De Blasio Called Cops After Pal's Arrest

Wednesday, 12 Feb 2014 12:00 AM

By Cathy Burke

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A pastor on Mayor Bill de Blasio's transition team was arrested for two open warrants, but was spared a night in jail after the mayor called a deputy police chief, reports say.

According to a story first reported by the Wall Street Journal, De Blasio called Deputy Chief Kim Royster in the police department's press office after two officers pulled over Bishop Orlando Findlayter, Monday night for making a left turn without signaling.

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"The Mayor reached out to Deputy Chief Royster to get clarification on word that there had been an arrest of a respected local clergyman," said De Blasio spokesman Phil Walzak the New York Daily News reported.

"Did the mayor call me last night about this particular person and his status? Yes he did," Royster told The News, adding "it's not unusual" for her to get calls from city officials about individuals taken into custody.

The mayor did not ask that Findlayter be released, The Journal reported.

The Journal reported two outstanding arrest warrants turned up as the officers ran the pastor's driver's license information through crime databases; he'd been arrested at an immigration-reform protest in Manhattan but didn't pay his fine or go to court after being released with a summons.

NYPD officers are required to hold a suspect with an arrest warrant until he can be taken to court to clear up the warrant, The Journal reported. In the pastor's case, the arraignment court was set to close before he could be brought there to see a judge, The Journal said.

"There is some discretion there, but the police patrol guide says they have to be returned to the court" before being released, Bob Cassidy, deputy chief clerk of citywide summons operations with the Office of Court Administration, told The Journal.

NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said officers have discretion to release people with outstanding warrants when there is no risk to the community.

Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lehr of the precinct where the pastor was brought knew Findlayter and let him go home for the night so long as he went to court the next day to clear up the warrant, the Journal reported.

Royster said the pastor did appear and had his warrants dismissed.

One union police official was sharply critical. "If a guy has a warrant, you don't let him go. Period," Sgt. Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, told the New York Post.

"There is no `discretion.' What if you release him, he drives a block, blows a red light and runs somebody over and kills him? As a supervisor, you have a lot to answer for."

"He just confirmed that it really is a 'tale of two cities.'"

John Jay College professor Eugene O'Donnell, a former New York police officer and prosecutor, said he wasn't "aware of any patrol guide provision that would allow" Lehr to release anyone wanted on a bench warrant.

"Every day people get dragged through the system for technical reasons and spend time in jail, but that's the system we live in," he told the Journal.

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