City Cops in the Crosshairs With Cuomo Crony Warshaw Aiming
Seeks Extension of Lucrative Consent Order with City
By Mike Hudson
Recommendations made by Warshaw & Associates to the New York State Attorney General's Office regarding the performance of the Niagara Falls Police Department are in violation of police union contracts, the City Charter and various sections of the Civil Service code, numerous sources confirmed this week.
At the same time, company honcho Robert Warshaw and his associates are billing the city at the rate of $200 an hour, and Niagara Falls taxpayers have thus far ponied up more than $203,000 over the past two years on a contract entered into by Mayor Paul Dyster, who said at the time, would cost just $57,000.
Dyster sold city cops down the river when he entered into a consent order with the state based on 30 citizen complaints against the police - which have yet to be made public - alleging that officers in the department are biased against black people.
One source who has seen the complaints told the Niagara Falls Reporter that they run the gamut from use of unnecessary force to one where a woman complained that the children of a neighbor who happens to be a police officer have repeatedly kicked a football into her yard.
Many of the excessive force complaints, police sources said, came from habitual criminals who claimed the police were too rough and abusive on them.
Police officers were unaware that Dyster had entered into the consent decree until the matter came up for approval by the City Council in November 2010, after Andrew Cuomo had been elected governor, but while he was still serving as the state's Attorney General.
Warshaw has close political ties with the Cuomo administration. He served as the Rochester chief of police until 1998, when he was appointed associate director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Warshaw's deputy chief, Robert Duffy, then became police chief and later mayor of Rochester, publicly referring to Warshaw as "my dear friend."
Cuomo then selected Duffy to be his gubernatorial running mate, and within days of their Election Day victory, the lieutenant governor's "dear friend" received a lucrative no-bid contract in Niagara Falls.
Pretty sweet deal.
The consent order is set to expire in November, and Warshaw is already lobbying hard in Albany to see it extended, something no Niagara Falls police officer wants to see.
Cops who had an opportunity to review the work of Warshaw and his associates say the company is clearly intent on maximizing the time it takes to get anything done, which means that progress has been slow.
They are now in the process of developing written discipline policies, complaint intake policy and an early warning policy that will serve to identify officers with the potential for problematic behavior before they have had a chance to act out.
The written policies are from two to 15 pages each and most of them are policies that have already been adopted and formalized in writing by other politically correct police agencies.
"We send them (to Warshaw) and they send them back with lots of bullshit revisions," one high-ranking police official said. "It's something that could be hammered out in three hours."
One of the major problems being encountered is that the policies Warshaw wants to force on the NFPD are in violation of the police brass and rank and file union contracts, Civil Service law and the City Charter.
For example, Warshaw is seeking to institute a policy whereby a complaint can be lodged against an individual officer anonymously and investigated by a panel appointed by Albany, which would have the power to discipline the officer.
The current police contracts state that any and all civilian complaints against officers must be written and signed by the complainant.
Warshaw is also seeking to institute unpaid, 60-day suspensions for officers when Civil Service law states that police officers can be suspended without pay for no more than 30 days.
"The policies they're seeking to create are, in themselves, illegal," the police official said.
With all of this back and forth costing Niagara Falls taxpayers $200 an hour, Dyster's disdain for law enforcement is becoming very costly.
Under a consent order, the accused party does not admit any wrongdoing, but consents to make reforms that will address the alleged violations.
Although not officially admitting wrongdoing by his statements, Dyster publically suggested the allegations were true when he expressed his "willingness to cooperate" in order to "reform the [police to] prevent and remedy excessive force and race discrimination."
While the city police never admitted to anything remotely approaching race discrimination, with his public statement Dyster admitted it for them.
Dyster agreed to also accept the recommendation of Cuomo to appoint Warshaw, despite the fact that Warshaw was more expensive than other police monitoring companies. There were, in fact, plenty of lower priced firms available, some with one man operations, that charge as little as $75 per hour.But none of those firms were headed up by the lieutenant governor's former boss.
After billing the city $165,000 last year, Warshaw has sent invoices for $38,150 so far this year, according to City Hall records obtained by the Niagara Falls Reporter under Freedom of Information Law requests.
Warshaw has no interest in seeing his gravy train coming to the end of the line in November, and his ties to the Cuomo administration could see the consent order extended by another three years.
In the meantime, morale among the men and women who serve as Niagara Falls' finest is falling, and their ability to do their jobs has been compromised.
"It's hard to know what to do when an anonymous complaint to Albany can end your career," one longtime street cop said. "None of the complaints made to the attorney general's office were even investigated to find out whether or not they were true."
To Dyster, Cuomo, Duffy and especially Warshaw, it doesn't matter if they were true or not. Cronyism and corruption are rampant in Albany, just as they are in Niagara Falls and everywhere else in New York state.
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||
Mar05 , 2013