EDITORIAL: As the visual evidence mounts against NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, one question that apparently hasn’t been publicly answered – or even asked — is whether he was on city time when he twice pepper-sprayed “Occupy Wall Street” protestors. He could have been on private duty, in uniform, working for a Wall Street company.
NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna in YouTube video
New York City police officers often moonlight for the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street corporations, as Pam Martens carefully details in a story published this morning on CounterPunch.com .
The companies can order the private detail “with the ease of dialing the deli for a pastrami on rye,” Martens writes.
The little-known Paid Detail Unit was established by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 1998.
According to Martens: “The corporations pay an average of $37 an hour (no medical, no pension benefit, no overtime pay) for a member of the NYPD, with gun, handcuffs and the ability to arrest. The officer is indemnified by the taxpayer, not the corporation.”
The special detail also catches gigs with department stores, parks, commercial banks and landmarks — Rockefeller Center, the Jacob Javits Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Martens reports.
The city gets a 10 percent administrative fee for allowing officers to take the side job in uniform – as long as they wear white shirts instead of the rank-and-file dark blue uniforms.
Revenue from the program has doubled the past nine years, to $11.8 million for 2011, reports Martens, who worked on Wall Street for 21 years and now advocates against its private justice system.
Records show Robert Britz, then President and Co-Chief Operating Officer of the New York Stock Exchange, telling the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services in 2004 that the exchange had “established a 24-hour NYPD Paid Detail monitoring the perimeter of the data centers,” along with other measures, to protect the area from those who would do harm.
To his credit, Mayor Bloomberg has not pushed the issue of the protestors, even though the former Salomon Brothers trader made much of his $18.1 billion on Wall Street. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, meanwhile, stepped up and immediately announced that internal affairs officers are investigating Bologna.
It isn’t clear whether Bologna remains on the job or not. One thing is certain: Since he was caught on camera in a pair of up-close videos pepper-spraying peaceful protestors — who, from the initial looks of things, weren’t menacing – no one has seen him.
Given the nature of the investigation, Kelly couldn’t comment further. But the possibility exists that he is looking into the Paid Detail Unit, as well: Bologna’s wasn’t the only white shirt captured on video at the protests.
What may shine the strongest light on the Paid Detail Unit is a class action lawsuit filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund over the hundreds of arrests made Oct. 1 on the Brooklyn Bridge. As a copy of the complaint shows, the defendants include not only Bloomberg, Kelly and 30 NYPD officers: There are also 10 unnamed law enforcement officers categorized as not employed by the department. What that means isn’t explained.
The officers in front of the battalion making the arrests, it says, were “white shirts.”
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