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Hispanic cops: déjà vu again?

August 5, 1996

Two years ago, some Hispanic cops broke with their long-established fraternal organization, the Hispanic Society of police officers. They charged that its leaders had allied themselves with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to feather their own nests at the expense of the rank and file. Earlier this year, they formed their own organization, the Latino Officers Association. Just seven months later, the LOA claims a membership of 800.

Last month, Second Vice President Sgt. Hector Hernandez was suspended from the LOA's executive board.

He was sacked, he writes, "Not for lying. Not for stealing. Not for cheating or betraying but for pointing out to the executive board that negative history is indeed repeating itself." In what he terms a "first six months' report card," Hernandez cites a number of irregularities that he said included:

bulletThe LOA's filing of 100 frivolous discrimination complaints against the NYPD with the Justice Department, without allowing the NYPD to investigate them. "At no time did we establish a dialogue with the NYPD's Equal Employment Opportunity Office," writes Hernandez. "We never allowed the department the opportunity to investigate our complaints." Although the department requested copies of each complaint, "up to this date, this request has not been honored."

bullet Improperly supporting Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer for mayor. "We went from a professional relationship to an outright endorsement without seeking membership approval," Hernandez writes.

Many members, he continues, had quit the Hispanic Society when its then president Walter Alicea threw the organization's support to Giuliani for mayor in 1993. When Giuliani was elected, he appointed Alicea - then a third-grade detective - to deputy commissioner for community affairs. Earlier this year, he appointed Alicea the Housing Authority's deputy general manager for operations at a salary of $120,000 a year.

"Replace the newspaper dates and names and we can see that history is repeating itself," writes Hernandez. "A question was asked jokingly: Who in this organization is slated for a Deputy Commissioner's spot and who is slated to run the Housing Authority?' "

bulletEngaging in "highly questionable" financial transactions. At its first spring dance, Hernandez writes, LOA president Anthony Miranda collected the proceeds himself, despite an agreement that at least two executive board members count them and the third vice president hold them.

"At the end of the event the president walked out . . . with thousands of dollars, not allowing anyone to count or verify the amount. The money was not deposited immediately. It was deposited into the LOA bank account days later."

Printable versionNaturally, Miranda disputes all this. He says the 100 discrimination complaints have all been accepted by the Justice Department. "They must have some credibility since they are being investigated."

He says that the LOA has not officially endorsed a candidate but that Ferrer "has supported our organziation from our inception. Of course, there has to be a relationship there. Our door is open to any candidate. Giuliani as well."

Miranda says the money wasn't counted at the spring dance because of "safety purposes."

"We were at a night club. There was no facility on site to count the money. We had a lot of money on us. We didn't want to stay in a club atmosphere holding the money. For safety purposes, the money was removed. The next day arrangements were made to count the money. It was placed in a bag inside a briefcase. The briefcase was closed until the money was counted and deposited," Miranda says.

Surprise. When Amnesty International issued its recent report charging the NYPD with systemic beatings and shootings of poor black and Hispanic New Yorkers, two New York law enforcement figures attending a John Jay College-sponsored seminar on Crime and Justice in Dublin, Ireland, came to the NYPD's defense, saying there was nothing systemic about it.

One, as might be expected, was former First Deputy Commissioner John Timoney. The second, whom Mayor Giuliani continues to paint as soft on criminals, was Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.

No More Caps. In her house-cleaning efforts as deputy commissioner for public information, Marilyn Mode has diminished a part of the office's tradition and lore: the memorabilia of caps, buttons, patches, flags, plaques, pins and tie clips donated to the office over the years by visiting police officials from around the world.

Mode said Thursday that the memorabilia would be moved to the Police Academy museum "so that even more people will be able to see them." On Friday she said the memorabilia will be moved instead to the Sixth Precinct in Greenwich Village "so that even more people could see them."

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© 1996 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.