Hey guys! It’s time for another round of,
Paul Browne, Professional Liar
(reminder: Paul Browne is the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information for the New York City Police Department, aka NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s personal flack. To my primary annoyance, his office is responsible for the statements of “no criminality suspected” whenever the media asks about a pedestrian or cyclist fatality that has JUST HAPPENED, something they’re awfully quick to decide upon for the world’s sake. But he has other enemies for plenty of reasons.)
Today’s very deliberate prevarication/posturing:
Parents of a 7-year-old boy have sued the NYPD in civil court on the basis that their son was handcuffed and detained for 8+ hours following a minor and ultimately erroneous complaint that he stole $5 from another child. Their lawyers are asking for $250 million in the complaint, which is more strategy (publicity + negotiating stance) than reality. At one point, for a number of hours at a police precinct (the child spent as many as 4-6 hours at the precinct), the child was handcuffed to a railing on the wall and left alone. The child was interrogated aggressively both at the school and precinct, and there is no doubt that the boy had been in police custody the entire time (there was a recorded time of the incident + school intervention, and the incident ended when the boy was released to his mother’s custody, and the simple math is 8 hours). Browne released a response press release to media outlets:
“While the lawyer’s claims are grossly untrue in many respects, including fabrication as to how long the child was held, the matter is nonetheless being reviewed by the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.”
In a situation like this, it’s inappropriate to go to the press and start splitting hairs about “how long the child was held” unless it was more like 8 minutes, not 8 hours. Save it for the conference room session between the city’s lawyers and the parent’s lawyers.
But also, it’s not just about clarifying the facts, it’s about serving the overall public interest. Rather than being ashamed for the department that something like this happened (we can all agree that this is not an incident that would have popular approval except among savages), he comes out guns blazing - at first. The mention of review by the typically-toothless IAB is a footnote to his statement. His primary goal is to call these folks litigious liars, particularly because that’ll resonate with so many people who would have otherwise been upset with the department instead of the claimants. Followed by, “don’t worry, we’re looking into it, like professionals! Trust us!”
This guy is a public servant employed by the city, and paid by public taxes, who has no problem making the most egregious cover-your-ass move in an undeniable instance of wrongdoing, when the citizens demand real correction and change.
This is not how real public service is done.