WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES JUNE 25, 2020 13
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.
As Chief of Detectives of the NYPD,
I have the honor, but also the great
responsibility for deploying the undercover
offi cers who, on a daily basis,
walk into some of law enforcement’s
most dangerous scenarios. We try
as best we can to protect them with
covert communications and back-up
teams, but we know undercover work
is also unpredictable.
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. Aft er attempting a buy from
fi ve suspected dealers on the street
I couldn’t score. Something was off .
Aft er 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
As I turned the corner, the five
dealers I had fi rst approached saw
me walking toward 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
was 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. Last December when I was promoted
to Chief of Detectives, I looked
out to my right, and several rows back
amid hundreds of people, there was
Detective Mike Stoney, retired by
then, but still watching my back as I
assumed this new responsibility.
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 POST Act requires the NYPD
to disclose all its “surveillance technology.”
Most of what is described
as “surveillance technology” 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 percent
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 soft ware 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 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
Why would we ever legislate a way
to make their work more dangerous?
Rodney Harrison is the Chief of
Detectives of the NYPD.
A FLOWER PLANTED IN FRONT OF FLUSHING HOSPITAL MEDICAL CENTER
PHOTO SUBMITTED BY ROY NAIPAUL
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