Bed-Stuy Councilwoman Calls for Investigation and Public Protest in the Wake of the Voice's 'NYPD Tapes' Series
City Councilwoman Darlene Mealy is calling for an investigation into orders given by 81st Precinct supervisors that may have led to civil rights violations, and said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly needs to do something about the issues raised in The Village Voice's "NYPD Tapes" series. (Part 2 of the series is here.)
Mealy, who represents parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, also told the Voice that she plans to hold a town hall meeting on the subject, and wants bring pressure on the NYPD to make precinct commanders more accountable to the community. She also commended the Voice for "being relentless on this. This is something that needs to be heard."
"I will pick up this banner," she says.
The comments that sparked her strong reaction in the "NYPD Tapes" series involved instances where supervisors ordered cops to make arrests and do stop-and-frisks that appear to have ignored the probable cause and reasonable suspicion standards.
"We have to now start protecting our constituents," she says. "Something has to be done. This is a disservice to our community. And it's up to the commissioner to do something. If we keep seeing the same things, we have to try something new or move some people out. That behavior cannot be tolerated anymore."
She said she tried to get help for Rhonda Scott, the women the Voice spotlighted who suffered two broken wrists when she was arrested for not having her ID a few feet from her home.
"Nothing came of it," she says. "The police didn't say anything. They didn't care. There's something terribly wrong about that."
As for the sharp increase in stop-and-frisks in the precinct, Mealy was equally outraged. "Average people, their constitutional rights are being trampled on," she says. "I feel it's going to take the community to say enough is enough. It's time to say 'time out.' This is America. No one's civil rights or constitutional rights should be violated. That's what's happening."
Mealy told the Voice that she visited the 81st Precinct three weeks ago to find out some information about an arrest. But not only did she not get the information, none of the desk officers would speak with her or identify themselves.
"No one talked to me, and I'm an elected official," she says. "Imagine what they do to my constituents. I just wanted to know why they were arrested and how, and what was the cause."
On another occasion, she says, she walked into the precinct with a number of senior citizens to speak with the police about an arrest in which a young man had been injured. "I was told to get the F out," she says. "I told them this is our house. We pay for it with our taxes. We don't have to go anywhere. Just by that day I know something is wrong with system."
On a third occasion, she says she complained to officers who were handing out tickets to people who were double-parking during a street-cleaning period. New Yorkers routinely double-park while the street-cleaning rule is in effect on a given block, and elsewhere police don't give tickets for it.
"On the summons quota, I had a problem just recently," she says. "A police came and gave everyone double-parking tickets. But if you don't do that in every part of the city, you can't do it here. You're taxing people $150, and that's an extra burden on people's lives."