Tag Archive: health insurance for everyone


Barbara Bush Passes Away

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Former first lady Barbara Bush has died at her home in Houston, Texas at the age of 92 at. She is one of only two women in U.S. history to be both the wife of a U.S. president and the mother of another.  The mother of six children — one of whom, a daughter, Robin, died as a child from leukemia, stood by her husband George H.W. Bush’s side during his nearly 30 year political career has he rose to become vice president and president.

Known as the “enforcer” in her family — the glue who kept the high-powered clan together, she adopted literacy as a cause, raising awareness and eventually launching the nonprofit Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. After George H.W. Bush’s presidency, he and Barbara raised more than $1 billion for literacy and cancer charities.  “I chose literacy because I honestly believe that if more people could read, write, and comprehend, we would be that much closer to solving so many of the problems that plague our nation and our society,” she said.

She had been admired by many for her trademark bluntness, her championing of literacy efforts and her embrace of HIV-positive babies in the late 1980s, when ignorance about the disease was rampant.  Grief over her daughter Robin’s death from leukemia allowed her to comfort others who were afflicted and made it easy for her to relate to the underdog.

Bush battled health problems for most of her later years of life. In 1988, she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that commonly affects the thyroid. In 2008, she underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer and in 2009 she had open-heart surgery.  In her final years, she was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as well as congestive heart failure.   Despite these health setbacks, she and her husband kept an active public schedule, raising money for charity.

In April 2018, her family released a statement regarding her failing health, stating that she had chosen to be at home with family-desiring “comfort care” rather than further treatment.  According to family spokesman Jim McGrath, her decision came as a result of “a series of recent hospitalizations.”  Funeral services will be held April 21st at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston.

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One person was killed and seven others sustained minor injuries on a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas when an engine exploded in midair.  The explosion occurred about 20 minutes into the flight, shattering a window that passengers said partially sucked a woman out of the aircraft.  The Southwest plane, a two-engine Boeing 737, made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport at about 11:20 a.m.  Flight 1380 was on its way from La Guardia Airport in New York to Dallas Love Field with 144 passengers and five Southwest employees on board.

It quickly lost altitude after the explosion and violently depressurized after shrapnel from the explosion burst through the window.  Passengers said the window burst and the woman, identified as 43 year old Jennifer Riordan, was partially sucked out of the 10-by-14-inch window head first.  Firefighter Andrew Needum, of Celina, Texas, said he heard a “loud pop” moments after flight attendants had begun to take drink orders. Needum, seated next to his father and son, turned back to see that oxygen masks had deployed in the cabin and there was a commotion a few rows behind him.  When he rushed to row 14, passenger Tim McGinty was trying to pull Riordan back inside the plane. Needum helped McGinty pull Riordan back inside the plane but she was unconscious and seriously injured.

Passenger Peggy Phillips, a retired nurse and an emergency medical technician onboard laid the woman down and immediately began administering CPR, while the pilot urged everyone to brace for an emergency landing.  They continued CPR for the entire 20 minutes until the plane landed safely and airports EMT’s took over.  Philadelphia Department of Public Health spokesman James Garrow said Jennifer Riordan, a mother of two and Wells Fargo executive from Albuquerque, died of blunt force trauma to her head, neck and torso and that her death was listed as an accident.

For that terrifying 20 minutes, passengers and flight crew unsuccessfully tried to plug the hole with luggage and clothing, which was just sucked out of the broken window.  Finally, another brave passenger stood in front of the broken window with his lower back covering the hole to help maintain cabin pressure.  Other terrified passengers spent those minutes thinking they were their last.  Many were scrambling for phones and other electronic devices to record their final goodbyes or purchase wifi to contact loved ones.

Southwest captain Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the U.S. Navy, on her final approach to an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport calmly described conditions on the craft to the air traffic controller:

“Southwest 1380, we’re single engine,” said Shults,. “We have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.” She asked for medical personnel to meet the aircraft on the runway. “We’ve got injured passengers.”

“Injured passengers, okay, and is your airplane physically on fire?” asked the air traffic controller.

“No, it’s not on fire, but part of it’s missing,” Shults said, pausing for a moment. “They said there’s a hole, and, uh, someone went out.”

The National Transportation Safety Board has said the principal culprit of the explosion was a fracture — most likely because of metal fatigue — of one of the 24 fan blades in the engine. When that blade broke away at the fan’s hub, it carried with it parts of the engine cowling and related engine parts.

 

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The wave of teacher protests in recent weeks has shown no signs of slowing down.  School districts in Oklahoma and Kentucky were forced to close due to statewide teacher sickouts.  Thousands of Oklahoma and Kentucky teachers rallied Monday at their state capitals, demanding more education funding for students.  Many say they’ll keep fighting until lawmakers meet their demands.

The state of Oklahoma has the lowest average teacher salaries in the US with many teachers saying they have not received a pay raise in 10 years.  Many say that the lack of funding and low wages keep new teachers out of their districts which have seen classroom sizes swell to 40 kids because of teacher shortages.

The Oklahoma teachers union wants $10,000 raises for teachers, $5,000 raises for support staff such as janitors and cafeteria workers and $200 million in education funding.  Ultimately, the governor signed legislation last week granting teachers’ pay raises of about $6,100, raises of $1,250 for support staff and $50 million in education funding.  The state’s two largest school districts, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, announced that schools would be closed Monday as the strike enters its second week.

In an effort to produce for state revenue so more can be allocated to education funding, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), working in collaboration with lawmakers, is seeking to end the strike by Tuesday following Friday’s passage of a revenue and tax bill that is expected to raise $20 million from an internet sales tax and $24 million from the legalization of “ball and dice” gambling in the state.  The union praised the senate’s action on Friday and called for two additional measures of removing capital gains exemptions, saying that this would add an additional $100 million in revenue, and for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to veto the repeal of a tax on guests at hotels and motels—another regressive measure.

Meanwhile, more than 30 Kentucky school districts had schools close after massive teacher call outs.   Educators were furious after the state Legislature approved changes to their pension the day before.  Kentucky teachers have opposed changes to their pension, which was in Senate Bill 1 that proposed reducing benefits.  But in a surprise move, elements of Senate Bill 1 were tucked into another bill, Senate Bill 151, which had been about sewage services.  The nearly 300-page Senate Bill 151 passed both the state House and Senate on Thursday.

The Kentucky Education Association, which represents teachers and other education professionals, slammed the maneuver as a “classic legislative bait and switch.”  “It stripped all the ‘local provision of wastewater services’ language out of SB151 and replaced it with many of the harmful provisions of SB1,” the association stated.

Under the new pension bill, new hires will have to use a hybrid cash balance plan, rather than a traditional pension, which will drive new teachers to leave the state.  Other elements of the bill include limiting the number of sick days teachers can put toward their retirement and no changes to the annual cost of living adjustments, which will remain 1.5%.

Gov. Matt Bevin supports reforming the system and says it’s critical to fix the pension crisis, which ranks as one of the worst in the US. He said a wider demonstration like a teacher strike would be “illegal.”  “I would not advise that,” Bevin said during a Capitol news conference. “I really wouldn’t. I think that would be a mistake.”  In Kentucky, public employees are prohibited from striking.

 

 

 

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On the evening of March 18, 2018, 23-year old Stephon Clark was shot and killed in his grandmother’s backyard where he lived, by two officers of the Sacramento Police Department.  When the officers confronted Clark, they were looking for a suspect who, according to the 911 call, was breaking car windows in the Meadowview neighborhood and was running through backyards.

Footage of the shooting, which was captured by the two officers’ body cameras and a police helicopter-was released to the public three days after the shooting.  It shows the two officers pursuing a man who hopped a fence into the grandmother’s property.  The body camera videos show the brief encounter between police and Clark, lasting less than a minute, from the moment one of the officers yelled: “Hey, show me your hands. Stop. Stop.”

Police said the officers entered the front yard and saw the suspect along the side of the home. The man “turned and advanced toward the officers while holding an object” extended in front of him, according to the police account.  “Show me your hands!” one of the officers yelled. “Gun, gun, gun.”  Seconds later, officers opened fire as they took cover near a wall.  The officers fired 20 shots, hitting Clark multiple times but no weapon was found, only a cell phone.  Police said they found at least three vehicles with damage they believe Clark caused, as well as an adjacent residence with a shattered sliding glass door. Deputies in the helicopter witnessed him shatter the door, police said.

The two officers have been placed on paid administrative leave amid a use of force investigation.  The shooting has sparked protests on the streets of Sacramento.  The family of Stephon Clark is demanding criminal charges for the Sacramento police officers responsible for the fatal shooting.  Stephon Clark’s grandmother, Sequita Thompson, spoke at a news conference “My grandson was 23 years old. And then, now my great-grandbabies don’t have their daddy, because they didn’t even stop. Why didn’t you just shoot him in the arm, shoot him in the leg, send the dogs, send a taser? Why? Why? You all didn’t have to do that. You all didn’t have to—over a cellphone. I just want justice for my grandson, for my daughter, my poor babies. They’re in so much pain. She’s in pain, and the brothers. He’s got two brothers. Justice. I want justice for my baby! I want justice for Stephon Clark! Please, give us justice!”

An independent autopsy — commissioned Clark’s family and conducted by Dr. Bennet Omalu, a private medical examiner — showed that Clark was shot eight times.  He was shot three times in his lower back, twice near his right shoulder, once in his neck and once under an armpit. He was also shot in the leg. The neck wound was from the side, the doctor found, and he said that while the shot to the leg hit Mr. Clark in the front, it appeared to have been fired after he was already falling.

His relatives have hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and others.  “The shooting death of Stephon Clark is an all-too-common tragedy,” Crump said in a statement. “It is yet another troubling example of a young, unarmed black man being shot by police under highly questionable circumstances.”

 

 

 

 

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French police officer Arnaud Beltrame has died from his injuries after he offered to exchange himself for one of the female hostages being held inside the Super U supermarket in Trèbes.  The violence unfolded Friday morning when the attacker, identified as Radouane Lakdim, stole a car, killing the passenger and gravely wounding the driver.  Lakdim then drove towards military and police barracks where he shot at four National Police officers who were jogging before trying to run them down.  One of the officers was wounded.

The gunman proceeded to the Super U market armed with a gun, knife and explosives.  He began shooting as he walked inside shouting that he was a soldier from Isis.  Two people were killed and several others wounded.  Christian Medves, 50, a butcher in charge of the meat counter was shot first and Hervé Sosna, 65, a shopper was then killed while 16 others were wounded.

Around 50 terrified shoppers and staff managed to escape but several were taken as hostages.  Witnesses said about 20 people in the supermarket found refuge in its cold storage room.  Police found the car, and SWAT teams surrounded the market, at around 11am, beginning the three hour standoff. “They managed to get some of the people out,” said Interior Minister Collomb, but the attacker kept one woman hostage to use as a human shield. Officer Arnaud Beltrame, offered to take the place of the woman.  The lieutenant colonel had his phone on so police could hear his interactions with the gunman.  Collomb said that at one point the National Police lieutenant colonel shot the gunman.  After hearing shots, police stormed the supermarket where Lakdim had been left holding only Beltrame. Lakdim was killed and Officer Beltrame, who had been shot and stabbed, later died from his injuries.

Lakdim, 25, a small-time drug-dealer who had French nationality and was born in Morocco, left a handwritten letter at his home pledging allegiance to Isis.  He was known to authorities for petty crimes, but had been under surveillance by security services in 2016-2017 for links to the radical Salafist movement, said Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, who is leading the investigation.  One neighbour told a news reporter that the suspect was a pleasant young man who was “calm, friendly, and always had a nice word to say.”  He reportedly lived in an apartment block with his parents and sisters, and would take the youngest child to school every day.

Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said that he believed Lakdim had acted alone and that the gunman also brought homemade explosives into the supermarket.  Police continue to question a 17-year-old and Lakdim’s 18-year-old girlfriend. Collomb said the gunman had demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam – the prime surviving suspect in Islamic State suicide bombing and mass shooting attacks on a sports stadium, concert hall and restaurants that killed 130 people in Paris in 2015.  Abdeslam, a French citizen born and raised in Brussels, went on trial in Belgium last month.

President Macron hailed the fallen officer as a hero saying of the officer. “He saved lives and honoured his colleagues and his country,”

 

 

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Investigators searching for a potential motive for Austin Bomber Mark Anthony Conditt’s actions are no closer to answering the question of why he carried out a nearly three-week-long bombing spree that left two people dead.  Conditt blew himself up inside his SUV early Wednesday, shortly after a SWAT team performed a tactical maneuver to force him to stop the SUV.

Conditt went to a FedEx store south of Austin on Sunday and made the mistake of parking within view of a surveillance camera that captured the vehicle’s license plates on his red SUV.  Surveillance photos from the mail delivery office showed Conditt wearing a baseball cap, blond wig and pink gloves as he brought two packages to the store.  Investigators used cellphone technology to track him down on Wednesday and to confirm that he had been to all of the bombing locations.

The early morning confrontation started after his SUV was located in a parking lot of a hotel in Round Rock.  As plainclothes officers and unmarked vehicles descended on the area while a ballistics and SWAT team were enroute.  The officers then followed Conditt as he pulled out of the parking lot and onto Interstate 35 where he ultimately detonated a bomb as officers approached his vehicle.

Investigators say they are no closer to understanding a motive and are relying on Mark Anthony Conditt’s own words from a 25-minute recording he made hours before he was confronted by the SWAT team.  In the cellphone recording, Conditt, 23, refers to himself as a “psychopath” and showed no remorse for carrying out the deadly bombings and spreading fear across the city.  Federal agents searched Conditt’s home in Pflugerville for almost two days, removing explosive materials and looking for clues that could point to a reason for the bombings.  Two of Conditt’s roommates were detained and questioned by police. One of them was released hours after Conditt’s death and the other was released the next afternoon, police said.  Neither was arrested or publicly identified.

Investigators found components for making similar bombs to the ones that exploded in the past few weeks, but no finished bombs were found, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  A law enforcement source said the devices that exploded in Austin and near San Antonio were pipe bombs with batteries and smokeless powder and were constructed with materials found in a hardware or sporting goods store. The bombs had distinctive shrapnel inside with some using “mousetrap” switches and others using “clothespin” switches.  Chief Brian Manley of the Austin Police Department said that Mr. Conditt had made a 25-minute recording in which he discussed the bombs and how he had made them. The recording, Chief Manley said, was “the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life that led him to this point.”

According to friends and neighbors, Conditt was an intense, socially awkward loner, who was the oldest child in a tight-knit, devout Christian family that held Bible study groups in their home.  Conditt was unemployed and had no criminal history.  He had worked for a local manufacturer, Crux Manufacturing, for about four years until he was fired this past August after he failed to meet job expectations, according to a statement from the company.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the city’s “collective fear and anxiety” was growing as the bomber carried out the string of attacks.  “There was feeling that there was not much that we could do. There was a collective helplessness, our community was beginning to fray,” Adler said at a City Council meeting.  He added that it appeared that Mr. Conditt had acted alone, but authorities had not definitively ruled out whether he had any accomplices.

Maryland School Shooting

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In Maryland, 17-year-old Austin Rollins shot two other students at Great Mills High School on Tuesday morning before a school resource officer engaged him and stopped the threat, authorities said.  The incident began in a school hallway at 7:55 a.m., just before classes started. Authorities say Austin Wyatt Rollins, armed with a handgun, shot a female and a male student. The shooter had a prior relationship with the female student that had recently ended, St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron said.

The gunman shot Jaelynn Willey, 16, in the hallway of the school and a bullet hit 14-year-old Desmond Barnes in the thigh.  School resource officer Blaine Gaskill responded to the scene in less than a minute and fired a round at the shooter while the shooter simultaneously fired a round, Cameron said.  Rollins was later pronounced dead at Charles Regional Medical Center while Gaskill was unharmed.

Jaelynn Willey was transported to the hospital in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.  Desmond Barnes was treated in stable condition and later released.  The Willey family held a press conference two days later, on March 22nd, announcing that they’d made the decision to take Jaelynn off of life support. Hours later, the sheriff’s office confirmed that she had died.

The quick response and actions of St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Deputy Blaine Gaskill, who had been assigned to the school last year, has been credited with preventing any more loss of life.  Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, residents and many media outlets have praised him for putting his life on the line and ending the situation quickly.   Gaskill has yet to make a statement to the public.

Sheriff Cameron, is also among the many who have praised Gaskill, a six-year veteran with SWAT team training, for his actions.  “He responded exactly as we train our personnel to respond,”   “This is what we train for, this is what we prepare for, and this is what we pray that we never have to do. On this day, we realized our worst nightmare,” Cameron said.  “The notion of ‘it can’t happen here’ is no longer a notion.”

The school was on lockdown for a brief time, and students were evacuated from Great Mills High School to a reunification center at a nearby high school, the school system said.  Austin Wyatt Rollins was an honor student at Great Mills High School. Rollins was born in Tennessee and moved to Maryland with his family in 2004.  According to police, the Glock handgun used in the shooting legally belonged to his father, Rocky Rollins.

Officer Gaskill’s actions stand in stark contrast to that of Parkland school safety officer Scot Peterson, who resigned amid reports that he went AWOL when the shooting started.  Peterson took position outside the building and never entered the building even though gun fire could still be heard.  In fact, what Gaskill did is extremely rare.  According to an analysis of dozens of school shootings done by the Washington Post, Gaskill is only the second school resource officer to kill an active shooter since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.

 

 

 

 

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A gunman killed three women in a standoff at a Northern California military veterans home.  The three victims—Jennifer Gonzales, 32; Christine Loeber, 48 and Jennifer Golick, 42; worked for a counseling program at the Pathway Home nonprofit, which helps military veterans overcome PTSD and transition back into civilian life.  The shooter, 36-year-old Albert Wong of Sacramento, was a military veteran and former patient at the center who was kicked out of the program just days before the shooting spree, after he threatened its employees- including one of the women killed.

Records show Wong was in the Army reserves from October 1998 until December 2002 and served in active duty from May 2010 to August 2013. He was deployed to Afghanistan April 2011 to March 2012.  He received several awards and medals, including an Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Expert Marksmanship Badge with Rifle before being honorably discharged.

According to law enforcement sources, Wong was armed with a rifle and a shotgun when he entered the room where a going-away party for some departing Pathway employees was taking place.  According to sources, Wong entered the building and exchanged fire with a deputy.  Witnesses say he calmly entered the room brandishing a rifle and let at least 4 employees leave-firing shots into the rest of the room as they left.

Napa County Sheriff John Robertson said dozens of law enforcement officers responded about 10:20 a.m. local time to a report of shots fired.  Reports indicate that as many as 15 to 30 shots were fired before Wong took the hostages at the Veterans Home, on the second floor of The Pathway Home.  Everyone at the Veterans Home was told to shelter in place and lock their doors, and the entire facility was placed on lockdown for hours.

Authorities say the gunman shot at police as they surrounded the building.  SWAT, FBI, and ATF all responded to the incident, but no one was able to reach him during the standoff.  The gunman and the three hostages were found deceased after a nearly seven-hour standoff. It’s not yet known what his motives were or if the victims were chosen at random.  Jen Golick’s father-in-law, told news outlets that she had ordered Wong’s removal from the Pathway program two weeks prior to the shooting. She called her husband, Mark Golick, around 10:30 a.m. Pacific to let him know that she had been taken hostage. He never heard from her again.

The Veterans Home is one of the largest in the United States, housing at least 1,100 men and women. The Pathway Home, located on the Veterans Home grounds, operates an independent 35,000-square-foot center within the Yountville veterans’ home, has treated more than 400 veterans since 2008. Male veterans enrolled in the live-in program are mostly soldiers returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who have difficulty transitioning into civilian life.  Many returning veterans have graduated from the program, including Adam Schumann, the subject of the book and film “Thank You For Your Service”.

In 2016, the program began transitioning from a group that focused primarily on housing and treating veterans with PTSD into a program with a wider mission, including helping vets with academic and career development.  Loeber was the executive director of the Pathway Home and Golick was a staff psychologist and clinical director there. Gonzales was a clinical psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System.  Yountville Mayor John Dunbar said he was not sure when or if the facility will reopen. Six people currently enrolled in the program will continue to receive care, he said.

 

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President Xi Jinping of China is set to rule the country indefinitely after Chinese lawmakers passed changes to the country’s constitution abolishing presidential term limits. The National People’s Congress voted 2,958 in favor of the amendment, two opposed and three abstained. Xi assumed leadership of China’s Communist Party in 2012 and has consolidated power to levels not seen since the era of Mao Zedong. The change in presidency now aligns with other posts Xi holds, as head of the Communist Party and head of the military, neither of which have term limits.
After becoming president in 2013, Mr. Xi fought corruption, punishing more than a million party members. Critics say he has used the anti-corruption purge to sideline political rivals. At the same time, China has clamped down on many emerging freedoms, increasing its state surveillance and censorship programs which critics attain was a move to silence opposition.
The constitutional change officially allows him to remain in office after the end of his second term in 2023. Many believe that now that the constitution has been altered- that Xi Jinping intends to rule for the rest of his life unchallenged. There has been no national debate as to whether a leader should be allowed to stay on for as long as they choose.
The two-consecutive-term limit to China’s presidency was put in place by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982 in order to avoid the kind of chaos and tumult that can sometimes happen when you have a single authoritarian leader, as China had with Mao Zedong. Among many campaigns launched by Zedong were “The Great Leap Forward” in 1957 that aimed to rapidly transform China’s economy from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. This campaign led to the deadliest famine in history and the deaths of more than 45 million Chinese people between 1958 and 1962.
Zedong also initiated the Cultural Revolution in 1966, a program to remove “counter-revolutionary” elements of Chinese society that lasted 10 years and was marked by violent class struggle and widespread destruction of cultural artifacts. It has officially been regarded as a “severe setback” for the Peoples Republic of China.
The National People’s Congress is also likely to confirm China’s new government line-up for the next five years, kicking off Xi Jinping’s second term as president, ratify a law to set up a new powerful anti-corruption agency and ratify the inclusion of the president’s political philosophy in the constitution. His philosophy is officially called “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era”. Schoolchildren, college students and staff at state factories will have to study the political ideology, which the Communist Party is trying to portray as a new chapter for modern China.

 

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An investigation into internal New York City Police Department files show that hundreds of officers have been allowed to keep their jobs and pensions despite having committed an array of offenses. According to hundreds of pages of internal police files, offenses committed from 2011 to 2015 by over 300 NYPD officers include excessive force against civilians, driving under the influence of alcohol, selling drugs, sexually harassing fellow officers, assault, threatening and stealing.
At least fifty officers lied on official reports, under oath, or during an internal affairs investigation. Thirty-eight were found guilty by a police tribunal of excessive force, getting into a fight, or firing their gun unnecessarily. Fifty-seven were guilty of driving under the influence. Seventy-one were guilty of ticket-fixing. One officer threatened to kill someone while some were guilty of lesser offenses, like mouthing off to a supervisor.
In every instance, the police commissioner, who has final authority in disciplinary decisions, assigned these officers to “dismissal probation” which is a penalty with few consequences. The officer continues to do their job at their usual salary but they may get less overtime and won’t be promoted during that period, which usually lasts a year. They continue to patrol the streets, arrest people and testify in criminal prosecutions. When the year is over, their probation period ends.
The probation files covered in the investigation do not include all officers who received dismissal probation during the 2011 to 2015 period. According to the NYPD, of the more than 50,000 people who work for the department, at least 777 officers and an untold number of other employees received the dismissal probation penalty during the five years in question. During that same period, 463 additional officers were forced to leave or resigned while a disciplinary charge was pending. Sources have said that dismissal probation is also used to punish some officers for reporting misconduct or just for getting on their supervisors’ bad sides. Still, many officers continue to patrol the streets making over $100,000 a year while the city has paid millions of dollars in civil settlements for offenses committed between 2011 and 2015, such as excessive force or unlawful arrest. These settlements are reached without the department or officer admitting any wrongdoing.
New York is one of three states, along with Delaware and California that has a law specifically shielding police misconduct records from the public. As police departments around the country face growing pressure to be more transparent about police misconduct, NYPD has doubled down on its stringent legal interpretation of those laws. Civil Rights Law Section 50-a is the law that hides New York police officers’ misconduct from public view and it’s one of the strictest in the nation.
The Department Advocate’s Office determines which officers to charge and prosecute at the NYPD’s internal disciplinary trials. Kevin Richardson, the deputy commissioner said the law prevented him from commenting on specific officers’ cases but that dismissal probation serves a valuable purpose. “The department is not interested in terminating officers that don’t need to be terminated. We’re interested in keeping employees and making our employees obey the rules and do the right thing, but where there are failings that we realize this person should be separated from the department, this police commissioner and the prior police commissioner have shown a willingness to do that.”