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The Brian Lehrer Show

Forget the Constitution?; Stop & Frisk Case; Garbage Heroes

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ohio Senator Rob Portman has announced that he changed his mind and now supports gay marriage because his son is gay. We open the phone lines to hear about how personal empathy shapes public policy opinion. Then, the details of the Stop and Frisk federal trial and what to expect in the weeks ahead; a Constitutional scholar says we should neglect parts of that clunky founding document; anthropologist Robin Nagle digs into garbage collectors and makes the case that they do the city’s most essential job; and how do you share your family story about resilience?

The Brian Lehrer Show

Stop-and-Frisk Federal Trial Begins

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ian Weinstein, professor of law and associate dean for clinical and experiential programs at Fordham University, talks about the details of the Stop and Frisk case, what's at stake, and what we can expect to hear over the coming month during the trial.

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WNYC News

Arguments Begin in Case Challenging Stop and Frisk

Monday, March 18, 2013

WNYC

Opening statements took place Monday in the most comprehensive legal challenge to the city’s stop and frisk police to date. The federal class action civil suit said police overwhelmingly target blacks and Latinos, and that the practice is unconstitutional. The city on the other hand said stop and frisks have helped drive down crime to record lows.

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WNYC News

Officers in Kimani Gray Shooting Part of Growing Trend

Monday, March 18, 2013

The two NYPD officers involved in the shooting of 16-year-old Kimani Gray have been sued for civil rights violations, stemming from stop-and-frisk. The city settled those cases out of court, paying $215,000 in total. But that's a small fraction of how much the city pays out annually, which is on the rise according to reports and lawyers.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Brian Talks Stop and Frisk and Kimani Gray Shooting on Tell Me More

Monday, March 18, 2013

On Monday, Brian joined NPR's Tell Me More to discuss the Kimani Gray shooting and the larger context of policing and "stop and frisk" policies in New York. Shanduke McPhatter, the other guest, was on the Brian Lehrer Show last week as part of an East Flatbush community leader's forum.

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WNYC News

Federal Class Action Against NYPD Stops to Begin

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The city is facing the most comprehensive legal challenge to the NYPD's stop, question and frisk tactic starting Monday. A federal, class action suit will challenge the practice on the basis it is unconstitutional.

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WNYC News

Dozens of NYPD Misconduct Accusations Hit Statute of Limitations

Friday, March 15, 2013

Seventy-four cases of alleged NYPD misconduct will not be fully prosecuted because those cases have exceeded the 18-month statue of limitations in February.

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WNYC News

Mother of Slain Teen Calls for Justice, Mayor Defends NYPD

Thursday, March 14, 2013

WNYC

The mother of a 16-year-old boy shot and killed by police last weekend said her son was not part of a gang and never hurt anyone. 

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WNYC News

Community Leaders Blame 'Outside Groups' For East Flatbush Violence

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Community leaders in East Flatbush, Brooklyn say violence that has erupted over the past few days, following the killing of 16-year-old Kimani Gray, has been caused by people from outside the community.

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WNYC News

Flatbush Community Reels after Another Night of Violence

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dozens of tall burning candles, handmade posters and two wine bottles wrapped in red bandanas remain at a vigil in East Flatbush for a 16-year-old boy shot dead by police last Saturday. That corner on Church Avenue and 55th Street is where a Wednesday evening vigil turned violent, for the second time this week, resulting in 46 arrests.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Marina Abramović; Kimani Gray Fallout; Valle Verdict

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Performance artist Marina Abramović discusses her new project blending art and neuroscience called "Measuring the Magic of Mutual Gaze." During the interview, both her and Brian's brain waves will be recorded and explored in real-time. Plus: Council Member Jumaane Williams on the vigil in response to the shooting of Kimani Gray; what the Gilberto Valle trial tells us about "thought crime;" and bioethicist Nita Farahany continues a series on medical ethics.

WNYC News

Residents Say Simmering Tensions Led to Violence After Vigil

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the violence that erupted last night after a vigil for a teen shot by police was a one-time incident — but residents say it was fueled by long-simmering tensions between the police and the community.

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WNYC News

NYPD Officer Convicted in Cannibal-Plot Case

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A New York City police officer accused of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women has been convicted of conspiracy.

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Transportation Nation

After Spate of Traffic Deaths, NYPD Surfaces Long Sought Reforms

Monday, March 11, 2013

(Photo CC by Flickr user swruler9284)

It has been a grisly few weeks for traffic safety in New York City. At the end of last month, a six-year old boy was run over by a truck in Harlem on his walk to school. Days later, a young couple in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was killed in the back seat of a taxi cab destroyed by a speeding ex-con. And today, a car jumped the curb in Long Island City Queens, hitting five pedestrians, and killing a teenager.

It's an apt time to announce a plan, apparently long in the works, to reform how the NYPD handles traffic crashes. The changes were outlined in a letter to the City Council dated March 4th, a day after six-year old Amar Diarrassouba was buried, and while Julio Acevedo was still on loose, wanted for the hit and run that killed Raizy and Nathan Glauber and their child-to-be in Williamsburg.

The roots of the new NYPD policies date back at least a year, to the last time traffic safety was top news in the tabloids. Last February the City Council held a hearing on traffic safety in which NYPD brass were grilled for several hours on all manner of policy, procedures and statistics. Grieving parents slung angry accusations at the Department for failing to adequately investigate their childrens' deaths. 

So a year later, just as a second swelling of grief and anger was taking shape in the form of petitions circulating and reporters renewing requests for safety data, the NYPD sent a letter to to City Council Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca that outlines a considerable expansion of police resources toward traffic safety, just about exactly what advocates had called for a year ago, and were likely to demand afresh.

The NYPD will expand the number of traffic cases it will closely examine, add new officers for enforcement and prevention of crashes, and implement new and additional training for officers who conduct collision investigations.

"Any of these on their own would have been a huge step forward for road safety," said Juan Martinez of Transportation Alternatives, one of the most vocal groups calling for the changes. "Taken together, it's a banner day."

In a symbolic move, the Department will also change the name of the unit that investigates traffic crashes from the Accident Investigation Squad to the Collision Investigation Squad, because, "in the past the term "accident" has given the inaccurate impression or connotation that there is no fault or liability," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly wrote in the letter.

The NYPD has consistently been criticized for not treating traffic collisions seriously enough in the eyes of safety advocates and family members of victims of crashes. About 250 people die in traffic crashes each year in New York City, almost as many as killed by guns. In most cases of traffic deaths, there is no criminality because of how traffic law is written. Enhanced investigations are often cited as necessary for establishing criminality or more frequently, essential for evidence for civil lawsuits brought by victims.

In the letter, dated March 4th, Kelly outlines the changes to the NYPD traffic crimes policies, many of them already quietly implemented. The most dramatic is a shift in which collisions will be closely investigated by the Accident Investigation Squad's specially trained detectives.

As we reported, before the new policies, the AIS had just 19 investigators and responded only to crashes where someone was killed or was deemed "likely to die" by a medical professional. That meant that many crashes resulting in serious non-fatal injury, such as the loss of a limb, were not handled by AIS, instead by local precincts who perform less rigorous investigations. The policy also meant that cases that resulted in deaths were sometimes not investigated immediately because the victim was not deemed "likely to die" at the scene. That's what happened in the cases of Clara Heyworth and Stefanos Tsigrimanis, neither of which resulted in criminal charges.

Tsigrimanis, a 29 year old musician, was struck while riding his bike. He sustained a severe head injury and was in a coma later that day, but was not deemed likely to die in the emergency room, so local precinct officers investigated, not the AIS who are specially-trained  in gathering evidence from a traffic crash crime scene -- such as how to reconstruct an accident based on skid marks or from the locations of vehicle debris. Tsigrimanis died three days after the crash, but no photos were taken of the scene under the less rigorous investigation, and by the time AIS did respond, after Tsigrimanis' death, it was too late to collect some evidence. No charges were filed against the driver.

That type of case will now get full AIS attention from the start under the new policies. Police will send the AIS (soon to be renamed the Collision Investigation Squad) to cases  where "an individual involved in a collision has sustained a critical injury" that "will be defined as a patient either receiving CPR, in respiratory arrest, or requiring or receiving life sustaining ventilator or circulatory support," according to the letter.

The patrol guide has already been "substantially revised" to reflect these changes, and to better guide officers who first arrive at a crash scene when to call notify AIS to come to investigate.

"Too many traffic collisions have been overlooked because the City hasn't collected the data it needs to hold people accountable and to intervene to prevent future crashes," said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn who added, the NYPD is implementing reforms that "will keep our streets safer."

It is not clear exactly how many additional collisions this new policy will encompass or the additional workload it will mean for the AIS. NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

According to the the New York DMV there were 252 fatal crashes in NYC in 2011, the latest year on record. There were 2,942 "serious" injury crashes, which could be as minor as a broken limb. The new NYPD policy is more likely to mean hundreds of additional crashes will be closely investigated, not thousands more.

To handle the additional workload, the NYPD has already made staffing changes and is "in the process of increasing both the overall uniformed headcount of the Highway District as well as the number of investigators assigned to AIS," according to the letter.

Commissioner Kelly noted this policy change is only possible because the number of fatal crashes has decreased considerably over the past decade.

"I am pleased that the NYPD is taking this first step towards tackling the serious issue of traffic crashes," Council member Brad Lander said in a statement. Lander was the lead sponsor of the Crash Investigation Reform Act of 2012 that called for changes of this type of change. That bill called for a task force on traffic safety.

 

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WNYC News

NYC Cops Fatally Shoot Teen Who They Say was Armed

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Two police officers in New York City fatally shot a teenage boy who they said pointed a gun at them after they approached him on a Brooklyn street, authorities said.

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WNYC News

Arrest Made in Crash that Killed Expectant Parents

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

A man suspected of fleeing the scene of a grisly crash in New York City that killed a pregnant woman and her husband was arrested at a convenience store in northeastern Pennsylvania on Wednesday after a friend arranged his surrender with New York authorities.

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WNYC News

Juvenile Task Force Requires Personal Touch from Police

Monday, March 04, 2013

The NYPD is trying a unique approach aimed to cut down on the number of juvenile offenders in the city by targeting those most as risk.

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WNYC News

Crossing Guard 'Wasn't There' When Boy, 6, Killed by Truck

Friday, March 01, 2013

A 6-year-old boy walking to school was killed by a tractor-trailer at a Harlem intersection without a crossing guard.

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WNYC News

Gunman in Officer's Death Sentenced to 45 Years to Life

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A man convicted of firing the shot in a botched robbery that killed a New York City police officer was sentenced Thursday to 45 years to life in prison. "When our father died, a part of us died, too," 15-year-old Corinne Figowski said.

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WNYC News

'Cannibal Cop' Trial Highlights Line Between Fantasy and Crime

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

WNYC

A 28-year-old New York City police officer is on trial this week on charges he conspired to kidnap, kill and eat women. Attorneys for the so-called "Cannibal Cop" say Gilberto Valle's online musings were simply fantasies, but federal prosecutors say his actions represented a real danger.

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