NYCERS denies NYC EMT disability, MDASR steps up.

MDASR, LLP wins another important ¾’s Article 78 case!

An FDNY EMT suffered severe illnesses and injuries related to her heroic actions during the 9/11 clean-up operations. After being initially denied ¾’s Disability Retirement benefits from the New York City Employees Retirement System (“NYCERS”), a Supreme Court judge found that the NYCERS Medical Board acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in finding her not disabled. This represents a legal finding that NYCERS acted without “any credible evidence” to support its decision. The judge went on to note that the NYCERS Medical Board did not counter the EMT’s own treating physicians, nor those of the FDNY’s own physicians who had all found her incapable of performing the full duties required of an EMT. More importantly, the judge also found that the NYCERS Medical Board had failed to discuss the specific job duties and responsibilities required of an EMT, nor how our client could do the job despite her well documented physical limitations.

MDASR continues to help level the playing field for injured workers seeking disability benefits. If you were injured as a result of your job, call us today at (631) 665-0609.

 

Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

NYPD’s ShotSpotter yields positive results

NYPD is reporting that the gunshot-locating technology ShotSpotter has helped lower shootings throughout Brooklyn and the Bronx. An article on nydailynews.com grants a number of accomplishments as a result of the technology: “The rise comes as both arrests by police and complaints against officers are down substantially while the department adheres to a new policing philosophy that stresses a closer relationship between cops and the neighborhoods they serve.” Another triumph is noted by the same article, stating that, “…34% of shootings detected by ShotSpotter also resulting in a 911 call, according to 2016 statistics.” The technology can detect acoustics and is able to differentiate between gunshots and other loud noises that typically come with living in The Big Apple.

The implementation of the technology was a move to help officers and community members. With a possible federal budget cut looming, this program cannot afford to be lost considering its results. The technology draws a picture of how many detected shots are called into 911 and how many aren’t. The data collected will tell cops how New Yorkers are responding to shootings. Not only has it statistically cut the number of non-reported gunshots almost in half, but it also draws a clearer picture of shootings. Nearly all ShotSpotter-detected shootings that were associated with a 911 call resulted in a weapon being obtained from the crime scene. More weapons are being collected and more calls are being made as a result of this technology. According to an article posted on NY1.com the year the technology first implemented, it covered three housing districts and 17 precincts. It has doubled in reach since then.

This technology has been in place for about two years, but the improvements in the data are new, as well as the plan to expand this technology to all five boroughs.

NYPD: New ‘ShotSpotter’ Sensors Automatically Detect Location of Gunfire

EXCLUSIVE: NYPD ShotSpotter gunfire sensors improve rates of 911 calls, arrests

 

NYPD gears up after London attack in wake of proposed budget cut

Last week, the Trump administration released their plan for a 10% spike in military spending. Roughly $700 million in federal grants from the Department of Homeland Security would be cut, according to an article posted on Newsday.com. These are the same grants that provide funding for counterterrorism efforts for local law enforcement agencies across the country, affecting everything from equipment to manpower. An estimated $110 million in DHS grants would be cut from their budget. Considering the NYPD is the largest municipal police force in the country, this kind of cut to their nearly $5 Billion budget is worrisome, to say the least. Senator Chuck Schumer and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill appeared in Washington DC to show how important this funding is. Commissioner O’Neill stated in a New York Daily News article, “This is critical for our operation… that $110 million represents about 600 cops. I don’t think there’s clearer terms than that.” The $110 Million cut is just one estimated slash. An article on NYMag.com says that the cut could be as high has $190 million. Schumer told New York Daily News that in 2016 the NYPD received $180 million in DHS grants for the same kind of programs and operations that would be defunded under the currently proposed budget plan, which means that all or most of what the NYPD has to support their counterterrorism programs would be taken away.

This came shortly before a terror attack in London this week. New York City and the NYPD responded by ramping up security at its British locations, according to Newsday. The British Consulate General and the U.K. Mission to the U.N. are just two locations that have been given extra security. Most of the security for these locations came from the NYPD’s Critical Response Command, a team that would greatly feel the weight of the budget cuts, along with other crucial counterterrorism programs. Schumer has been successful in stopping these kinds of budget cuts to the city in the past, and we can only hope he and Commissioner O’Neill are successful in stopping this now.

Please see the articles below for sources and further information.

London attack: NYPD steps up security at British locations in NYC

EXCLUSIVE: NYPD top cop James O’Neill visits Washington to battle Trump’s security funding cuts

NYPD top cop James O’Neill says Trump’s budget would severely impede the city’s fight against terrorism

Schumer: Trump would cut $200M from NYPD anti-terrorism, other funds

NYPD Commissioner Says Trump’s Budget Would ‘Hobble’ Counterterrorism Efforts

 

Neighborhood Policing initiative receives $20 Mil budget

In the wake of a newly ratified NYPD PBA contract, the NYPD just received a hefty budget for their Queens precincts to bolster Mayor de Blasio’s Neighborhood Policing Initiative. The new PBA contract includes a 2.25% raise as part of the program but will be going to all officers regardless of their participation. According to an article posted on AM New York, the breakdown of the budget is as follows;

  • Just over half of the budget will be going to purchasing vehicles for all Queens precincts-164 total vehicles.
  • Close to $3 Million will be spent on technology for recruits and their superiors, specifically tablets.
  • Over $2 Million will be spent on replacing old AEDs with new ones.
  • $1.6 Million will be spent on providing NYPD members with safer gun holsters.

Please see the link below for more information.

NYPD gets more than $20M for new equipment in Queens precincts

 

75 new detectives to protect the Bronx

New York City and the NYPD has stated a victory in finding that the number of homicides has gone down, but in the case of what has become New York’s most violent borough-the Bronx-the NYPD has gone to new lengths to bring it up to par with Manhattan and the rest of the five boroughs.

According to the New York Times, the NYPD announced last week that they would be sending close to 80 new investigators to the Bronx. A study published by New York Times analyzed deployment data showing that officers in the Bronx dealt with the highest felony caseloads in the five boroughs. The New York Times study published just a few weeks prior to this announcement determined that “Precinct Detectives in the Bronx last year carried out more than twice as many violent felony cases on average as detectives in Manhattan or Staten Island, and over 50 percent more than those in Brooklyn or Queens.”, noted in the article linked below. The study also showed that budgetary resources are being invested elsewhere, such as counter-terrorism instead of the deployment of officers. This ultimately resulted in the Bronx not feeling the same relief of lower crime rates that were felt in Manhattan and the rest of New York City. The decision to deploy the 75 white-shield investigators, who are on track to become gold shield detectives, has been met with support from NYPD officials and the Bronx District Attorney as well as criticism from other New York City public officials. Letitia James, the City’s public advocate, expressed that this problem in the Bronx had been ignored for too long. The NYPD Chief of Detectives, Robert Boyce, has told New York Times that the deployment should be underway by the end of the month.

Within the last year, there has been a growing trend of readjusting the staff of jails and prisons to keep the facilities safer for both Correction’s Officers and inmates, and a trend of public employee reform in general. This year began with legislative measures being announced to protect transportation workers and construction workers, and it looks like this trend has now transferred over to the Police Departments. This also comes in the wake of the new contract agreement between Mayor de Blasio and the PBA, the first in 5 years.

Police to Strengthen Force in New Yorks’ Most violent Borough

Nassau County COBA fighting poor jail searches

An internal investigation into a former Nassau County jail nurse has reportedly been mishandled and Nassau County COBA President is fighting for answers.  After a long series of letters, articles, press conferences, and investigations, former Nassau County Jail nurse Chantiel Cox was charged and arrested February 3rd, 2017 for smuggling contraband to inmates.

Nassau County COBA President Brian Sullivan received a series of letters from the Nassau County DA’s office painting a disturbing picture of an obstructed internal investigation of the former nurse. She and two other accomplices were allegedly smuggling razorblades, cellphones, synthetic drugs and other items to inmates. She initially was fired, without charges, from the jail following an internal investigation of the smuggling ring. Prosecutors weren’t formally made aware of the internal investigation. According to a video from Ucomm.com of a press conference that took place last month, the Nassau County DA found out through outside sources and then demanded a briefing from jail administration.  Following the briefing, the DA’s office conducted its own investigation and then later arrested and charged Cox.  An article on Ucomm.com paints a history of negligent facility searches and a general trend of searches being carried out poorly when violent situations arise. The same article states that for nearly a year after having knowledge that the nurse in question was bringing contraband into the correctional facility, there was no facility-wide search ordered for weapons, drugs, cell phones or other items.

A series of letters from the Nassau DA’s office sent to the Nassau County COBA President dating back to December of 2015, as referenced by Newsday, is what set the Union’s appeal for another investigation into motion. Prosecutors learned of the smuggling ring in December 2015 after the DA’s office was alerted by outside sources about the scheme. Chief Assistant DA, Albert Teichman, followed up by saying that not only was the investigation immediately conducted but that even though the sheriff’s initial investigation was mishandled, “the failures were non-criminal”. Ultimately, he later stated that he also asked County Attorney Carnell Foskey that all county agencies be reminded the police or prosecutors ” must be notified of any potential criminal investigation”, as quoted from the Newsday article about this case published in January. There was no question during this correspondence that the DA’s office or police should have been formally and properly consulted about the initial internal investigation.

The mishandled investigation into this matter only facilitates the unsafe landscapes of jails for inmates and correctional staff alike. If individuals who work inside these correctional facilities are overworked and understaffed, it creates a dangerous environment. Someone taking advantage of their access to secured and controlled spaces to further distribute materials, some that inmates can make in the jail without outside help, perpetuates the already vicious cycle of violence in jails. For more information about this case, please see the links below.

 

Correction officers union calls for probe of Nassau sheriff’s office

DA: Jail contraband probe involving nurse ‘mishandled’ internally

When the Sheriff Obstructs Justice

Nassau COBA holds Press Conference at the Nassau Legislature

 

 

 

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY & THE NEW FIREARM POSSESSION/PURCHASING RULES

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY & THE NEW FIREARM POSSESSION/PURCHASING RULES

By:       Sean Patrick Riordan, Esq.

I have received several calls and inquiries regarding the “new Social Security Administration Regulations” regarding firearm possession/purchase for those receiving Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits. To that effect, the Social Security Administration has implemented, as of December 19, 2016, new regulations regarding gun possession/purchase by some SSD recipients. As many of my clients are retired uniformed personnel who retain weapons into retirement I certainly understand the anxiety that hearing this news has caused. HOWEVER, Social Security’s new regulations effect very few SSD recipients and will not interfere with the large majority of retired officers’ ability to retain their weapons while receiving Social Security Disability benefits.

The background of the new Social Security regulations is important to understand. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (“Brady Act”) was passed in 1994 and called for the U.S. Attorney General to set up the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”), allowing for the immediate background check of those wishing to purchase a firearm. In 2007 Congress determined that the NICS program was not operating properly and passed the NICS Improvement Amendments Act (“NIAA”). The NIAA required federal agencies that had “any record demonstrating” that a person fits into one of the restricted categories of the Brady Act such agency must provide the Attorney General with its information.

Relevant to the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) and our discussion here, the Brady Act prohibits “a person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been admitted to a mental institution” from “possessing, shipping/transporting or receiving any firearm or ammunition.” Therefore the SSA was charged with determining whether it had any information regarding individuals who had been “adjudicated as a mental defective.” Clearly, the SSA does, within the confines of its disability programs, make decisions regarding whether individuals are capable of performing “substantial gainful activity.” Often, as part of these disability determinations, SSD applicants raise psychological impairments which they believe impact their ability to work. However, a mere finding that a psychological impairment has an impact on one’s ability to work does not mean they have been determined to be a “mentally defective” individual. Therefore the SSA came up with a reasonable system in which it meets its obligations under NIAA, while not reporting every SSD recipient with a psychological impairment to the Attorney General. That system is encapsulated in its new rules.

Under its new rules the SSA will report those individuals that meet the following criteria to the Attorney General in accordance with its mandate under the NIAA:

  • The individual is a SSD or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) recipient;
  • The individual was found to meet or equal a Psychological Listing under 12.00 of the Social Security Act;
  • The individual was determined by the SSA to be unable to manage his/her own economic benefit and therefore a Representative Payee has been assigned to manage the individuals benefit on their behalf.

Based on these parameters, the impact of this new reporting system on most SSD recipients is extremely limited. First, an individual has to be determined to “meet a Listing within Section 12.00” of the Social Security Act. Legally, this means that the individual’s psychological impairment, in and of itself, was determined by the SSA to be so severe that no other factor was considered during the determination of whether the individual could perform work activities. This is not applicable to the majority of SSD cases involving uniformed personnel; generally a recipient had other factors considered during the SSD adjudication process. Such factors as an applicant’s other disabilities, age, education level, previous work experience and transferable skills are commonly evaluated in order to determine the individuals work capability. Where these factors were considered in addition to the psychological impairment, these individuals are not subject to the new reporting rules. In other words, only those that have been found to suffer from such a severe psychological disability that nothing else was considered during the SSD process will be reported to the Attorney General under these new firearm possession rules.

Second, the SSA further limits the number of SSD recipients it will report to the Attorney General with the additional criteria that the individual must also have been found incapable of managing their own funds and the SSA appointed a Representative Payee to receive the economic benefit on the recipients behalf. This means that not only does the individual have to meet or equal a Social Security Act Listing but they also have to be found incapable of managing their own funds. This additional criteria further limits the amount of SSD recipients that are affected by the new rules and greatly limits the amount of uniformed personnel that should be concerned with these new provisions.

I do have one concern with the new rules, and it is a concern that is coming to fruition. The SSA has indicated that they will send out, to the SSD recipient, a notification of potential reporting to the Attorney General under the new rules when it is determining whether a SSD recipient is in need of a Representative Payee. A Representative Payee determination is sparked when the SSA has information that the SSD recipient may have a psychological illness that affects their ability to manage their own funds. It is my fear that this notice of potential reporting will go to all SSD recipients being considered for a Representative Payee, rather than those that also meet the Listing criteria noted above. Therefore, some who clearly do not meet the criteria for reporting to the Attorney General may still receive a letter saying that they might be referred to the Department of Justice. In fact, we have already fielded calls from clients saying that they received notification that they may be reported despite the fact that they clearly do not meet the criteria discussed above, so it does appear that my fear is in fact reality. This will cause undue stress for many who receive SSD benefits and retain their weapons post their retirement from their law enforcement position. If you, or any of your members, receive this letter you should immediately consult with your attorney to weigh the likelihood of being reported.

Overall, the impact of the new Social Security regulations are extremely limited as they relate to our law enforcement clientele. If you or your members have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach me anytime, (212) 612-3198 or Sean@nycomplaw.com.

SSD and Gun Ownership Rights

Part two; Protecting our Correction Officers

Some time ago, I wrote a post titled From Illinois to New York, Solutions for Understaffed Jails. The articles referenced in the post outlined the grave environment that jails have transformed into for inmates and correction officers. An unsafe work environment for Corrections Officers ultimately leads to poor conditions for inmates. Inmates have quick and easy access to all kinds of contraband, putting the lives of CO’s in danger. The story on such work environments has developed.

As of last year, according to COBA statistics, just about half of the stabbings & slashings at Rikers Island Department of Correction involved 18 to 21 year olds-64 out of a total of 125 for the year. This is also the same age group that has seen an end to Solitary Confinement on Rikers Island. The COBA Union and the President of COBA have been imploring the Department and the City to see what is happening to their Corrections Officers, calling the end to solitary confinement “open season on CO’s”. “We have since filed an improper practice petition against the City and the Department of Correction for violating our collective bargaining agreement when the Department unilaterally eliminated punitive segregation for 18-21 year old inmates.”, a quote in a newsletter this month from the COBA President, Elias Husamudeen. Another statistic-since January of this year, which isn’t even over, 620 NYC Correction Officers have been assaulted by inmates under 21. Husamudeen has urged for the removal of violent inmates with a repetitive history of assaulting COs to mental health facilities or another jurisdiction, one where solitary confinement is in place. The COBA President has also noted that, on the upside, a number of these repeat offenders have been rearrested. This process of rearresting repeat assailants is accompanied by other highly preventative measures, all in the name of protecting New York’s Boldest. He states that Corrections Officers need policy makers to act as quickly with CO’s as they do with police officers when it comes to punishing assailants. Their safety and protection against assaults is hindered by mandated triple-shifts, due to programs that require a staff size that is unavailable at Rikers.

The road to reform for our Correction Officers is long and winding, but must be traveled. All who protect us deserve the same from the system at hand.

From New York to Illinois, Solutions For Understaffed Jails

Teamsters Local 700 in Lake County, Illinois have stepped up for the areas overworked correctional officers. Too often are jails understaffed leaving their correctional officers working a recently mandated and regulated over time, putting themselves at more of a risk then they all ready do. Correctional officers also bear the weight of gender-specific duties. In a quote from the article from PRnewswire.com, “The female correctional officers are excessively impacted by the overtime regulation because of their specific assignments that only female officers can attend to.” This also applies in the case for male correctional officers. As much as this is a risk for the CO’s, its also a risk for the inmates-less officers on duty means a higher probability of something bad happening to either party, and both need to be protected.

This problem is also evident here in New York. At the beginning of this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio made a plan to spend more than $100 Million to improve the conditions of the Rikers Island NYC Department of Correction. This would be effective July of 2017. The push for funding was a response to a federal lawsuit that addressed violence in jails-which in turn means violence in working conditions for correctional officers, and violence in living conditions for inmates. Close to $60 million of the budget is being put to staffing the facility. It’s also not as if understaffing versus overcrowding isn’t an issue either. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and statistics do show that prisons and jails are overcrowded as well as they are understaffed.

Read the articles linked below for more information.

Union: State Prisons Dangerously Understaffed

Teamsters Local 700 Continues to Fight for Lake County Correctional Officers

Rikers Island Will Have More Officers Than Inmates Under Proposed Budget

Deadline extension for Zadroga Act claim

Those effected by the catastrophic events of September 11th, 2001 were just given an extension to file for a claim under the Zadroga Act. This legislation was reauthorized on December 18th, 2015. According to the 9/11 Veterans Compensation Fund, filing deadline has been extended from October 3rd, 2016 to December 18th, 2020. The extension was put into effect this past week. This update to the Zadroga Act also results in the Veterans Compensation Fund getting an additional $4.6 billion in funding, available in October 2016. These are just some of the updates made to this bill. This new deadline also applies to all supplementing documents a claimant will need to include in the process of filing. Please see the link below for further information.

This act was made in remembrance of James Zadroga, a New York Police Department officer. The late officer tragically passed away in 2006 of a respiratory disease he contracted as a result of his bravery in the immediate aftermath of September 11th, 2001. After the bill passed into State Government in 2006, it officially passed as Federal law in 2011. As we remember to hold in high esteem those who protect our nation and communities, we cannot forget the importance of taking care of them as well. We must continue to take care of those who take care of us.

James Zadroga Act update
James Zadroga Wikipedia