The NYPD is out of control, paying hundreds of millions a year in settlements to its victims

New Yorkers paid nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in 2018 to settle lawsuits filed against the New York Police Department. And that's the good news! It's down from the $335m paid out in 2017. The Daily News reports on the staggering price tag attached to New York City's notoriously violent and uncontrollable cops. The NYPD sees it a normal operating cost to be managed.

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie said the reduction in claims shows the department’s ability to fight frivolous cases and provide top-of-the-line training to its officers.

“These gains represent another example of how the NYPD is building greater trust and respect with the community to collaboratively solve problems, drive down crime, and enhance public safety,” McRorie said.

Critics say the numbers in the report are not indicative of a reformed police department.

Read the rest

NYPD proudly stages seizure of 106 pounds of legal hemp

The New York Police Department should be commended for keeping 106 pounds of psychoactively inert hemp off the streets, where it might have fallen into the hands of unsuspecting weed smokers simply wanting to get high. Even though the hemp had been tested and certified to contain less than the legal limit of THC and had been legally FedExed with the proper documentation by a licensed hemp grower to New York, the NTPD couldn't resist the thought of a big drug bust to brag about, so they set up a trap and arrested the recipient.

After the arrest, the police officers set up an forced perspective photo that made the 106 pounds of innocuous plant material look like it was a major haul.

From the NYPD 75th Precinct FaceBook account: "Great job by Day Tour Sector E yesterday. Working with FedEx and other local law enforcement, they were able to confiscate 106 Lbs. of marijuana, and arrest the individual associated with the intended delivery."

The man who was arrested in the bust replied in the comments: "These officers tossed out all the legal documents that was in each box. They were emailed by the farm that is registered by the dept of agriculture food and market. They have no clue about the new laws and if that was the case then every corner store and deli should be locked up too. They messed up bad this time."

[via Reason] Read the rest

Watch a crazy cop ram his way through crowded New York City street

When you've got somewhere to go, but someone's in your way waiting for a parking spot to clear, what can you do about it? If you're a traffic cop with the NYPD and answerable to no-one, this is what you do: ram them.

An NYPD spokesperson said the traffic supervisor appeared disoriented and was taken to a hospital for evaluation. Police sources say he was not intoxicated.

The owner of the parked truck said he doesn't believe the incident was the result of a medical episode.

The incident remains under internal review. So far no charges have been filed.

Read the rest

Police detective suspended for filming his junk with a body cam

There's a lot of controversy surrounding the use of police body cameras. Some privacy advocates argue that the video captured by the always-on cameras has little effect on the behavior of police officers : the statistics surrounding use of force and citizen complaints barely budged before and after the tech was introduced. The police don't much care for them either. The NYPD's police union, for example, says that the footage captured by a body cam shouldn't be able to be used in open court as it could be considered to be part of a police officer's personnel record, which is protected from public disclosure. Then there's the middle ground: by having cops wear body cams while on duty, provided they're not covering them or turning them off during an incident, they're being held accountable for every action they take.

No matter where you sit on this spectrum, it's likely safe to say that using the tech to capture video of someone's ass and balls is likely not a great idea.

From The New York Daily News:

An NYPD detective has been suspended for using another cop’s body camera to shoot an X-rated video of his privates, the Daily News has learned.

Detective Specialist Raymond Williams, a neighborhood coordination officer at the 79th Precinct, was suspended Thursday, law enforcement sources said.

Williams waited until unsuspecting cop Michael Devonish — another neighborhood coordination officer — went to the men’s room in their Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, stationhouse before he snatched Devonish’s body camera and put it to anatomical abuse.

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IBM developed NYPD surveillance tools that let cops pick targets based on skin color

The NYPD's secretive Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center uses software from IBM in its video analytics system, which allows cops to automatically scan surveillance footage for machine-generated labels that identify clothing and other identifying classifiers. Read the rest

How the NYPD recriminalized marijuana after the state decriminalized it

Back in 1977, middle class, white New Yorkers got frustrated over being criminalized for smoking weed, so they got the state legislature to decriminalized simple possession of weed -- merely having weed in your possession became a civil infraction and if you were caught, you might get a ticket, but that's it. Read the rest

New York cops furious that the union has reduced the number of "get out of jail free" cards they can give to their pals

Every active NYPD cop used to get 30 Patrolmen's Benevolent Association "courtesy cards" from their union per year; now they'll only get 20 (retired cops used to get 20 and now they'll get 10). Read the rest

New York City's Right to Know Act requires cops to record people's explicit consent to warrantless stop-and-frisks

You could write books about the evils of "broken windows" policing and its handmaiden, stop-and-frisk searches (this is a rather good one, in fact), and few places have been more prolific in the racist pursuit of this policy than New York City, where walking-while-brown is a one-way ticket to being stopped, searched, even stripped, all without a warrant or any particularized suspicion. Read the rest

NYPD has no backup for its seized property database, recording millions in annual seizures

The Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS) is the NYPD's huge database where it stores ownership information on the millions in New Yorkers' property it takes charge of every year (including about $68m in cash and counting), through evidence collection and asset forfeiture. Read the rest

Black man stabbed to death in NY. Police: White supremacist killer wanted to kill Black men. That's terror.

A white supremacist U.S. military veteran who had a known history of obsessively hating black men told police in New York that he stabbed a homeless black man to death to make a statement. Read the rest

NYPD captain taped complaining about the lack of black men targeted

NYPD officer Michael Birch recorded a meeting with a superior officer who complained to him he wasn't stopping enough black men. Gawker posted the tapes and transcripts, given to them by Birch after a judge dismissed the officer's complaint against the force.

In January, Birch filed a federal lawsuit against the city and several individual NYPD officials, alleging that he was retaliated against for speaking out about what he calls an illegal quota system. A judge dismissed his complaint, and he filed an appeal with a higher court last month.

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Broken Windows policing is nonsense

For years, the NYPD and other police departments have justified the highly racialized practice of stop-and-frisk and zero-tolerance approaches to turnstyle hopping, etc, by citing the "broken windows" theory of policing -- the idea that if the police stop petty crime, major crime will follow. Read the rest

Gallery of all (?) 7 undercover NYPD cars disguised as yellow cabs

Herman Yung is an enthusiastic photographer/taxi-spotter and over the years, he's managed to spot seven NYPD police cars disguised as yellow cabs (cab numbers 2W97, 6Y19, 6Y17, 2W95, 2W68, 6Y13, and 6Y21). Inspired by today's post about a Freedom of Information Act request about the cars, he's made his collection public for the first time, along with a spotter's guide for people who want to find their own. Read the rest

Cop Cabs: The NYPD has at least three fake taxis on NYC's streets

Michael from Muckrock writes, "Watch what you say: That next taxi you hail could be driven by New York's Finest. A MuckRock FOIA request has found that the NYPD has at least three undercover cop cars posing as taxis ... and quite possibly many more." Read the rest

NYPD wants to make "resisting arrest" into a felony

It's no secret that "resisting arrest" is the go-to excuse for violence committed against suspects by corrupt cops -- it's practically a running gag. Read the rest

NYC to assign civilian to monitor NYPD counterterrorism

An independent civilian appointed by New York's mayor will monitor counterterrorism activities of the New York Police Department, the New York Times reports that lawyers said in court documents Thursday. The news comes as those lawyers attempt to settle two lawsuits about the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims after 9/11. Read the rest

NYPD won't disclose what it does with its secret military-grade X-ray vans

The $825,000 Z Backscatter Vans the NYPD drives around the city look like regular police vans, but are equipped with powerful X-rays that can see through walls and vehicles. US Customs uses these things to scan cars and freight-containers, but only after they're sure there are no people around. Read the rest

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