Here is a very long investigative report by the NY State Commission of investigation on all the New York SPCCs in regards to their practices. It details the legal responsibilities and boundaries of all NY area SPCCs.
Apparently, the "paece officer" status of SPCC agents is a very hot issue. It is actually quite scary as one reads though this report (from 2001)...in regards to the lack of oversight of SPCC investigative operations and how and who are chosen as agents for the SPCC in New York. This report describes some very serious problems with that system and recommend repealing the statutory provisions given to SPCCs in New York.
Apparently, the "peace officer" status was granted in the 1870's when the SPCCs were founded because there wer no formal governmental agencies to provide that function. However, over time, federal and state agencies did develop, but the SPCCs maintained their antiquated status - and lack of oversight. Essentially the 100+ year old laws were never changed to adapt to new times and investigative practices. Nor was any oversight of SPCC operation developed. Prior to the 20th century SPCCs were the primary child rescue groups (investigation, arrest, prosecution), however, they have not adpted well to the child protection model now used (social services, etc).
From the report:
At the time of this commission, Many SPCCs were operating as para-police organizations with, agents being badged, carrying firearms, and wearing plain clothes. Many agents were of questionable backgrounds including outstanding warrants and criminal histories. Four of the NY State SPCC's were not offering any services at all, others were being used, according to the report as "nothing more than a corporate shell designed soley to circumvent New York firearms licensing laws".Quote:
Upon joining the SPCC, members are neither finger printed nor photographeed, and are not subject to any state-supervised screening process to ensure that only those persons properly suited to working with abused and neglected children are accepted into the organization. The opportunity to become a peace officer and utilize police type powers associatied with that status continues to make these organizations attractive to persons who should not and otherwise could not become legitimate law enforcement officers entrusted withthe protection and care of children.
Apparently, some laws have been changed, but little change has occurred in many of the SPCCs. At the time of this report the Kings County SPCC was a target of a failed investigation. However, it seems according to the above links, they have now been forced to dissolve.
At the time of this report there were 14 SPCCs operating in NYS - 5 of which were deemed as operating as proper social service protection agencies. The NY SPCC (oldest one, Manhattan) seems to be the most legit in it's operations and, according to this report does not carry out investigations. It only offers social and protective services. However, of the 32 employees, 5 were designated as peace officers and badged (not permitted to carry firearms). The report goes on the describe the activities of all of the NY State SPCCs - both positive and negative. Some were VERY negative.
I should say that this information does not necessarily reflect on Mr. Hoenig. It is only an offshoot of the discussion which arose on SPCC. In fact, if Mr. Hoenig does work with the SPCC, this info confirms that SPCC members can be classified as agents. In fact, there are SPCCs doing great work as well, so this is not an indictment of Hoenig. Only a description of the problems with the organization for which he works/has worked.