One Former Cop's Analysis: It's No Time to Be Turning our Backs on Anyone
By NICHOLAS CASALE
New York, Dec. 22, 2014 --- I will be attending the funerals of New York city police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos this week and I hope that not only Mayor Bill de Blasio but President Barack Obama also attend to show respect for the brave cops who should not have died.
As a former New York police detective, I remember well the 1988 assassination of police officer Edward Byrne on a freezing cold night in Queens. Byrne was gunned down while guarding the house of a Guyanese witness who had defied local drug dealers' threat not to testify against them. Later that year, I was privileged to be on stage when then-Vice President George H.W. Bush was presented with Byrne's shield.
It is clear that we all share some responsibility for the tensions between police, our elected leaders and the community at large. No group brings honor when it disrespects others.
In my 20-year career with the NYPD, 100 brave officers were killed in the line of duty and another 77 died from illnesses directly attributed to their heroic response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Thirty-two years ago, as a rookie I listened as instructors warned us that that our lives depended upon our firearms training and guts. The instructors told us we would all use our pistol once in our career most likely shooting three rounds at seven feet in less than five seconds. The decision to shoot is ours. Nonetheless, they stressed, "It is better to be tried by twelve then carried by six." A reference to errors being better judged by jurors and not pall-bearers at your funeral.
After graduating the academy, I was assigned to Brownsville, Brooklyn. During my first week in the neighborhood, I confronted a man with a rifle on a street corner. He turned towards me before dropping the gun to the sidewalk. I hesitated and didn't pull the trigger. The rifle was unloaded and he was 16.
The precinct captain, a seasoned African-American cop, complimented me for "restraint of force."
These are the spit-second decisions cops make. Everyone will tell you it was the right call because no one got shot that afternoon. Had I fired I would have killed a black teenager with an empty rifle. Had I been shot I would have failed the creed, "It is better to be tried by twelve then carried by six."
Now, a stunned nation mourns the senseless death of two of New York's Finest gunned down on a Brooklyn street by a nobody seeking to avenge a grand jury decision not to indict a cop.
But events like this demonstrate how dependent we are on the police and how dangerous their job is.
We ask officers to deal with problems Americans cannot come to grips with, such as violence, racism, drugs, poverty and handguns. We ask cops not to hold their ground but advance into danger to help us. We ask a lot of young men and women recruited from our communities to serve us and put their lives in harm's way.
Yet, all too often we unreasonably critique cops' every action and seek to limit their lawful authority, believing this will be the cure.
No one should die in police custody. And cops should be held to a higher standard because so much more is expected of them.
Since the grand jury decision in Staten Island, when it declined to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, many have seized the pulpit to voice ugly opinions. In the view of many police officers, President Obama and Mayor de Blasio failed to close the growing divide.
Equally troubling is the letter circulated by the police union withdrawing its invitation to the mayor to the funeral of any cop killed in the line of duty.
The only person with blood on his hands in the killing of the two officers in Brooklyn is the deranged man who pulled the trigger.
Nicholas Casale is a retired New York City police detectives who is an ABC News contributor.
New York Times
Re “Retirees’ Disability Epidemic” (front page, Sept. 21):
Sept. 22, 2008 --- Nearly every Long Island Rail Road employee applies for and receives a lucrative disability pension, costing taxpayers millions of dollars each year. But exposing corruption and cronyism at the cash-strapped railroad has proved difficult.
Peering into a world of privilege, mostly along race and gender, reveals mismanagement, favoritism and preferential treatment rarely seen in government.
Critics of the railroad want to know who is watching out for customers. Gary Dellaverson, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s former labor relations chief and current chief financial officer, negotiated many of these contracts and, more troublesome, as C.F.O. failed to uncover the abuses reported in The New York Times.
Every few years the M.T.A. is hit with another scandal. And every few years lawmakers call for overhauling the authority and changing its culture. It’s time for an independent budget office and inspector general who report, respectively, to the state comptroller and the attorney general.
The writer was M.T.A. deputy director of security for counterterrorism, 2002-03.
New York Times
Re "City Has Itself to Blame for Terror Cuts, U.S. Says" (front page, June 2):
New York does indeed have itself to blame.
New York, June 2, 2006 --- Operation Atlas, with its cavalcade of flashy police cars, blaring sirens and machine gun-toting cops moving around New York City, does little to deter terrorism, according to federal officials, who fault the Bloomberg administration for losing $83 million in precious counterterrorism money by not adequately explaining how programs like this can make the city safer.
But critics correctly point to the New York City subways, which sat on $591 million in federal and state security money after 9/11, while Moscow, Madrid and London trains were bombed. These critics say oversight of local programs and spending is needed. Counterterrorism initiatives should be more than window-dressing, as terrorists continue to probe for weak spots in planning future attacks.
Appointing regional security czars throughout America to coordinate antiterrorism planning would go a long way toward eliminating mismanagement and guaranteeing that security technologies and financing are shared equally to protect everyone in these trying times.
Albany Times Union
This letter is commenting on the “Six of Albany's 16 homicides in past 19 months remain unsolved --- Details of cases could help determine best course of action against violence,” By AMANDA FRIES, July 23, 2018, Albany Times Union Journal.
Murder cases take more time than other crimes to investigate
Albany - July 26, 2018. More than half of this year’s homicides in Albany have occurred in past two months and politicians, community advocates and cops struggle to understand what is causing the spike in violence.
Murder cases take more time than other crimes to investigate as detectives look for motive, opportunity, evidence, witnesses and corroboration. Yet some are too quick to say cops aren’t doing enough while others opine the increase in violence maybe the byproduct of drugs, gangs, poverty and social empathy.
Solutions like limiting operating hours of corner stores or imposing curfews and bringing in outside law enforcement resources to police minority neighborhoods show the growing divide between affluent whiter communities and urban streets is real and “quick-fix” remedies may only be window-dressing.
More needs to be done and lawmakers must toughen mandatory penalties and sentencing guidelines for those caught illegally possessing or criminally using firearms. The Attorney General must help local authorities bring civil lawsuits against out-of-state gun dealers that turn a blind eye to straw purchases that allow lawfully bought and illegally transported guns to make their way to New York. Aggressive anti-crime patrols, cash rewards, paid snitches, court ordered warrants and wiretaps targeting those foolish and brazen enough to walk the streets looking for trouble makes the most sense.
Poughkeepsie Journal / USA Today
Increase compensation for police officers to retain a stronger, skilled department.
July 15, 2018
(This letter is commenting on the Poughkeepsie Journal July 8 article, "Retaining officers: City police hope council approves membership plan.")
With a turnover rate of 18 percent, the City of Poughkeepsie and union representing Poughkeepsie police officers is considering a proposal to increase salaries for veteran officers while lowering the starting salary of newly hired cops and cutting back staffing levels to stop an exodus leaving for other departments.
A growing gulf between police officer pay in poorer communities with a large minority population versus whiter communities has now caused blue flight. Dramatically higher salaries in Westchester and Rockland counties lure experienced officers away from the tough urban streets for the tranquil suburban boulevards.
The city should consider front-loading officer salary commensurate with education, residency and training credits as well as prior experience, language skills and military services. Paying recruits more and requiring a bachelor’s degree improves many aspects of performance, including relying more on verbal skills then physical force. Statistically, less pay, education, training or community ties increase the likelihood of abuse of authority, illegal force and corruption complaints against officers.
Veteran cops would receive a monthly seniority bonus for every five years in rank. After becoming retirement eligible the bonus would convert to non-pensionable income.
Some favor “street smarts” over textbook knowledge. Many say they don’t want to live and work in the same community they police. While this could be true, given two equally skilled workforce the future belongs to the smarter cop.
No one gets less. Those showing dedication, commitment and professionalism to the residents of Poughkeepsie get more.
Retired New York Police Department Detective
New York Post
"Reform Long Over Due"
New York - December 12, 2017 A senior FBI agent was transferred from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe for trashing President Trump in a partisan laced text messages to his mistress. The agent, Peter Strzok, was also a key player in the investigation that cleared Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over her e-mail scandal and many question the dangers partisan politics plays within the Bureau.
Critics say the FBI has a dismal record of obeying the law and political, intelligence and criminal investigations shouldn’t be under one roof.
America needs a strong Federal law enforcement apparatuses to protect us from crime and terrorist as well as political shenanigans.
It’s time for lawmakers to overhaul the agency and change its culture.
Aftermath of Pittsburgh killings
Nov 2, 2018 --- Many believe hateful speech, political rhetoric and a growing divide between races, cultures and economic positions, along with President Donald Trump’s divisive arrogance and incivility, encourage fringe extremists to act. But we all share some responsibility — not over political tensions or opposing agendas, but gun proliferation.
Pro-Second Amendment and anti-gun groups must come to an agreement. No one has an absolute right to carry a gun, yet some choose to own a legal gun for limited use.
The solution is strictly enforcing “necessary need.” Ownership must correspond to a verified proof of purpose. Require background checks, safety classes and a 60-day cooling-off period before allowing possession. Weapons must be registered and ownership must be stamped on enhanced driver’s licenses. Independently review the need to maintain a weapon every two years. Limit handguns, rifles and shotguns by caliber, mechanism and magazine capacity for business, hunting or target shooting.
When will we get it right? Guns kill people.
Editor’s note: The writer is a retired NYPD detective.
Call to arms is irresponsible
BY NICHOLAS CASALE
New York, December 15, 2015 --- As America braces for a new wave of attacks from self-inspired, disenfranchised or radicalized extremists, Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum of Ulster County, in the quiet Hudson Valley, has gained attention by calling for citizens to carry legally registered firearms to deter mass shootings.
The 14 people killed and 21 wounded in San Bernardino were attaked by a husband-and-wife team who used legally purchased weapons. Christopher Harper-Mercer shot and killed eight fellow students and a teacher at Umpqua Community College in Oregon in October, using some of 14 weapons he purchased legally.
Handgun, rifle and shotgun ownership must be limited by caliber, mechanism and magazine capacity tailored for hunting and target shooting. Limits must be placed on how and when a firearm can be purchased and transported.
Background checks, verified proof of need, and a 30-day cooling-off period must be in place before taking possession. Weapons must be registered and ownership must be clearly stamped on enhanced driver’s licenses.
Equally important, New York needs to legislate mandatory penalties and strict sentencing guidelines for criminals caught illegally possessing or using firearms.
The deranged gun buff Adam Lanza, who killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders, three years ago today in Connecticut, should have been the catalyst for change. When will we get it right? Guns kill people.
New York Times
Firings of the FBI Agent Is Correct Action
By NICHOLAS CASALE
New York - August 15, 2018. The firing of Peter Strzok for trashing President Trump in text messages reveals a secret world of partisan politics, preferential treatment and tomfoolery within an agency that is supposed to be fearlessly independent.
The F.B.I. has had a dismal record of obeying the law when it comes to domestic spying and is too willing to get involved in political shenanigans.
More important, mixing intelligence gathering, espionage and counterterrorism with political corruption is inherently problematic.
Creating a permanent independent special prosecutor’s office staffed with lawyers and investigators recruited from state and local agencies without Beltway ties will lend transparency and integrity to investigations during these ethically difficult times.
Are campus police qualified — or necessary?
By Nicholas Casale
From crowd control to working with government law enforcement, from heavy weapons training to counter terrorism cooperation, the role of the campus cop has exploded: expanding in size, scope and power, while morphing more and more to look and act like a municipal police force.
A Cornell University police car.
At Yale University, campus police accosted New York Times social justice editor Charles Blow’s son at gunpoint, saying the third year African-American student fit the description of a burglary.
Critics say incidents like this are problematic because private universities don’t have to disclose information such as guideline on “use of force” or “stop and frisk.”
Most private police departments enjoy protections from Freedom of Information laws, unlike their municipal counterparts. A reporter for ESPN requested documents from Notre Dame’s campus police concerning 275 student-athletes. Notre Dame denied the request, claiming the police department is a private entity not subject to Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act, and a trial court agreed.
Critics say there is a growing divide between students of color and law enforcement on college campuses, too.
A University of Cincinnati police officer was charged with the murder of a black motorist he shot during a routine traffic stop. The city prosecutor called for the university police force to be disbanded, saying Cincinnati police officers are better trained to manage law enforcement issues on the campus.
Under special arrangements, campus police claim implied exclusivity — giving them jurisdiction over city cops on campus, which experts say is inherently conflicting.
Cornell University employs a private police force empowered as “special Tompkins County deputy sheriffs” to regulate traffic, protect property, prevent crimes according to the state Education Law, and enforce laws on campus with reduced peace officer powers according to the state Criminal Procedure Law. Absent police officer authority, these special officers cannot obtain or execute search or arrest warrants. Yet they conduct all felony crime investigation on campus with no public oversight.
After the terror attacks of Sept. 11, campus cops started teaming up with government intelligence agencies, and critics say this could become problematic if not carefully monitored. The FBI’s post-9/11 Campus Liaison Initiative has agents appearing at universities to gather intelligence, according to the agency website.
This new friendship between campus cops and the FBI may lead to university police monitoring speech, political discord and religious activities.
Experts point to Columbia, and New York University, with sprawling campuses throughout Manhattan. Each school uses unarmed security instead of armed police, letting the NYPD handle emergency calls and investigations.
Training campus security to better understand drug use and alcohol dependency, as well as suicide prevention, makes sense; so does reporting criminal intelligence and terrorist threats to municipal cops.
Having local police investigate felony crimes on campus makes the most sense.
Nicholas Casale is a retired New York City police detective and former director of counterterrorism for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
New York's Crooked Cops: Who Else is Involved?
BY NICHOLAS CASALE
New York, April 16, 2016 --- Every few years the New York Police Department is hit with another corruption scandal. And every few years’ lawmakers call for overhauling the force and changing its culture.
This scandal is different and will widen in scope as investigators delve into a web of “quid-pro-quo” relationships.
Experts’ say somewhere out of this mess will surface another Frank Serpico who will give clarity.
But more is needed, folding the City’s Department of Investigation, Business Integrity Commission, Civilian Complaint Review Board and Internal Affaires Division under an autonomous inspector general who reports, respectively, to City Hall and the Police Commissioner, as well as, the five Boro district attorneys and two Federal prosecutors makes sense.
The writer is a retired New York Police Department detective.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Chaotic crime scene in mass murderers San Bernardino apartment raises questions.
BY NICHOLAS CASALE, Guest Columnist
New York, Dec 4, 2015 --- The chaotic sight of reporters, photographers and TV cameramen scavenging about the apartment of San Bernardino mass murderers Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, raises many questions about who was is in charge of the crime scene.
The crime scene is the critical nucleus of raw undeveloped information that will unlock the code of who did it and how it was it done. But this crime scene has been totally compromised and no longer has any investigative value.
FBI spokeswoman Lourdes Arocho said the Redlands apartment was no longer an active crime scene.
Yet San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputy Olivia Bozek said, "As far as they told us, it's still an active investigation going on over there so I don't know why there's people in there."
Confusion like this is not helpful as America braces for a new wave of terrorist attacks.
After processing a crime scene, additional evidence may be developed, so it’s not unusual for investigators to have to return to the scene.
There was absolutely no reason why that crime scene should have been opened to the media. The crime scene should not only have been secured, it should have been guarded.
It is critical to maintain the integrity of a crime scene. Understanding the immensity of this crime is all the more reason why investigators and agents should have proceeded slowly and maintained the crime scene as long as possible.
The media serves a critical purpose in our society and a great need to be part of a developing story, but what we saw in San Bernardino was wrong. The FBI acted irresponsibly and so did the media.
Until everything is known about the motives of Farook and his wife, and any possible co-conspirators they may have had, until every question has been answered, that house should have remained secured.
Poughkeepsie Journal / USA Today
Oversight is needed to curtail abuse by clergy.
By Nicholas Casale
Hopewell Jct., May 8, 2018 --- The non-profit watchdog group BishopAccountability.Org said New York’s Archdiocese is one of the “most secretive” bishoprics in the nation when it comes to exposing sexual abuse by priest.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese called the statement “unreliable and scurrilous.”
Yet sexual abuse allegations involving clergy continue to make headlines and critics say the Archdiocese is often parochial and unwilling to reveal the identity of faithless priests fearing widespread clergy agitation, humiliation and exposure to hostile litigation.
Ecclesiastical misconduct, which doesn’t rise to criminality, is even more secretive and rarely defrocking or loss of the clerical state, commonly called laicization, for consensual sexual indiscretions or financial improprieties is made public.
The overwhelming majority of priests are faithful believers, love God, want to serve God, and want to serve the people of God with piety.
The solution against secretive prelate supremacy is greater secular control over the day-to-day management of church affairs, especially in matters of transparency and social empathy.
* July 28, 2018 --- "Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, facing sexual abuse reports, resigns" Cardinal McCarrick's sex abuse scandal, which was first reported in 2005, has turned into an ecclesiastic nightmare filled with hypocrisy, privilege and deceit as cardinals and bishops run for cover and Pope Francis ducks questions over lifting sanctions that banned the prelate from public ministry and Church business.
NEW YORK TIMES
M.T.A. Officers' Overtime
BY NICHOLAS CASALE
Re ''M.T.A. Spent $15 Million on Officers' Overtime'' (front page, Dec. 14):
Don't Blame The Cops
Don't blame Metropolitan Transportation Authority cops for doubling or even tripling their base salaries by scooping up bountiful overtime.
Blame the police chief for not professionally managing the force.
Enticing railroad cops to work 90 hours a week to increase their pay compromises response time and efficiency.
Office buildings, yards and parking lots ought to be guarded by private security, freeing cops to patrol trains and protect us from terrorists.
Unwritten policy of giving police the choice
BY NICHOLAS CASALE
New York, June 6, 2006 --- The Boston MTA poses problems with its unwritten policy of giving police the choice to let people take pictures on transit property as long as the people are not in "sensitive" areas.
The ACLU threatened to sue over limits to photographing the transit system.
Banning photography and videotaping from any publicly accessible area makes no sense and does little to enhance security.
Having cops leave high-profile security posts and counterterrorism patrols to enforce vague and ambiguous policies is a waste of precious police resources and may lead to selective enforcement and racial profiling.
But limiting picture taking in certain situations makes sense. Arenas and theaters discourage flash photography, which distracts performers and causes confusion, as do commercial photography and filmmaking in crowded areas.
Trespassing into "sensitive" areas, such as tunnels, yards, and garages, is already prohibited by law and that makes sense too.
But beefing up security and freeing cops to protect commuters makes the most sense.
M.T.A. needs tighter security
BY NICHOLAS CASALE
New York, January 8, 2005 --- Recent corruption scandals at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority may have far greater impact on rider security than ever thought possible. Beefing up security may not be enough to protect commuters from determined terrorists.
The MTA plans to spend $17 billion over the next five years refurbishing subway stations like the proposed Fulton Street Transit Center.
But ambitious construction projects like this require the authority to hire hundreds of engineers, electricians and plumbers - providing contractors with sensitive blueprints and access to restricted areas.
A plumbing contractor pleaded guilty to bribing high-ranking MTA officials and stealing $18 million by falsifying records. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said the plumber paid ex-cons and undocumented immigrants to work deep inside the agency's headquarters.
Counter-terrorism cops at the authority learned of a brazen electrician who inflated invoices pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars while renovating the MTA's secretive inspector general's office without detection.
Exposing corruption at the cash-strapped MTA reveals a world of mismanagement, favoritism and graft not normally seen by straphangers.
By mandating background checks like those required on defense and airline workers, MTA leaders will guarantee commuters extra security and transparency - and that's good for all New Yorkers.
Beacon police chief selection process needs review
This letter is in response to "City of Beacon, right moves on police chief issue,"
While it appears former Beacon City Council member Ali T. Muhammad supports the selection of Capt. Kevin Junjulas to be the next police chief of the trending Hudson Valley community, he raised concerns over the selection process.
Asking the designee to serve a provisional stint as acting chief, undergoing confirmation by the City Council then serving a probationary period during which he’ll be “under the microscope” before becoming permanent may be unnecessary.
Over amplifying redundant layers of control doesn’t guarantee success or transparency and makes the chief appear like a lap dog. Yet, too much autonomy isn’t fair to the administration.
Promoting officers like Capt. Junjulas, a respected career officer with a strong record of accomplishments, demonstrates civic pride and appreciation for past performance.
A stable and diverse middle-class community supported by a dedicated force has made Beacon an affordable and attractive alternative to larger and less heterogeneous communities.
Police overtime costs are justified to aid community
This letter is in response to the recent Poughkeepsie Journal article, (“Government jobs declining locally, across state”).
Don’t blame Beacon cops for scooping up bountiful overtime. Blame city officials for not keeping the force at 100 percent of budgeted manning levels and paying contractual overtime to cover minimum patrol strength.
Residents are sticking up for cops as Beacon emerges from decades of disquiet and malaise.
Positioned on the Hudson River by Interstate 84 and the bridge to Newburgh, the city is on the verge of being Manhattanized by tony urbanites moving north.
Declining crime has spurred a new contemporary art museum, galleries and fashionable restaurants along Main Street.
The improvements to Beacon are positive and appreciated by all Dutchess County residents. Redevelopment has brought new tax dollars and jobs as Beacon becomes safer, student performances improve and property values rise.
The broken windows model of the 1980s focused on eliminating fear and the belief neighborhoods weren’t safe. Crime leads to fear and fear makes business and tax dollars move away.
Keeping crime down is making the Hudson Valley one of the fastest growing communities in the state and that’s good for everyone.
Police overtime costs are well-spent and well-earned.
(The writer is a retired New York City police detective, former deputy director of counter terrorism for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and an ABC News on-air contributor.)
Let subway cops stay vigilant.
BY NICHOLAS CASALE
New York --- Commissioner Raymond Kelly should oppose Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Peter S. Kalikow's get-tough crackdown on straphangers walking between subway cars.
Critics of the plan say holding cops responsible for discretionary enforcement of quality- of-life summonses may lead to racial profiling and overzealous ticketing.
Taking cops off anticrime and counter-terrorism patrols to enforce minor violations depletes precious police resources and makes little sense.
Getting Kalikow to temper his whimsical ideas and concentrate on running a clean and efficient transportation agency makes the most sense.
A New York Cop Remembers 9/11, Worries About Another Attack
By NICHOLAS CASALE
New York, Sep 10, 2016 --- This week I returned to Ground Zero for the 15th Anniversary of 9/11.
Standing on the promenade I got the sense that Battery Park City had bounced back, with crowds of locals and tourists strolling along the Hudson River. Trendy restaurants were crowed with lunchtime patrons. Standing majestically in the brilliant sunlight was the Freedom Tower.
And yet I thought, can all of this be destroyed, too?
A lot has changed in 15 years and a new generation has come of age born after the attacks. Now police officers and security guards continue to patrol the area with high-powered weapons and bomb sniffing dogs. Buildings are still surrounded with concrete and steel bollards and NYPD cameras look over it all from street lamps.
The elite FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force made of special agents and NYPD detectives is hard at work following-up on the most insignificant tips. Someone somewhere is under surveillance. Smart cameras and computers are tracking vehicles and people at police headquarters. In a building near the Meat Packing District agents and detectives sit at computers searching data.
But despite all that's being done, I couldn’t shake the question: Could it happen again?
I thought back to Sept. 11, 2001. I was reading the morning paper in my apartment in downtown Manhattan, just across from the South Tower when I heard the first explosion. I looked out my window and saw a large trail of smoke and the tower engulfed in flames. I called police headquarters, but no one knew exactly what had happened yet, so I ran to my car, grabbing my police radio and windbreaker. Looking up I could see the devastation. People were leaping from the burning inferno on to the street below.
When the first tower collapsed, everything was in slow motion. It's hard to remember what happened next among the fire, smoke and rubble, but eventually some other officers and I learned ferries were helping to evacuate the injured.
Another officer, Lt. Timothy McGinn, and I commandeered a tug boat and did what we could, ferrying the injured across the Hudson River to Jersey City and bringing dozens of emergency personnel back the other way.
After that I went back to Manhattan to help at Ground Zero, working alongside countless others for hours to dig through the mountain of rubble searching for survivors.
New York lost more than 400 of her bravest emergency services personnel that day. The overall death toll was nearly 3,000 killed and 6,000 injured. We mourned our loses, praised our heroes and sent our soldiers, sailors, Marines and aircrews to take the fight to the enemy.
This week I thought back further as well, to another time the World Trade Center had been targeted by terrorists. It was 1993 and I was assigned to the police commissioner’s office when the call came that a bomb detonated in the parking garage below the North Tower.
West Street was filled with police cars, fire trucks and ambulances when I arrived. Police, fire and port authority bosses were barking orders and no one knew who was in charge. Power and telephone service was lost. Radio and television stations that depended on the rooftop antenna lost their broadcast single.
Then amidst the chaos then-police commissioner Raymond Kelly picked then-deputy chief Lou Anemone to take over police operations, and Anemone brought order to the scene. Police helicopters started airlifting survivors from the rooftop of the North Tower. The FDNY fought the fire and escorted thousands to safety. Later in the evening, Anemone, two emergency services cops and I descended into the garage and saw first hand the blast site. Six people were dead and 1,000 or more injured.
A small piece from a truck axle provided agents and detectives with the clue that led them to a Ryder rental store in Jersey City. In the end Ramzi Yousef and others were arrested and convicted. They had been working for al-Qaeda.
In the aftermath of both attacks on New York City, authorities issued recommendations designed to keep its people safer and the city, along with the rest of the nation, has made significant changes. But having found myself in the middle of the destruction immediately after both tragedies, I'm still worried it could happen again.
Today our security shield is based on three levels: intelligence, visible prevention and quick response. There are gaps that need to plugged: Communication can be better between police and emergency personnel in the case of a catastrophe. Power grids, freight yards, transit hubs lack smart cameras, sensors and other safety measures. Many promised upgrades have been repeatedly delayed and their costs have ballooned.
We've spent billions on security but the terrorist attacks abroad and the memory of 9/11 and 1993 have to be a recurring wake-up call. Homegrown extremists are plotting against the U.S. and we have to brace for new waves of attacks not only from abroad, but from self-inspired, disenfranchised or radicalized Americans.
More needs to be done to keep inmates, correction officers safe in prison facilities,
BY NICHOLAS CASALE
All too often we unreasonably critique correction officers' every action believing this will cure problems Americans refuse to come to grips with like, violence, sexual assaults, racism, drugs and corruption inside prisons, ("Convictions are just in brutal beating of local inmate: Editorial.") We ask a lot of young men and women recruited from our communities to boldly serve us and put their lives in harm's way. No one should die in custody, and correction officers should be held to a higher standard because so much more is expected of them.
Yet, for every person incarcerated there is a victim and few outside the walls want to peer inside and see the daily concerns facing inmates, officers and staff.
More needs to be done to segregate inmates with medical, psychiatric or drug dependence. Those sentenced for non-violent crimes should be placed in work camps or minimum-security facilities. Those showing remorse and repentance should be guided towards rehabilitation and parole in medium security institutions.
But those that are incorrigible, recidivist or receive a lengthy sentence must be placed in maximum-security penitentiaries where safety and security is first and foremost.
All inmates have the absolute right to fair and equitable treatment, and no one should be brutalized. Legislators need to understand the degrees of separation and pass appropriate laws increasing staffing and funding on-the-job training and educational opportunities for corrections officers, as well as, modernizing facilities making them safe and secure for all.
Centralize command of police forces
On Sept. 15,2017 a homemade bomb exploded on a London subway, injuring 30 people in Britain’s fifth major terrorism incident in six months [“UK subway terror,” News, Sept. 16].
Experts say transportation facilities are favorite targets of terrorists, and more needs to be done locally to centralize security efforts.
Chaos erupted at New York’s Penn Station in April when unfounded reports of a gunshot sparked a stampede. In fact, Amtrak police had used a Taser on a belligerent man. Metropolitan Transportation Authority cops, not knowing what Amtrak police were doing, watched in dismay as commuters scattered for safety.
Multiple police agencies operate as well at Grand Central Terminal and JFK and LaGuardia airports. This leads to duplication of services, mismanagement, poor communication and unnecessary bickering over counterterrorism dollars.
These various police agencies patrolling within the city should be under the operational command of the NYPD commissioner.
Editor’s note: The writer is a retired New York City police detective and a former deputy director of counterterrorism for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The New York Times
New York Post
“Sessions fires ex-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe days before retirement,”
New York, March 20, 2018 The firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe reveals a secret world of partisan politics; political shenanigans and preferential treatment at an agency that is suppose to be fearlessly independent.
Every few years, the FBI is hit with a political scandal. And every few years, lawmakers call for overhauling the force and changing its culture.
But critics say change can’t occur because an underground culture exists within the Bureau and the hierarchy is reluctant to expose inside-politics and political sensitivity fearing widespread agitation.
Americans need a strong and accountable investigative apparatuses to sort out the Hillary Clinton email investigation, Clinton Foundation payola, Russian probe, Comey’s firing and a lot of Trump stuff.
Taking politically inspired investigations away from the FBI and giving them to the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars, makes the most sense in these ethically confusing times.
Study needed to determine if part-time policing is needed.
Hopewell Jct., NY, Oct. 3, 2017 --- The Village of Wappingers Falls voted to disband its force of 27 part-time officers as a cost-saving measure. ("Wappingers Falls police to be disbanded, replaced by Sheriff's Office," Sept. 1). Many towns and villages depend on part-time cops to respond to crimes and make arrests. These officers face the same dangers on the job as their full-time counterparts, yet they are paid less and don’t receive taxpayer funded health benefits, pensions or sick pay, which in turn makes them a cheep alternative.
But experts say the debate over casual versus professional cops goes far beyond cost savings.
Part-time departments lack dedicated supervisors to manage training and integrity. Many part-timers work as officers in other jurisdictions, which may conflict departments over technique and jurisdictional responsibility.
Shortcomings like these unnecessarily expose municipalities to potential lawsuits, which are costly to defend and may result in huge plaintiff settlements.
Elected-officials need to decide if part-time policing is needed or even necessary.
New York Law Journal
Justice Can Be Elusive in Child Custody Case
By Nicholas Casale | January 07, 2019
Courts generally favor joint legal custody of minor children, giving both parents equal decision-making powers. But justice can be elusive in child custody trials and judges are not nearly as rational and predictable as many would like to believe.
Studies show several extra-legal factors can influence judicial decision-making, leaving the court vulnerable to mistakes.
Relying solely on evidence or testimony that’s wisely crafted so the relevancy can be open to misinterpretation or easily brushed-over is perilous.
A growing trend in matrimonial cases has independent expert witnesses like psychiatrist, lawyers and accountants playing a greater role by submitting comprehensive reports or testifying based on special knowledge or proficiency in a particular field that is significantly important to the case.
This extra tier of independent commentary helps the court understand the issues while lending transparency and integrity to the proceedings. So do non-expert witnesses, like a child’s teacher, neighbor or grandparent who can provide the court with invaluable insight into family life and interrelationships. The court must be open to all arguments that support good parenting and child welfare.
Critics of expert witnesses say they are the last resort and should only testify when it necessarily helps juries.
Even so, the more information the court has the better the chances for an impartial decision.
Nicholas Casale has been involved in child custody matters as an expert and consultant to law firms regarding police procedure, involuntary committal to a comprehensive psychiatric emergency hospital under the NYS Mental Hygiene Law and investigative procedures regarding domestic incident reports. The author is a retired New York City police detective and principal partner at Casale Associates.
NY Daily News
Coordinate transportation cops
By Nicholas Casale
Manhattan: Chaos erupted at Penn Station recently after unfounded reports of shots fired sparked a stampede. Not knowing Amtrak police had subdued a man with a stun gun, cops from other agencies watched in dismay.
Now politicians and experts are calling for change in the way police organizations interact when working at the same location. The problem is that a hodgepodge of independent agencies police transportation facilities. NYPD, state troopers, MTA police and Bridges and Tunnels security patrol the MTA’s bridges, and an even greater conglomeration of law enforcement agencies police airports. Duplication leads to a lack of coordination and wastes precious manpower, which in turn makes security efforts less effective as agencies compete for counterterrorism dollars.
Policing major transportation facilities needs to be a coordinated effort, similar to the way U.S. Homeland Security handles national political conventions, UN General Assembly meetings and the Super Bowl, coordinating law enforcement, police and National Guard participation under the Secret Service.
We have to brace for terrorist attacks, not only from abroad but also from disenfranchised or radicalized Americans. Gov. Cuomo should designate transportation facilities like Penn Station, airports, bus terminals, bridges and tunnels as New York Special Security Zones and appoint a security czar to oversee unified command and control.