Senator Eric Adams: We Need a Police Inspector General
The recent killing of an unarmed Jamaican youth in his Bronx home by a police officer wasn’t simply unwarranted, it underscores the urgent necessity for vigilant civilian oversight of the New York City Police Department.
And that close monitoring can best be undertaken by an Inspector-General who functions outside of the NYPD and who would monitor all aspects of the Department’s operations, including the activities of cops on the beat.
That sharp criticism and the call for action came from New York State Senator Eric Adams, a Democrat of Brooklyn, and a highly regarded former police officer who once headed the corps of Black cops across the City. He said that the shooting death of 18 year old Remarley Graham by officer Richard Haste was an example of the arrogance of some members of the NYPD and a was a blatant disregard of the law and police procedure, and an Inspector-General would help to rein in the abuse people of color suffer almost daily.
“It is extremely alarming that we gave the police agencies a large amount of power after September 11th,” Adams told the Carib News. “What we did not do is to increase the civilian oversight of the power we gave them. So, we have police agencies inside mosques. We have them doing their own investigations, buying millions of dollars of equipment without going through the federal procurement process. We have a Police Department that has reached a point that ‘we no longer listen to anyone but us,’ and that’s us being the Police Commissioner” Raymond Kelly.
Hence, a bill that has already been drafted in Albany and introduced in the state legislature. It must now go through the “process” before it can become the law of the land, Adams said.
Graham was shot and killed in the bathroom of his home in the Wakefield section of the Bronx about 10 days ago. The incident occurred in the presence of his 58 year old grandmother, Patricia Hartley, who was later forced to undergo seven hours of police interrogation at the 47th Precinct during which he made a statement reportedly against her wishes, according to friends and relatives.
“She gave it against her will,” said Carlton Berkley, a retired police detective and a family friend. “She didn’t want to speak to the police.”
As the youth’s relatives prepare to bury Graham and as New Yorkers who took to the streets to show their anger over the circumstances of his killing and are waiting the next step by the NYPD, the state senator is directing much of his criticisms at the “arrogance” of the cop who pulled the trigger.
“It wasn’t simply a matter of the officer being poorly trained but it was a matter of arrogance,” insisted Adams. “I saw the picture, the clip, and those outside of law enforcement wouldn’t recognize many things that happened in that small clip we saw. Those of us who know about law-enforcement realize how blatant and arrogant that officer was. You are allowed to chase someone in close pursuit into a home when they have committed a crime. But if you see that the young man wasn’t running and the officer was in close pursuit that young man was walking and went inside his house, the officer got there and kicked in the door. That’s against the law. Right there, the clip showed me the officer had a total disregard for the law. He thought he was the law.”
The police shooting was the latest in a string of killings of people of color in the City in recent years. Sean Bell, a few hours away from his wedding a few years ago was killed by cops who thought the Queens man had a gun.
In the Graham case, members of a police narcotics team who were on the look-out for drug dealers, spotted the youth and decided to follow him, believing that he had a gun. When he went into the apartment building where he lived, the cops followed him and kicked in the apartment’s door. After they shouted “gun, gun” and ordered the youth to “show me your hands” he didn’t comply immediately, a cop fired a single shot that killed Graham.
No gun was found.