Anti-Violence Activist Says N.Y.P.D. Leaders Defamed Her Over Criticism

For years, Dana Rachlin, an anti-violence activist from Brooklyn, was included in high-level meetings with top officials in the New York Police Department. She attended galas and fund-raising events with Jeffrey Maddrey, now the chief of the department, and won the praise of Mayor Eric Adams, a former police captain, for her efforts to strengthen ties between the police and the community.

Those relationships chilled, she said, after she publicly accused a former precinct commander of “violent policing.” Soon, according to a federal lawsuit, police officials retaliated against her, using confidential details of a sexual assault that she reported to the police in 2017 to smear her reputation.

Ms. Rachlin’s defamation lawsuit was filed amid growing criticism of Police Department officials — including some who Ms. Rachlin said went after her — for verbally attacking their perceived antagonists in what many considered to be a break from protocol.

At a news conference on Monday, after her lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, Ms. Rachlin characterized the treatment she received by the police as part of a larger pattern. “It has been an extremely draining and exhausting thing,” Ms. Rachlin said.

Her lawyer, MK Kaishian, said the Police Department was “being unleashed on whoever they perceive that enemy to be.”

In the past month, top department leaders, including John Chell, the chief of patrol, and Kaz Daughtry, the deputy commissioner of operations, have engaged in a protracted social media spat with a Daily News columnist, calling him “deceitful” and a “gadfly”; dared a lawyer and a political commentator who sparred with the mayor about his approach to public safety to attend the funeral of an officer killed in the line of duty; and suggested that the public should vote out a councilwoman who had questioned the size of the police budget. Chief Maddrey has also criticized the media in deleted social media posts.

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