Remember the above video from this summer, in which police officer Patrick Pogan body-slammed a biker during a Critical Mass ride through Times Square? Well, Pogan was briefly suspended and the matter is under investigation by the district attorney’s office. But some civil-rights advocates who have been agitating for more NYPD oversight have seized upon the incident. They’re calling on David Paterson to consider the idea of a permanent special prosecutor to examine police misconduct. A spokeswoman for Paterson said he is indeed considering picking an independent official to look into the bicycle incident, and is considering making it a permanent role.
According to the Villager, Paterson has always been sensitive to police-abuse issues — he was arrested in 1999 (while he was a state senator), alongside NAACP president Kweise Mfume and a group of other protesters, for blocking the entrance to NYPD headquarters in protest of the shooting of Amadou Diallo. The last time a special prosecutor’s office was created was in 1972, under Nelson Rockefeller. Its goal was to investigate police corruption, but it was disbanded by Mario Cuomo in 1990. Opponents of the idea say that District Attorney Robert Morgenthau — who has prosecuted over 200 cop-related crimes since 1975 — and the NYPD’s own Internal Affairs department are more than enough to take care of the problem.