Daily News from New York, New York on September 5, 1999 · 217
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Daily News from New York, New York · 217

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New York, New York
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Sunday, September 5, 1999
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217
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is r n- ZXJDES & OPINION .awawYiiAa 01 A black cop on a mission Police Lt. Eric Adams heads a group of African-American cops called One Hundred Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. Opinion Editor Michael Kramer spoke with Adams about the NYPD's problems. Q: What do you think of the Giuliani administration's plan to make the Civilian Complaint Review Board more responsive to citizen concerns, a reform it says will permit better independent monitoring of police performance? A: Not much. The media would have you believe the cops are out of control and some are. But it's a small minority. Still, many complaints are valid and the underlying problem won't be fixed by the mayor's plan. At bottom, and all along the way during the process, the cops have to be relied upon to police themselves and we're still not willing to clean our own house. It's us rather than the public who really know what's going on, but consider what happens when the vast majority of good cops want to complain about the bad apples among us, people like Volpe, who tortured Abner Louima. If a cop makes a complaint, he has to go through the Internal Affairs Bureau. And even though the CCRB is supposed to insulate those who complain, we all see how the complaints come back to the precincts, often tacked up to the locker of the officer who spoke out. And that marks him as a rat. The message sent is to keep quiet. The impact is chilling. If you complain, you run a real risk of getting a bad assignment or worse, being brought up on trumped-up charges. ; At some point in the CCRB's work, they have to rely on us for facts. And that is where it can and I think always will break down because too many cops continue to be afraid to complain or to support the civilians who complain. If we were proud of the CCRB s work and our cooperation with it, it wouldn't have taken a lawsuit to determine how the department handles civilian complaints. We should be proud of how we handle them. We aren't because we have nothing to be proud of. Q: Can't anything be done? A: Sure. All it takes is desire. Look, Giuliani deserves tremendous credit for the falling crime rate. Mayor David Dinkins was way too soft on crime. And what Giuliani has done, was done despite serious critics who said it couldn't be done. But he had the will to do it, so it was done. If he had the same desire to clean up the problems of overaggressiveness, he could change that too. If he communicated the same message about not tolerating the excesses that he sent down about getting tough with crime generally, it could get done. All police departments are paramilitary organizations. We follow orders when they are forcefully communicated and when we understand there are severe consequences for not following them. We know it can work because it works in individual cases. When I'm on the desk in the 88th Precinct, for example, my officers know they're not to be brutal, so they aren't. The same can happen citywide if the word comes down from the top. Q: Would we be better off without the 'Bill Bratton understood that just making a community safe isn't enough if the good citizens in an area fear the police. ' street crime unit, the group that shot Amadou Diallo, the officers responsible for so many brutality complaints? A: No. We need groups like the SCU. What we also need, though, is better supervision of them. Remember all the stories about how the SCU's arrests went way down after Diallo, because the officers were restraining themselves and because they were taken out of plainclothes and put back in uniform? Well the cause and effect put forth in those stories was all wrong. First off, the uniform flap is nonsense. The SCU is mostly white and where they work, they're made as cops even when they're in plainclothes. So in uniform or not, it doesn't make any difference and if you look closely at the statistics, you'll see that the arrests went down before they were put back in uniform. Now why was that? Because the heat was on and the bosses were looking. They said they wanted the SCU to do its job without trampling citizen rights. And that's what happened for a time. The key is to keep the pres- f . .. gaMMMtMP f Eric Adams, head of One Hundred Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. sure on. Keep watching. It's insane the way it is now. The SCU comes into my precinct at night and I'm not even told they're there. Many of them are cowboys, John Waynes with badges, and I have no say over how they work in the area I am responsible for. That doesn't make sense. All they care about are the numbers of arrests and the guns they take off the streets. But I say the price is too high if citizen rights are violated in the process, as they are routinely now. Q: But promotions are geared to the stats, right? A: Yes. And I think part of what gets you promoted should be what the community thinks of you. Unlike the current commissioner, Howard Safir, his predecessor, Bill Bratton whom I originally thought would be terrible, by the way understood that just making a community safe isn't enough if the good citizens in an area fear the police. We've lost that balance and we need to get it back. Q: How exactly do you do that? A: By working with the community. In Washington Heights, for example, you don't, in effect, shut down the streets and stop everyone in your search for drugs as we did unless and until you deal with community leaders first. The people in those areas are the primary victims of crime. They'll go along with what you want to do if you take the time and make the effort to explain what you want to do before you do it. Right now, the net is too wide. If you hear, for instance, that a black drug dealer is riding a bike, you don't stop every black riding a bike. We all know how cops violate constitutional rights in the name of doing their jobs. It doesn't have to be that way. Q; Have you and your organization met with Safir to express your views? A: He finally met with us, but it was like talking to a wall. Bratton listened. Safir doesn't. Bratton was comfortable with everyone with blacks in churches or with black cops, or with the elites at Elaine's. When we met with Safir, he wouldn't even tell us his fellow cops what the racial composition of the SCU was. He insulted our intelligence, and of course we could find out in other ways. Bratton not only listened. He was willing to learn from anyone. Q: How important is it to recruit more minority cops, and how do you do it? A: It's vital if you understand the racial composition of the city. But you can't do it properly with an advertising campaign, like Safir just had. First of all, the numbers didn't come in. And second, you really aren't getting the best the minority community has to offer. The way to do it is to have people like me go out and recruit on the streets, like we used to. You go out and do it one-on-one. It's a selling job and you can't write people off. I was arrested for burglary when I was 15. That arrest turned my life around. The point is there are lots of young minorities who've been in trouble but who can become good cops nonetheless. It takes great effort, but it's worth it. Q: Did you suggest this to Safir? A: Yes, because we've done it before, successfully. But he was in love with his advertising campaign and basically told us to mind our own business. MIKE ALBANS DAILY NEWS JOKE of the WEEK WARNING: FOUR NEW COMPUTER VIRUSES HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED: 1. Jack Kevorkin Virus Deletes all old files 2. Mike Tyson Virus Quits after 2 bytes; spits everything out 3. Prozac Virus Screws up your RAM, but your processor doesn't care 4. Viagra Virus Makes a new hard drive out of an old floppy FACTOIDS GO PAT, GO MPH at which an Iowa state trooper clocked a car last July in which Pat Buchanan was on the phone with Oliver North: 69 Price of the ticket that North, via cell phone, charmed the trooper out of writing: $54 DON'T MESS WITH THE QUEEN Amount by which Queen Elizabeth reduced the salary of a royal footman after discovering that he had been getting her dogs drunk: $3,500 STAY HOME, BILL Percentage of Americans who say Hillary Clinton's campaign will be more successful if her husband-doesn't try to help: 69 IS TEXAS ON ANOTHER PLANET? Maximum number of days a recent Texas bill proposed holding suspects before being assigned a lawyer: 20 Number of death sentences upheld by Texas courts since 1990 for men whose lawyers slept during their trials: 3 METRIC NONSENSE Maximum fine to which a British grocer will be subject next year for using anything other than the metric system, in pounds sterling: 5,000 IIP? z s in a o ST 3 ej us TAYLOR JONES

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