Two Staten Island Police Offers have been charged with writing dozens of bogus traffic summonses to justify their overtime hours.
At the time an Officer writes a traffic ticket, there are three relevant copies. One is kept at the Precinct for the police records, one is sent to DMV so they can attach the ticket to the motorist’s license and one is handed right to the motorist so he knows exactly what he’s been charged with.
According to the accusations, these officers would fabricate a ticket, submit one copy to the Precinct and then throw away the copies ordinarily intended for the DMV and the motorist. The Officers in question allegedly have done this approximately 40 times.
Others in the Police Department didn’t really have any reason to be suspicious. Officers were out enforcing traffic and issuing tickets during overtime hours–this is not unusual–and the department was under the impression that the tickets were properly proceeding through the system as ordinary traffic tickets do.
Since neither DMV nor a motorist ever got copies of the tickets, it was as if the tickets didn’t exist. The DMV never started prosecuting the case in traffic court and no individual driver ever showed up in court to defend himself or even ask any questions. These weren’t really traffic tickets–just pieces of paper sitting in the Police Precinct.
Higher-ups in the NYPD got suspicious when they noticed that the two officers never went to traffic court to handle any of these cases. This was considered suspicious because odds were that someone in the bunch would have entered a not guilty plea and requested a court date.
As a traffic attorney, perhaps a bright spot here is the fact that these officers didn’t fabricate charges and actually issue the tickets to motorists. In reality, they would have been less likely to get caught had they done that.
While it’s uncommon–thus the suspicion against them–for officers to write 40 summonses and not be called to court on a single one of them, it’s quite common and hardly a red flag for a motorist to challenge a ticket in court and claim they did not do it, were not guilty, etc.
If the accusations are true, however, there isn’t much positive about this. We need officers who genuinely do their best to do their job and do it honestly, just like lawyers, doctors, teachers, politicians and other professions where the public trust is particularly critical.
Scott Feifer, Esq.