Long Island's Newsday daily paper quotes me in today's article on the brutality of the Ocean Beach Police Department. I am also featured on today's Radio News broadcast on WCWP 88.1FM Long Island's Public Radio station. This Just in I will be quoted in a national Associated Press article being written by fellow lawyer Pat Noltan.
Anyway enough bragging. The fact of the matter is that it has been an open secret among the defense bar that police brutality on Fire Island and especially in Ocean Beach has been horrendous. Unfortunately because the hamlet has its own court and private prosecutors the police department charges misdemeanors and violations and sweeps the brutality under the rug. In situations where the brutality does come to fore, the Police and the hamlet's private insurance company settle the cases with gag orders and without having to take responsibility for the actions.
In January, NY is getting a new Governor and the State house will be back to business. If the state wants to pass bills to reduce brutality and acknowledge the importance of the rule of law and of a civil police department it needs to act this year to:
1 Require no less than 4 full weeks of training for every village and hamlet police officer or part-time cop.
2. Make it illegal for a municipality to settle a civil rights claim under seal and without an admission or finding of fault (Even if the claim is settled under a different theory such as harassment or false arrest)
3. Set up a full time commission of civilians to oversee police complaints. It would function the same as the State Grievance Committees that investigate complaints against lawyers. It would employ investigators and prosecutors who would then proffer complaints for the state attorney general or local District Attorneys to prosecute.
In the meantime if you have been a victim of Police Brutality on Ocean Beach, Fire Island, NY, please contact District Attorney Thomas Spota. You can also speak to myself or Diane Petillo who heads up the Civil Rights and Constitutional Law division of our Law Office.