Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison at his promotion ceremony in December 2019.
Current POST Act plan puts
NYPD cops in danger
BY RODNEY HARRISON
Being a police offi cer can be a dangerous
job. Working as an undercover
offi cer in the units that deal with
gangs, guns, or drug dealers takes the “can
be” out of the equation. It’s just dangerous.
I know that as a commander, but I also
know it as an undercover. On Sept. 21, 1995,
I was working as a narcotics undercover with
another offi cer. After attempting a buy from
fi ve suspected dealers on the street I couldn’t
score. Something was off. After attempting
another buy from a couple of other dealers
nearby, the same. The vibe was off.
Walking back to the car that night
I was being shadowed by my partner,
Detective Mike Stoney. I was going over
it in my head. We were in the middle of
Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1995 where I had
bought drugs undercover many times but
the tension seemed higher.
As I turned the corner, the fi ve dealers
I had fi rst approached saw me walking towards
the car. I played it off, went the other
way but Stoney walked ahead to distract
them from me. The group challenged Mike
and one of them, unprovoked, pulled a gun
and opened fi re.
Stoney was struck by gunfi re and seriously
hurt, but he fi red back. I moved in and returned
fi re as well. I believe to this day, Stoney
saved my life and I may have saved his.
I spent much of that night at the hospital
until I knew Mike was going to be OK.
The fi ve men involved including the shooter
were arrested later that night.
This week, the City Council is set to vote
on a bill called the POST Act. They are
expected to pass it. It is a law, that in its
current form, will put NYPD undercover
offi cers in more danger.
It is also easy to fi x that law if the City
Council will add one sentence to the bill.
The POST Act requires the NYPD to disclose
all its “surveillance technology.” Most of
what is described as “surveillance technology”
PHOTO BY TODD MAISEL
in the proposed bill is not for “surveillance”
but are actually systems that my detectives
use in investigations every day. That’s why we
support 99% of what the Post Act requires.
When it comes to security cameras we recover
video from to solve crimes or the license
plate readers we use to retrace the direction of
a getaway car, or facial recognition software
that has been instrumental in identifying
robbers, hate-crime perpetrators, and sexual
predators, the NYPD believes people have a
right to know about these systems, how they
work and how privacy is protected.
The problem with the POST Act is it also
requires the NYPD to give a description of
any and all devices that are “used or designed
for, collecting, retaining, processing, or sharing
audio, video, location, thermal, biometric,
or similar information, that is operated
by or at the direction of the department.”
The POST Act says the department
must place on its public website a list of
this equipment with a description of it and
how it is used. There is no exemption for
the covert electronics used to protect our
undercover offi cers.
Granted, since the days I was undercover
and buying drugs with a tape recorder and
a transmitter, the electronics have gotten
smaller and easier to conceal. But undercover
offi cers face increased dangers.
The drug deals moved away from the
open-air drug markets on street corners and
into the buildings, hallways, and apartments,
where an undercover is at greater risk of being
searched more thoroughly than the street.
The City Council can fi x the Post Act
with one simple sentence. Give the Police
Commissioner the authority to report all
the technology we use, how we use it and
what the rules are which is what the law was
intended for but also give the commissioner
the ability to exclude descriptions of the technology
used by our undercover offi cers in the
fi eld whose jobs are already very dangerous.
Rodney Harrison is the Chief of Detectives
of the NYPD.
Barr must answer for Berman firing
Richard Nixon had the Saturday
Night Massacre. Donald Trump
has the Friday Night Fiasco.
The Saturday Night Massacre in October
1973 saw Nixon fi re the special prosecutor
appointed to investigate him during the
The Friday Night Fiasco of June 19, 2020
saw Trump’s attorney general, William Barr,
push U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman from
his offi ce with a premature resignation announcement,
followed by a vehement denial
by Berman himself. After that uproar, the
president fi red Berman at Barr’s request.
Why get rid of Berman? That’s still unclear.
What is clear is that, during his 2 ½ years
as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of
New York, Berman wasn’t afraid to investigate
and even prosecute Trump allies such
as Michael Cohen, the president’s disgraced
former personal attorney. Berman was also
investigating former Mayor Rudy Giuliani,
the president’s current personal legal counsel.
The Offi ce of the U.S. Attorney for the
Southern District of New York has a proud,
integrous history of investigating and prosecuting
some of the worst criminals in New York
— from organized crime kingpins to terrorists,
from drug cartel leaders to stock market manipulators.
Their reputation is unimpeachable.
But Barr pushing Berman out the door
smacks of yet another odious attempt to protect
the president. This is the same attorney
general who tainted the release of the Mueller
Report and worked to drop the charges against
Michael Flynn, Trump’s fi rst national security
adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
In an alternate universe, Berman and his
team would investigate a scoundrel who
would attempt to cover up blatant corruption.
And make no mistake, Barr’s actions
must be thoroughly investigated.
On Sunday, New York Congressman Jerry
Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee,
dismissed an impeachment effort
against Barr as a “waste of time” because
Republicans wouldn’t be interested.
The Trump impeachment had a similar,
partisan foregone conclusion — yet the
House impeached Trump anyway because
the charges against the president in the
Ukraine scandal gave lawmakers no other
choice but to take a stand for the rule of law.
We are at a similar moment now. At the
very least, Barr must be investigated by the
House Judiciary Committee. If impeachable
offenses are found, the committee is
obligated to act upon them. And if Republicans
want to give Trumpian corruption yet
another pass, that’s their problem.
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14 June 25, 2020 Schneps Media