NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Dozens of civilians, Directors of the New Rochelle Police Foundation, have for many years been provided a photo ID card enabled with proximity technology which allows them unescorted, direct access to sensitive areas within New Rochelle's police headquarters through a secured door, Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll has confirmed in an exclusive interview with Talk of the Sound.
The ID cards with proximity technology serve as a keyless entry device for a locked door to the left of the Records Department window (pictured above). The door opens into a hallway through which a person can access the offices of the Police Commissioner, two police captains, the head of internal affairs and a stairwell that leads down to the basement. The basement contains, among other things, the armory and the police department gym both of which are secured by a keypad lock requiring the user to know the password to gain entry.
Up until three years ago, directors were also given a gold badge that while not identical can be confused for an authentic police badge. The gold badge given out by the Foundation is inscribed with the words "New Rochelle Police Foundation".
Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll said the Foundation discontinued the practice of distributing the gold badges due to confusion with other police departments over the badges.
Both the shield and "swipe card" are presented to directors contained in a wallet-type holder (see similar, pictured here) as a perk reserved exclusively for foundation directors who commit to raising funds for the organization.
Fund raising is the sole purpose of the directors of the New Rochelle Police Foundation.
"You are there to raise funds," said Carroll. "We don't care how you raise them, whether you get an ad, that's your business, whether you want to get it out of your own pocket. You're here as a fundraiser not to just walk around and say I am on the foundation."
The Police Commissioner said there is a minimum amount but many directors raise more.
"Their target is $1,500, said Carroll. "We explain that when people come on board….we put a figure of approximately $1,500 minimum that you should figure on raising each year.
Over the years the NRPF has raised over $2 million, according to Carroll. He said the money has been used to purchase equipment, vehicles, and technology for the New Rochelle Police Department. The foundation purchased the house that now serves as the Harbor Patrol office at Hudson Park. The Foundation also pays for training, educational conferences, scholarships and more.
The Foundation's latest federal tax filing lists assets of $173,942 and income of $180,285. The Foundation raises money primarily though two events, a golf outing held annually at Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, NY and a dinner gala at the Greentree Country Club.
Asked why Police Foundation directors would need keyless entry devices to enter a locked door at the police station, the Police Commissioner initially said the City Council passed a resolution authorizing the Foundation to maintain an office at NRPD headquarters including maintaining records and a computer at the police station. In a subsequent interview, the Police Commissioner said he did not recall saying that there had been a City Council resolution and that he thought he recalled that the City Manager had given permission for the Foundation to maintain an office at police headquarters but that it had been a long time ago and he could not recall for sure.
In either case, he said, directors of the Foundation have a right to access their office within NRPD headquarters and so they are all provided the swipe cards. The Police Commissioner said the cards would only be recognized by the keyless entry system between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm, Monday through Friday.
Carroll dismissed any concerns that distributing dozens of swipe cards to civilians represented a security risk.
"We have no issues with it," said Carroll. "All these people are upstanding citizens that are vetted before they are put on the foundation, put through a questionnaire, their backgrounds are checked, so we're comfortable with that."
Carroll said this issue had been raised before with the City Council and the City Manager and that it was old news.
A review of the IRS tax filings from 2009 to 2011 list the following people as Directors of the New Rochelle Foundation in at least one of those years: John A. Vasile, LeRoy W. Mitchell, Domenic Procopio, Charles McCabe, Peter Mustich, Charles Beaudoin, Anthony Bongo, Anthony Bulfamante, Ciro Chechile, Kevin Coleman, Dan Cremins, Christopher Daly, Frank DiCola, Nick DiCostanzo, Dominic Falcone, Vincent Farrell, Ivanhoe Ffriend, John Frank, Philip Goldfarb, Paul Hoffman, Jr., Steven Horton, William Lighten, Cynthia Lobo, Frank Longhitano, Rita Mabli, Ruth Marks, Rick Nash, Varghese Ninan, Allen Norman, Jim O'Connor, David O'Shaughnessy, William O'Shaughnessy, Anthony Orza, Mitchelle Ostrove, Hong Seo Park, Stuart Patchen, Marge Schneider, Antonio Serrao, Michael Smart, Stewart Tecihman, Raphael Torres, Robert Weisz, Frank Zazza, Mauro Zonzini, George Steiner, Patrick Carroll, Nancy Carlson, Ken Danslow, Anthony Piliero. Newer Directors, not listed in the 2009-11 tax returns include restauranteurs Alvin Clayton and Jimmy Rodriquez.
The same tax records show funds raised in 2011 as follows:
Annual Dinner Dance $99,065
Annual Golf Outing Event $74,535
Expenses in 2011:
Office Expenses $11,785
Conferences, conventions and meetings $2,925
Contributions to New Rochelle Police Department $114,544
Golf Outing Venue and Activity Event $60,255
Dinner Dance Venue and Activity Events $42,775
Miscellaneous Expenses $1,995
Total Expenses $247,766
Cash-on-hand at beginning of year $231,736
End of year $173,942
Talk of the Sound has sent a written request by mail to obtain a complete set of the organizational and financial records for the organization.