Civil-rights lawyer Ron Kuby, who represents the Queens Imam, says the Zazi case shows that as much as the FBI and the NYPD talk about a “seamless” relationship, there isn’t one. “They really don’t talk,” he says. And each entity weighs the mission differently. “In fairness to Ray Kelly—and God I hate to use that expression—he’s not going to let a suspected Al Qaeda operative drive across the George Washington Bridge with two pounds of TATP. Ray Kelly’s goal is to make sure none of these batshit-crazy motherfuckers blow up New York. And if it compromises a long-term investigation, so be it.”
“I have an iPad,” Kelly says. “It’s really cool. One of the programs is Beat the Traffic. On the BlackBerry, you can get traffic. You can speak into it. But on the iPad, it shows you where the traffic is in cities all over the world. And it shows you where the cameras are. So you can plug right into the cameras and check it out. Pretty cool.”
Kelly has an abiding faith in the power of technology. NYPD officials are now studying ways in which computer programs can use algorithms for the city’s increasing number of surveillance cameras to detect terrorists who are maybe circling around a terrorist target (or looking for a parking space) or clusters of corpses that have fallen as the result of a deadly chemical attack.
Human intelligence is critical, too, and many feel Kelly’s emboldened Intel Division has gone too far. Since after the RNC convention in 2004, Lieberman’s NYCLU has been suing the NYPD to turn over thousands of undercover documents produced by Intel detectives who traveled across the country and abroad to infiltrate political and anarchist groups and then created files of their findings.
The NYPD’s dealings with the FBI “Never can go back to this subservient relationship,” Kelly says.
“Billionaires for Bush is an activist group forged as a mockery of the president,” states an Intel Division report unearthed by the Times. “Preliminary intelligence indicates this group is raising funds for expansion and support of anti-RNC activist organizations.”
The NYPD arrested 1,806 protesters—rather than simply writing summonses—which kept them off the streets during the convention. Protesters were taken to Pier 57, a bus depot that became known as Guantánamo on the Hudson, where arrestees said they had to sleep on cold floors slick with bus oil. The vast majority of RNC arrests were tossed out, and lawsuits have cost the city more than $8 million in settlements and attorney fees.
“That’s the cost of doing business here for us,” Kelly says. “Don’t forget you had groups saying they were going to close the city down. It simply didn’t happen. The aftermath is inevitable in this city when litigation is just the name of the game.” (Business is a favored Kelly metaphor. “This is our business,” he told me once. “To think the unthinkable.” Then another time: “This is our business, my business … I’ve been in this business 40 years!”)
Kelly’s more pressing issue with civil libertarians is the department’s “stop and frisk” policy. The majority of those getting stopped are black and Hispanic. “It’s completely stereotyping,” says Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been suing the NYPD to release its stop-and-frisk data for the last decade. “What we have is cops harassing people in black and brown neighborhoods, hoping they might find something.” Yet data show more guns are recovered from whites than minorities.
And the yield is low. From 576,394 stops in 2009, the highest number ever, police recovered 762 guns. The weapons recovery (including guns, knives, razor blades, and “other”) was 7,201. That’s .13 percent and 1.25 percent, respectively.
It’s well worth it, to Kelly. “The tactic is a lifesaver,” he says. “Critics complain ‘the stops don’t represent the demographics of the city.’ Well, no kidding. Otherwise half the people we stop would be women. Does that make sense to anybody?”
Though few dispute that crime is still near historic lows, the accuracy of the NYPD’s crime statistics is also a concern. Earlier this year, a survey that was passed around to retired senior officers suggested manipulation of crime reports was widespread.
“CompStat has perverted crime analysis in the city,” one retiree said.
“Pressures to downgrade crime led to manipulation,” another said.
“Trouble getting numbers,” said another. “Just want more and more. Pressure sometimes from City Hall.”
While Kelly dismissed the survey, claiming the methodology was faulty, another scandal over crime reports was brewing in a Bedford-Stuyvesant precinct, where a whistle-blowing patrolman, Adrian Schoolcraft, was concerned about pressure to downgrade crimes. Schoolcraft wore a secret recording device in the precinct house. Snippets of his conversations with other officers were recently published in The Voice. “I saw a 61,” one cop said, “a civilian punched in the face, menaced with a gun, and his wallet was removed. They wrote ‘lost’ property.”