NYPD Cops Demand the Right To Be Corrupt

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

They’re not even pretending anymore.

A three-year investigation into the police’s habit of fixing traffic and parking tickets in the Bronx ended in the unsealing of indictments on Friday and a stunning display of vitriol by hundreds of off-duty officers, who converged on the courthouse to applaud their accused colleagues and denounce their prosecution.

As 16 police officers were arraigned at State Supreme Court in the Bronx, incensed colleagues organized by their union cursed and taunted prosecutors and investigators, chanting “Down with the D.A.” and “Ray Kelly, hypocrite.”

As the defendants emerged from their morning court appearance, a swarm of officers formed a cordon in the hallway and clapped as they picked their way to the elevators. Members of the news media were prevented by court officers from walking down the hallway where more than 100 off-duty police officers had gathered outside the courtroom.

The assembled police officers blocked cameras from filming their colleagues, in one instance grabbing lenses and shoving television camera operators backward.

The unsealed indictments contained more than 1,600 criminal counts, the bulk of them misdemeanors having to do with making tickets disappear as favors for friends, relatives and others with clout. But they also outlined more serious crimes, related both to ticket-fixing and drugs, grand larceny and unrelated corruption. Four of the officers were charged with helping a man get away with assault….

Federal agents earlier in the week arrested eight current and former officers on accusations that they had brought illegal firearms, slot machines and black-market cigarettes into New York City. Recently, other officers have been charged in federal court with making false arrests, and there was testimony in a trial in Brooklyn that narcotics detectives planted drugs on innocent civilians.

Of the 16 officers arraigned on Friday, ranking as high as lieutenant, 11 were charged with crimes related to fixing tickets. All of them pleaded not guilty, and all but two were released without bail. Officer Ramos was held in $500,000 cash bail. Jennara Cobb, a lieutenant in the Internal Affairs Bureau, was released after posting a $20,000 bail bond. She was accused of leaking information about the investigation to other officers.

The inevitable union angle  . . .

Prosecutors said the bulk of the vanished tickets were arranged by officials of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union. All the officers charged with fixing tickets are either current or past union delegates or trustees.

As the investigation unfurled, the union played down its significance and consistently referred to ticket-fixing as “professional courtesy” inscribed in the police culture.

Patrick J. Lynch, the union president, said in a news conference that the officers had been arrested on something “accepted at all ranks for decades.”

Well in that case . . .

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35 Responses to “NYPD Cops Demand the Right To Be Corrupt”

  1. #1 |  nospam | 

    “Prosecutors said the bulk of the vanished tickets were arranged by officials of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union. All the officers charged with fixing tickets are either current or past union delegates or trustees.”

    Aren’t we getting into RICO territory here?

    And let’s not forget that this is a group of heavily armed thugs who do whatever the hell they want and as we are seeing, will fight hammer and tong any effort to legally hold them accountable.

    “The assembled police officers blocked cameras from filming their colleagues, in one instance grabbing lenses and shoving television camera operators backward.”

    We know where this is going. Who will protect the people from these thugs? It’s not just this case. With recent attempted murders of protestors by police at the Oakland occupy protests, at some point the military is going to have to make a decision. They bear a great deal of responsibility for those thugs since they helped equip and train no small number of them.

  2. #2 |  Kukulkan | 

    “The assembled police officers blocked cameras from filming their colleagues, in one instance grabbing lenses and shoving television camera operators backward.”

    Sounds like battery to me. Charge him. Sounds like there is a real problem in NYC.

  3. #3 |  Kukulkan | 

    Nospam:

    See the article:
    “During the investigation, overseen by the Bronx district attorney’s office, prosecutors found fixing tickets to be so extensive that they considered charging the union under the state racketeering law as a criminal enterprise, the tactic employed against organized crime families. But they apparently concluded that the evidence did not support that approach.”

  4. #4 |  SJE | 

    Its interesting to see that the OWS groups have gotten their biggest boost from police over-reaction and the inevitable cover up

  5. #5 |  roy | 

    Clearly everyone involved should be charged with Rocketeering. They’ve already effectively confessed.

  6. #6 |  MPH | 

    You’ve got it wrong, nospam. The military didn’t choose to give surplus equipment to the police, Congress did.

  7. #7 |  nospam | 

    “The military didn’t choose to give surplus equipment to the police, Congress did.”

    Just following orders? “Here guys, we’ve been ordered to hand over equipment and train you in it’s use on American civilians. Have a nice day!”

  8. #8 |  John Regan | 

    One of the indicted officers was from Internal Affairs! Who polices the police of the police?

    Seriously, though. Ticket fixing is rinky dink stuff. Concentrating on that is almost disinformation, as in: See how meticulously scrupulous we are? We won’t even let officers get away with the pettiest and commonest of offenses.

    And as far as the cop attitude goes, you can see this repeated over and over, all across NYS. I have stories.

  9. #9 |  David | 

    Hey, if it’ll get people to recognize how completely broken the rule of law is with respect to police officers, the DA’s office can do all the posturing it wants.

  10. #10 |  Radley Balko | 

    Ticket fixing is rinky dink stuff.

    Broken windows!

  11. #11 |  derfel cadarn | 

    Ticket fixing is rinky dink stuff,it is the camels nose inside the tent, it is just the beginning. It is only called professional courtesy when the police get to do it ,if done by mere mortals it is unlawful. Funny thing about corruption no matter how small it might be it is still corruption. Everyone of the officers engaged in this protest should loose their jobs. What they did is childish bullying they are nothing more than a gang of thugs. They wish to have respect,respect is something that is earned at this rate they will never gain any.

  12. #12 |  Tyro | 

    Patrick J. Lynch, the union president, said in a news conference that the officers had been arrested on something “accepted at all ranks for decades.”

    If Lynch is right and there has been a culture of corruption at all levels stretching back decades then I do get a little twinge when I see only a few people punished. For such a big, endemic problem perhaps we should be asking whether what is the best way to fix it and not how to punish.

    For a start, we’d need a serious push from on high and perhaps some sort of amnesty in exchange for confessions so we could see what led to this problem and so we could get some real fixes.

    After that, then yes I think we should be punishing those who break the law.

  13. #13 |  Tyro | 

    Re rinky dink – their job is to enforce the laws yet they’ve taken it upon themselves to break them. Worse, they’ve decided that some laws should apply to common people but not to others.

    If the laws really are so trivial that you think no one should obey them, or that no one should ever be punished then we can have that discussion but that’s not what’s happening. Ultimately, the police shouldn’t be the people deciding which laws to uphold and they certainly shouldn’t be deciding which classes of people must follow the laws and which should not.

  14. #14 |  EH | 

    [Prosecutors] considered charging the union under the state racketeering law as a criminal enterprise, the tactic employed against organized crime families. But they apparently concluded that the evidence did not support that approach.

    I bet they could have gotten that evidence if they had investigated a little differently, and maybe for a little longer.

  15. #15 |  Cop An Attitude, Whether Mount Morris Or NYC | Lawyers on Strike | 

    […] a conflict with power on the line, the police are absolutely shameless.  They know where their bread is buttered.  They know that as a group they are politically […]

  16. #16 |  John Regan | 

    Well, I didn’t mean to suggest by saying “rinky dink” that it wasn’t important in the larger sense. But I think they do like to concentrate on things like that because the implication to the general public is that they are very scrupulous, so that obviously nothing terribly serious could be going on.

    Whereas the truth, of course is the opposite. Arresting a bunch of cops for ticket fixing is like attacking a five alarm fire with a squirt gun.

  17. #17 |  Matt | 

    “the Right To Be Corrupt”

    Sounds like the sequel to the “Beat the Crowds” t-shirt.
    http://tinyurl.com/4jwc6g

    F U! IMA KOP!

  18. #18 |  Flight 714 | 

    Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association

    wow.

  19. #19 |  JOR | 

    “With recent attempted murders of protestors by police at the Oakland occupy protests, at some point the military is going to have to make a decision.”

    Touching fantasy, but the military is not the one magical government agency free of corruption and evil. It’s the one government agency that makes the corruption and tyranny of the rest of them possible in the first place. That is its purpose, that is the oath its members swear.

    If it ever comes to open war (of whatever intensity) they’ll almost certainly be on the cops’ side; hell, a lot of cops came from the Marines, Army, or whatever.

  20. #20 |  Rojo | 

    @nospam re: “just following orders”

    Look at the signs the NYC cops are holding at their protest: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/29/nyregion/officers-unleash-anger-at-ticket-fixing-arraignments-in-the-bronx.html

  21. #21 |  Mario | 

    Funny, the reporters who were blocked and in some cases pushed by police were “just doing their jobs”; after all, they were “just following orders” given by their editors. Couldn’t the cops have shown a little “courtesy”?

  22. #22 |  Bergman | 

    Is it too much to hope that Tony Baloney is one of the indicted?

    Re: Roy, #5:

    I know you meant racketeering, but that typo is funny. Illegal use of rockets is something for the FAA to regulate, not the FBI. Though I suppose, given how the NYPD claims to be able to shoot down aircraft, it’s possible they do have rockets.

  23. #23 |  David | 

    See also: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/03/23

  24. #24 |  Cops vs. Law and Order | 

    […] On the east coast, cops admit that corruption is a perk of their jobs, and get all indignant about being prosecuted. […]

  25. #25 |  supercat | 

    I tend to believe that feedback patterns tend to be accurate predictors of behavior. People who can to expect get away with doing something which is wrong, but which benefits them, are likely to do so. When people do something wrong, it’s important that they be punished not so much because punishing them for behavior already committed will affect their future behavior, but rather because it is important that anyone considering doing something wrong have an expectation of punishment. One major problem with some simplistic cost-benefit analysis in issues of criminal prosecution is that it merely focuses on the effect of punishment on someone who’s committed a crime, rather than on the expectations such punishment or non-punishment will create in others.

    If one could rely upon benign dictators to remain benign, secrecy regarding punishments or lack thereof would actually be a good thing. Punishing people is expensive, both in terms of direct cost (e.g. cost to imprison them) and also in terms of opportunity cost (persons in prison can’t very well make money and pay taxes on it). In some cases, it’s necessary to keep people locked up because that’s the only way to prevent them from harming others. Often, however, if a benign dictator could let people escape punishment while successfully making everyone believe that those people had been punished, that would actually be better for everyone concerned. Of course, from a practical perspective that would be difficult to achieve even with the most benign dictator. Further, giving rulers the power to secretly and unexpectedly grant leniency also gives them the power to selectively exempt their friends from laws which apply to everyone else.

    The “Wheel” in “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” might seem an insane way to dispense “justice”, but it would probably be more effective than it might appear. One major problem with most punishments is that they can effectively destroy the life of those who might otherwise be productive members of society, without substantially deterring those who wouldn’t. If, instead of being thrown in jail for a six months, a person had to spin a wheel with a 90% chance of being let go and a 10% chance of being locked up for five years’ solitary confinement, facing the wheel would for many people be a stronger deterrent than would six months in jail, but 90% of otherwise-productive convicts would avoid having their lives destroyed.

  26. #26 |  cdavis411 | 

    Where is Serpico when you need him?

  27. #27 |  Ken | 

    Photographers should start strapping razor blades to the front of their lenses. Let the cops reach out and shove that away with their hand.

  28. #28 |  Us Vs. Them, who started it? | Douche of the Day | 

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  29. #29 |  marco73 | 

    Ticket fixing is just one of the benefits of the badge. Having the PBA back up the practice just points up their own corruption.
    As was documented by Serpico and others in the cop field, after ticket fixing then you move up to cleaning up money found on a an arrestee. Put a couple stray dollars in your pocket; I mean, is the arrestee going to file theft charges against you? And you know the PBA will back up a fellow cop versus some low-life drug dealer. (Since practically any non-connected citizen is a low-life.)
    Move on up to petty theft during a traffic stop. Honestly, does anyone believe that when a cop searches a car and finds several thousand dollars of “suspected” money, that the cops count every dollar and turn it over to the asset forfeiture guys? It isn’t really theft, just sort of a commission for turning over any money at all. If anyone raises a stink about missing money, its the cop and the PBA lawyer against some out-of-towner. Who is the friendly local judge going to believe?
    One of the really corrupt practices are the PBA fund raising calls where they want you to “donate” so you get a sticker on your car that you support local police. Sort of implied, maybe if they stop you and you have a sticker, they’ll extend professional courtesy and not write you a ticket.
    Plenty of folks must believe that nonsense, because I see those stickers everywhere.
    How’s that new professionalism working out for you, Scalia?

  30. #30 |  StrangeOne | 

    Ken, I believe setting up booby traps of any kind is generally prosecuted as attempted murder, and will result in 1st degree charges if a death results in it. I imagine a similar standard would be applied to razor cameras if they were to slice any delicate piggy digits.

    “Your honor, when reporter X affixed the weapon to the front of his camera, he knew full well that officers would attempt to block the device from filming his co-conspirators fellow officers, and as such commited assault with a deadly weapon”

  31. #31 |  Militant Libertarian » NYPD Cops Demand the Right To Be Corrupt | 

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  35. #35 |  Peter Ramins | 

    It’s heartening to see people protesting *inside* a courthouse and not getting truncheoned, pepper-sprayed, neck-booted, tazered, or shot.

    Oh, they were cops?

    Oh.

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