Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cops Go Forward; Geese Come Back

Budget Deadlock - Day 113

Police Will Scan Data Manually

To Comply With Stop and Frisk,

Geese Returning to Prospect Park

Our Tuesday column on stop and frisk legislation produced interesting reactions. The first emailed replies received were negative, some castigating me for going over to the dark side. The next day, Wednesday, predominantly supportive emails were received. Today (Thursday) people are no longer writing us on the subject. This shows that, although the opinion of our readers is divided, the opponents of the bill feel more intensely about it. Further comments are welcome. You may go to this link to post your thoughts.

The new law, which precludes an electronic database of those stopped by the police but not arrested, passed 85-55 in the Assembly, with 14 Democrats joining 41 Republicans in opposing it. The Democrats were Assemblymembers Marc Alessi, William Colton, Steven Englebright, Ginny Fields, Dennis Gabryszak, Sandra Galef, Aileen Gunther, Janele Hyer-Spencer, Michael Miller, Amy Paulin, Mike Spano, Robin Schimminger, Harvey Weisenberg, and Kenneth Zebrows. Three of the 14 are from New York City: Colton (Brooklyn), Miller (Queens) and Hyer-Spencer (Staten Island).

In the Senate, all 32 Democrats supported it. If any one of them had opposed it, abstained, or been absent, the bill would not have passed. All 29 Republicans opposed it.

Governor Paterson signed the bill on July 16th, ignoring appeals by Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Ray Kelly, the News and the Post. You can click here to read our article from Tuesday, which has many links to primary data on the subject, including the governor's written signing statement in support of the bill.

Governor Paterson's explanation, a spontaneous expansion of his signing statement, was quoted in a Daily News editorial this morning:

"'That is not a policy for a democracy. Maybe that might work in Bosnia. Maybe that might in Somalia. Maybe it would have worked in the Soviet Union or in ‘1984’. But we can't allow it to happen here.'"

The News' editorial continued with increasing vigor, denouncing Paterson's remarks as "slander". We quote:

"He also cited the Police Department's computerized files in the same breath with egregious infringements on civil rights, including the Alien and Sedition Acts [1798], and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

"This is gubernatorial slander of a department that has a deserved reputation for successful crimefighting well within the bounds of the U.S. Constitution. Somalia? Bosnia? The Soviet Union? Are those the precincts into which Paterson believes Commissioner Ray Kelly has led the NYPD?"

The new law was sponsored in the Senate by Eric Adams, and co-sponsored by Pedro Espada, Velmanette Montgomery, Kevin Parker and Jose Peralta, who defeated Hiram Monserrate, his predecessor. The Assembly sponsor was Hakeem Jeffries.

The Police Department's initial response to the state restriction was reported in a story by Rocco Parascandola, chief of the Daily News police bureau. It appears across the top of p2, which is prominent placement. The article is headlined: "WRITE ON, SAY COPS: Brass Says Stop-&-Frisk Records Aren't Dead, Just Use Paper, Not Computers."

The lede: "Cops can no longer keep a giant electronic library of everyone they stop on the street - but officers can still collect names the old-fashioned way, a new NYPD memo says.

"The internal memo was sent out Friday, just after Gov. Paterson signed a law banning the NYPD from entering personal information of innocent people into a citywide database…."

We have not heard the last of this issue. Although opinion on the merits of the bill appears to be divided, as the Assembly Democrats are, the unanimity of Senate Democrats and Attorney General candidates indicates that they are marching to the tune of a different drummer.


The geese are back in Prospect Park.

According to a count this morning from two of our readers, Ed Bahlman and Anne-Katrin Titze, 28 Canada Geese have resettled at Prospect Park Lake since their feathered friends were rounded up and gassed to death on July 8th.

We have every reason to believe that our readers’ count is accurate, as it was Ms. Titze who conducted the official New York State Ornithological Association and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Waterfowl Count of the area in January 2010.

Although the return of the geese is fair news for fans of the local fowl, we were hesitant to report it for fear that we would be sentencing these new settlers to the same fate as their predecessors. Upon further reflection, however, we were convinced that these geese would certainly not go unnoticed by the authorities, and so the best chance of advocating for their safety was to make public the fact of their residence.

The return of the geese deepens our suspicion that the eradication of the Prospect Park 400 was not adequately thought through. Does the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is said to have ordered the mass killing, intend to hunt down these 28 geese too, along with those yet to join them? Are they to be gassed on a rolling basis or will the executioner come once a year after mating season, while they are molting and unable to fly?

Clearly, there are problems with the government's explanation of its actions. As we pointed out in our column on June 16th, the seven-mile kill zone extending from both LaGuardia and J.F.K. designated by the Agriculture Department for geese removal, does not accurately encompass Prospect Park, which is between 9 and 10 miles away from both airports. In a follow-up piece to our article, The New York Times confirmed our measurements.

We still maintain the public deserves more information about the government's policy of geese removal. We do not dismiss the possibility that the removal of some geese may be necessary for air safety, but there are unanswered questions about the Brooklyn geese, the cruelty of their execution and the disposition of their bodies. We believe that before more geese and goslings are butchered, a clear statement of procedures and alternatives is needed. The government requires an EIS for projects with less environmental effect than this mass ansercide.

We share this planet with millions of other species. We should not exterminate animals without clear evidence that it is necessary to do so to safeguard human life.


  1. Anonymous4:50 PM

    So the net result is we simply make the job harder. Given that no one actually cited an abuse of the database in question, its clear this its just another example of penny wise pound foolish legislation.

  2. Anonymous9:20 AM

    Technology has helped reduce crime and should be used in every instance where there is even the suspicion of possible infringement. Poeple are too quick to cry discrimination at every detail.

  3. oregon microbe8:09 AM



    In the same way many of us do not want to be part of a database created to track our internet use: as championed by Facebook, Amazon, Google, Yahoo and others, the police should not have a right to store information about people who have done nothing wrong. Period. Emphasis. Have done nothing wrong. One can argue the merits of the quality of life policing tactics introduced during the Giuliani administrations, but a fare beater has committed a crime; a squeegee guy has committed crime if the law says no squeegeeing at such and such a locale; a repeated pattern of malfeasance on the part of such an individual is worthy of data storage.

    The Canada Geese

    As a parks veteran (1991-1999, NRG, SMRT) who spent many a day designing and constructing unique goose exclusion fences for our experimental salt marsh plantings I have a particular antipathy towards Branta canadensis. Over night, days of work destroyed.

    While that provides you with some context for my feelings, what we NRG'ers talked about was the rumor? that state DEC had allowed the B. canadensis populations to balloon in order to meet the demands of their friends in the hunting lobby. It was even rumored that birds bred in captivity had been introduced into the wild by DEC, thus changing patterns of migration through changes in the genetic integrity of the overall population; this, we thought, was evidenced by the many hundreds if not thousands of birds in our region that now overwinter here. (Or is that climate change?) If this rumor about DEC introducing a more "domesticated" population into the wild to satisfy the needs of hunters is true we then have another example of unforseen consequences. Given that there has not been an increase in, for example, the fox population, a natural predator of B. canadensis, H. sapiens, whose population has increased in the region, needs to cull the geese.

    Perhaps this can be accomplished with a proportional increase in hunters. Perhaps the Mayor and DOE chancellor could start a new small hunting HS. Let me say finally that your quip about feeding the poor with the dead geese, while providing a faint echo of Mr. Swift's fine wit, is a bit off the mark. Quite seriously the birds should be sent to the cat or dog food industry.

    In good cheer,

    A man with two park names!!!

    Oregon (I am not from Oregon)
    Microbe (I quantified microbe populations in the Exxon oiled root zone of our Spartina plantings)