The NYPD has been in the news quite a bit this month, with the revelation of widespread fabrication in several Queens drug arrests, treatment of protesters during Occupy Wall street, and close attention to selective stop and frisk in light of allegations of racism. The recent culmination of a three-year investigation has also revealed roughly 800 instances of ticket fixing by several NYPD officers and public employees.
Oddly enough, the discovery of the ticket fixing was made during an investigation of the criminal sale of marijuana from a barbershop owned by an NYPD officer. It was during the wiretap of the officer that ticket fixing was revealed, which turned out to be quite a significant issue on its own.
Indictments were unsealed against 16 NYPD officers on October 28th. Eleven of the officers were charged with ticket fixing, including charges of grand larceny, tampering with public records, conspiracy, official misconduct, and fraud. Five were charged with unrelated crimes. Among these unrelated crimes were narcotics corruption and covering up an assault. These are serious cases of police misconduct by the NYPD, which may just be the tip of the iceberg. News of the investigation was also leaked to officers in question, hinting at a possibly deeper issue.
There was plenty of support for the 16 officers at the Friday arraignment, including over 60 off-duty police officers. Some even held signs that read “NYPD Culture” and “It’s a Courtesy, Not a Crime.” While the ticket-fixing itself may seem minor, these reactions point to the acceptance of behavior that is problematic on many levels. The Bronx District Attorney reportedly has a list of over 500 additional police officers accused of ticket fixing. The culture of protecting one’s police brethren is noble, but how far is too far?