NYPD Gave Weapons to Civic Patrol Volunteers with Criminal History - without a Background Check

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The following news story could have been an episode right out of The Gangs of New York, were it filmed today ... Except in contemporary New York City, or rather across the bridge in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, the gang is of a slightly unexpected variety, and the story has an unfortunate, if predictable twist.

In April of last year, Andrew Charles, a young black college student was viciously beaten on the streets of Crown Heights, a neighborhood long, if somewhat reluctantly, shared by Orthodox Jews and African Americans. The victim was shocked to learn who was behind the attack that left him incapacitated for months. He also spearheaded a movement that advocates routine background checks for police volunteers.

As it turns out, the beating was the handy work of Shmira, the Jewish neighborhood patrol group that enjoys the blessing of the New York City Police Commissioner. The victim felt rather chagrined by the fact that Shmira is part of NYPD Civilian Observation Patrol launched by the Commissioner specifically to ease racial tensions in the neighborhood. Charles publicly condemned the process of NYPD volunteer selection, stating that every member should undergo a background check.

Brooklyn's District Attorney was looking into the attack, but now the prime suspect, a Shmira member, has fled to Israel before they had a chance to charge him. A NYPD source confirmed that first they were investigating Shmira, then suddenly they were welcomed, equipped and publicly anointed by NYPD without so much as a single background check, whereas it's public knowledge that at least two Shmira members have a criminal record including prior assault and harassment with racially based motives.

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