Curtis Sliwa is a well-known figure in the public-safety field. As the longtime leader of the Guardian Angels anti-crime group, he has been at the forefront of numerous domestic-violence, drug and other law-enforcement measures, most notably in the New York area. I spoke with him recently about his new book, “Friendly Fire,” which is described as an investigation into New York Police Department torture methods, and the book on a statewide level, in which he claims members of the MS-13 gang threaten to “snatch, slit, mutilate and kill” him if he does not go along with new legislation.
CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski: There’s been a lot of media coverage this week on the book. “Friendly Fire” has been called an investigation into a very seedy New York Police Department practice. What is your take on it?
Curtis Sliwa: What we have seen over the last four decades is an abuse of authority. Whether it be a member of the mafia or a firefighter or cop, whenever you have the abused forced to make law, they legislate a lot. That is not to say it’s an evil practice. It is a fundamental human right for any law-abiding citizen to have due process, that whatever your accusation is, even if it’s unfounded, you have an opportunity to have that question answered by the accuser.
If you look at my book, it calls for holding police officers accountable for their abuse. For example, if you leave a sadistic puppy abuser locked up, you have a right to hold the officer accountable. When you take an anti-hero like Jennifer Lopez, punish her. She shot an unarmed man in the chest; she went to prison for a year.
CNN: I want to get into this whole torture thing, because there’s a lot of coverage that says that you say NYPD is doing something for which the city and state should face potential lawsuits. What is your take on that?
Sliwa: For every job, the punishment and the cost of that crime is horrific, and that is what the anti-violence measure is trying to do.
There’s this perception that if I said something about them on television, now I have to say something in print, but nothing could be further from the truth. I can write about their abusive practices, and no attorney is going to look at this and say “We are going to do something.” They look at me, like, “Okay, look here. We’re going to fight this on the file, and here is our case. If we’re going to win this case, we’re going to do this, this and this. And if he doesn’t go along with it, then we are going to punish him.” And the punishment hasn’t happened. That is what we want to stop.
But it is a very sad situation where police officers don’t have their due process. We don’t want to save these men and women of law enforcement. They are outstanding and honorable in all forms, except for this. The truth is not the first thing they have to defend.
CNN: How do you describe the anti-violence efforts?
Sliwa: New York City (Aldis Hodge) just said it best: “It’s a little easy for police officers to grab and shake a gun when they feel like it. It’s harder to grab a gun and shake it in a court of law.” We haven’t done that.
CNN: Where do you stand politically on the issues?
Sliwa: We got elected. We have done nothing but uphold the Constitution.