Lying to grand juries. Beating innocent people. Stealing money. Lying on reports. Dealing drugs. Drunk driving. Threatening people with death. Sexually assaulting people. These are some of the serious offenses committed by 319 New York Police Department employees between 2011 and 2015, according to a BuzzFeed News investigation. The cops weren't imprisoned. They weren't even fired. In fact, they were allowed to keep their jobs and pensions, and many of them are on the streets on New York right now.
At least two dozen of these employees worked in schools. Andrew Bailey was found guilty of touching a female student on the thigh and kissing her on the cheek while she was sitting in his car. In a school parking lot, while he was supposed to be on duty, Lester Robinson kissed a woman, removed his shirt, and began to remove his pants. And Juan Garcia, while off duty, illegally sold prescription medication to an undercover officer.
In every instance, the police commissioner, who has final authority in disciplinary decisions, assigned these officers to “dismissal probation,” a penalty with few practical consequences. The officer continues to do their job at their usual salary. They may get less overtime and won’t be promoted during that period, which usually lasts a year. When the year is over, so is the probation.
Today many continue to patrol the streets, arrest people, put them in jail, and testify in criminal prosecutions. But the people they arrest have little way to find out about the officer's record. So they are forced to make life-changing decisions — such as whether to fight their charges in court or take a guilty plea — without knowing, for example, if the officer who arrested them is a convicted liar, information that a jury might find directly relevant.
When I get called for jury duty, I remember stories like this, and I tell the judge that I don't believe police testimony.