facto tolerance of such gratuities, and if the Department could institutionalize this approach by establishing realistic guidelines setting out what is and is not permissible it could at least remove the illegal atmosphere which may operate to condition policemen for more serious misconduct.
Admittedly, the problem of drawing a line is a difficult one. If the Department should decide to permit policemen to accept free meals and goods, the Commission urges that all such gratuities be reported in memorandum books or on Daily Field Activity Reports, which should be reviewed daily by supervisory officers. Supervisory personnel could then be held responsible for insuring that such privileges were not abused.

Some areas do seem susceptible to an official regulatory approach. For example, there would seem to be no reason why the practice of hotels providing free rooms to police officers could not be officially sanctioned. If an officer is forced to work late hours in any area of the City far from his home and is expected to be on duty or in court early the following morning, it does not seem unreasonable that he be provided with a hotel room, on a space available basis, with the expense being paid for by the City. If such rooms are provided they should be duly reported and, where possible, approved in advance as part of a regular system.

Assuming that hotel and restaurants actually do not wish to provide free meals and rooms to police officers, it has been demonstrated that they are not forced to. At the time of the Commission hearings, under the glare of publicity, many of the big hotels announced that they would no longer provide such services.
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Re: The Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption: Commis

Postby admin » Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:19 pm

Chapter Fifteen: MISCELLANY

The Commission had neither the time nor the resources to investigate thoroughly all corrupt practices allegedly indulged in by police officers. In some areas where the hazards of corruption appeared to be great the Commission's investigators were unable to gather adequate evidence. Other allegations involved acts which were either so petty or so individual in nature that full-scale investigations were simply not warranted. Some types of corrupt behavior not corroborated by the Commission were widely talked about in the Department as well as in some sections of the community and have officially been recognized by the Department as corruption hazards. Others have been the subject of criminal prosecutions.

The Commission was not able, for one reason or another, to identify most of the matters discussed in this chapter as definite patterns of corruption. These matters must nevertheless be mentioned since some of them clearly present grave corruption hazards and, in any event, it is a serious matter even when the only evidence of a particular type of corrupt behavior is the commonly accepted belief among police officers that it exists.

Loansharks: Although the Commission did not find conclusive evidence of police corruption involving loansharks, in the course of its work it came across numerous allegations of police collusion with loansharks and the nature of the business is such that corruption would seem to be an obvious hazard. Some policemen apparently shake down loansharks on a haphazard basis and others have been known to work for loansharks in various capacities, ranging from referring to potential borrowers to roughing up slow payers.

Officer Phillips told the Commission that he had been "friendly" with two loansharks and, while working under the supervision of the Commission, he received intermittent payments of $10 and $20 from them.

Another patrolman, currently under indictment in the Bronx, was described by Bronx County District Attorney Burton Roberts as "a $100-a-week collector for a loanshark operation." He faces perjury charges for allegedly giving a grand jury false testimony about his connection with the loansharks. Another patrolman in the Bronx is currently under indictment for allegedly operating a loanshark ring with two civilian partners. He faces usury and assault charges stemming from a beating he reportedly gave to a customer who owed $120 and $100 loan.

DOA's: In police terminology a "DOA" (dead on arrival) is a corpse requiring official police action. Patrolman Phillips and others told the Commission that, when police officers were called upon to handle DOA's, they would sometimes go through the victim's pockets and steal anything of value. Likewise, when called to a house or apartment where someone has died, the police have been known to burglarize the premises if the deceased had been living alone. Similar burglaries have taken place after police officers escorted someone to the hospital, who turned out to be dead on arrival. In such cases, officers would take the dead person's keys and let themselves into his apartment, then take anything of value. Patrolman Phillips told the Commission that old people who die in the City frequently keep large sums of money hidden in their homes, apparently not trusting banks. He went on to say that thefts from DOA's in such circumstances have amounted to several thousand dollars.

The Department has recognized theft from DOA's as a corruption hazard and now requires that a complete inventory of property taken from a DOA be made by one officer at the scene. The inventory must be initialed by a superior officer and all the property inventoried must "be vouchered immediately, entered in the blotter and then placed in the property locker for safeguarding."

Hijacking: Various informants told the Commission that truck hijackings almost always received police protection in one form or another. The Commission was told that various policemen were sometimes alerted ahead of time to a scheduled hijacking. If they had not been notified ahead of time and were attracted to the suspicious unloading, hijackers would attempt to buy them off on the spot.

Auto Theft Rings: In the past few years, several instances have come to light of individual police involvement with auto theft rings. One of these dovetails with allegations received by the Commission that police officers sometimes ride shotgun for such outfits. The others involve payments for protection of such rings.

In September of 1970, the Bronx County District Attorney announced the indictment of two patrolmen and several civilians on larceny and conspiracy charges. The district attorney alleged that the patrolmen had acted as guards during the theft of late model automobiles, using their jobs and patrol car as covers.

In another auto theft case involving policemen who did not work as guards, the Bronx County District Attorney announced the indictment of five police officers and several civilians in June, 1971. Of the five officers, four (two sergeants, a detective, and a patrolman) were indicted for their part in shakedowns of the ringleader. The fifth officer, a patrolman, was indicted for his activities as an auto cutter, which entailed dismantling the stolen autos for resale as parts. In a third auto theft case, the Queens County District Attorney announced the indictment of several individuals, including two detectives. It was alleged that the detectives, acting as agents for members of the ring, offered $2,000 to two other police officers not to arrest four alleged members of the ring. The detectives pleaded guilty to the charges.

Police Theft from Burglarized Premises: Several police officers told the Commission that it was common practice for policemen responding to burglarized premises to steal items the previous thieves had left behind. The Department recognizes burglarized premises as a corruption hazard, and calls police theft at the sites "compound burglaries." At the Commission's public hearings, Patrolman Droge and former policeman Waverly Logan both testified that several cars would customarily respond to burglary calls, including calls about burglaries outside their sectors, and would steal the merchandise they were charged with guarding. Logan described what happened at a shirt factory where he and his partner answered a burglary call:

"Me and my partner went in the back of the building [where] a door was open. We went in. There was about six or seven radio cars out front. A lot of cops was inside. Everybody was stuffing clothes down their pants, in their shirt, up their sleeves. Everybody looking fat because they were stuffing so much clothes in their pants. And my partner was telling me that the owners usually take it out on their income tax. Usually declare -- say -- more was stolen than was actually taken. Or they would take it out on their insurance."

Commission agents, while conducting a surveillance of an afterhours bar after midnight, stumbled upon a flagrant example of what appeared to be a compound burglary. The agents noticed an unoccupied police car parked next to a meat packing company where a door was ajar. They soon saw men in police uniforms emerge from the packing company carrying large, paper-wrapped packages which they loaded into the car. In the next few hours, four other police cars (the entire motor patrol force for one-half of the precinct) responded to the site. Police officers from four of the five cars were seen putting packages from the company into their cars. The fifth car, assigned to the supervising sergeant, stopped by briefly, but no packages were loaded into it. The investigators later observed some of the patrolmen transferring the packages into two private automobiles, which were parked near the station house and turned out to be registered to one of the patrolmen involved and to an officer sharing a car pool with another. Two of the participating officers have been indicted by a New York County grand jury for perjury resulting from their testimony in executive session before the Commission.

Court-Related Payoffs: The Commission was told about numerous kinds of payoffs which affected the outcome of court cases. The most common court-related payoffs were those made to policemen to change their testimony so that a case was dismissed or the defendant acquitted, as discussed in the chapters on narcotics and gambling.

Another common payoff -- really a gratuity -- was that given to the "bridgeman" (a court attendant) by policemen and lawyers in order to have their cases called quickly so they didn't have to spend hours waiting. Patrolman Phillips testified that police officers tipped the bridgeman $2 to call a case ahead of others scheduled before it, and that lawyers tipped $5.

A fortunately more unusual court-related payoff was that made to influence a judge. Before Phillips was caught by the Commission, he had arranged for a man accused of possession of a stolen $250,000 check to make contact with a lawyer who claimed he could bribe any of several judges. The man was represented in these negotiations by a Commission informant wearing a transmitter. The lawyer asked for $10,000 to fix the case, saying he could give an 80% guarantee of acquittal. The lawyer received an initial payment of $4,500 before the informant's transmitter was discovered by Patrolman Phillips and the negotiations broken off. The Commission has no way of knowing the truth of the representations made by the lawyer, who fled the country after being discovered.

The Garment Industry: Members of the garment industry were reported to payoff the police on a regular basis, primarily to avoid summonses for illegally-parked delivery trucks and for obstructing the streets and sidewalks with garment racks.

Peddlers: Six informants, including four peddlers, complained to the Commission that peddlers were forced to pay the police or receive summonses, which could lead to fines of up to $100. Payments were reportedly made either daily or weekly and ranged from $5 to $10. The owner of a fleet of fifteen hot dog wagons was reported to have paid police $5 per wagon per day. Ticket scalpers operating near Madison Square Garden allegedly paid police $10 per day.

Polling Places: According to a highly-placed aide to an elected official and several police officers, at the beginning of Election Day both the Democratic and Republican party captains in some election districts habitually gave $5 and $10 to the policemen on duty, indicating that the money was for food and coffee, although party poll watchers always provide free food and coffee to the officers. Since such payments were made by both parties, their apparent purpose was to ensure equal treatment and lack of harassment.

Pistol Permits: The Commission received several allegations that applicants for pistol permits have made payments to the appropriate precinct captain in order to get permits. The fee was usually reported to be $100, requested by the clerical officer to expedite approval of the application for a permit, with the understanding that the money would be passed on to the precinct commander.

One man who has a pistol permit told the Commission that when he applied for it at the local precinct, the clerical man told him that the fee for the permit was $20, but that he would have to pay another $100 for the captain when approval came through. He made the payment to the clerical man, and said he was later able to confirm that the captain did, indeed, receive the money.

Another Commission informant, who was a police officer before he was dismissed from the force, told the Commission that in every precinct he had worked in it was common knowledge that applicants had to pay the commander in order to get a pistol permit.

A New York City gun dealer confirmed that one must pay $100 to the precinct commander to get a pistol permit, and added that gun dealers must make payoffs to the Police Department's Pistol License Bureau when renewing the various permits required for operating a gun business in the City. He said that the official costs for the necessary licenses amount to about $150, but that the actual costs total between $400 and $450 a year. He also reported that he paid an extra $100 every January to a bagman from the Pistol Bureau. He said that these costs are not reflected in his books, and he doubted that other gun dealers' books would have such entries.

Although the Commission, in its limited investigation into pistol permits, was unable to develop hard evidence of payoffs, it heard enough allegations to warrant the conclusion that some applicants for permits probably make payments to the police in excess of the legal $20 fee. However, the Commission interviewed thirty other pistol permitees, whose names were selected at random from several hundred applicant files subpoenaed from the Police Department, and everyone of them denied making extra payments.

Under current procedures, the Department's Pistol License Bureau in deciding to grant or deny a pistol license relies heavily on the recommendation of the relevant precinct commander, who must interview each pistol permit applicant. Since the commander's recommendation is weighed so heavily, those commanding officers desiring to shake down applicants are in an excellent position to demand payment in return for a favorable recommendation.

However, the Department has identified its current procedure for granting pistol permits as a corruption hazard, and is in the process of completely revamping the system. By January, 1973, the entire pistol-licensing program will be centralized under the direction of a City agency.

Sale of Information: Companies doing background checks on job applicants have, in the past, paid police officers for looking through Department records to determine whether the applicants had criminal records, and for supplying copies of these records. In 1971, following an investigation by the Department of Investigation, nine policemen and fourteen corporations were indicted in New York courts for participating in the sale of records of this kind. The nine officers (four detectives and five patrolmen, most of whom worked for the Bureau of Criminal Identification) were found to have received from $1.00 to $2.50 for each name they processed. Some processed relatively few names while others operated in volume. One detective was found to have performed checks for at least seven companies for over fifteen years, netting more than $15,000 a year for this service.

The corporations indicted included a number of private detective agencies and two airlines. They were quick to point out that the information they paid for was a matter of public record, theoretically available to anyone. However, it is available to the public only in the form of court records, which would necessitate a long, laborious search in various court files to check for information on just one person. Instead, they paid police officers to supply them with copies of the Department's yellow sheets, which are lists, filed by name, of all arrests and dispositions of individuals arrested by the police.

Fortune Tellers: The Commission heard numerous allegations from Gypsies and others that some policemen, particularly detectives assigned to the Pickpocket and Confidence Squad (PP&C), received payments from Gypsy confidence artists who swindle people who come to them for advice, particularly the elderly. In return for the payoffs, officers did what they could to insure that the swindlers would not be apprehended and arrested.

The most common of the Gypsy confidence games is the Gypsy blessing, usually perpetrated by self-styled Gypsy" spiritual advisors" on lonely elderly women who seek their advice. After several visits, they are usually told that the cause of their problems is a "curse" which someone has placed on their money. These women are told that the curse can be removed only by the Gypsy blessing, and they are advised to bring their money in to be blessed. When the money is brought in, the advisor sews it up in a special bag, which is switched for an identical bag containing paper. The victim is told to put this bag away in a dark place like a bank vault for a specified time -- often two years -- and warned that if she should open the bag before the time is up the money will vanish. The Commission was told that such thefts range from a few hundred dollars to as much as $40,000.

When the victim finally realizes that her money has been stolen, she reports it to the local precinct, which in turn refers her to PP&C. At PP&C, the victim is invited to look through a file of photographs of known Gypsy confidence artists and a detective is assigned to the case.

Informants told the Commission that detectives in PP&C sometimes received 15% of Gypsy blessing scores from Gypsy contact men who acted as liaisons with PP&C. This fee insured that the swindler's picture would be removed from the Gypsy mug shot file, and that any investigation into the matter would be inconclusive.

One victim of the Gypsy blessing scheme went not to the police but to the Bronx District Attorney's Office after being bilked out of $1,200 by a palmist. The D.A.'s Office chose to handle this case themselves rather than turn it over to the PP&C Squad who are supposed to be experts in Gypsy crime. At the direction of an assistant D.A., the victim returned to the palmist with $265 in marked money, which the palmist wrapped in a handkerchief and switched with a similarly wrapped bundle. At this point, two detectives from the D.A.'s Office stepped in and arrested the palmist. The palmist and her husband then returned most of the victim's money and offered to bribe the detectives, who pretended to be interested. The group then went to another location to meet the palmist's father and collect the bribe. When the money was offered, the palmist's husband and father were also arrested.

In one such case, restitution was alleged to have been arranged by two precinct detectives. After the victim complained to them, they purportedly arranged through a Gypsy contact man to have $6,000 restored to her. An interesting facet of this case is that neither of the detectives ever filed a report of the crime either with the precinct or PP&O.

When Commission investigators inspected PP&O's Gypsy rogues' gallery, they found that photographs were kept loose in metal trays similar to those used for filing inventory cards. Even on cursory examination it was evident that numerous photos had been removed from the trays and that such removal was a simple matter, since the pictures were arranged in haphazard fashion with no numbering system.
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Re: The Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption: Commis

Postby admin » Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:23 pm


Although the Commission was primarily concerned with exposing patterns of corrupt behavior, inevitably, our investigation uncovered evidence of numerous individual acts of corruption involving police officers and members of the public, narcotics addicts, gamblers, and a variety of other criminals. The large number of such instances, uncovered by a small staff in a limited period of time, gives some indication of the magnitude of corruption in the Department at that time.

Following the Commission's public hearings, the Department set up the First Deputy Commissioner's Special Force to follow up on matters developed in the Commission's investigation. This unit examined all of the Commission's cases and allegations which were not already under investigation by district or federal attorneys.

The Special Force undertook to look into 310 cases involving 627 police officers, against whom allegations were serious enough to warrant investigation. They retained 102 cases and referred another 196 cases to the Internal Affairs Division of the Department for investigation. Twelve cases have been referred to the intelligence unit of the Department.

To date twenty-six police officers and fourteen civilians have been indicted by various federal and state prosecutors in cases originated by the Commission. Of these, two policemen and one civilian have pleaded guilty and one policeman has been acquitted. The indictments of twenty-three policemen and thirteen civilians have not yet come to trial.

Thirty-four police officers (including twenty-four of those indicted) have been suspended and fifty-seven (including those indicted or suspended) have been brought up on departmental charges. One of these has resigned. Other investigations are still pending.

A breakdown of the instances of corrupt behavior discovered by the Commission reflects incidents of specific criminal activity involving 164 individuals which were uncovered during Commission investigations or were confirmed by Commission investigators. [i] Of these, sixty-six were police officers and ninety-eight were civilians. The incidents included minor corruption, sales of narcotics, bribe-giving, bribe-receiving, and extortion. One incident involved an effort to fix a murder case. Forty-one additional police officers were found to have participated in actions which constituted violations of departmental rules and regulations. [ii]

Incidents of corruption amounting to criminal violations involving 301individuals were reported by credible witnesses having direct knowledge of the corrupt transactions, although these were not independently confirmed by Commission investigators. Some of these incidents were described in public testimony by such witnesses as officers Phillips and Droge and former officer Logan, who detailed the numerous occasions on which they participated in extortion, bribe-taking, and other crimes. Other incidents were reported by such people as a contractor who declined at the last minute to testify at the public hearings but who had testified in closed hearings to numerous petty but continuous payoffs he was obliged to make to policemen in various precincts to avoid harassment.

Similar information was obtained with respect to thirty-one police officers who committed violations of departmental rules and regulations.
In addition to information actually uncovered by Commission investigators or reported by witnesses whom the Commission staff could determine to be credible, alleged incidents involving 810 individuals, 286 of whom were police officers, were reported by sources whose credibility the Commission had no opportunity to evaluate. These were in addition to the 1,700 complaints received from the public.

Mere numbers of corrupt acts are not as significant as the patterns of behavior which they reflect. The number of people caught and convicted for participating in any type of criminal activity is always a small fraction of those actually involved. It is difficult to make arrests and even more difficult to satisfy standards of proof necessary for convictions with respect to many crimes which, nevertheless, are quite apparently being committed on a large scale. For the Commission's purposes, tape-recorded conversations in which corrupt police officers discussed their activities with undercover agents were invaluable even though such evidence is, under current law, insufficient to establish guilt without further corroboration. Using criminal convictions to measure the extent of police corruption is particularly worthless because the transactions are necessarily secret and those involved in them are extremely unlikely to complain.



i. This does not include thirty-six police officers whose names appeared on the Christmas gratuity list of one hotel, most of whom were said by hotel officials to have accepted the gratuities.

ii. This does not include the names of 660 police officers who appeared as guests on restaurant checks of various midtown hotels, and in hotel logs as occupants of free rooms during the period of the survey.
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Re: The Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption: Commis

Postby admin » Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:30 pm



In 1966 and 1967, Sergeant David Durk and Patrolman Frank Serpico took specific information of serious police corruption to a number of highly-placed individuals both in and out of the Department in an attempt to get someone to start an investigation. Their experiences illustrate some of the deficiencies, in attitude as well as procedure, in the way such complaints have been handled in the past by City officials as well as by the police.

Serpico's and Durk's allegations centered chiefly around two separate series of events involving Serpico, which took place in 1966 and 1967. Both involved first-hand accounts of corruption given by Serpico, in the first instance to a police captain assigned to the City Department of Investigation and in the second to members of the Police Department, an assistant to the Mayor, and the Commissioner of Investigation.

The Commission explored the way Serpico's charges were handled, both in executive session and in the second set of public hearings held in December, 1971. Both times, police and City officials who played significant roles in the events under investigation were called to testify under oath and gave sometimes conflicting recollections.

Ninetieth Precinct Incident

According to Serpico and Durk, in August, 1966, in the Ninetieth Precinct, a patrolman handed Serpico an envelope containing $300 which the patrolman said was Serpico's share from a gambler named "Jewish Max." At the suggestion of his friend Durk, then assigned to the Department of Investigation, Serpico went with Durk to Captain Phillip Foran, head of the Department of Investigation's investigative squad, with whom they had an off-the-record chat, with the understanding that Serpico's identity would be protected. Serpico did not want to be a witness against the patrolman who had given him the money because he feared he might become an "outcast" in the Department.

Serpico and Durk testified that Serpico told Foran about the incident and showed him the envelope containing the money. They said Foran told Serpico he had two choices: He could go to the Commissioner of Investigation who would send him before a grand jury, after which he might well wind up "in the East River"; or he could forget about the incident. Serpico and Durk felt Foran was not making a threat, but simply giving them practical advice. As for the money, the three officers agreed that Serpico should turn it over to his supervisory sergeant after explaining how he got it, which he did. There is no record of the sergeant making an official report of the matter or turning over the money to anyone else.

In executive session, Captain Foran denied making the statements attributed to him by Serpico and Durk and said he had never been shown any envelope or told that Serpico had received any money. According to Foran, Serpico told him only about a possible future payoff and he said he had recommended that Serpico act as an undercover agent with a transmitter so that police action could be taken after the payoff was received. Foran said Serpico had refused to wear a wire as he feared he might become an outcast.

The foregoing incident was presented to a Brooklyn grand jury in 1970. Serpico, Durk, Foran and Serpico's sergeant all testified and no indictment was returned. In 1972 Foran was tried on departmental charges and fined thirty days' pay.

Seventh Division Incident

In 1966,while Serpico was serving as a plainclothesman, he learned that he was about to be transferred to the Seventh Division in Bronx County. Because Serpico was worried about possible corruption in the Seventh, an acquaintance, Inspector Cornelius Behan, offered to speak to the administrator of the division, Deputy Inspector Phillip Sheridan.

Sheridan told Behan that, as far as he knew, there was no corruption in the Seventh. Behan passed the information on to Serpico, who was transferred in late December. In Serpico's first month in the Seventh Division, however, another plainclothesman offered Serpico a $100 share of a score, told him that a division pad existed, explained how it was organized, and introduced him to a known gambler who offered him money. Serpico refused the money and reported these and other similar incidents to Behan early in 1967. Serpico testified that Behan was" shocked." Behan told Serpico it was his duty to come forward with specific information about the individuals involved so that action could be taken. Serpico was hesitant to do this, but wanted to get out of the Seventh Division. Behan offered to help arrange a transfer and told Serpico he would relay Serpico's information to First Deputy Commissioner John Walsh, who was in charge of the Department's anti-corruption efforts.

Behan met three times with Walsh. Referring to notes taken at around the time of the meetings, he testified that he had recounted Serpico's charges of corruption, as well as Serpico's desire to be transferred. Behan said that Walsh wanted Serpico to stay in the division for the rest of his one-year tour and that, at the first two meetings, Walsh asked Behan to continue to meet with Serpico and attempt to persuade him to come up with specific information. Walsh testified that he did not recall being told of any corruption at the first two meetings. But, after Behan's note-assisted testimony was read to him, he said he would not dispute Behan's account of what had been said at the meetings. Serpico, who testified that he had given Behan specific information in January, 1967, testified that Behan reported to him that Walsh wanted him to keep gathering information. Serpico expected to receive instructions and guidance from Walsh, but no one from Walsh's office contacted him.

Behan testified that in April, 1967, Serpico for the first time gave him specific information including names of officers involved in the division pad. Behan testified that he told Serpico at that time that, since he was now willing to divulge specific information, he should deal directly with Walsh. Behan told Serpico he would no longer act as liaison.

Behan then met with Walsh for the third and final time and recounted the substance of Serpico's information. Walsh thanked him and said he would be in touch with Serpico, and Behan so reported to Serpico. However, Walsh never attempted to reach Serpico or to follow up on his charges. There is no indication that anything was done about the charges until six months later when Serpico brought them to the attention of his division commander. "I intended to see Serpico," Walsh testified. "Yes. That I failed to see him-that was my mistake and I say so."

Walsh testified that despite the serious nature of Serpico's charges, he spoke to no one else in the Department about them. Howard R. Leary, Police Commissioner at the time of these events, testified that he had never been informed of the charges by his First Deputy Commissioner and did not learn of them until Serpico's division commander precipitated an official investigation.

In addition to his contacts with Inspector Behan, Serpico had been keeping Durk abreast of his experiences. Durk, in turn, had discussed them in informal meetings with Jay Kriegel, an Assistant to the Mayor whose duties included liaison work with the Police Department. Durk was a personal friend of Kriegel's who, as a patrolman, had contributed ideas regarding police matters to the Mayor's 1965 campaign. Since then Durk had been assigned to the Department of Investigation and he and Kriegel often met and discussed police problems. Kriegel testified that he saw Durk frequently and valued his opinions highly. Durk's own superior, the chief of the Department of Investigation's investigative squad, was appointed after Durk recommended him for the post.

Durk told Kriegel about Serpico's allegations and relayed Serpico's complaint that, although he was supposed to be working undercover for Walsh, Walsh had never called him and, as far as Serpico and Durk knew, no investigation had been started.

Durk and Serpico met with Kriegel on a confidential basis with the understanding that Serpico's identity would be protected. Durk and Serpico testified that the meeting had occurred in the spring of 1967, but Kriegel recalled it as being in summer or fall. Serpico told Kriegel about his experiences in the Seventh Division, of his reporting them to the First Deputy Commissioner, and of his frustration that apparently no one was taking action. Durk and Serpico both testified that they prodded Kriegel to get the Mayor to launch an investigation of Serpico's charges of corruption and of the reasons why they were being ignored by the Department. They said Kriegel told them he would look into the possibility of taking such action and also would try to find out why Walsh had not called Serpico.

According to Durk, Kriegel told him several weeks later that any investigation would have to wait until the end of the summer because the administration did not want to "upset the cops." Durk assumed this meant that the administration was worried about trouble in the ghetto, and did not want to antagonize the police, whose help might be critical. Kriegel denied making any such statement.

Kriegel's testimony before the Commission in executive session with respect to his meeting with Durk and Serpico varied from the testimony he later gave in the Commission's public hearings.

In executive session Kriegel recalled that Durk and Serpico had come to him for the purpose of having him bring to the attention of the Mayor serious and specific charges of corruption which had been reported to Walsh and about which nothing had been done. Kriegel testified that he was impressed with the importance of the information and had spoken to the Mayor about it, indicating to him both the allegations of corruption and the dissatisfaction of Durk and Serpico (whom he did not mention by name) with the way in which the allegations were being handled by the Department. Kriegel did not remember the Mayor's response with respect to the alleged mishandling of the complaints but acknowledged that it was a very serious problem which the Mayor could legitimately discuss with Commissioner Leary although Kriegel would not presume to do so himself.

In his public testimony, Kriegel stated that Durk and Serpico had never claimed that nothing was being done about Serpico's charges but had merely complained about the "pace" of the investigation, a charge he had discounted in the light of Walsh's reputation as an aggressive corruption fighter. He said that he now recalled that he had not reported this complaint to the Mayor but had mentioned only the allegations of corruption and the fact that they had been reported to the Department. Under these circumstances the Mayor would have had no reason to interfere with a police investigation which, as far as he knew, was effectively under way. Although the Department's apparent inaction was the heart of Durk's and Serpico's allegations, and Kriegel again confirmed the two officers' expressed desire to have their charges made known to the Mayor, Kriegel testified that he chose not to tell the Mayor because he believed the Mayor would have gone directly to the Police Department and followed up on the charges, thus revealing Serpico's and Durk's identities. He did not, however, ask Durk and Serpico if they were willing to take that risk in order to have their information passed on to the Mayor and, although he continued to see Durk regularly, never told him that the Mayor had not been given the full story.

Kriegel testified that he did not thereafter say anything to the Mayor about Walsh's alleged delay in investigating Serpico's charges even when the investigation had finally begun and the Mayor could routinely have inquired about it without revealing that he had first learned of the situation from Serpico. Kriegel explained that it would have been inappropriate for the Mayor to interfere in an ongoing police investigation.

The only other action Kriegel took in the matter was to advise the Mayor to "spend more time with the Police Commissioner" on corruption matters.

In their search for someone willing to take action, Serpico and Durk went on May 30, 1967, to Commissioner of Investigation (now New York Supreme Court Justice) Arnold Fraiman, also with the understanding that the meeting was confidential and that Serpico's identity would be protected. After hearing Serpico's allegations, Fraiman suggested that Serpico wear a transmitter to obtain evidence, which Serpico refused to do. Serpico's position was that he would be willing to work undercover only if he were officially assigned to an anti-corruption unit. The three men then decided to bug the Seventh Division plainclothes surveillance truck, a plan which later turned out to be technically unfeasible. Serpico was again urged to wear a transmitter and again refused.

Durk testified that he approached Fraiman several times to ask what was being done about Serpico's allegations, and that Fraiman first refused to talk to him and later discounted Serpico's information, saying Serpico was a "psycho." Fraiman denied this and said he had never doubted the truth of Serpico's charges. However, his office did not pursue the matter and he did not refer Serpico's information to any other agency, although Fraiman had previously testified that cases not followed up by his staff were routinely referred to the appropriate district attorney's office.

Action was finally taken on Serpico's charges in October, 1967, when he went to his division commander, Deputy Inspector Phillip Sheridan, as Behan had urged him to do in the first place. Sheridan informed his supervisors, including Walsh, and an investigation was begun by personnel assigned to division and borough commands. Although Serpico still refused to work as an undercover agent, he provided information which led to the arrest of a gambler whose testimony, augmented by Serpico's, led to departmental charges against nineteen officers,ten of whom were also indicted by federal or county grand juries or both. In subsequent Bronx County proceedings three officers were convicted of criminal charges and one pleaded guilty to a violation. Three were acquitted and one was given conditional discharge. Federal cases against eight officers are pending. In addition, forty-two civilians have been indicted.


Although Walsh, Kriegel and Fraiman all acknowledged the extreme seriousness of the charges and the unique opportunity provided by the fact that a police officer was making them, none of them took any action. No serious investigation was undertaken until some months later when Serpico went to his division commander. No general evaluation of the problems of corruption in the Department was undertaken until The New York Times publicized the charges two years later, at which time the Mayor initiated the chain of events which led to the appointment of this Commission.

First Deputy Commissioner Walsh, whose reputation in the Department was that of an implacable corruption fighter, inexplicably took no action whatsoever for at least six months. Commissioner Leary and Chief Inspector Sanford Garelik, who met regularly with Walsh and discussed, among other things, problems of corruption, testified that they were not even informed of the incident. Departmental deficiencies which made possible this state of affairs are discussed in Chapters Eighteen through Twenty, along with an evaluation of the steps since taken by Commissioner Murphy to correct them.

While it is not clear to what extent Durk's and Serpico's charges were passed on to the Mayor, it is clear that the Mayor's office did not see to it that the specific charges made by Serpico were investigated. No effective actions were taken to find out why the Department had delayed investigating the charges, or to explore the broader significance of a situation which indicated widespread corruption among the police.

Similarly, the Commissioner of Investigation failed to take the action that was clearly called for in a situation which seemed to involve one of the most serious kinds of corruption ever to come to the attention of his office, and which seemed to be precisely the sort of case his office was set up to handle. Conditions in the Department of Investigation which hamper its ability to investigate police corruption cases are discussed in Chapter Twenty-One.
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Re: The Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption: Commis

Postby admin » Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:15 am


In the past a number of administrative defects precluded effective investigations of police corruption in New York City and indicated a lack of adequate planning by the Department's top management. Specifically, the Department's machinery for detecting and investigating police corruption was fragmented and even when unified was not given official standing, adequate records, or adequate manpower. In addition, the Department often failed to use appropriate and effective techniques of investigation.

Today many of these deficiencies are being corrected. The Department's investigative apparatus has been unified organizationally, staffed appropriately, and encouraged to use more effective investigative techniques. While it is too soon to assess the impact on corruption of many of the changes that have been made, there are encouraging signs of progress.

Past Deficiencies

Organizational Fragmentation: As reported by the International Association of Police Chiefs in 1967, the various units charged with searching out misconduct within the Department and with maintaining internal discipline, efficiency and integrity were widely dispersed, poorly coordinated, undermanned and, in many instances, so misdirected that they were almost totally ineffective in rooting out corrupt policemen. Simply to call the roll of the anti-corruption units at that time is to indicate how diffuse and unsystematic the Department's anti-corruption efforts were. At the top of the organization there was a separate First Deputy Commissioner's Investigating Unit and a Police Commissioner's Confidential Investigating Unit which were involved in the control of the Department's activities in the area of public morals and personnel security. At the next level there was a Chief Inspector's Investigating Unit which had related and overlapping responsibilities with the first two; the Patrol Bureau had an Inspections Unit; the Detective Division had an Evaluation and Analysis Unit; and there were two principal intelligence units in the Department at the time, the Bureau of Special Services (BOSS) and the Central Investigations Division (CID), both in the Detective Division. In addition, there also existed a Personnel Investigation Section in the Personnel and Administrative Services Bureau which investigated police candidates. Lastly, there was a Gambling Enforcement and Inspection Review Board.

To correct this organizational fragmentation, the various units charged with searching out misconduct within the Department and with maintaining internal integrity and efficiency were brought together in an Inspection Services Bureau (ISB). Command of this Bureau was vested in the First Deputy Commissioner.

At the time of its creation in 1967, the ISB included in its structure the various kinds of units generally agreed upon as necessary for effective anti-corruption work: an Internal Affairs Division (IAD) to investigate complaints or other evidence of misconduct; an Inspections Division to monitor and evaluate the performance of the various commands on a regular basis; an Intelligence Division to gather information about organized crime, including its ties to policemen; and a Public Morals Administrative Division whose function was to monitor plainclothes enforcement of anti-gambling and anti-vice laws. [i] However, until Commissioner Murphy took over the Department, the ISB lacked the authority and resources necessary for its job.

Lack of Authority: According to the testimony of former First Deputy Commissioner John Walsh, the order establishing the ISB was never promulgated, and the Bureau therefore operated without official standing. Thus, the First Deputy Commissioner did not have the authority to examine the records of either the Detective Bureau or the Patrol Bureau without first seeking permission from the Chief of Patrol, the Chief of Detectives or the Chief Inspector or by requesting specific authorization from the Police Commissioner.

Obtaining records from the Patrol Bureau apparently posed no problem to ISB. Detective records, however, were a different story. Former Commissioner Walsh testified that when he received a complaint concerning corruption within the Detective Bureau:

" ... we conducted an investigation without going near any of the records we have to get if we have to get the permission of the Detective Bureau."

Walsh pointed out that this hampered his operations. In fact, during the pre-Murphy years the First Deputy found it almost impossible to get information from the Detective Bureau, which maintained two of the Department's most sensitive intelligence files. One of the least edifying episodes in departmental history occurred one evening a few years ago when the head of the Internal Affairs Division, charged with investigating all allegations of corruption, attempted an after-hours look into the Detective Bureau's files at the request of the First Deputy Commissioner. He was caught in the act by the Chief of Detectives, who had been tipped off to the raid, whereupon the two middle-aged lawmen exchanged a non-lethal blow or two. The chief of the IAD promptly retired, leaving the Chief of Detectives still sole master of his own files. Of course, by applying to the Commissioner, the First Deputy ultimately obtained access to the detective files.

Lack of Manpower: Between 1967 and the beginning of the Murphy administration, ISB's manpower was kept at a level that virtually made it impossible to do its job effectively. The manpower of its various components actually shrank after ISB was organized. At one point the Inspections Division was down to eighteen men. IAD suffered a manpower cut of roughly fifty percent in 1966 and was left with forty-five men. Just one investigation of the kind IAD classifies now as "medium," that which consumes from 300 to 1,000 man-hours, could occupy a third of its personnel full time for an entire week. Intelligence had twenty-two men to keep track of the members of the five organized crime families operating in New York City and the relations between 30,000policemen and the City's professional criminals.

Inadequate Investigative Techniques: For what appears to have been a combination of reasons, the investigative work of all the ISB's units tended to be of low quality. First, its top officers clung to a case-by- case approach, instead of looking for patterns of corruption. The Internal Affairs Division did not actively seek to uncover corruption but instead reacted to complaints brought to it. This reactive posture contributed to an official underestimation of the extent and indeed the very nature of police corruption. Second, because of adherence to the" rotten apple" theory, the Department did not utilize investigative methods such as turning corrupt policemen and allowing a known corrupt situation to continue over a period of time in the interest of rounding up all offenders. This was clearly brought out in testimony given in the Commission's executive sessions. Both former First Deputy Commissioner Walsh and former Supervising Assistant Chief Inspector and also former Chief of ISB Joseph McGovern testified that whenever ISB was satisfied that they could prove the guilt of a particular patrolman, that patrolman was immediately arrested or departmental charges and specifications were brought against him. As noted by Mr. Walsh:

"... I worked on the theory that, once a policeman puts out his hand and accepts some type of corruptive money, that he is no longer a man of his own soul: He is always under the thumb of that person because, as long as he is a member of the Department, that person can hold him to it."

Lack of Coordination in Assignment of Investigations: According to personnel in ISB at that time, another reason for the low quality of ISB's work was that former First Deputy Commissioner Walsh and his principal aides seemed to have been so accustomed to operating in highly personal ways that they found it difficult to abide by the ISB's division of functions. They continued to do what they always had done and assigned each investigation, regardless of where the organization chart said it belonged, to the investigator they personally felt should handle it. The result was that there was no coordination, or even shared knowledge, among ISB's branches operating on the same case.

Disorganized Records: An extremely serious problem discussed in the Commission's Summary and Principal Recommendations is the physically diffuse and disorganized condition of the Department's personnel records.

Other records were found by Commission investigators to be in a similarly disorganized state. Files were maintained on "known gamblers" and "combines" to provide information on, respectively, individuals and organized groups engaged in criminal gambling operations. These files were woefully out of date and incomplete. Moreover, on more than one occasion, by the time Commission investigators could complete the procedures necessary to examine these files in connection with a specific investigation the files had been stripped of pertinent information. Adequate procedures did not exist even to determine what belonged in a particular file, and material could be removed from a file without leaving any evidence that it had ever been there.

The conditions found in the personnel, known gambler, and combine files were typical of most of the Department's operational files. Although police records systems rarely measure up to the standards maintained by business organizations, New York has even lagged behind other police departments in making reforms. For instance, not until recently had any attempts been made to computerize or even modernize crime and arrest report data, criminal histories, wanted and missing persons files, stolen vehicle and property files, and warrant files. The maintenance of vast and disorganized manually maintained files hampers all Department investigations, including those into corruption.

Improper Attitudes: The inefficiency and lack of proper coordination in the Inspectional Services Bureau are to blame in some measure for the ineffectiveness of the Department's anti-corruption efforts in recent years. However, there are indications that there was also some reluctance on the part of top level police personnel to undertake investigations that might have led to exposure of widespread corruption inconsistent with the official line that corruption was limited to a few "rotten apples." Certain evidence uncovered by the Commission tends to support the inference that this attitude was a factor in the Department's failure to expose the nature and extent of its corruption problem.

An example is the untouched file of specific and serious allegations against New York City police officers that was found by Commission investigators in the course of an early investigation into narcotics corruption. The allegations, which concerned seventy-two officers, had been referred to the Department by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) during a fourteen-month period beginning in April, 1968. Two of the reports in the file were very vague, and on their face, contained no very useful intelligence. One report clearly exonerated the named detective. The remaining sixty-nine reports alleged various types of police misconduct, ranging from association with known narcotics criminals to murder. Thirty officers were alleged to have accepted bribes or extorted payments for the release of apprehended suspects. Five officers were alleged to have purchased stolen goods from a notorious fence. Twenty-seven separate allegations, implicating fifteen different officers including a captain, reported the direct involvement of these men in the sale of narcotics.

Although the Commission found evidence that the existence and contents of this file were known to the supervisors of the Inspectional Services Bureau, nothing -- as far as the Commission was able to ascertain- was ever done about the allegations until our investigators came upon the file in the late fall of 1970. The Department's official explanation for its neglect of the file is contained in a memorandum written by First Deputy Commissioner William H. T. Smith in February, 1971, after a meeting with the Director of BNDD. The memorandum explained that Smith's predecessors had been bound by an unofficial gentlemen's agreement with BNDD officials not to investigate the allegations until the BNDD had completed its related prosecutions and the various federal informants could be made available to the Department. According to the memorandum, there was an understanding that the file was to be used by the Department only for intelligence purposes until BNDD lifted its restriction. However, the federal inspectors who initially referred the allegations to the Intelligence Division told the Commission that they did not remember any such understanding. They said that while several cases were subject to restrictions, such restrictions were imposed on a case-by-case basis. There was, they said, no blanket restriction covering the entire file. According to one BNDD official, there had only been seven cases which involved federal informants whose anonymity was critical to ongoing investigations, or which were related in some other way to federal investigations in progress. In at least thirty-six of the cases, there seems to have been no reason to refrain from a thorough departmental investigation.

Even if there was a misunderstanding in the Department of BNDD's purposes in relaying the reports to the Department, the fact remains that the Department was given reason to suspect that some of its members were extortionists, murderers, and heroin entrepreneurs and made no attempt to verify these suspicions or dispute them. At the very least some attempt should have been made to follow up on the information by keeping in touch with BNDD to stay abreast of progress in these cases.

There are other incidents that came to the attention of the Commission that are not conclusive in themselves, but that may offer an insight into the attitude of the Department's supervisors toward exposing corruption. On April 30, 1970, two BNDD inspectors met with the Chief of the Narcotics Division. At this meeting, serious allegations against nine members of the Narcotics Division were revealed and discussed in detail. According to the federal inspectors' memorandum of this meeting, the Chief stated that he was grateful for the information and that he would discuss it with his superiors in an effort to decide which avenue of investigation should be pursued. However, no departmental action was ever taken on these allegations.

When this former Chief of the Narcotics Division testified under oath before the Commission in executive session in December, 1970, he repeatedly denied having been told by BNDD inspectors that some New York City policemen were selling narcotics. He finally did admit that he recalled having met with the federal agents, but he denied that anything significant had transpired at the meeting. At the request of the Commission, the former Chief turned over his notes from the meeting to two Commission agents who accompanied him to his office at the close of his testimony. The notes contained the names of four of the officers discussed at the meeting, as well as the names and aliases of some narcotics criminals who allegedly acted as middlemen for police officers who sold heroin. The Commission did not pursue the investigation of these matters further because to do so would have focused attention on SIU and jeopardized the undercover work of Detective Leuci.

The Commission discovered one further piece of evidence relating to the Department's attitude toward exposing corruption. In the files of the Internal Affairs Division, Commission agents found a request from BNDD for assistance from the Department in an operation which might have led to the exposure of certain police officers believed to be involved in the sale of narcotics. The request had been forwarded by Deputy Inspector John Norey, commander of the Intelligence Division, to First Deputy Commissioner Walsh, who in turn sent it to Supervising Assistant Chief Inspector John McGovern, then the commander of IAD and Walsh's right hand man in corruption investigations. The request was never acted upon. Instead, it was filed with an attached coversheet with two notations written on it in the hand of Chief McGovern. One note reads" I want to get our men out of that." The other, apparently referring to instructions from the First Deputy Commissioner, says, "Norey 11/19/69 -- IDC doesn't want to help the feds lock up local police. Let them arrest federal people." The Commission was unable to establish that these words did express the sentiments of the First Deputy Commissioner. Deputy Inspector Norey and Chief McGovern both told the Commission that they did not recall Walsh ever saying such a thing to them. Nevertheless, the fact is that such a statement was written down, and cooperation with federal agents was not forthcoming.

Correction of Deficiencies

Some of the deficiencies cited above in the Department's anticorruption efforts have been corrected. There are additional changes which the Police Commissioner has indicated he is planning or studying and some which this Commission has recommended.

Increased Manpower: With respect to the simple matter of manpower, there were in April, 1972, seventy-five men assigned to the Inspections Division, 135 to the Internal Affairs Division, and 366 to Intelligence. That last figure represents in large part the intelligence units that were moved into ISB from the Detective Bureau and does not signify that all these intelligence people are working full time against corruption. On the other hand, the IAD figure does not include the 167 full-time anti-corruption people who man the new Field Internal Affairs Units within each of the seven patrol borough commands and each of the special commands: Detectives, Technical Services, Special Operations, Traffic, Criminal Justice, Personnel, OCCB, Administration, and Community Affairs.

New Investigative Approach: The Field Internal Affairs Units, all but the two or three smallest of which are headed by captains, are at the heart of the Murphy administration's program to handle both local corruption hazards and particular indications of corruption among specific policemen. In line with the administration's conviction that command responsibility and accountability are a prerequisite for a well-managed Department, it is placing the onus upon commanders for keeping their commands corruption-free.

Responsibility for investigating corruption has always -- in theory at least -- rested with commanders. But as former First Deputy Commissioner John Walsh testified, reports submitted at six-month intervals from field commanders about corruption in their units always indicated the absence of corruption. Today, all complaints or other indications of corruption which the Department receives are sent to IAD. However, IAD itself now investigates few of them: only those that cross command lines, that promise to lead to investigations lasting many months, that involve officers of the highest rank, that concern particularly sensitive aspects of police work, or that concern situations within the ISB itself. All others -- the great majority -- are forwarded to the commands involved for investigation by their Field Internal Affairs Units, with IAD keeping record of the referral.

The commanders of the Field Units have been instructed to classify the complaints they receive as either "for full investigation and report," "for investigation and file," or "for information only," and to notify IAD of the classification within 72 hours. They are required to complete investigations in the first category within four months and send the full investigative report to IAD. Investigation in the second category must be completed within one month and the findings sent to IAD. Information in the third category must be evaluated within ten days and the conclusions sent to IAD. This would amount to no more than the discredited old system of every unit investigating itself if there had not been established within IAD at the same time a new Staff Supervisory Section with a complement of thirty-three men, whose function is to provide technical advice and help to the Field Units and, more to the point, monitor their investigations. It does this in a number of ways. It studies and evaluates the Field Unit's investigative reports and passes along its comments. If it is really dissatisfied, it re-investigates on its own. If it has reason to feel that a field investigation will be perfunctory, it conducts a parallel investigation. Parallel investigations are also conducted at random as spot checks on the Field Units.

It is still much too soon to say whether this Field Unit system will work. Its success depends on how well the Staff Supervisory Section performs, and it has been in operation only since March of 1972. However, it is not too soon to say that the only long-range safeguard against widespread corruption in the Department is the willingness and ability of individual commanders to eliminate it. The Field Unit program, perhaps at the short-range sacrifice of a few cases, appears to be one promising way to inculcate such willingness and ability. In any case, the sheer number of investigations that are called for each year makes it imperative that some of them be conducted, for better or for worse, by the field. In 1971 IAD received 2,779 complaints of corruption in addition to whatever evidence of corruption it turned up on its own.

Many of the 2,779 complaints were all but impossible to respond to: anonymous letters along the lines of, "Every cop in Coney Island is a crook"; or phone calls with such information as, "There's a black haired plainclothesman in the Bronx who takes bribes." Even so, IAD was able to investigate only 367 of these complaints. [ii] Sixteen of its investigations were "heavy," which means over 1,000 man-hours; ninety were medium; eighty-seven were under 300 man-hours, or light, and 174 were apparently so light as not to require classification. In addition, the figure of 2,779 complaints included 160 that were either IAD carry-overs from the preceding year or sent to the field for checking out. It is likely that, as the Field Units get to work and as the Department's credibility in anti-corruption work rises, people who were previously reluctant to come forward will do so and the annual total of complaints will increase.
Whatever its obvious hazards, vesting primary responsibility for all but the most serious corruption investigations in the commands concerned appears to be the most rational way for the Police Department to deal with the problem on more than an emergency basis.

Of particular interest in connection with the field unit approach is the operation of the Field Control Division of the Organized Crime Control Bureau (OCCB), whose sole function is to monitor the activities of the plainclothes enforcement units in the field. The Field Control Division, whose headquarters is separate from those of the OCCB's other divisions to minimize the social contacts of its carefully selected members with other OCCB personnel, has investigations and inspection groups that both respond to complaints and rumors and generate their own inquiries. Its files contain up-to-date photographs and various identifying data about every man in plainclothes, so that it can begin its inquiries without going for records to any other part of the Department.

The commander of the Field Control Division also has responsibility for the Field Associates program that is one of Deputy Commissioner William McCarthy's principal innovations. A field associate is a regularly assigned member of the Public Morals or Narcotics Divisions who has volunteered for the additional duty of keeping his eyes open for evidence of misconduct in his unit and reporting such evidence to the Field Control Division. This plan has already met with some success. It was the work of one of the field associates which led to important indictments recently returned in Bronx County where three detectives and five patrolmen were indicted for involvement in narcotics-related corruption.

The intent of this program was made clear by the statement of one top-ranking official of the OCCB "We had a system where any policeman could do anything in front of any other policeman. We're trying to end that." Given the conditions in which plainclothesmen work, it is questionable whether this program, or any imaginable program can completely stamp out corruption among them. Opportunities to score gamblers and narcotics traffickers will always be abundant, and some policemen will always succumb to the temptations of taking advantage of them. But at least the Department can create a climate in which a plainclothesman will not be under constant pressure by his peers to join them in their corruption.

Improved Investigative Methods: Not only have organizational changes been made but a beginning has been made in getting rid of former inadequacies in the investigative approach. The Department's methods in the recent investigation in the Thirteenth Division in Brooklyn, with its startling results of criminal indictments against twenty-four plainclothesmen and ex-plainclothesmen and departmental charges against one dozen more, was a sharp break with the way the Department had previously handled such matters. In that investigation, a corrupt situation was allowed to continue for many months so that as many participants as possible could be identified. Corrupt policemen were "turned" and kept on the job as investigators. Similar techniques were used in the Bronx investigation leading to the recent indictments referred to above.

There has also been a real effort to get away from a strictly complaint- oriented approach, and the Department has undertaken an extensive study of corruption hazards in an attempt to analyze situations which lead to corruption and acquaint operational personnel with them.

While these improved methods have vastly increased the efficiency and effectiveness of departmental anti-corruption efforts, the Department has yet to make one other change in its investigative apparatus which the Commission feels is essential if the apparatus is to be fully effective. As discussed in the Principal Recommendations, the Commission believes that the Department's Inspectional Services Bureau should be reorganized along the lines of the Inspections Office of the Internal Revenue Service. Under this system, officers would be recruited into Inspectional Services right out of the Academy and would spend their entire careers in anti-corruption work. This would serve to insulate the anti-corruption unit from the rest of the force and insure that no officer would be called upon to investigate a former associate or face the possibility of sometime serving with -- or even under the command of -- someone he had once investigated. Such a reform should not conflict with Commissioner Murphy's attempts to make field commanders responsible in the first instance for integrity within their commands since the Inspectional Services Bureau could select the cases it chose to investigate and provide a monitoring service for those dealt with by field commanders.



i. The Public Morals Administrative Division has now been removed from the ISB and shifted to the new Organized Crime Control Bureau.

ii. IAD conducted a total of 532 investigations in 1971; 405 involved corruption and 127 involved misconduct. One hundred and sixty-five of these investigations were self-initiated.
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Re: The Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption: Commis

Postby admin » Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:28 am


Investigation of misconduct is the first step in a sequence of possible actions against allegedly corrupt police officers. Within the Department the next step is the disciplinary process. The disciplinary options available to the Commission in corruption cases as well as others are limited. Moreover, even these options have not always been utilized fully or effectively. The formal disciplinary apparatus was and is overburdened and understaffed, and the range of penalties available to deal with officers convicted in Departmental Hearings is inadequate.

Today, the options available to the Commissioner are being used more fully than in the past, and the formal departmental machinery has been relieved of the burden of dealing with minor infractions. However, the range of penalties still remains inadequate.

Administrative Discipline

Short of taking formal disciplinary actions, there are six options available to police management for rewarding good police performance and penalizing bad, and these comprise the range of alternatives for informal, administrative discipline. First, the Police Commissioner has the authority to promote any captain to any of five higher ranks: Deputy Inspector, Inspector, Deputy Chief Inspector, Assistant Chief Inspector, and Chief Inspector. And he has the authority to demote any officers in these higher ranks back to captain. Second, the Police Commissioner has a very limited authority to reward lower-ranking officers with promotion in that, while selections for the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, and captain must (by Civil Service procedures) be made from a list of eligibles, the Commissioner can select anyone of the three men at the top of the eligibles list; however, he has no authority to demote officers in these ranks. Third, the Police Commissioner has the authority to appoint and remove detectives at his discretion. Fourth, the Police Commissioner can reassign to new duties any officer on active duty at will. Fifth, the Police Commissioner has the authority to terminate probationary patrolmen. Sixth, the Police Commissioner has the authority to return any probationary sergeant, lieutenant, or captain to his former rank.

These promotion, demotion, and reassignment options have not been adequately exercised in the past against corrupt officers and their superiors. The potential importance of such options to the members of the force was illustrated by a comment of one police commander:

"Sure, there are 32,000 policemen in New York, but all the same the Department is really quite small. There are only 500-odd captains-and-up, and we all know, or can easily find out, each other's reputations and assignments for the last ten years and how those assignments were carried out. The way we find out what's going on in the Department is not by studying the general orders or the temporary operating procedures or the rest of all that paper, but by studying the promotion orders and the assignment orders."

Early in his tenure Commissioner Murphy clouded the general excellence of his promotions by elevating to high rank a few officers whose integrity was widely questioned throughout the Department. These promotions raised doubts in the minds of many officers about the sincerity of his intentions to root out corruption. On the other hand, recent personnel changes, including assigning men experienced in anticorruption work to important command posts, should tend to re-establish the Commissioner's credibility in this regard. This is vital because whatever changes may come in the rules and in the organization charts, the men and women in the Department will make their final assessment of the Commissioner's plans for reform on the brutal basis of how many -- and above all which -- heads roll.

Discipline of Commanders by the Police Commissioner

Although in past administrations a commander was occasionally relieved of his command, or reduced in rank, or even dismissed from the Department, for personal derelictions of duty, it was previously unheard-of for such acti9ns' to be taken against him as a result of derelictions by the men under him. Joseph McGovern, a former Supervising Assistant Chief Inspector and Chief of Inspectional Services, testified before this Commission that he could not think of a single precinct commander who had been shifted for failure to maintain the integrity of his command. Indeed there is little evidence to suggest that such derelictions by subordinates ever seriously impeded a commander's rise to higher rank.

By comparison with previous administrations, a considerable number of high-ranking officers were demoted or transferred for such reasons during the first year and a half of Commissioner Murphy's tenure. As of March, 1972, five of fifteen assistant chief inspectors (ACI's), two of twenty-three deputy chief inspectors (DCI's), four of forty-three inspectors, five of 104 deputy inspectors, and nine out of 366 captains had been relieved of their commands. Of the sixteen officers ranking above captain who were relieved, seven have since retired. Four of the transfers of captains, it is worth noting, occurred as the result of unannounced spot inspections of the precincts they commanded. Such use of unannounced spot inspections is a major departure from past practice. Eight of the transfers of captains were for derelictions of the men under them.

However, the major test with respect to command personnel is yet to come. In March, of this year, Commissioner Murphy signified to his top commanders his intention of effecting each year a thirty percent turnover in each of the ranks above captain. This means that at the end of each year he intends five of the men who were ACI's at the beginning of the year, eight of those who were DCI's fourteen of those who were inspectors, and thirty-four of those who were deputy inspectors will either have been promoted or retired -- or conceivably demoted. This policy would enable the promotion of thirty-four captains into the deputy inspector vacancies. More than half of all present top commanders will be gone within three years if Commissioner Murphy can fully implement this new policy. While this approach may have advantages with respect to eliminating past corruption problems, the wisdom of applying such a rapid turnover policy on a long-term basis is debatable.

To make the system of discretionary promotions more reasonable and combat the formerly pervasive influence system, Commissioner Murphy has created a promotion review board consisting of three deputy commissioners, the chief inspector, and the Department's next four highest-ranking officers to pass on all promotions above the rank of captain, and he has ordered that board to conduct a long face-to-face interview with each man being considered for promotion, in addition to studying his record and the evaluations of his superiors. Further, although the Commissioner has only selection authority in promotions to captain and below, the administration has attempted to impose some control on promotions by taking advantage of a previously unused civil service provision which specifies that each new sergeant serve a six-month internship -- which is, in fact, a probationary period. During this time he may be demoted to patrolman. Of the first group of sergeants subject to this probationary period one has been demoted. This six-month probationary period has also been applied to the ranks of lieutenant and captain.

Removal/Appointment of Detectives

Detectives in all police departments generally occupy a position of privileged status. This may derive from the fact that their duties are considered by policemen to be the most honorific and the least onerous. Detectives are assigned to do what most policemen think all policemen should be doing, solving crimes and tracking down criminals. The fact of detective privilege is very real in New York City. "Detective" is not a civil service grade in New York as it is in many cities, or a rank that is attained by departmental examination as in Chicago. It is an appointive post that carries with it not only prestige, but also a considerably higher rate of pay than that in the uniformed force. A third-grade detective earns more than a patrolman. A second-grade detective earns as much as a uniformed sergeant. A first-grade detective and a detective sergeant earn as much as a uniformed lieutenant. A senior detective lieutenant earns more than a newly promoted uniformed captain. Thus, removal from detective rank can mean the loss of several thousand dollars a year in salary. Nevertheless, the power to punish detectives by removing them from rank was seldom exercised by past police commissioners. In 1969, the last full pre-Murphy year, nine third-grade detectives, three second-grade detectives, and no first-grade detectives were reduced to patrolmen. In 1971, the first full Murphy year, the equivalent figures are twenty-eight, seven, and four. Moreover, detective appointments were seldom used in past administrations as a means of rewarding honest performance of police duties.

Although police commissioners have always had the power to appoint and remove detectives, they have seldom disapproved the appointment lists submitted by the Chief of Detectives. Moreover, it is in the appointment of detectives that influence peddling has always been most widely thought to playa significant part. As noted earlier in this report, Patrolman Phillips, working undercover for the Commission, initiated tape-recorded negotiations with a policeman serving as a chauffeur for a high-ranking officer to buy his way into the Detective Bureau. The usual price, he was told, was $500, but since Phillips had already been "flopped" from the Detective Bureau it would cost him $1,000. Because of the press of Phillips' other investigative activities the matter could not be pursued. There is no way of knowing whether this particular policeman's representations were true, but it is certainly a fact that detective positions were at the time widely considered to be for sale.

Criteria for appointment to the Detective Bureau in the immediate past apparently shifted frequently, but on the whole approximated these: four years in a plainclothes or narcotics assignments with a "satisfactory" record; or four years in the Tactical Patrol Force with an outstanding arrest record; or "in special cases," -- these are the Department's words -- " men who had performed well in patrol precincts," which left room for anyone at all if his sponsor had enough influence.

The Department has now established a "career paths" program which sets out the assignments a patrolman must serve before he can be considered for detective status. The path that leads to detective rank requires that a patrolman, after spending a mandatory year in a "medium-activity" precinct and two years in either a "high-activity" precinct, the Tactical Patrol Force, or the citywide Anti-Crime Section, volunteer (with the approval of a screening board consisting of three deputy inspectors, one each from the Narcotics Division, the Public Morals Division, and the Patrol Services Bureau) to serve two years in plainclothes in either narcotics or public morals (gambling and vice) enforcement. If at the end of that service his superiors evaluate him favorably with respect to both efficiency arid integrity, and another screening board again passes him, he will be eligible to become a detective when a suitable vacancy occurs.

This career path has existed only since December, 1971, and the earliest anyone treading it will reach the Detective Bureau is some time during 1973. There are reasons for not being optimistic that this program will drastically alter the face of the Detective Bureau. One is that the plainclothes units have been the Department's most corruption-prone because of the nature of their work, and no matter what managerial improvements are made, will continue to contain the greatest exposure to hazards and temptations. However, any step toward systematizing the selection of detectives in New York is a step in the right direction, particularly if its effect is to make detectives less dependent for their jobs on the private interests or quirks of other detectives or superior officers. Other steps that might be taken to systematize further the selection of detectives would be to require a promotion examination and to use a detective selection board including experienced investigators from other law enforcement agencies as is done in some other cities.

Extension of Administrative Discipline

Perhaps because of the seeming limitations on administrative actions, the concept of departmental discipline prevailing in the past was a rigid and legalistic one. Not even the most minor infractions -- improper uniform, temporary absence from post, late for duty, and the like -- could be handled without resort to a long and elaborate process of prosecution and adjudication. Commissioner Murphy has revised departmental disciplinary procedures so that precinct commanders can immediately and directly discipline the men under them with penalties of up to loss of five days vacation time for a number of violations of departmental rules. This strengthening of command discipline has led to huge increases in disciplinary actions in situations where commanders were previously loathe to invoke the Department's elaborate trial machinery. During the first quarter of 1971 approximately 198 cases of these minor infractions were processed by the elaborate trial machinery. For the same period in 1972, 2,461 such minor infractions were handled as command discipline cases at the precinct level.

With this important exception, the Murphy administration has been able to make few visible changes in the Department's disciplinary structure and procedures. On the whole, the structure and procedures are prescribed by the City's Administrative Code or the State's Civil Service Law and therefore can be changed only through the time-consuming and sometimes difficult process of legislative amendment. Consequently, the way the Department now handles major charges of misconduct against its members -- including most charges of corruption -- is the same way it has handled them for years.

The Police Justice Process

Once charges and specifications against a policeman are drawn by his commander, the Internal Affairs Division, or the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the charges go to the Department Advocate's office. He is, in effect, an in-house prosecutor reporting to the First Deputy Commissioner who has the additional responsibility of reporting on the total disciplinary climate of the Department. Once the Department Advocate and defense counsel have prepared a case for trial, much as the prosecution and the defense would in the outside world, it goes to trial by the Deputy Commissioner for Trials. Trials are decided on the basis of "the preponderance of the evidence" so that guilt does not have to be established beyond a reasonable doubt as in criminal trials. At the conclusion of the hearing the Trials Deputy makes an advisory determination of guilt or innocence and, in case of guilt suggests a penalty. His findings are forwarded to the Commissioner. It is the Commissioner's responsibility, under the Administrative Code, to make the Department's ultimate decision on the facts and on the punishment, if any.

In the past the police justice process has suffered from four principal deficiencies: overburdened trial machinery with insufficient resources; undue delays in bringing cases to trial; lack of punitive alternatives; and problems posed by judicial review.

Conduct of Departmental Hearings

The volume of cases reaching the Department Advocate and the Trials Deputy is seriously straining their capacity.

In the departmental system of discipline, the most overworked man -- and the narrowest bottleneck -- is the Trials Deputy. He has the responsibility of presiding over every departmental disciplinary hearing. The Administrative Code specifies that only a person of his rank, and with legal qualifications, is empowered to conduct such hearings. Occasionally, when the pressure of cases becomes particularly intense, the two other deputy commissioners are drafted for a few days, and the Trials Deputy also uses a lower-ranking lawyer in the Department to pre-audit a certain number of cases. However, over the year he himself probably averages three or four trials per working day. Even granting that a majority of the cases are minor and that the evidence in many of them is conclusive, such a schedule makes it difficult for him to deal with serious, complicated cases either as promptly or as fully as they deserve.

The Department Advocate is only a little better off than the Trials Deputy. He has a staff of six uniformed and two civilian lawyers. These nine men processed 1937 cases during 1971. Of these, 292 were returned to the commands where they originated for command discipline procedure, and 1932 cases, many of which were pending from past years, were brought to trial. (Of those cases, the Department Advocate's figures show 186 were corruption cases in the categories of bribery, extortion, larceny, criminal receiving, gambling, and narcotics.) It is easy to see that if eight men have an annual caseload of 1900,whenever one man spends more than a day disposing of a case another man has to dispose of two or three cases a day -- and that includes both preparation time and trial time.

Lack of adequate time for preparation in the not very recent past was so common that Detective Frank Serpico, the chief witness in the departmental trials of a number of Bronx plainclothesmen, was put on the stand without having been given any opportunity to refresh his recollection and asked to testify concerning four-year-old events. However, the advocate's caseload has been reduced by the new procedure which grants commanders authority to handle command discipline cases. Before this new procedure was instituted, the Department Advocate's caseload was approaching 200 a month. Now it is down to not much more than eighty. The consequent saving in trial time has had the effect of giving prosecutors extra time to prepare their cases when serious charges of corruption, excessive force, and abuse of authority are brought.

Delays: Since there were 909 cases pending at the beginning of calendar 1971 and 880 pending at the end of it, there was no great progress in clearing up the backlog. The Department Advocate estimates that the average time consumed between charges and disposition is six months or more. These delays pose a problem in terms of the thirty-day rule which governs departmental hearings.

Under this rule, an officer suspected of or charged with misconduct is permitted to put in his retirement papers and retire thirty days later, at which time he becomes immune to departmental disciplinary proceedings and eligible to receive his pension if he has served long enough to qualify for one. This results in a thirty-day race, with a suspected officer seeking to retire before the disciplinary proceedings against him can be completed. Although only a handful of policemen escaped discipline by this route, the ones who did escape often were the most serious offenders. For example, there were ten thirty-day cases in 1970. Trials were held in seven of them, resulting in five dismissals from the force and two acquittals. In the first of the remaining three, the defendant executed a complex technical maneuver that probably will never be repeated. In the second, the defendant was in a psychiatric hospital. However, in the third case, a bribe-receiving case against a lieutenant that may well have been that year's most important case, the lieutenant's lawyer was able to prolong the trial, which began twenty-five days before the deadline, past that deadline's expiration, enabling the lieutenant to retire with his full pension. In 1971 the record was better. There were eleven thirty-day rule cases, and all of them were tried. Six resulted in dismissal from the force and five in the next most severe penalty, thirty days' fine and a year's probation.

There are no statistics reflecting the number of situations where a police officer resigned before charges were brought but after he realized he was in danger of being charged. Under these circumstances, the Department might well never attempt to bring charges since it is virtually impossible to complete disciplinary proceedings within thirty days unless the investigation and preparation of the case has already been completed.

Penalties in Departmental Hearings

Perhaps the most troublesome issue in the disciplining of policemen found guilty in departmental hearings is the inappropriateness of the available penalties. The Administrative Code provides no gradations of penalty between outright dismissal from the force and a fine of up to and including thirty days' pay or vacation followed by a year's probation. [i] The Commission has recommended that the disciplinary alternatives available to the Police Commissioner be broadened to include greater periods than thirty days. However, even the available penalties were often utilized in the past to treat corrupt officers in a lenient manner.

Unfortunately, the Department does not maintain summary statistics on corruption case dispositions in terms of the charges brought. To obtain information on corruption cases and the penalties invoked for corruption-related offenses, it is necessary to search the individual disciplinary record of each officer brought to trial. [ii] In doing so, it is often difficult to determine from the record whether a case is corruption- related or not. (For example, an officer charged with making a false statement could either have lied during a grand jury investigation into his involvement in gambling operations or else in his memo book to cover up returning five minutes late from lunch.) Three separate counts were made of the number of corruption cases processed during 1971 and three different figures were reached. The Department Advocate's office counted 186 cases, Disciplinary Records Section counted 238, and the Commission staff counted 223.

Of the 223 corruption cases counted by the Commission for 1971, the complaint was dismissed before the hearing in thirty cases, the charges were filed [iii] in six, and amnesty was granted in three. In another nine cases, the officer resigned without permission before the hearing was held; and in twenty cases the officer was dismissed from the Department before the trial, as is usual for officers on probationary status and those convicted in criminal trials. Of the remaining 155 cases, seventy-nine are pending. Of the seventy-six cases brought to disposition, eighteen resulted in an acquittal and fifty-eight in conviction. The following penalties were imposed on the fifty-eight convicted officers: Seventeen were dismissed from the force; five were placed on one year's probation, and four of these five also lost days of pay averaging twenty-two and one-half days per man; twenty-four officers were fined an average of 4.8 vacation days; eight were fined an average of thirteen and three-quarters days' pay; and four officers were reprimanded.

Judicial Review

The Police Commissioner's decisions on penalties in disciplinary hearings are subject to judicial review, and in fact have been reversed in several recent, well-publicized corruption cases. The reasons for reversal usually centered on the requirement for pension forfeiture upon dismissal for cause from the force. This was one of the considerations that motivated the Commission's recommendation, discussed in the Summary, for the separation of pension considerations from departmental disciplinary hearings. The Department should not be obliged to keep corrupt police officers in its ranks merely because some courts feel that loss of pension is too harsh a penalty for some offenses.



i. It should be noted that a fine of thirty days' pay or less of active-duty officers is usually not all taken out of the next paycheck, but is taken out one or two days at a time from each subsequent paycheck.

ii. The Department Advocate's office records only the dispositions that are handed down on the day of the trial, and most dispositions are reserved for later decision.

iii. "Filing" of a charge is a departmental disposition in which the filed charge is put aside due to lack of cooperation by the complainant or witnesses or because of lack of evidence or witnesses.
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Re: The Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption: Commis

Postby admin » Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:51 am


During his tenure Commissioner Murphy has instituted numerous changes in policy and procedure aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department. To the extent they are successful, all such changes will have some impact in reducing corruption. However, the Commission has focused on those changes whose impact on corruption are expected to be most direct and significant: policies and procedures to provide accountability; policies and procedures to control corruption hazards; training of police officers; and officer evaluation procedures. These are discussed below in terms of past difficulties, corrective actions taken by this administration and the prospects for a reduction in police corruption.

Providing Accountability

On January 28, 1971, from 3:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., eight police officers in a Greenwich Village precinct were observed by Commission investigators removing packages from a meat packing company and transferring them to private cars. This incident was significant not so much because of the activities of the officers involved but because of the complete lack of concern with these activities demonstrated by their immediate superiors. The supervising sergeant of the officers drove by, apparently observed what was going on, and left; Commission investigators twice notified the precinct headquarters, but no action was taken; the supervising lieutenant (in charge of the precinct in the absence of the commanding precinct captain) could not even be found and later could not account for his time for a period of at least two hours. An investigation was finally initiated at 7:00 a.m. when Commission investigators notified division headquarters.

The patrolmen directly involved in the theft were suspended, and departmental and criminal charges were brought against them. Had nothing more been done, this incident would have been another example of what has been perhaps the Department's most fundamental managerial defect -- the utter failure to hold supervisors and commanders accountable for the derelictions of their subordinates. This failure has been a major contributing factor not only to corruption but to the cynicism in the ranks that makes corruption possible.

In this case, Commissioner Murphy took action not only against the patrolmen who had been caught but also against those responsible for supervising them. He transferred the commanding captain of the precinct and eight sergeants and brought charges against the lieutenant in command at the time and against another lieutenant, three sergeants, and nine patrolmen. These actions were in line with the Commissioner's strongly stated policy to reverse the tradition of lack of accountability.

The pervasive failure in the Department to hold commanders and supervisors responsible for the actions of their subordinates has been a managerial failure, not an ideological one. Departmental rules have long emphasized command accountability. However, during the many years when the corruption that led to the creation of this Commission was growing, the Department never succeeded -- despite the efforts of some police commissioners -- in translating dogma into operating routine.

Making command accountability work is not an easy task. It takes considerable effort for a precinct commander to keep track of the multitude of things his widely dispersed subordinates are doing at any given time. And it takes considerable moral effort, given the fraternal atmosphere of a station house, for him to institute and enforce the unpopular measures necessary to control that multitude of men and activities. When a commander is not held to strict account for the performance of the men under him, he is likely to avoid as much of the tension and anxiety as possible that would attend his job if he were doing it well.

The Problem of Fixing Responsibility: Commissioner Murphy has taken a number of administrative and operational steps designed to force all officers to assume their full responsibilities. Many of these measures have been concerned with trying to ensure that the responsibility for a given activity at a given time in a given place could be clearly identified with the field officer on duty, the sergeant and lieutenant supervising him, and the captain and higher ranking officers in command.

This problem of assigning responsibility has not been easy for a number of reasons. First, a patrolman in the field does not work in the same assigned area during the same hours on every working day. Instead, all patrolmen follow a very complicated duty chart which requires that they rotate shifts every three to five days. They are not always assigned to the same walking post or patrol car sector because such factors as sick leave, vacations, and court appearances reduce the complement of men supposed to be in the field and often require leaving a post or sector vacant or having one man or car assigned to two posts or sectors. Second, because sergeants work a different duty chart from patrolmen and the patrolmen they supervise change from week to week, they have seldom been given responsibility for performance of specified groups of men. Moreover, sergeants have seldom been given long-term responsibility for the police work in specified geographical areas. Instead, their responsibilities have often varied from tour to tour depending on the exigencies of the moment. Third, lieutenants, who are the second-line supervisors, have in the past usually served in a staff capacity as desk and duty officers and have not been out in the field at all. (The exception was certain plainclothes units supervised by lieutenants instead of sergeants.) Fourth, while certain captains or deputy inspectors have been assigned command of a particular precinct in the past, there were also substitute or "fly" captains who had no permanent assignments but moved from job to job to fill in for commanders who for one reason or another were off their jobs temporarily.

All of this shifting around meant that it was virtually impossible to fix on any individual the responsibility for conditions that clearly suggested corruption was taking place. Moreover, the same shifting around also made it unrealistic to blame anyone supervisor for the failures of the men under him since all the men worked for all the supervisors at one time or another.

Historically, lieutenants and sergeants have not supervised the men under them rigorously. Responsible supervision has simply not been insisted upon by commanders. Sergeants are only one rank -- and in most instances, only a few years -- removed from the duties and activities of the patrolmen they are supposed to supervise. Hence, they tend to identify with patrolmen rather than with the hierarchy above them.

Lack of fixed responsibility was not only confined to patrolmen but also extended to detectives. Although reporting to the Detective Bureau, detective squads used to work out of precinct houses and handled, more or less in rotation, whatever investigations happened to come up. Because most of the time no priorities existed, and the volume of work was extremely large, they could not be held responsible for failing to solve any particular crimes.

Improving Supervisory Accountability: Several approaches have been made in attempting to cure these many unsatisfactory conditions. At the heart of these efforts have been two closely related innovations in precinct structure and operations: Neighborhood Police Teams and the Lieutenant/Operations Officer Program.

A Neighborhood Police Team is a group of from 20 to 50 patrolmen and sergeants and a "commanding" sergeant that is permanently assigned to a given radio motor patrol sector or sectors. The commanding sergeant -- of course under the direction and supervision of the precinct commander and the duty lieutenants -- is in complete command of the team; he is, in fact, very much like a precinct commander in miniature. He is responsible for police work in his sector on a twenty-four-hour-a-day basis. He is expected to identify the sector's problems and needs, to deploy his men to meet them, and to supervise and evaluate their performance. He and his men will presumably become widely known in the sector and knowledgeable about it; they will become acquainted with its leading citizens and characters; they will become aware of its sociological and cultural patterns; and they will cease being more or less faceless embodiments of authority and become the individually identifiable helpers and protectors of the public that policemen ideally should be. At the present time, 141 of the City's 808 radio motor patrol sectors in forty precincts are covered by sixty-six Neighborhood Police Teams.

The Lieutenant/Operations Officer Program, which is in effect now in thirty-eight precincts, aims at the same goal of improving supervisory accountability as the Neighborhood Police Team Program. It gives each of the sergeants in a precinct twenty-four-hour-a-day responsibility for a given sector, under the supervision of a lieutenant who has been designated as the precinct Operations Officer and who, also on a twenty-four-hour-a-day basis, is responsible for the deployment of all the precinct's men and equipment. He is also responsible for reviewing the patrolmen's written reports of their daily activity.

Improving Command Accountability: A related reform has been the elimination of the fly captains and the assignment of specific responsibilities to all staff officers. Today every ranking officer is responsible for specific duties; many of the captains who in the past would have been "flying" (acting as substitutes) are the executive officers of busy precincts, where they are not only responsible for commanding in the absence of the commander, but more importantly, are responsible for handling the enormous amount of administrative detail that police work involves. Staff lieutenants and sergeants are no longer jacks-of-all-trades in the precincts, but are expected to perform the duties of Planning, Personnel, Training, Operations Officer and other staff assignments. Presumably the delegation of staff functions will enable a commander to spend more time commanding and less time on administrative ritual. Further, commanders have also been forced to focus on corruption.

All patrol borough commanders and the heads of all the specialized units -- Traffic, Technical Services, Detectives and so forth-are now required to submit at regular intervals anti-corruption plans identifying the chief corruption hazards within their commands and detailing the measures that are being taken to reduce those hazards. The first set of plans arrived on the Commissioner's desk in July, 1971, and vividly illustrated a wide spectrum of sophistication and sensitivity about integrity. Some of the plans were detailed and precise and thoughtful. Some sought refuge in sociological and psychological verbiage about the "attitudinal" problems of corruption and the importance of "sensitizing" policemen. Some were useless. One borough commander whose command included a big part of the New York ghetto, with all its gambling and narcotics activity, identified "after-hours Puerto Rican social clubs" as the major corruption hazard in his command. Another reported that the principal corruption hazard in his command -- which he no longer holds -- was a small middle-class enclave where bar and restaurant owners were likely to try to bribe policemen so their customers could park illegally. Subsequent plans of rather higher quality have been produced and are being analyzed within the Department. In any case, requiring commanders to write and sign such plans is another step toward holding them to account for the conditions in their commands.

The program of requiring commanders to evaluate the corruption hazards within their areas of supervision could be expanded to include general evaluations in connection with specific incidents. Whenever an incident involving corruption comes to light in a command, such as the apprehension of a patrolman for a corrupt act, the commander should be obliged to report to his superiors and to the Internal Affairs Division whether he thinks the incident is indicative of a broader condition. He should detail the reasons for his conclusion and outline planned corrective measures if needed.

Improving Detective Accountability: By the nature of their jobs, detectives are even more difficult to supervise than patrolmen. They roam about the City freely and sometimes are called upon to travel out of it. Their hours are often flexible -- a flexibility that can and sometimes has been used to make substantial reductions in the working week. They deal extensively with informants, which allows many opportunities for the clandestine manipulation of information and evidence. They come across numerous incidents, from incompletely burglarized premises to narcotics pushers, in which it is easy to "score." In sum, a detective inclined to misbehave has always had plenty of chances to follow his inclinations. Under those conditions, the necessity to fix responsibility is paramount.

This has been approached by a major organizational change in the Detective Bureau called "detective specialization." As of January, 1971, detectives no longer work out of the precincts and are no longer generalists. They work only on a district basis (a detective district is coterminous with a patrol division and therefore includes anything from three to seven precincts) and are organized into specialized squads of homicide and assault, robbery, and burglary and larceny. Crimes that occur less frequently are assigned to one of these squads or are handled by small, specialized units. For example, the homicide-assault squads investigate rapes, and a special hotel unit operates in midtown Manhattan under the general aegis of the burglary-larceny squad there.

There are two principal objectives of this program. One is to improve the quality of criminal investigations and the other is, again, accountability. The Department hopes to make misconduct by detectives more difficult by pinpointing their responsibilities and curtailing their freewheeling activity.

Prospects for Long-Term Changes: It is still too early to determine if the many changes instituted to improve accountability will indeed force officers to act against corruption they know about. Continued monitoring will be necessary to determine if these programs are effective over the long term.

Controlling Corruption Hazards

In line with the concerted efforts to provide accountability, the Murphy administration has taken numerous steps aimed at the control of corruption hazards. These steps have been of two types. First, the opportunities for corrupt activity have been lessened by diminishing or redirecting the enforcement of certain laws which foster corruption. For example, Sabbath laws are no longer enforced, except upon a specific complaint, and the plainclothes units now concentrate not on street gambling but on putting gambling combines out of business. Complementary to these types of reforms have been measures to limit the exposure to corruption hazards, where such exposure must occur, to officers of higher rank who presumably have a greater stake in maintaining their reputations. For example, all important gambling and narcotics arrests are to be made by sergeants as are inspections of licensed premises.

While it is difficult to assess the impact of these changes on corruption, all indications are that there has been some reduction.

Improving, Training and Evaluation

The integrity of a police department depends in large measure upon adequate procedures to see that the new recruit is honest, that his training fortifies that tendency, and that his superiors accurately evaluate his performance once he begins the job.

Training and education are recognized approaches for changing the attitudes and motivations of police officers. Prior to the Murphy administration they were utilized as methods of combating corruption. The part of the curriculum that dealt with the hazards of corruption and the proper responses to them was deficient -- if not non-existent -- prior to the present administration of the Department. At the Commission's public hearings, Edward Droge and Waverly Logan, both of whom had had their Academy careers interrupted by several months of emergency service in the street, testified with some emphasis how unrealistic, even comical, the Academy's skimpy material on corruption seemed to them after they had witnessed the real thing on the job.

Recruit Training: Corruption used to be one of several matters treated by the chaplain in the course of his six hours of Academy lectures. Copies of the Policemen's Code of Ethics were also distributed. During regular instructions on the Penal Law the bribery statutes were covered, but corruption was traditionally regarded as a matter of individual conscience and not in any large sense as an environmental or departmental problem. Moreover, the realities of the extent of corruption and the specific corruption hazards to be faced by new patrolmen were avoided on the ostensible theory that they should not be taught how to go wrong.

Corruption is no longer simply a subject of academic interest at the Police Academy. The new recruit is now instructed in every possible course as well as in special classes that the Department has a serious problem of corruption and what forms it takes. He is told that there have been corrupt policemen and very likely that many still remain on the force. His courses include tape recordings and other material evidence of corruption gathered by this Commission.

The new recruit program includes twenty hours of discussions and lectures that range through all known forms of police crime and corruption. These twenty hours are spread over the total days of recruit training. The old theory that discussing details of corruption might teach some recruits tricks they didn't know has been abandoned in favor of a more realistic approach. Extensive use is made of workshop and group discussion techniques. Role-playing is used to increase the impact and believability of the conditions to which the new recruit will soon be exposed.

A paragraph taken from part of the curriculum is illustrative of the new attitude at the Academy:

"As a practical matter, this is the point in your police career when you should decide what kind of police officer you are going to be. If your decision is, as we hope it is, to be an honest cop, then expect to live on the salary you earn and never start the slow corrosive slide into corruption. A slide that usually starts with a pack of cigarettes or a dollar and ends with disgrace and active criminality. If there is a cynic among you who feels that this hour has been a "snow job", to him we suggest that he become an honest crook. Leave the department and become an honest thief. Before you are caught you will make a great deal more money mugging old men or sticking up shopkeepers than you will as a chiseling cop. And, after you are caught you can expect fair treatment from the other convicts in prison. On the prison social ladder the crooked cop rates just below the child molester."

It must be kept in mind that the recruit's training period is a time when he should be evaluated as well as instructed. A recent New York City Rand Institute study found that the most reliable predictors of a policeman's ultimate performance are his performance in recruit training and during his probationary period as a patrolman. However, there is little evidence that in years gone by departmental superiors assigned new men on the basis of those indicators. In fact it had been a tradition not to dismiss a probationary patrolman except for the most flagrant kind of misconduct -- which tradition vitiated the entire purpose of probation. There is some reason to believe that if the Department had gotten rid at the very outset of the men who scored worst at the Academy and conducted themselves worst as probationers, it would have nipped in the bud the careers of an appreciable number of corrupt policemen.

Academy Training of Superior Officers: Sergeants: The Academy's training for officers being promoted to the rank of sergeant does not spare their feelings, and it is no longer presumed that they are "clean" simply because they are being promoted. They are taught that they must make arrests for corrupt acts which other persons (including themselves) may have committed with impunity even a short time ago.

The pre-promotional training for patrolmen who are about to make sergeant has been extended from six weeks a year ago and as few as three weeks some years back to a present total of seven weeks. The training course is entitled "Basic Management Orientation" and is meant to develop management and leadership skills as well as imparting supervisory techniques. The course now also contains thirty-four-and-a-half hours of anti-corruption training. It includes field work, actual duty with the Inspections Division, training in all areas of anti-corruption activities and many hours of guidance sessions in small groups aimed at discussing and resolving on a mutual basis problems and problem situations that have and will confront these men as they progress in their careers.

Lieutenants and Captains: Pre-promotional courses for lieutenants and captains are entitled "Middle Management I" and "Middle Management II." They carry forward the theory that the Department needs effective management in order to do an effective job. The courses last two and three weeks, respectively, and each contains eight hours of anti-corruption activity.

Field Training: The most extensive anti-corruption training problem, however, is in the rank and file of the Department already on the job. The men on the beat, in the cars, and in the special squads have either participated in or been exposed to corruption for their entire careers. The Academy is trying to reach those men with a variety of field programs aimed at duplicating the "facts of life attitude" taken with recruits.

In keeping with the efforts at decentralization and command responsibility, the Academy supervises a program of workshops, lectures, and special classes at various command levels designed to penetrate to the places where anti-corruption strength is most sorely needed.

One of the Department's more encouraging innovations in anticorruption training is a series of Ethical Awareness Workshops, run by a sergeant and a patrolman. In eight to ten three-hour sessions, using imaginative techniques like role-playing in a no-holds-barred atmosphere, the workshop leaders encourage the participants to explore what corruption really is and how it affects them, to confront their own attitudes toward corrupt acts, and to reach some conclusions about just what they feel is morally permissible and what is not. Surprisingly, almost all the officers who have been through the workshop have come to the conclusion that even accepting a free cup of coffee is compromising and even insulting.

While it remains to be seen how long these new attitudes prevail after the officers have left the workshop and returned to the pressures of the station house and the street, these workshops appear to be a most promising tool in the hardest phase of the anti-corruption fight, namely changing the attitudes of the rank and file.

Group leaders from every command in the Department are now being trained in these techniques, and will return to their commands to lead their own workshops, eventually reaching a substantial percentage of the Department.

In addition to special efforts being made at the Academy to professionalize the anti-corruption training of recruits in the Department, the Academy feels that in the long run future the Executive Development Program and the Management Techniques Program now being fully developed will be the strongest elements in the anti-corruption fight. From these programs will come the administrative and command staffs whose training and development hopefully will inculcate a professional attitude incompatible with dishonesty.

Evaluation: Training efforts and institutional reforms to combat corruption can have only a limited effect. The orders and instructions can go down through the ranks to the officer on the street, but whether they are obeyed depends on the mechanisms available for monitoring and evaluating performance and controlling compliance.

Performance evaluation poses special problems. Detective specialization has provided an improved means for measuring the effectiveness of individual detectives in executing their principal responsibility of solving serious crimes and apprehending their suspects. But the duties of the patrolman are far more diffuse, involving as they do a wide variety of activities ranging from the mediation of family conflicts and street fights to assisting the ill and injured, from directing traffic to patrolling an assigned area. Since most of the situations in which the patrolman intervenes are not criminal in the sense that they call for arrest and prosecution, crime and arrest statistics are consequently only partial measures of police effectiveness. For example, the use of arrest statistics as a measure of police effectiveness simply tempts the police to make large numbers of easy arrests. More complex measures of performance have to be instituted. Those used in the past involved assessments by superior officers of various personal traits thought to be crucial to good performance or indicative of poor performance along with a listing of the quantities of arrests in each crime category. These evaluations, however, were often made by supervisors who had few opportunities to observe the officer at work, because of the different duty charts of supervisors and patrolmen alluded to earlier.

Although the patrolman evaluation form still contains judgments about personal attributes, the evaluation procedures have been reformed. The form now places more emphasis on efficiency and integrity and less on number of arrests made. Working conditions on the streets are being altered, and evaluators are supposed to spend more time with the men they are expected to evaluate. Supervisors are also required to discuss their evaluations in detail with the evaluated officers. Evaluators, at all levels, have been told that they will be held accountable, if not for their infallibility, at least for the honesty of their judgments, and a board of high-ranking officers has been established to review all evaluations.

These changes in officer evaluation procedures have had an especially significant impact on the plainclothes units. The reform welcomed most heartily by policemen our staff talked with was the de-emphasis of "the Sheet" as it existed in both public morals and narcotics. In public morals, the Sheet was a wall chart, posted in the offices of every plainclothes unit. It displayed the number of arrests each member of the unit had made each month of the current year and each month of the previous year. A plainclothsman's performance was evaluated almost exclusively by the statistics on the Sheet. The arrest quotas were not absolute but relative. Each man was expected to make as many arrests each month as the same month of the prior year. New plainclothesmen were also expected to keep pace with their colleagues. As a result, supervision of plainclothesmen all too often consisted of the lieutenant -- there were then no sergeants in public morals -- studying the Sheet periodically and exhorting the men accordingly.

As a result of new procedures there is reason to believe that the quality of evaluations is improving and, even more to the point, the attention being given evaluations by those responsible for managing police careers is increasing. However, the effectiveness of evaluation as a personnel management tool depends ultimately not on orders or forms or systems but on honesty, perception, intelligence, and a host of other qualities that no Commissioner can decree or Chief of Personnel enforce. In short, subjective evaluations are only as good as the evaluators who write them.
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Re: The Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption: Commis

Postby admin » Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:56 am


Under the City Charter, the Commissioner of Investigation " ... is authorized and empowered to make any study or investigation which in his opinion may be in the best interests of the City, including but not limited to investigation of the affairs, functions, actions, methods, personnel or efficiency of any agency." However, the department's ability to investigate police corruption cases is, in practical terms, quite limited.

Judge Arnold Fraiman testified that while he was Commissioner of Investigation, the department had a staff of fifteen lawyers and sixteen investigators with which to perform all its investigations of all City agencies and that, in practice, it was impossible to cover all areas. Judge Fraiman stated that over the life of his department various commissioners had placed emphasis on different kinds of investigations and that, as far as he was aware, the Department of Investigation had never concerned itself with police corruption prior to his taking office. Judge Fraiman said that the feeling within the Department of Investigation was that it could not cope with the problem of police corruption and fulfill its other duties, especially in light of the fact that other units existed with the capability of dealing with police corruption.

In his testimony before the Commission in executive session, Judge Fraiman stated that when he assumed office in January, 1966, he made a "conscious decision" to combat police corruption "in some limited way." Fraiman stated, "I was more concerned about police corruption than other kinds of corruption because I felt and feel that this is the worst kind of corruption there is."

When asked later at the Commission's public hearings how many police officers had been brought up on charges as a result of the Department of Investigation's work during his three-year tenure, Judge Fraiman said that he could recall ten cases. When asked to specify, he listed seven relatively minor cases of individual misconduct by policemen, of which only four involved corruption. Three of the corruption cases were made against officers who received payoffs and the fourth involved an officer's possession of money apparently received from gamblers.

Commissioner Robert Ruskin, who assumed office in January, 1969, conducted seventy investigations into police corruption through 1971: seventeen in 1969; forty in 1970 (fifteen of which flowed from actions of the Rankin Committee); and thirteen in 1971. Of these, fifteen in 1970 resulted in the arrest and/or suspension of police officers, and one investigation uncovered an area of systematic widespread corruption (involving the sale of police arrest and conviction records to private agencies). As a result of this investigation in 1970, five police officers were arrested, and disciplinary action was taken by the Police Department against approximately one hundred others, including the suspension of one. Statistics are not kept on investigations the department initiated which lead to disciplinary action by the Police Department short of suspension or on those referred to the district attorneys.

As its record illustrates, the Department of Investigation never seriously concerned itself with police corruption. Several reasons have been put forth to explain this failure. The department has a limited staff to handle a large number of complaints involving all City agencies. Commissioner Ruskin is able to act on about 300 such complaints out of the 6,000 to 10,000 he receives yearly.

Only complaints containing specific allegations of serious misconduct, possibly criminal in nature, are retained for investigation. Judge Fraiman gave the example of an anonymous letter stating Sergeant X of the Police Department is being paid off by bookies at Joe's Bar on Tuesday nights. If such a complaint were received, it would be given a case number and then assigned to an attorney who would supervise the investigative work. The system does break down occasionally as evidenced by the fact that Serpico's charges, although far more serious in nature than complaints which became the subjects of investigations, were never given a case number or assigned to an attorney.

In addition to its limited manpower, the Department of Investigation faces two further difficulties one of which specifically undercuts its ability to investigate police. Its investigative staff is made up of police and a few civilians who work with the police unit under the supervision of a ranking police officer. According to Judge Fraiman this presented a problem contributing to his lack of success in many police cases since he recognized that policemen are not enthusiastic about this kind of investigation. The second problem is the absence of power to grant immunity. While the department does have the power to subpoena witnesses to testify under oath in private or public hearings, it cannot compel a recalcitrant witness to testify by giving him immunity. For years the department has tried to eliminate this problem. Bills seeking immunity power have been annually introduced into the legislature, only rarely even emerging from committee.

Since only very few cases can be handled by this relatively small department, the bulk of complaints are referred to other agencies for investigation. Complaints about the police are sent to the First Deputy Commissioner, often with a request for a written follow-up report. According to Judge Fraiman, the Police Department seldom reported positive results in these investigations. Yet his office did not evaluate the degree to which the police vigorously investigated the referrals, and no follow-up procedure was employed to make sure the charges were even investigated. Judge Fraiman expressed dissatisfaction with the Police Department's investigative techniques in police corruption cases. Nevertheless, he did not feel it was within his province to criticize such techniques.

Fear of interfering with the Police Department has been a definite restraint upon the Department of Investigation. Judge Fraiman characterized the Police Department as an autonomous and powerful agency which " ... does pretty well what it wishes to do and is not answerable to the Department of Investigation. At least it was not when I was commissioner, and certainly was answerable even to a lesser degree when my predecessors were commissioners." This was clearly evidenced in the Police Department's failure to comply with Mayor Lindsay's May, 1969, directive instructing all City agencies immediately to notify the Department of Investigation of any allegation of misconduct or corruption involving a public employee. The Police Department did not comply until after the establishment of this Commission, when the Mayor issued an Executive Order in August, 1970, reaffirming this procedure.

In the Commission's view the best long-term solution to the problems of investigating police corruption is a properly organized Inspectional Services Bureau responsible to the Police Commissioner as described in our Summary and Recommendations. This will free the Department of Investigation from the burden of monitoring the day-today operations of the Police Department and leave the Department of Investigation free to make spot investigations, as necessary, or when requested by the Mayor.
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Re: The Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption: Commis

Postby admin » Wed Jul 23, 2014 1:20 am


Information gathered in the course of this Commission's investigation makes it clear that police corruption does not exist in a vacuum and must be considered in the context of other elements in the criminal justice system. The Commission, which was appointed by the Mayor, only had power to command the cooperation of City agencies and, accordingly, did not conduct extensive investigations into the district attorneys' offices or the court system. However, it is obvious that both have an important role to play in the fight against police corruption. In addition, our investigation showed that the manner in which many policemen perform their duties is strongly affected by their opinions of how well the prosecutors and judges are performing theirs.

Police Corruption Cases

From information obtained from the district attorneys' offices and checked against court records, the Commission has tabulated all corruption cases brought against police officers over the past few years. (These figures do not include cases brought against police officers for crimes unrelated to corruption.)

The number of cases fluctuates widely from county to county, reflecting the diversity of the various counties in the number of policemen assigned to each and the corruption opportunities present.

The breakdown of criminal charges is as follows:

Police Corruption Cases 1968 to June 30, 1972

Police Corruption Cases 1968 to June 30, 1972 BRONX

Police Corruption Cases 1968 to June 30, 1972 NEW YORK

Police Corruption Cases 1968 to June 30, 1972 QUEENS

Police Corruption Cases 1968 to June 30, 1972 KINGS

Police Corruption Cases 1968 to June 30, 1972 RICHMOND

In the four and a half years from the beginning of 1968 through the first six months of 1972, the five prosecutors initiated 136 Supreme Court and Criminal Court proceedings involving 218 police defendants in police corruption cases. There has been a noticeable increase in activity in recent years in most counties. In 1968 there were six cases involving twenty-nine defendants (nineteen of whom were named in one case); in 1969, twenty-six cases with thirty-two defendants; in 1970, thirty-eight cases with fifty-two defendants; in 1971, fifty-nine cases with sixty-two defendants; and, in the first six months of 1972, seventeen cases with forty-four defendants. Since then, arrests and indictments have been announced in a number of significant police corruption cases, indicating that the trend toward making such cases is continuing. Figures for the period before 1968 were available only for two counties: Queens, where there were two cases involving three defendants in 1967, and the Bronx, where there were three cases involving four defendants in 1966 and 1967.

Of the 218 defendants in this period, 158 were patrolmen, thirty-nine were detectives, nine were sergeants, eleven were lieutenants and one was an assistant chief inspector. Sixty-three defendants pleaded guilty, twenty-eight were convicted after trial, forty-six were acquitted or dismissed and eighty-one are awaiting trial.

Disposition of Police Corruption Cases

Of the ninety-one officers who have been convicted, eighty have so far been sentenced; forty-nine were either set free or given suspended sentences, and thirty-one received jail terms, fourteen for less than one year.

Bronx County District Attorney Burton Roberts testified before the Commission that light sentences were common in cases involving police officers, and went on to describe one:

"We worked hard and we convicted a man by the name of ---, a detective. He was found guilty after trial, guilty of bribe-receiving. We go into court. We ask for sentence. We ask for jail time. He winds up with a suspended sentence."

It is clear that the risks of severe punishment for corrupt behavior are slight. A dishonest policeman knows that, even if he is caught and convicted, he will probably receive a court reprimand or, at most, a fairly short jail sentence. Considering the vast sums to be made in some plainclothes squads or in narcotics enforcement, the gains from corruption seem far to outweigh the risks. Both William Phillips and Edward Droge said that they assessed the risk of meaningful punishment and determined that they had little to fear.

Dispositions in Non-Police-Corruption Cases

Criminal justice proceedings also have another more subtle effect on police corruption. According to Commissioner Murphy, of 94,000 suspects arrested for felonies in 1971, only 552 (slightly over one-half of one percent) stood trial. The other ninety-nine and one-half percent either had their cases dismissed or pleaded guilty, usually after having the charges against them reduced to misdemeanors or lesser felonies via plea-bargaining. "No doubt," said the Commissioner, "certain of the honest, dedicated policemen who made these 94,000 arrests last year came to the belief that conscientious police work is a waste of time, a waste of effort and a waste of devotion."

Most court cases are now settled via plea-bargaining, an arrangement made between the prosecutor and the defendant whereby the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser crime than the one he was originally charged with, in return for a lighter sentence than he would have received if convicted of the original crime. This practice is inevitable in view of the unmanageable calendars with which the state criminal courts are faced. However, as more suspects are arrested and charged and the jails become more crowded and the court backlog increases, defendants tend to be allowed to plead to lesser and lesser charges and to receive lighter and lighter sentences. This process results in the frustration to which Commissioner Murphy referred.

Three studies of gambling and narcotics arrests illustrate the effects of plea-bargaining. These studies are of particular interest because gambling and narcotics are the most prominent areas of police corruption. A 1972 report of the Joint Legislative Committee on Crime of the State Legislature revealed that from 1967 to 1970, of 9956 felony arrests made for gambling in New York City only 921 (nine percent) resulted in indictments. Exactly sixty-one of those indicted were convicted of felonies. The disposition of the sixty-one convictions, punishable by imprisonment for four years, included twenty-nine fines, fourteen imprisonments for one year or less, thirteen probations, three conditional discharges, and the adjudication of two as defective delinquents. In short, 9956 felony arrests resulted in a total of sixty-one convictions and fourteen jail sentences -- all of one year or less.

Another gambling study was done of high-level numbers bank arrests in Bedford-Stuyvesant. From 1961 through 1970, 356 arrests were made, of which 198 were dismissed. Sixty-three persons were acquitted and ninety-five were convicted. Of those convicted, seventy-seven were fined an average of $113, twelve received suspended sentences, five were sentenced to local jails for an average of seventeen days, and one was sentenced to prison for one year.

The Joint Legislative Committee's study of narcotics arrests revealed that only 43% of those arrested for possession of one pound or more of heroin or cocaine from January 1, 1969, through October 31, 1971, were convicted. Thirty-four percent of those convicted (fifteen percent of those arrested) received prison sentences of more than one year. Twenty-six percent were sentenced to local jails for one year or less. The remaining forty percent received non-prison sentences such as fines, conditional discharges, and probation. The disposition of these cases appears disproportionately lenient in view of the fact that possession of one pound or more of those drugs became punishable by life imprisonment on April 24, 1970.

Sentences like these are frustrating for the individual police officer who views the results of his arrests: a gambler given probation, or a drug dealer who offered a large bribe receiving a fine smaller than the amount of the bribe he offered. The officer who time and time again makes a good felony arrest, sees it reduced to a misdemeanor charge and then sees the offender receive a light or suspended sentence is likely to conclude that making good felony arrests is a waste of time. Under these circumstances, some officers see little wrong with accepting money to write up a weak arrest affidavit or to change testimony at trial, feeling that the offender is going to get off lightly anyway. These practices, in turn, contribute to high rates of dismissals and acquittals.

Reliance on Police Investigators

Although all but one of the five district attorneys' offices have civilian investigators, all of them rely chiefly upon the police for investigative work. The vast majority of cases they are called upon to prosecute are developed not by their own investigative personnel but by regular operational units in the Department. In police corruption cases, the district attorneys must rely on police officers working with the Department's Internal Affairs units.

This reliance upon police investigators necessarily affects the performance of the district attorneys since they must depend upon evidence gathered by men who are investigating their comrades. The natural reluctance of members of any group to look into accusations against other members of the group is accentuated by attitudes within the Department, discussed elsewhere in this report, which reflects an unwillingness to acknowledge the true nature and seriousness of the problem of corruption. Commissioner Murphy's administration has made significant headway in changing such attitudes, at least at command levels, but the Commission is convinced that the necessity of relying on police investigators is still a handicap to a prosecutor in police corruption cases.

The nature of this handicap is illustrated by the case of a lieutenant who commanded the detective squad in the office of Bronx District Attorney Roberts. The lieutenant retired on August 30, 1971, after being found guilty in a departmental trial of "failure to take proper police action" after information was given to him regarding possible corruption of a detective in his command. A sergeant also assigned to the Bronx District Attorney's squad had reported to the lieutenant that a detective in the squad was engaging in serious criminal acts. The lieutenant took no action on the sergeant's report except to have the detective transferred to another squad. The detective was later arrested in an entirely separate case of extortion and conspiracy. It was only on the occasion of this later arrest that it came to light that the lieutenant had received a serious allegation against a detective under his command and deliberately suppressed it.

District Attorney Roberts, commenting to the press on the lieutenant's action in suppressing the report, said:

"[The lieutenant's] error, if any, was not an error motivated by venality. It was, if anything, an error motivated by compassion for a fellow policeman."

District attorneys working as closely as they do with police officers, also tend to be sympathetic to the police. Cases of outright and provable corruption are customarily pursued with appropriate vigor. However, a district attorney and his assistants, who work daily with police officers, often find it difficult to believe allegations of corruption among policemen who are brother officers of the investigators with whom they work.

The close relationship between prosecutors and police also affects public confidence in the district attorneys' willingness to prosecute policemen. Whether or not the district attorneys are in fact reluctant to conduct such prosecutions, large segments of the public believe that they are and this inhibits some people from reporting allegations of police corruption to them.

Case-by-Case Approach to Prosecution

Although district attorneys are empowered to conduct long-range investigations and initiate cases, Bronx District Attorney Burton Roberts testified in executive session that the current normal case load is so heavy that only limited time and manpower is actually available to conduct long-range investigations. This limitation of manpower forces the district attorneys to restrict their activities with respect to police corruption largely to the prosecution of cases that have originated elsewhere. Their approach remains necessarily case oriented, as they have not had the resources to identify patterns of corruption and take action for long-range control.

This does not mean that investigations have always been limited to short range cases. In the early 1960's the Police Department and New York County District Attorney Frank Hogan conducted an investigation which uncovered a massive citywide pad among plainclothesmen. Until the law regarding the admissibility in court of wiretap evidence was changed in 1968,it was not possible to bring these charges. In that year nineteen police officers were indicted. Many other charges arising from the investigation were by that time barred by the statute of limitations.

Investigative Techniques

Like the Police Department, the district attorneys have not until recently used certain investigative techniques which the Commission found most useful in uncovering corruption. Nor did they press the Department to adopt such methods as allowing a situation to develop, rather than making an immediate arrest, and using police officers caught in corrupt activities as undercover agents. The recent use of such methods in investigations in the Bronx and Brooklyn, referred to elsewhere in this report, proved highly successful. These cases have had significant impact on the Department. Indictments in Brooklyn and the Bronx resulting from the use of field associates and formerly corrupt plainclothesmen apparently have made police officers engaged in illegal activities wary of trusting supposedly corrupt comrades. Organized plainclothes pads in particular have become very risky.

Another approach not used until recently is that of looking critically into questionable police evidence such as illegal wiretaps, deliberately weak affidavits, and other practices like flaking and padding. In a recent precedent-shattering case in the Bronx, eight police officers were indicted for swearing to false affidavits in seven narcotics cases, even though this necessitated the dropping of the cases as a result.

Citywide Investigations

The fact that each district attorney's jurisdiction stops at the county line causes problems in pursuing police corruption cases. Although the fact that each prosecutor has jurisdiction in only one county also affects other investigations, it is particularly troublesome in investigations which involve a citywide Department with large numbers of men assigned to all five boroughs, many of whom are frequently being transferred from one to another -- often in the middle of an investigation. The problems created by corruption investigations involving more than one county range from the difficulty of coordinating the efforts of several district attorneys' offices to the security problems inevitable when people in several different offices are privy to a secret investigation.

Federal Anti-Corruption Efforts

In recent years, due primarily to new legislative action by Congress, the Federal Government has significantly increased its efforts to help local authorities curb official corruption. These efforts have added to the forces available in combating police corruption.

Federal law enforcement agencies have certain inherent advantages in investigating police corruption because they rely for investigative work upon the Federal Bureau of Investigation and investigators assigned to the United States Attorneys' offices or the federal Organized Crime Strike Forces. Since these men are not members of the department they are investigating, they are not subject to the pressures, discussed elsewhere in this report, which necessarily affect the performance of policemen who are called upon to investigate other policemen.

The degree to which federal authorities can become involved in police corruption investigations rests upon the existence of federal statutes giving them jurisdiction. The increased federal effort in the area began with the passage in 1968 of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act which, among other things, made it a federal crime to operate a gambling establishment above a certain size. Corruption involving public officials in connection with any such gambling establishment was also brought within federal jurisdiction. This statute, giving federal jurisdiction over corruption in one area where it most commonly affects the police, laid the basis for a number of significant federal investigations. Other statutes allow federal authorities to become involved in anti-corruption work in connection with narcotics and various types of interstate transactions, particularly transactions involving organized crime.

Examples of the use to which these statutes have been put in recent years are the indictments of sixteen police officers in Detroit in 1971 following the investigation of a $15-million-a-year gambling operation and the work of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York who conducted a number of important investigations, including those which resulted in indictments based upon the undercover work of Patrolman William Phillips and Detective Robert Leuci.

Although increased federal efforts in prosecuting police corruption cases are most helpful, jurisdictional limitations prevent federal authorities from acting in many situations. No federal jurisdiction exists with respect to many of the corruption hazards found by this Commission and recognized by the Department. Therefore, federal effort, although valuable, cannot completely satisfy the need for the sort of supplementary assistance which the Commission feels is necessary in light of the conditions it found in the Department.
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