What started out as a routine internal investigation of a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer has officially turned into a large-scale probe of hundreds of police officers accused of "fixing" traffic violations for friends or family.
In 2008, detectives with the Internal Affairs department were investigating whether a Bronx police officer was selling narcotics. While listening to his conversations via wiretap, they heard him ask a union representative to resolve a traffic violation on his behalf.
Once the investigation into this particular officer was closed - his badge and gun were taken and he was placed on administrative leave - the Internal Affairs detectives turned their attention to investigating the incidence of ticket fixing in the Bronx departments, devoting "months and months" of efforts into secretly recording other officers.
What they discovered was that upwards of 400 or more police officers in all 12 Bronx precincts - and perhaps others - may have engaged in the practice of ticket fixing.
According to inside sources, the ticket fixing typically occurred in one of three ways:
- A known ticket-fixer in the precinct would confiscate the paperwork for a ticket before it was sent to the DMV or Parking Violations Bureau
- A known ticket-fixer in the precinct would simply change the driver's license plate number on the ticket, making it invalid because it didn't match the driver's registration
- A known ticket-fixer in the precinct would simply fail to show up in court
It appears as if many of the alleged ticket fixers will end up facing charges as two lawyers from the NYPD's legal bureau were officially transferred to the advocate's office, the unit that handles disciplinary actions against officers.
Those officers found guilty can face varying degrees of discipline, including warnings/reprimands, the loss of benefits or even termination.
"This is huge," said a unit source. "That's a lot of cops all in one shot. I've never heard of something like that before, this many police officers charged in one period."
Stay tuned for further developments on this story from our New York traffic law blog ...
If you have been issued a traffic violation, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.
This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
400 cops could be charged for getting rid of tickets (The New York Post)