NYPD Scandals Keep Rolling In

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Cop found guilty of planting drugs on innocent people:


Before announcing the verdict, Justice Reichbach scolded the department for what he described as a widespread culture of corruption endemic in its drug units. 

"I thought I was not naïve," he said. "But even this court was shocked, not only by the seeming pervasive scope of misconduct but even more distressingly by the seeming casualness by which such conduct is employed..."

Though there had been conflicting testimony during the trial about the existence of quotas in the department's drug units, Justice Reichbach said, a system of flawed procedures in part led to the charges against Detective Arbeeny. 

In the department's Brooklyn South narcotics unit, for instance, drugs seized as evidence are not counted or sealed until they reach the precinct and can be handled by multiple officers along the way, Justice Reichbach said, adding that such unacceptable practices "pale in significance" to the "cowboy culture" of the drug units. 

"Anything goes in the never-ending war on drugs," he said, "and a refusal to go along with questionable practices raise the specter of blacklisting and isolation."

Cop arrests a woman for trespassing in Riverside Park. She spends 36 hours in lock-up, because she left her ID at her hotel:

Ms. Zucker said that throughout her stay in police station cells, other officers were shocked that she had not been given a chance to have a friend fetch her ID. 

"The female officers were gossiping that the officer who arrested me had an incredibly short fuse," she said. We are instructed by the mayor that the garish crimes of police gun-running and fake arrests are the work of rogues, not the daily toil of honest police officers. A fair point -- but no more than Ms. Zucker's observations of spiritual corruption. 

"While it may have been one out-of-control officer that began the process," she said, "no other officer had the courage to stand up against what they knew was a poor decision."

Cops busted by the feds for running guns:

Eight current and former New York police officers were arrested on Tuesday and charged in federal court with accepting thousands of dollars in cash to drive a caravan of firearms into the state, an act of corruption that brazenly defied the city's strenuous efforts to get illegal guns off the streets. 

The officers -- five are still on the force, and three are retired -- and four other men were accused of transporting M-16 rifles and handguns, as well as what they believed to be stolen merchandise across state lines, according to a complaint filed in the case in Federal District Court in Manhattan...

In an ironic twist, the new case began after an F.B.I. confidential informant sought to have a traffic ticket fixed in exchange for payment. He was introduced to one of the officers, William Masso, 47, according to the complaint. They developed a relationship, and Officer Masso began expressing interest in working with the informant to obtain and sell contraband, largely cigarettes.

Mayor and police chief encourage us to see this as minor:

"The sad reality is that some people are going to violate their oath of office," Mr. Kelly said at the news conference, adding: "I would submit to you that it is a very small minority. But if you had 1 percent of 50,000 people you would have 500 people."

That may well be true -- but it misses the point. If you own a restaurant and your customers see a rat, claiming that on 364 out 365 days of the year, your facilities are vermin-free, will do very little to assuage them or mollify your critics. They will likely avoid your establishment as much as humanely possible. This would strike most people as sensible.

In terms of the police, one must factor not just cops who are crooked, but those who think it's appropriate to pepper-spray people for fun, those who leave people in detention over a missing ID, those who kill innocent people by mistake. You are then talking about something a bit more dangerous than the One Percent rule implies.

That is the terrain. I accept it as a result of democracy. I also accept that communities which enjoy an overexposure to this privileged One Percent, will tend to be less likely to regard the police as a legitimate branch of law enforcement, and more likely to regard them as another neighborhood crew, empowered with the right to legally kill, and suffer few obvious consequences. One can see how such a people might make the wholly sensible decision to refrain from speaking too much with this One Percent, as surely as a patron might decide to avoid your mostly vermin-free establishment.

Over the long term, I hope we revisit how we've decided to police our communities. In short term, I have son to raise. There are numerous forces I seek to safeguard him against. The police are among them.

UPDATE: Comments back open.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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