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by Peter Moskos

December 1, 2009

"Dupe" badges

Seems like everybody in the NYPD is doing it.

And so what? The whole concept is strange to this former Baltimore police officer. So is the language.

I had three real badges when I was cop. They give you one, for your shirt or jacket. You need to pay for others. One other you need, for the wallet. I also got one more, one suitable for framing, a so-called plaque badge. The wallet badge is also a plaque badge (flat) with the pins cut and filed off. When I quit, I turned one of them in. You do the math.

But cops know that the badge isn't the big deal. It's the "credentials" that matter. I had but one of those. And I turned it in like a good boy.


Anonymous said...

And so what?

One potential problem is that those resisting arrest can testify that they saw the fake badge and concluded that they were dealing with a fake policeman.

Case dismissed.

PCM said...

These aren't cardboard cutouts. Nothing is getting dismissed.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't have to be a cardboard cutout. If an arrestee sayys that she recognized it as a fake, and it was a fake, then there is not much the policeman can say.

Remember, these badges are used precisely so that members of the public can tell fake policemen from real ones. They are not jewelry. They are not fancy toys. They are a form of id. If a police officer uses a fake, then an arrestee's privilege of self defense would spring into action because fake badge suggests fake popo.

Maybe this defense has not been used in the past and maybe it has (and we just don't know about it). However, it will be used in the future, especially now that the word is getting out.

Richard P. said...

Dr. Moskos,

The penalties for losing a real badge are there for a reason. If a cop loses a real one, that one can be used to impersonate that cop. When he reports it, that number is probably changed and designated lost.

But if he loses a "dupe", he won't report it because it avoids the penalty. Now there is a fake out there. So the regulation that was to keep the officer on his toes has nudged him towards making the situation worse.

PCM said...

Badges do get lost and stolen all the time. And you're right, the regulations make the situation worse (not an unusual happening in the P.D.).

Seems crazy to me that there's no proper way, like there is in Baltimore, to buy an extra (real) badge or two, particularly a flat badge for the wallet.