US officer admits 300 attacks

NEW YORK - A former New York policemen nicknamed 'The Engineer' because of the way he beat and robbed suspects and then made fraudulent arrests, was asked by a city commission investigating police corruption, 'Were you afraid of getting caught?' The policeman replied: 'No, who was going to catch us? We were the police', writes Peter Pringle.

Once Officer Bernard Cawley, he is now prisoner Cawley, a six-foot hunk of a man serving time for trying to sell handguns and drugs he and another officer had confiscated from their victims. Before he was finally taken off the streets, he told the commission, he had beaten between 300 and 400 people and broken into an average of five apartments a night.

The hearings, called the Mollen Commission, are being held at the request of New York's Mayor, David Dinkins, after the arrest of six officers in Brooklyn on drug trafficking charges. The aim is to evaluate the scale of the corruption in the 30,000-member New York force and to recommend safeguards against abuses.

'Did you beat people up who you arrested?' Cawley was asked. 'No,' he replied. 'We just beat people up in general. If they're on the street, hanging around drug locations. It was . . . to show who was in charge.' Another former policeman, Kevin Hambury, said he and 20 other officers searched more than 100 cocaine dealers and stole their money.

Most of the events took place from 1985 to 1990 and the current city police chief, Raymond Kelly, says the hearings are 'one-sided'.