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Whistleblowing New York City Police Officer Involuntarily Committed as "Disturbed"

Whistleblowing New York City Police Officer Involuntarily Committed as “Disturbed”

 

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The adage from the movie was simple: “Just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean I don’t have enemies.” But in the case of a New York City police officer, it’s  not a movie…though there are hundreds of hours of tapes to document his claims.

The title of the performance is too long for New York tabloids…”Crusading Kook Cop Kicked off Force.” Much heralded as the world’s most successful police force, New Yorkers have always been proud of their police…and the esprit d’corps that tends to inhibit whistle blowing.. Now, a suspended New York police officer, Adrian Schoolcraft, is raising troubling questions about jut how successful New York police are. Schoolcraft maintains the police have been distorting crime statistics, to show themselves in a better light.

In response, police officials, usually off the record, have described Schoolcraft as something distinctly other than an honorable whistle blower or public servant. Instead, a Halloween visit by a handful of tactical police ended with Schoolcraft being taken into involuntary commitment….an experience Schoolcraft has called part of a police state…and frightening.

A visit to the former police officer’s web site ( www.schoolcraftjustice.com), however, raises questions about the sanity of the New York police force, based on a late night apprehension and involuntary psychiatric commitment, which ended with harangues against Schoolcraft’s loyalties: “All right just take him,” the officer says, in ordering Schoolcraft into custody. “I can’t fucking stand him anymore.”

Schoolcraft’s predicament is emblematic of whistleblower problems in every chain of command setting. Of course, not every whistleblower can be arrested. To this day, police captains disdain the work of Frank Serpico…the most high profile New York police whistleblower in City history. The police maintain Schoolcraft’s allegations are spurious, and that Schoolcraft failed to “assist” in the investigation. Let unanswered is whether the allegations really need Schoolcraft’s input. After all, the policies Schoolcraft is questioning would be witnessed by the people Schoolcraft works for

There is evidence Schoolcraft’s whistleblower complaints are neither local nor laughable. In neighboring Connecticut, the state legislature is expressing “shock” that the state police is harassing potential whistleblowers. The state attorney general was recently criticized for protecting a corrupt police culture. At least one state legislator (Rep. James A. Rourke) in that state is calling for a separate department, equal in investigative power to the AG, to police whistle blowing.

Similarly, Schoolcraft’s biography is also a playbook in whistle blowing. He seems to show a classic whistleblower personality; a personality that follows the rules, often to perfection, emphasizes excellence in his role, and attempts to reconcile conflicts personally. For Schoolcraft, his emotional problems and physical ailments may be inseparable from his need to be a whistleblower (For a major study of whistle blowing’s health costs http://www.bmartin.cc/dissent/documents/Lennane93.pdf).

To a precinct Captain, commenting on Schoolcraft, there’s a simpler description of whistleblowers: “Rats.” Schoolcraft, who has been pleading for other officers to come forward, has no regrets about  abandoning ship. So far, no other officer else seems to be following him.

Nor is it clear that unions are always willing to protect their whistle blowing members. A prominent case in Washington, D.C., had the police union membership divided on loyalties…to the department, or to their whistle blowing colleague At the heart of the matter was the availability of private security employment for police officers…correctly reported by the whistleblower as illegal. While the jury agreed, the suit was attacked as “bogus” and a “waste of union members’  dues” by City Attorney General Peter Nickles.

The New York media has lent an occasionally sympathetic ear to the possibility of Schoolcraft’s core complaints of police deceiving the public. Associated Press, which first received the “hundreds of hours” of secret tapes,downplayed Schoolcraft’s own emotional problems…and emphasized the often rough and abusive tone and talk of New York’s finest. MSNBC, for its part, interviewed faculty from the respected criminology program at New York’s own John Jay University. The suggestion is that police are feeling pressured to maintain an aura of invincibility and success.

Left to his own devices, Schoolcraft has filed a $50 million lawsuit against his former employers. No matter what perspective predominates at the end of the process, Schoolcraft’s last lesson will either be a warning to other cops, or add new dimension and depth to Protect and Serve: whistleblowers amongst New York’s finest may be literally outside of the law.

Sources:

“Did NYPD Have Whistleblower committed?”http://www.onenewspage.com/news/Front+Page/20101010/15849963/Did-NYPD-have-whistleblower-committed.htm
http://www.bmartin.cc/dissent/documents/Lennane93.pdf
www.schoolcraftjustice.com

 

 
 
 

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