Tape Shows Naked Sergeant Cavorting in Grand Central
Aug. 04, 1988
NEW YORK (AP) _ Seven railroad police officers were suspended Wednesday after railroad brass saw a 5-year-old videotape that showed a sergeant cavorting around Grand Central Terminal wearing only a hat, holster and shoes.
The naked officer, Sgt. Richard DeClara, 46, is shown harassing the homeless and making a derogatory comment to a black man, according to a former captain who described the tape. In one scene, he lisps to imitate the stereotype of a homosexual.
Besides DeClara, a 21-year veteran of the railroad force, one lieutenant, three sergeants and two officers were involved.
The tape was made on the overnight shift on St. Patrick's Day 1983 during a strike by railroad workers that did not involve police, according to Peter Stangl, president of the Metro-North Commuter Railroad, which carries commuters between New York and its northern suburbs. The strike and the lateness of the hour left the landmark Grand Central all but deserted.
''I don't think these guys are fit to be cops, and we don't want them on the property,'' Stangl said at a news conference Wednesday.
The videotape was brought to his attention Monday afternoon and he viewed it Tuesday, Stangl said. He said the tape had been in a railroad police safe since the end of 1985, unknown to him.
Although the railroad did not release the tape, Dean Evans, a former captain in the department until he resigned in April, described it for The Associated Press. Later, excerpts were shown on WCBS-TV.
It shows DeClara in various situations and five other officers watching and laughing in the background, he said. The seventh officer allegedly made the videotape.
DeClara, who has an unlisted telephone number, told WCBS-TV: ''It was just a comedy-type tape. That's all it really was. Just exactly for laughs.''
On the tape, DeClara walks around the lower level of the terminal wearing only his hat, shoes and holster, making security rounds, checking that doors are locked and performing other duties.
At one point, he is shown harassing a homeless, black man. The officer asks him, ''When did you notice that you were turning black?'' and makes taunting references to such black stereotypes as tap dancing and eating watermelon.
In another scene, DeClara is in a coffee shop lisping and putting his arm around a man sitting at the counter with a woman. The woman is laughing, as are other officers in the background.
The officers were suspended pending a dismissal hearing, according to Patricia Raley, a Metro-North spokeswoman.
Stangl said he also has sent of copy of the videotape to the New York State police commissioner, asking him to revoke the commissions of the officers involved.