NYPD To Launch To Program For Public To Report Police Abuse
July 30, 2008
As officials investigate two instances of alleged police brutality caught on tape, the police commissioner announced Wednesday that New Yorkers will soon be able to send their pictures and video of such incidents right to the department for review. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the program will be up and running in the next two months, but text messaging capability could be set up as early as next week. The news comes as the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association jumped to the defense Wednesday of another officer caught on tape using force against a pedestrian.
The latest video shows Officer Maurice Harrington hitting 46-year-old Michael Cephus several times with a baton as he was arresting him in Lower Manhattan on July 4th. Cephus's attorney says police accused his client of trying to bring liquor into a park as he was heading to watch the fireworks. Harrington said in court papers Cephus was swinging an umbrella as a weapon and resisted arrest.
The president of the PBA says the officer was justified, but the commissioner is withholding judgment. "This is a person that was resisting arrest, not following a lawful order from a police officer, and this police officer used necessary force to gain control of that person, place them under arrest," said PBA president Pat Lynch. "Everything was done appropriately, by the book." "I explained before if any disciplinary actions comes as a result of these investigations is going to come from me, so it's not appropriate for me to make those sorts of comments," said Kelly. The NYPD has placed Harrington on modified desk duty pending the outcome of an investigation.
He's the second officer to be taken off the street this week, joining Patrick Pogan who was reassigned after being caught knocking a cyclist to the ground during a mass bike ride in Times Square. Kelly says that case is also being investigated by Internal Affairs. The police union says Pogan took appropriate action. The cyclist, Christopher Long, is facing charges of blocking traffic, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and assault.