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Sign Fail


This is, obviously, appalling. See Patrick Nielson Hayden and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

It’s possible, of course, that some prosecutions of rank-and-file cops for ticket-fixing can be plausibly described as less than ideal prosecutorial practice; if they’re under orders to do it, everyone does it, and they prosecutors are happy to prosecute the rank-and-file cops and aren’t making an effort to go up the ladder, they’ve caught a legitimately bad break, and some sense of sympathy and perhaps expressions of solidarity might be reasonable. Obviously, the behavior of the police described in the story goes well beyond anything that might be reasonably described as a reasonable and appropriate expression of solidarity.

I would also encourage whoever’s behind those signs to contemplate a) why the phrase ‘just following orders’ resonates in the public consciousness, and if they really want to associate with it in such a manner, and b) if “its been going on since the time of the Egyptians” is really something they want to treat as a sufficient condition for non-prosecution.

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  • c u n d gulag

    Police always hide behind their “Blue Wall” of silence.

    But, let some OWS protester say something or look at them wrong, and they may end up black & blue and up against the wall in cuffs.

    “Just following orders?”
    Seriously, folks?
    Uhm, I do not think that means what you think that means…

  • thebewilderness

    The Police Benevolent Association is declaring themselves to be Nazis?

  • NBarnes

    I’m waiting for the issue of police corruption to move significant numbers of votes.



    But Democrats are the real racists!

  • Oh, fer chrissakes. “Just following orders?” That’s not one guy – those are pre-made signs handed out to numerous people, and nobody said, “Hold on a minute?”

    Is the NYPD staffed by people who couldn’t pass the ASVAB?

    • Yeah, the story says the protest was coordinated by the police union. Because, you know, nothing like institutionalized police privilege!

  • Anonymous

    “if they’re under orders to do it, everyone does it, and they prosecutors are happy to prosecute the rank-and-file cops and aren’t making an effort to go up the ladder, they’ve caught a legitimately bad break…”

    Why should we think they’ve caught a bad break? Following orders isn’t an excuse. “Everyone doing it” doesn’t make it any sort of abuse of discretion for the prosecutors to focus on THESE guys – they’ve got to start SOMEWHERE. Going up the ladder is hard – again, they’ve got start SOMEWHERE.

    Screw these guys. I don’t care if the Commissioners themselves were ordering this, these cops should go down and I don’t feel a shred of pity for them. If this was something about extra overtime or sleeping on the job or some other bad but overall pretty minor thing, maybe I’d be sympathetic. But they were corrupting the law.

    Screw them.

    • djw

      Eh, when institutional structures and cultures are suffused with certain kinds of low-level, easy-to-convince-yourself-its-harmless corruption, the vast majority of human beings are going to go along with it most of the time. Under the right circumstances, I probably would, and you probably would to.

      This doesn’t contradict the “they’ve got to start somewhere” point, and it may not be feasible for political or evidentiary reasons to start further up the chain, in which case the prosecutions may be entirely justifiable, AND some of these people could reasonably be described as catching a bad break.

      • I’m actually sort of sympathetic to the idea that a little ticket fixing isn’t that big of a deal (without knowing the particulars, obviously, so we’re talking in a general sense), so if that were the argument they were making I’d give them a hearing. But “just following orders” is…well it’s not that.

  • Jim Lynch

    The practice of fixing tickets probably has gone on in the NYPD since the days of the Pharaohs.

    The mayor and the DA’s office should have simply announced to every cop that the days of fixing tickets in NYC were over. That anyone busted thereafter would be prosecuted.

    They should have used their heads before ignoring custom, and dragging a select fraction of the blue scofflaws into The System.

    • R Johnston

      We’re not talking about cops who fixed a ticket or two. We’re talking about 16 cops charged with 1600 counts, presumably many times more than your typical cop, regardless of the prevailing culture in the department, and if not–if they are truly representative–then a lot more indictments need to follow. If the charges can be proven these are not people who deserve leniency on account of the culture.

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  • Jim Lynch

    “We’re talking about 16 cops charged with 1600 counts, presumably many times more than your typical cop..”.

    I dare-say “presumably” went out the window when the others cops rallied to their defense the other day.

    It’s less that those indicted deserve leniency on account of the “prevailing” culture, and more a matter that they should be cut slack on account of (what might well be) a century worth of custom. That’s the rub. “Deserve” has nothing to do with it.

    • If these were genuinely minor instances and something everyone knew was going on and no one did anything about, and the DA is coming down now to score points, then I would agree that the defendants are getting a bum deal (I don’t know the specifics of the actual instances though, so this is just a general statement).

      The thuggery and oblivious entitlement is another matter.

      • Jim Lynch

        I don’t see any thuggery involved in fixing tickets, which is all I’m addressing here.

        “Oblivious entitlement”? That I think is an apt characterization of an entrenched practice. I would guess that a lot cops have long considered it a simple perk that goes with the job.

        One caveat. If money can be proved to have changed hands among those now charged, the indictments were righteous.

        • To be clear, by thuggery I meant the behavior of the off-duty cops at the courthouse.

        • Mary T.

          A minor moving violation can cost hundreds of dollars, after you toss in administrative or court costs and fees as it moves through the system, not to mention increases in insurance rates. Money doesn’t have to physically change hands for this to be corruption–taxpayers are paying the salaries of the officers fixing tickets and officers and officials who are having tickets fixed.

  • wiley

    Sociopaths are attracted to the police force the way pedophiles are attracted to the priesthood. I’ve long thought that the police selection process should include a test for high Machs. Considering how wide the path of damage that can be done by one sociopath, especially if he/she is in a high ranking position in the police, a climate can easily develop in which people of conscious are legitimately afraid of calling other officers down for fear of grave personal harm or death.

    • wiley

      police force…people of conscience…jiminy cricket..

  • Jamie

    I don’t live there anymore, but even as a white, relatively high-status guy, I avoided any interaction with the cops, to the point that I did not report a break in that deprived me of some expensive things. It doesn’t justify that decision, but a couple of months later when they detained me for the crime of exiting my building and pressured me to confess to robbing a local store made me certain that regarding the NYPD as the biggest gang on the block, and not interacting whenever possible, is the right approach.

    I’m sure there are good ones, it is a hard job, etc.

    Progressives should care because this is union rot of the worst sort, and cops I should be respected. If only they were respectable.

  • muddy

    It isn’t just fixing a few parking tickets, they were transporting heroin and allowing friends to run drugs out of local businesses.

  • thebewilderness

    I think the point is to make it about ticket fixing and avoid the systemic corruption probe by the feds that would be likely if they didn’t take some action right quick.
    Remember the Rampart Division of LAPD?

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