To understand one reason Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly may be resisting calls that he disclose the daily schedules that pinpoint his movements, consider calendar entries revealing that one has had a hearing test, eaten lunch with the Brooklyn Democratic leader and switched to a less costly barber.
No, those entries were not in Commissioner Kelly’s calendar. Rather, they were among the appointments kept by Mayor Edward I. Koch in the early 1980s. Now, those fighting to keep the public from seeing where Commissioner Kelly goes and whom he meets might be interested in knowing what resulted from Mayor Koch’s efforts to keep his personal appointments calendar private.
In a nutshell: The mayor lost.
Early in 1988, a justice in State Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Daily News reporter who sought to use the state’s Freedom of Information Law to unlock Mr. Koch’s private schedule. The judge, Bruce Wright, wrote, “The mayor delights in public notice, and if ever there was a public person, he is its quintessential example.” Mayor Koch, who argued that only appointments connected to his official duties should be released, nonetheless declined to appeal the judge’s ruling and disseminated copies of his calendars from 1982 through 1986.
Now Mr. Kelly, who is appointed rather than elected yet wields great power in the city, is facing the same challenge. This time, it is coming from the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Leonard Levitt, an author and former Newsday columnist who writes about law enforcement matters on his Web site, NYPD Confidential.
The lawsuit is like many similar, and successful, ones that the civil liberties group has brought after failed attempts to uncork departmental doings through the Freedom of Information Law.
Mr. Kelly has consistently argued against disclosing any daily schedules pinpointing his movements since he began his second stint as police commissioner in January 2002. This is in line with a Bloomberg administration that has long resisted disclosing the calendars of its top officials. (In fact, City Hall has made a policy of declaring Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s private schedule and personal life, particularly on weekends, off limits.)
Part of the Police Department’s rationale for declining to release Mr. Kelly’s public schedule was laid out in a June 21 letter to Christopher T. Dunn, the associate legal director of the civil liberties group. Among the reasons given by Jonathan David, the department’s records access appeals officer, was the safety of the commissioner and those he met with.
Such information is exempt “since disclosure could endanger the life or safety of the police commissioner and/or the people with whom he had scheduled appointments,” Mr. David wrote. “The police commissioner and members of his family have been the subject of numerous threats, the frequency of which has increased over time. Knowledge of the police commissioner’s schedule could endanger him, because a person intent on doing harm would benefit from knowing where the police commissioner is scheduled to be at a given time.”
The commissioner’s past schedules, Mr. David wrote, could be used to discern patterns in his movements and predict his “future whereabouts.”
Occupy Wall Street Yields 942 Arrests (Depending on How You Count)
The police and prosecutors have differing figures for the total number of people arrested since the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations began.
The police said on Thursday that the “cumulative arrest” number was 942, since the movement’s start.
But the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance. Jr., said that the arrest number was roughly 499, through Wednesday.
That is because prosecutors do not handle all arrests. In fact, when the police issue summonses to protestors (which the police count as arrests) those are not handled by prosecutors. When you are issued a summons you are detained briefly and then released, meaning you are not given a date to appear in court.
Of the 499 arrests Mr. Vance’s office is handling, 410 people received desk appearance tickets (known in court parlance as DATs), which require a defendant to appear in court on some later date. The majority of those were for violations, the office said.
Of the 89 arrests in which a defendant was held and processed (known in law enforcement lingo as a “live arrest”), four are felony cases and the rest are misdemeanors or violations, according to the office. On Oct. 1, when the protestors moved onto the Brooklyn Bridge, there were about 267 arrests (as Mr. Vance counts them), with 260 people receiving desk appearance tickets, the vast majority for violations.
Of course, the math remains tricky: the police counted about 700 arrests during the bridge protest.
Sean Bell Case Lands in Police Dept. Trial Room
In November 2006, Sean Bell, a 23-year-old black man, was killed in a volley of 50 bullets fired by five police officers outside a strip club in Queens. In 2008, three of the officers were acquitted of manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges in state court. The two others who fired their guns never faced criminal charges.
Early last year, federal prosecutors, citing insufficient evidence, declined to file civil rights charges against the officers. Later last year, the city agreed to pay more than $7 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Mr. Bell’s family and friends.
Lately, the matter has been winding its way through the Police Department’s so-called “trial room,” a bleak area on the fourth floor of Police Headquarters where cases against officers hit with internal charges are heard. According to one law enforcement official, those involved gathered in a quiet courtroom there on Wednesday.
It is difficult to say what will happen next, and the department does not post its schedule for internal disciplinary matters. It is possible, however, that there could be action again on the Bell matter on Monday, the official said.
Al Baker, police bureau chief for The New York Times — and the son of a police lieutenant — brings you inside the nation’s largest police force every Thursday. Mr. Baker can be reached at [email protected]