Seeking to combat the growing problem of people pointing handheld lasers at airplanes, often injuring crew members and potentially blinding the pilots, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Tuesday that it is offering $10,000 rewards for information that leads to the arrest of a perpetrator.
In making the announcement, the FBI said the latest reported incident in New York occurred as a Shuttle America plane was approaching LaGuardia Airport on May 23. At 5,000 feet, the cockpit was illuminated four times by a “powerful green laser” pointed at it from a residential area about eight miles south of the airport, the bureau said, which would put it in the East New York-Starrett City area.
Pilots flying into LaGuardia have reported numerous such incidents in recent months.
The FBI says laser strikes are up 1,100 percent since it and the Federal Aviation Administration began tracking them in 2005. In recent years in the New York area, the number has fluctuated, with 52 reported in 2010, 97 in 2011, 71 in 2012 and 99 in 2013.
The rewards extend a pilot program begun in February, and will be available for 90 days. Anyone with information on a laser incident is asked to call the FBI at (212) 384-1000. Tipsters may remain anonymous.
As it does every year, the Queens Library went before members of the City Council on Tuesday to make its request for more funding. Unlike past years, the library is being audited and is the target of a joint city and federal probe into how it uses the money it gets each year from the city, which provides about 80 percent of its revenue.
The library’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, Bridget Quinn-Carey, testified about the system’s financial needs before the Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations, as well as the Finance Committee and the Subcommittee on Libraries.
Mayor de Blasio proposed giving the library an expense budget of $83.4 million for fiscal year 2015, with the City Council planning to provide several million dollars more. Quinn-Carey said the library wants $65 million more than the mayor proposed, so that all branches can be open six days a week and the library can fill approximately 250 positions.
Quinn-Carey did not address in her testimony the controversy over library spending, which Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), the majority leader, and Borough President Melinda Katz have both said could jeopardize funding for the institution.
Asked if the fact that Quinn-Carey went before the members instead of Library President Tom Galante had anything to do with the controversy, library spokeswoman Joanne King was adamant that it did not. Galante could not appear for personal reasons, King said, he “remains the library’s leader in every respect,” and nothing at all should be inferred from the fact of who spoke to the lawmakers.
A new report issued by the advocacy group Communities United for Police Reform urges the NYPD’s new inspector general, Philip Eure, to investigate nine issues it considers problematic right away. Eure assumed his position last week.
The group, which goes by CPR, said the new IG should probe what it considers selective enforcement of minor offenses, unlawful searches and discriminatory marijuana arrests, the use of condoms as evidence in prostitution arrests, the use of force, disciplinary policies and the results of misconduct cases, surveillance of Muslim communities, lack of transparency, arrests that stay open on someone’s record even after related charges are resolved, and the discriminatory treatment of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
CPR was one of the groups that lobbied for the creation of the IG post. Its report is available in both English and Spanish under the Resources tab at changethenypd.org.