A “re-engineering” proposal bankrolled by the wealthiest interests in New York City will likely push for the NYPD to hire hundreds of new cops for an already bloated police force under scrutiny for its brutal police practices.
New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, right, joined by H. Dale Hemmerdinger, Chairman of the Board, New York City Police Foundation, speaks at the Foundation’s State of the NYPD breakfast in New York, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015.
NEW YORK — The New York City Police Foundation, a private body funded by New York City’s largest finance, real estate, tourism and private prison interests, has bankrolled a proposal to overhaul the New York Police Department.
“They’d like to keep the status quo in place for their convenience,” Josmar Trujillo, a Coalition to End Broken Windows organizer, told MintPress News. “It’s sort of an investment for them, not unlike what we’ve seen in other government institutions.”
The “re-engineering” process, underwritten by the NYCPF, overseen by “shadowy” consultant John Linder and supported by Commissioner Bill Bratton, echoes a 1994 shakeup at the United States’ largest police department by the same three figures.
Changes introduced that year included the “broken windows” theory of policing — an enhanced focus on petty offenses criticized by demonstrators who have protested killings of black people by the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies in recent months.
“’Broken windows’ policing has been a major component of the criminalization, demonization and mass incarceration of Black and Latino people,” Travis Morales, a Stop Mass Incarceration Network NYC steering committee member, told MintPress.
“This New Jim Crow is the system’s strategy of suppression of millions of people for whom this system has no jobs, education or future,” Morales said. “Both Ramarley Graham and Eric Garner, killed by the NYPD, were victims of ‘broken windows.’”
The doctrine also spurred “vertical patrols” of apartment complexes, like the one during which Officer Peter Liang shot and killed Akai Gurley in Brooklyn’s Louis H. Pink Houses on Nov. 20.
Bratton acknowledged that Gurley, who was slain in a stairwell of his own building, had been “totally innocent.”
Bundled contributions from affluent donors
NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates November 14 signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing an information-sharing and law enforcement training partnership with the Abu Dhabi Police Department, November 14, 2013.
Like their New York namesake, these organizations often bundle contributions from affluent donors to support favored programs by local police departments.
While the NYCPF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has no legal obligation to disclose its contributors, a program released for its fundraising gala on May 6 listed many of the city’s largest banks, hospitality and travel industrialists, investment firms, and property developers and managers.
Noticeably absent from the document is the United Arab Emirates, which has never been listed as a donor in any of the NYCPF’s public materials. Yet a copy of the organization’s 2012 Schedule A, an Internal Revenue Service filing not available to the public, was obtained by the Intercept last month, showed the UAE’s embassy as a major supporter.
With a $1 million contribution, the UAE ranked behind only Barclays Capital, the Fields Family Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Starr Foundation, and Emigrant Savings Bank.
“Contradictory to the public interest”
The 2015 gala’s honoree, Larry Fink, co-founded and heads BlackRock, the world’s largest investment management company, which controls $4.65 trillion in assets.
Fink won notoriety in 2006 when he partnered BlackRock with real-estate firm and fellow NYCPF backer Tishman Speyer in an ill-fated $5.4 billion bid for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, a working-class development of 11,250 apartments in 56 residential buildings on Manhattan’s East Side.
Today BlackRock has major stakes in private prisons. As the seventh-biggest shareholder of the Corrections Corporation of America and the single largest of the GEO Group, it ranks among the top players in an industry the Washington Post called “the biggest lobby no one is talking about.”
Its interests in incarceration do not end at the shores of the U.S. Before selling shares in mid-April, BlackRock owned 5.02 percent of British company G4S, the world’s largest security firm notorious for its operations in Israeli prisons.
The firm also controls the fifth-largest stake in firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson.
Several community organizations wrote to the NYCPF, protesting its decisions to accept contributions from BlackRock and honor Fink, before demonstrating outside the gala on May 6.
“The firm’s significant investments in gun manufacturers and for-profit private prison corporations are contradictory to the public interest,” they said in an open letter dated May 5.
An array of programs
The NYCPF’s $5,202,440 in total revenues last year funded an array of programs.
The foundation’s IRS Form 990 shows that it paid $1,000,710 for the Intelligence Division’s International Liaison Program, which stations officers in eleven far-flung locales from Tel Aviv to Santo Domingo, and bought its participants $45,000 worth of airline tickets.
In 2012, the UAE’s $1,000,000 donation coincided with a NYCPF grant in the same amount to fund the overseas posts, including one in Abu Dhabi.
But the NYCPF denied any earmarking of the Emirati contribution. “The gift was an unrestricted gift to the General Fund,” a spokesperson told the Intercept. “No such donation funded the International Liaison Program.”
The Form 990 lists $160,000 for the Organized Crime Control Bureau’s Gun Stop Program, which rewards residents for surrendering firearms to the department, $82,817 to buy the Crime Stoppers Program a van, and $11,270 for fitness equipment.
It also shows the NYCPF paid $140,855 in Crime Stoppers awards and $34,442 for scholarships.
“Pre-emptively and voluntarily”
The organization reported direct expenses totaling $2,733,235 for “law enforcement,” $108,124 for “community understanding and support,” and $407,557 for “NYPD personnel development and well-being.”
In recent years it funded new infrastructure like a Real Time Crime Center, to manage departmental records and intelligence, and upgrades to information technology in precincts and patrol cars.
Among the various programs, one has since emerged as a policy proposal at the national level.
“Some people may have noticed that the funding for the body camera pilot program Bratton pre-emptively and voluntarily rolled out last year was provided by the Police Foundation,” Trujillo, of the Coalition to End Broken Windows, said.
Like Smith & Wesson, TASER International, better known for its eponymous electroshock weapons, is a major producer of body cameras. The two companies also have a large shareholder in common: BlackRock.
While BlackRock is TASER’s second-biggest shareholder, TASER donates significantly to the NYCPF in its own name as well.
“Our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai”
Since Bratton returned to the NYPD last year, the NYCPF has paid what investigative journalist and “NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country’s Greatest Police Force” author Leonard Levitt called “hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and expenses” for John Linder’s consulting services.
Just like back in 1994, Bratton hopes Linder, who he calls his “change-agent,” and teams of high-ranking officers produce a restructuring proposal that will push radical shifts in the department.
Some parts of the emerging plan have already drawn public scrutiny.
At a NYCPF event on Jan. 27, Bratton announced the creation of the Strategic Response Group, an anti-terrorist squad, armed with machine guns, which would also police demonstrations.
“It is designed for dealing with events like our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris,” he told stunned reporters.
“To more effectively be an occupying army”
New York, NY-April 29: New Yorkers protest the death of Baltimore, Maryland Police victim Freddie Gray in a show of solidarity in the Union Square section of New York City on April 29, 2015 in New York City.
As Linder’s proposal nears its conclusion prior to a June 30 budget deadline, it may bring to a head the hiring of new NYPD officers, as demanded by Bratton and supported by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, but opposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, as well as thousands of protesters.
“That’s what the police commissioner says will change Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mind,” Leavitt wrote.
“Bratton’s in for a rude awakening if he thinks these 1,000 cops are going to be a done deal for him,” Trujillo said. “We’re fighting him and Mark-Viverito up until the final day of budget negotiations.”
The 1,000 new officers Bratton and Mark-Viverito want would initially cost $100 million per year.
“More cops will mean more black and Latino people being harassed, brutalized and murdered by the NYPD,” Morales said. “We do not want more police because the role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people.”
He added that the outcome of a process funded by the NYCPF could be expected: “‘Re-engineering’ of the NYPD by the Police Foundation is double-talk. In reality it means capitalists taking a direct hand in reorganizing the NYPD to more effectively be an occupying army.”