Top Cop Offers "Mea Culpa" to Elderly Couple for 50 Raids

Police commissioner brings cheesecake and humble pie

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An elderly couple in Brooklyn falls victim to an NYPD computer glitch that plagues them for eight years. (Published Friday, Mar 19, 2010)

    NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly on Friday visited Brooklyn's Walter and Rose Martin to apologize for his cops raiding their home dozens of times. 

    Kelly  brought a cheesecake (and some humble pie) because of the repeat NYPD visits to the Martin's Marine Park home -- at least 50 -- over the years.

    The Commish rolled into the quiet neighborhood at midday, stopping in front of the Martins' small, neatly kept house, a large American flag fluttering by the front door.

    Kelly "went to apologize — and to explain," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. "They expressed appreciation that the police commissioner came and they showed him pictures of their grandchildren."

    Earlier, cops had blamed a computer glitch for at least 50 mistaken police raids on the two-story home of the law-abiding elderly couple.

    After news broke that Walter Martin, an 83-year-old war vet, and his 82-year-old wife continued to endure raids after pleading their case years ago in a letter to authorities, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told detectives to fix the problem.

    The dozens of raids, which the Martins faced up to three times a week over a period of eight years, stem from a fundamental technology mix-up that started when the couple's Marine Park address was used to test an NYPD computer system in 2002, police said yesterday.

    Since then, police have showed up at the house from precincts all over the city, banging on the Martins' door searching for a different suspect -- from alleged murderers to robbers to rogue cops -- nearly every time.

    The most recent misdirect search came Tuesday, when cops banging on the door jarred Walter Martin from sleep. The incident, to which he and his wife have become all too accustomed, caused the elderly man's blood pressure to skyrocket and he felt dizzy as he dressed to tell them, once again, that they had the wrong address.

    In a letter to Kelly and other authorities two years ago, Rose Martin wrote that she feared she or a husband would "have a heart attack" if a no-knock warrant were issued.

    Fortunately for the Martins, the NYPD says neither that warrant – nor any other – will impose on them in the future.

    While it's still not clear why the couple's address was used in the department's database test in the first place, NYPD Chief Spokesman Paul Browne says any mention of it in computer files has been removed, according to the Daily News.

    Brown added that investigators attempted to eradicate the address from the system when the Martins complained in 2007, but not every computer file listing the address had been deleted. Every trace is gone now, he says.   

    As a precaution, Browne told the News that authorities implemented a measure to ensure no cop will be sent to the home without first double-checking the address.

    Still, Rose Martin remains wary of the sudden simple solution to a near-decade long problem.

    "It seems like too simple a correction for something that has been going on for eight years," she told the News.

    Additional reporting by Jonathan Dienst