NYPD Reviews Drug Raid Procedures
By Gary G. Toms
With the number of complaints being filed by citizens against the New York City Police Department, regarding recent drug raids on the homes of innocent people, police spokesman Michael O’Looney stated that the department will be conducting a comprehensive review of the warrant execution process throughout the five boroughs. The announcement was made after three Queens lawmakers, State Senator Malcolm Smith, City Councilman Leroy Comrie and Assembly member Barbara Clark, met with Timothy Lawless, Queens Borough South Chief for the NYPD, and two other police officials. In that meeting, Smith noted that Lawless was "emphatic" that mistakes had been made and apologized on behalf of the department.
Lawless told Smith that the NYPD intends to strengthen procedures, which would include working with narcotics units to ensure better intelligence about informants’ claims. In addition, according to Smith, Lawless indicated that two recent victims of "accidental drug raids," Michael Thompson and Robert Rogers, both of Queens, would be compensated for the damages police caused when they broke down their doors and ransacked their apartments. However, Lawless declined to comment on Smith’s statement.
The Wave broke a story regarding questionable NYPD drug raid procedures in the Far Rockaway area back in March when we reported on the case of Flornell Myers. Myers, and her family, residents of Ocean Village, were held at gunpoint and handcuffed for more than three hours by members of the Queens Narcotics Division, as the officers ransacked their home. No drugs were every located on the premises.
After meeting with representatives of the Far Rockaway and state chapters of the NAACP, a month after the incident, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly pledged to work with local precincts, and residents, in the Far Rockaway area to make sure that incidents similar to the Myers case would not reoccur. Myers died of an undisclosed illness in July of this year, and to date, the Myers family has not been compensated for damages to their home.
Assemblymember Barbara Clark, who represents the Queens Village area, stated that of the 170 warrants executed in her area, only six resulted in wrongful incidents.
State Senator Malcolm Smith summed up the situation by saying, "You have to have proper research. You have to do your homework before you take action."