According to an explosive and extensive report by Buzzfeed News, at least 319 NYPD officers kept their jobs after actions serious enough to warrant firing. The report comes from secretly obtained internal NYPD documents and over 100 phone calls for verification. And even though the documents are thorough, they don’t cover everything.
Some of the instances of misdoings by officers were minor, like talking back to a supervisor, but some were as major as sexual harassment, physical assault, and lying under oath.
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“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 single one of these cases, officers received “dismissal probation,” a status that denotes a reduction in overtime and no ability for a promotion – usually for a year. During that year, officers can still collect their salaries and dispense justice to communities with no way of accessing their records or histories.
The problem is compounded for those with little resources who get arrested. Public defenders have notoriously little time to spend with clients, so suspects end up making a hasty decision between accepting a plea and fighting unjust charges in a trial they might lose. Often, the steep penalties for loss are enough to force plea acceptances, even from people that did not commit the crime.
Lack of access to this information that could prove vital in defense is one example of the asymmetry of power between the NYPD and the communities they serve.
“During his first six years on the force, officer Raymond Marrero was accused of viciously beating one person, falsely arresting another, assaulting a third, and fabricating evidence against a fourth…as Deluca [suspect] was being taken out of the car, Marrero struck him with his police baton, opening up a gash on the top of his head. Another officer said there was so much blood, they had to clean it up with a mop. It took 12 staples at the hospital to close the wound.”
According to Buzzfeed, there is no record that Marrero received any punishment. He was placed on probation, forfeited 45 vacation days, paid the brutalized suspect $4,000 out-of-pocket, and continues to patrol the streets and make arrests for roughly $120,000 a year.
What this shows is a systemic, rather than an individual problem at the NYPD, and a morally bankrupt system that protects officers with no regard for the consequences on the public. The public has a right to know about the injustices committed by the largest police force in the nation. Otherwise, they will simply continue.
Image provided by liftarn via Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain.