Point of View: Position Papers

Louima Cops? Convictions Reversed
March 1, 2002

?It is time for the civil rights community to get tough on this Mayor, and Police Commissioner, and on State elected officials, in order to bring about reforms in policing and effective prosecution of bad cops,? said Michael Meyers, Executive Director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, in a statement released today, in response to a federal appellate court?s reversal of the convictions of three cops charged with federal crimes in connection with the police torture of Abner Louima. ?And we must demand a special State Prosecutor whose specific responsibility is to prosecute bad cops,? Meyers? statement added.

?Some of our leaders have been so busy cozying up to the new Mayor [Michael Bloomberg], and praising Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for his public relations outreach to minorities, that they have lost sight of their agenda as civil rights leaders?that is, to insist on demonstrable evidence of effective police training, the weeding out of bad apples in NYPD, breaking through the Blue Wall of Silence and Cover Up within NYPD, and getting effective local prosecutions of bad cops, including those cops in the 70th Precinct who were blind, deaf, and dumb to the torturing of Abner Louima,? continued Meyers. He emphasized the need for ?revamped training and psychological testing, and the supervision of cops?in order to break down the Blue Wall of Silence and Cover Up that is erected within NYPD every time a cop is accused of a crime.?

?What we need is leadership at the top,? explained Meyers, who served on Mayor Giuliani?s Task Force on Police-Community Relations, formed in the aftermath of Abner Louima?s torture. ?I met with Police Commissioner Kelly and he didn?t even know about the Task Force Reports?either the majority or the minority report. If he didn?t know about them, he didn?t read them.? Mayor Giuliani?s Task Force documented problems associated with police culture and academy training that contributed to deteriorating police-community relations. Meyers said that ?so quickly those two reports have been shelved,? and that ?there?s no way of telling how many and which of the Task Force?s recommendations have been implemented.?

The Civil Rights Coalition?s head also blasted Police Commissioner Kelly?s ?do-nothingness,? saying, ?Commissioner Kelly must devise serious strategies of command and of supervision, so that cops will start to squeal on cops who engage in acts of misconduct. And, we also need, at long last, a State Special Prosecutor?an office of highly trained, skillful attorneys who will specially prosecute local criminal cases against cops accused of crimes.

?What we do not need is more grandstanding, fake civil disobedience, or street theatre on the part of activists for the sake of calling attention to their outrage,? Meyers? statement continued. ?Instead, protests should be taken to the doorstep of the Governor and the elected officials in Albany, to bring pressure to bear on Governor Pataki and the State Legislature to create and fund a permanent State Office of Special Prosecutor, that will take the prosecutions of bad cops out of the hands of conflicted local D.A.s?and render unnecessary going to the Feds to try cases on civil rights violations grounds.?