Of all the NYPD blunders I have covered on this blog, this one may be one of the more disturbing. Two officers are facing accusations that they raped an intoxicated woman whom they had helped home earlier in the evening after the alleged victim vomited inside a cab. The officers, who have not been named, are still being paid with New Yorkers' tax dollars, even after heroin was found in one of their lockers. No arrests have been made in connection with the incident, which is alleged to have happened three months ago.
The whole thing started when a cabbie called the cops when a woman threw up in his cab and could not find cab fare. The officers showed up and escorted the woman into her apartment. They allegedly came back about a half-hour later and one cop raped the woman while the other stood by. The woman told her friends the morning after the attack and then called the Manhattan DA's office. Sources inside the police department, according to the Post, say that charges are expected against the two officers.
When pressed on the heroin found in his locker, the older of the pair (the one accused of physically raping the victim) stated that he simply forgot to voucher the drugs in a separate case. So not only was he in possession of an illegal substance, but he probably screwed up the other, unrelated case to which the smack was evidence.
Surveillance video from around the building shows the officers entering and exiting the woman's apartment building on three separate occasions: one to escort her in initially, another time when they spent 17 minutes inside the building, and a third time when they spent over 30 minutes inside. My questions is this: where does the NYPD get people like this on their force? And another one: did anyone know that these two guys were bad cops (and scumbags, to boot)? If so, and they said nothing, they can consider themselves complicit in all of this, for had they said something to their CO then a woman may not have (allegedly) been raped.
This horrible incident renews the call to make the restrictions on becoming a cop stricter. I've said it before: raise the salary of incoming cops and raise the minimum requirements. Right now to become a cop the educational requirement is 60 credits (2 years) from an accredited college with a minumum GPA of 2.0 (which translates to a 70% average). While you cannot be a city officer if you are a felon, you can have misdemeanors (aka even if you have a criminal record you can enforce the law you broke in the first place). The only time a misdemeanor would disqualify you (according to the website) occurs when "repeated convictions of an offense...indicate a disrespect for the law." Do we really want to give someone a gun and an abnormally large amount of power if they have demonstrated that they cannot follow the law?
Cops deal with crap all the time, but it's no excuse for drug possession and rape. Officers are underpaid and undertrained and it can lead to dangerous outcomes (such as this one). If you increase the starting salary as well as the minimum requirements (jack up that GPA to 3.0, make it a full bachelor's, and make the candidate demonstrate the ability to follow the law he/she will swear to uphold), you will see a much lower number of disgusting incidents like this. Because the bottom line of all this is that allegations like this erode the trust of the police department in the public's eye. I've already spoken to a few women who said they would now think twice about calling the police in situations where they might not have given it a second thought before, and I have to say I cannot blame them. The fact that this is even remotely possible in today's NYPD while the cops are on duty is despicable and tarnishes every good cop's badge. Peace.
UPDATE 3/2/2009: The police officers involved have been tentatively identified by New York Post sources as Kenneth Moreno (a 17 year NYPD veteran, married with two kids) and Franklin L. Mata, who has been on the force for three years. In addition to the heroin found in Moreno's locker was "personal information of other women." It is astounding that someone can be on the force for 17 years and allegedly do something like this. If, in fact, Moreno is guilty of this rape, I have to wonder how could he have stayed on the force? It takes a special kind of scumbag to rape a woman and if that kind of person can be on the force for 17 years in New York, I wonder who else can be wearing the badge? Scary stuff.
UPDATE 3/3/2009: The New York Post today is reporting that Franklin L. Mata, the partner of accused rapist Kenneth Moreno, has told investigators (through his lawyer) that the sex between Moreno and the alleged victim was consensual. All of this despite the fact that the victim says she was raped and there is video evidence of the woman beyond drunk (and thus legally incapable of giving consent). Moreno should have known this. The fact that these two are still on the job (being paid by the taxpayer) is disgusting. Moreno had smack in his locker and is accused of rape (and in the best scenario had "consensual" sex with an impaired woman), yet he still gets a check cut by the state? And his partner, who also should have known better, was 100% complicit in it. This is a nightmare for the NYPD and is slowly becoming the epitome of double-standards when it comes to cops and civilians. Think about it: if you or me are accused of rape and they find drugs on us, would we be out in the streets continuing to get a paycheck? Fire and arrest both of these criminals now.
Photos - NYPD logo (Mesomorphosis), Heathers, a nearby bar from which video surveillance was obtained (New York Mag)