Monday, November 5, 2007

Fine Police Work in Shaolin

New York's finest are at it again. Less than a week after Sean Sawyer made people lose more confidence in the city's police force, Staten Island cops Thomas Elliassen and Richard Danese thought it would be appropriate to take a 14 year old boy who, being a teenager, was throwing eggs at cars on Halloween and leave him in a swamp. The boy, whose name I won't release due to his minor status, walked to a Burlington Coat Factory store and asked security to call his parents. The officers were stripped of their pieces and forced to do desk work. They were charged with simple misdemeanors (unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child) and the harshest penalty they could face is up to a year in jail. I would hit these cops with PL 135.20 (kidnapping in the second degree), which says a person is guilty of it when they abduct another person. It is fine if a cop restrains another person if he is breaking a law in order to take him down to the precinct to follow the course of the justice system, but to restrain someone in order to take them to a swamp to scare them is abduction. You cease to be a cop at this point. They should be charged with the crime they committed, which happens to be a B felony - considerably worse than the A misdemeanors they are being charged with now. Just for good measure, as the boy's lawyer Jason Levanthal states, they should also be charged with PL 195.00 (official misconduct), an A misdemeanor. I would also tack on PL 195.05 (obstructing governmental administration in the second degree) for their perversion of the administration of law.

The shitstorm does not stop with the abduction of the 14 year old boy. Apparently one of the cops had a rowdy MySpace page that quoted such classic film quotes as "Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta," and "Let's do lines off a stripper's ass!" As a public servant, why put these things on a public web page for the world to see? Not the brightest of ideas, because now the boy's lawyer is using them as more evidence that these cops were unfit to serve the public. It just goes to show, that unless you are completely competent at what you do and everyone knows that these comments would be a joke, don't put them on your webpage. I would even say don't put them on your webpage at all, because it is just opening up doors for people to attack you. I don't know if these guys actually do lines off strippers' asses or want to be gangstas, but the fact that it's on their webpage and they did the type of shit they did while on duty, you have to wonder. It also seems that , as the boy's father says that when he met with the commanding officer of the precinct, he said that the two cops who did this were "old school," and that they just wanted to teach the boy a lesson.

Obviously this problem has far reaching consequences for the whole NYPD. Cops like Elliassen and Danese make the whole force of over 37,000 cops look incompetent. Chalk them up with other clearly ill-fit cops like Sean Sawyer and you have a problem that needs to be resolved, namely by charging cops like civilians. A badge should not make you immune to the law. Unfortunately, various New York District Attorneys' Offices think that cops should be given leniency in the justice system. Now I'm not saying that the justice system is perfect, but I would rather go through it than have a police officer decide my punishment. Cops are here to keep order and make arrests for illegal conduct. The last thing we should do is give them the power to dole out punishments (something that some of the posters on Gothamist think would be a good idea, it seems). Leave cops to arrest people, a job that some of them (at least these two) seem to be only mediocre at, anyway. Peace.

Photos - Top: 120th Precinct Stationhouse (wallyg's flickr), Bottom: 120th Precinct's commander, Inspector Richard Bruno (

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