A New York police official said on Saturday that an internal departmental investigation had been initiated into the treatment of the city’s schools chancellor, Dnnis M. Walcott, by two plainclothes police officers during a traffic stop in Queens on Thursday night.
The official, Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, who is the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said the force’s Internal Affairs Bureau was looking into a complaint by Mr. Walcott that the officers “did not identify themselves” properly after stopping his Ford Taurus a few blocks from his home in Cambria Heights.
Mr. Walcott, 59, was not driving when two officers in an unmarked car stopped his official city vehicle shortly before midnight as his driver ferried him home from a public meeting in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, according to Natalie B. Ravitz, a spokeswoman for the chancellor. The officers apparently stopped the sedan because of the degree to which its windows were tinted and because they suspected the driver had failed to use a turn signal, officials said.
Mr. Walcott told the officers that he had heard the blinker sounding, Ms. Ravitz said.
As an officer took the driver’s license to check it, as well as the Ford’s license plates, Mr. Walcott identified himself to the other officer as the chancellor and a former deputy mayor. The other officer then returned with the driver’s license and “told them they were free to go,” Ms. Ravitz said. She said that Mr. Walcott then asked the female officer for her shield number, but that the officers did not identify themselves.
“At no time did the officers begin to write a ticket,” said Ms. Ravitz, adding that the chancellor remained calm and polite during the episode. “At no time did the chancellor ask that any ticket be waived.”
On Friday, Mr. Walcott telephoned Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly to relay details of his encounter with the officers, which was reported Saturday in The New York Post. That phone call sparked the internal inquiry, Mr. Browne said.
Mr. Browne added that the investigation was continuing and that he was not aware of the accounts provided to internal investigators by the two officers involved, a sergeant and a police officer who were working as part of an elite, boroughwide anticrime unit.
“I don’t have the resolution of it,” Mr. Browne said of the inquiry. “I know the officers were interviewed.”
Mr. Walcott believes New York has “the best police force in the world,” said Ms. Ravitz, who pointed out Mr. Walcott’s “long history” of working with the department.
Indeed, it was Mr. Walcott who once helped a previous police commissioner, Howard Safir, to come up with a strategy to push officers to use a kinder demeanor with the public, with sting operations intended to weed out surly officers. The slogan he helped devise — “Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect” — remains emblazoned on city patrol cars.
Ms. Ravitz said Mr. Walcott understood that the officers on Thursday night “were there to protect the neighborhood.”
(Source: NY Times)