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by Peter Moskos

September 30, 2011

Cop Think

A pretty fabulous op-ed from a retired NYPD Captain on ticket fixing and police culture.
Like any other profession, police work is subject to evolution. This situation is just the latest in a never-ending world of transition.

I accept that. But let's not pretend we've suddenly discovered some major moral rot deep in the heart of the NYPD.

Fact is, recently introduced technology prevents summonses from being simply "pulled out of the box." Almost all of the incidents being investigated occurred prior to the computerization of summonses. So the culture was already in the process of changing.

Should these cops be punished? Yes, all extended courtesies are a calculated risk, and they lost. So be it.

Should they be arrested? Stripped of their pensions? If it's outright bribery, okay, no problem. If it's drug-related, goodbye, who needs you.

But most of these cases don't fit into those categories. And many of those who now stand in judgment of these cops, both internal and external to the NYPD, either did the same exact things or have been beneficiaries of similar "courtesies": That's where the hypocrisy is repulsive.
I never fixed any tickets as a cop. But it's not like the people I gave tickets to had any clout. The idea of fixing tickets is less in the Baltimore police culture than NYPD culture. I would have done what I could for a friend... but not for a "union card". And there was no "formal" system I knew of (ie: you could contact the individual officer, but it wasn't like the FOP had a formal system.).

When I was new in Baltimore. Like the day I moved in, I got a ticket for parking in a normally legal place near the Greek church that was going to be the scene of the annual Greek Fest. It was an honest mistake. Miss Mary, my wonderful Greek-American landlady (I miss her, rest in peace), hailed the well known Greek-American cop who patrolled Greektown. I moved my car. She explained the situation to Nick. And he ripped up my ticket.

I thought that was good policing.

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