The NYPD traffic ticket fixing scandal that’s been in the news most of this year took another step forward Friday as 16 officers were arraigned on criminal charges in the Bronx in conjunction with the scandal. Hundreds of officers have found themselves involved in the scandal to some extent. While the vast majority of officers will be dealt with administratively by the NYPD, the 16 arraigned Friday are charged with activity that rose to the criminal level.
Eleven of the 16 were charged with fixing tickets. All 16 were charged with a official misconduct charges ranging from destroying summonses to accepting gifts or forcing other officers to perjure themselves in court.
Many officers not directly involved with the scandal were at the scene to protest the entire investigation. The crowd of officers backed their colleagues while voicing their displeasure with NYPD officials who pushed ahead with this investigation in the first place. Officers referred to the investigation as a “persecution”, not a prosecution. Chants of “Ray Kelly, hypocrite” and “innocent, innocent” were heard from the crowd.
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association head Pat Lynch said the investigation focused on rank-and-file cops and spared higher ranking officers. One sign at the scene read “just following orders”, a reference to the fact that many of the subjects of the investigation claim they were simply acting on a request of a superior within the department to help make a ticket go away.
In general, officers feel it is quite unfair to suddenly unleash an investigation of this scope and levy criminal charges for fixing tickets which was as much a part of regular police work as issuing a ticket itself. Ticket fixing was traditionally seen as a courtesy, not a crime.
According to Commissioner Kelly, ticket fixing activities “are crimes under the law and can’t be glossed over as ‘courtesies’ or as part of an acceptable culture.” He added that “those who try to rationalize them as such are kidding themselves.”
The accused accused officers were shown some courtesy and given the opportunity to turn themselves in overnight as a way of dodging the media and delays in fingerprint processing. This didn’t seem to mean much to the officers who feel, as one put it, that “this whole thing is a bunch of bullshit”.
Scott Feifer, Esq.