Is Ray Kelly’s NYPD Spinning Out of Control?

Between racist cops, rape cops, ticket-fixers, gun-runners and 'white shirts' gone wild, New York's Finest are losing their shine. Is the commissioner to blame?

Compared to, say, Oakland, the NYPD has arguably handled the demonstrations with restraint. But the pepper-spraying of seemingly peaceful protesters by a high-ranking NYPD official, a “white shirt,” who then melted into the crowd, presented an indelible image of a department that seemed unmoored. The offending officer was quickly identified as Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna—not by the NYPD, but by internet sleuths. After Ron Kuby, an attorney for one of the protesters, demanded Mr. Bologna’s arrest, he was instead docked 10 vacation days and given a cozy reassignment to Staten Island, where he lives.

Now, officers from all five boroughs have been asked to work overtime on the periphery of Zuccotti Park, where every flare-up between the demonstrators and police is instantly captured on camera phones, posted to YouTube and dissected for hints of excessive force.

The month of October was a particularly rough one for the NYPD.  On the 4th, citing a projected $4.6 billion deficit for fiscal year 2012, Mayor Mike Bloomberg imposed a hiring freeze and a mandatory 2 percent spending cut for all city agencies, including the police department.

On October 6, Mr. Kelly testified before the City Council after the AP reported that the NYPD had dispatched undercover officers to infiltrate mosques and Muslim student groups. Mr. Kelly denied the accusations.

That same week, an ex-undercover cop, Stephen Anderson, testified in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn that narcotics officers were paid two to three hours of overtime for every heroin or cocaine arrest they made. The policy, he said, led other cops to start “flaking,” department slang for planting drugs on innocent suspects. According to the Daily News, the practice has already resulted in $1.2 million in settlements for false arrest lawsuits, and on Tuesday, Detective Jason Arbeeny, a 14-year NYPD veteran, was found guilty of planting drugs on a woman and her boyfriend.

The Bologna incident was followed by another altercation with an Occupy Wall Street protester, when footage emerged of Deputy Inspector Johnny Cardona punching Felix Rivera-Pitre in the face.

“I’ll only caution people when you see a picture, you have to see the whole sequence of events,” Mr. Kelly said after the incident. “Sometimes these are not neat situations. They can get tumultuous.” (Prosecutors have met with Mr. Cardona and are investigating the matter.)

On October 17, Officer Michael Daragjati was charged in Federal District Court in Brooklyn with violating the civil rights of an African-American man on whom he’d performed a stop-and-frisk. During the April 15 incident, when the man asked for Mr. Daragjati’s badge number, the officer charged him with resisting arrest. He later referred to the man by the aforementioned raical epithet during a phone call to a friend, which was recorded by the feds.

On October 25, Federal prosecutors charged a group of NYPD officers—some active, some former—with trafficking guns, slot machines, and stolen cigarettes across state lines.

Then charges came down in the ticket scandal.

Is Ray Kelly’s NYPD Spinning Out of Control?