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Kleinfield and Eligon report: "As 16 police officers were arraigned at State Supreme Court in the Bronx, incensed colleagues organized by their union cursed and taunted prosecutors and investigators, chanting 'Down with the DA' and 'Ray Kelly, hypocrite.' As the defendants emerged from their morning court appearance, a swarm of officers formed a cordon in the hallway and clapped as they picked their way to the elevators. Members of the news media were prevented by court officers from walking down the hallway where more than 100 off-duty police officers had gathered outside the courtroom."

Hundreds of off-duty officers gathered on Friday at the Bronx County Hall of Justice, backing 16 colleagues in a ticket-fixing case. (photo: Kirsten Luce/NYT)
Hundreds of off-duty officers gathered on Friday at the Bronx County Hall of Justice, backing 16 colleagues in a ticket-fixing case. (photo: Kirsten Luce/NYT)



NYPD Officers Angered by Corruption Probe

By N.R. Kleinfield and John Eligon, The New York Times

29 October 11

 

three-year investigation into the police's habit of fixing traffic and parking tickets in the Bronx ended in the unsealing of indictments on Friday and a stunning display of vitriol by hundreds of off-duty officers, who converged on the courthouse to applaud their accused colleagues and denounce their prosecution.

As 16 police officers were arraigned at State Supreme Court in the Bronx, incensed colleagues organized by their union cursed and taunted prosecutors and investigators, chanting "Down with the DA" and "Ray Kelly, hypocrite."

As the defendants emerged from their morning court appearance, a swarm of officers formed a cordon in the hallway and clapped as they picked their way to the elevators. Members of the news media were prevented by court officers from walking down the hallway where more than 100 off-duty police officers had gathered outside the courtroom.

The assembled police officers blocked cameras from filming their colleagues, in one instance grabbing lenses and shoving television camera operators backward.

The unsealed indictments contained more than 1,600 criminal counts, the bulk of them misdemeanors having to do with making tickets disappear as favors for friends, relatives and others with clout. But they also outlined more serious crimes, related both to ticket-fixing and drugs, grand larceny and unrelated corruption. Four of the officers were charged with helping a man get away with assault.

Jose R. Ramos, an officer in the 40th Precinct whose suspicious behavior spawned the protracted investigation, was accused of two dozen crimes, including attempted robbery, attempted grand larceny, transporting what he thought was heroin for drug dealers and revealing the identity of a confidential informant.

The case, troubling to many New Yorkers because of its implication that the police officers believed they deserved special treatment, is expected to have long tentacles. Scores of other officers accused of fixing tickets could face departmental charges. Some officers have already retired. Moreover, the indictments may jeopardize thousands of cases in which implicated officers are important witnesses and may be seen as untrustworthy by Bronx juries.

The contentious scene in the Bronx concluded a week of deep embarrassment for the New York Police Department and Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, who at a news conference acknowledged the difficulty of having "to announce for the second time this week that police officers have been arrested for misconduct."

Federal agents earlier in the week arrested eight current and former officers on accusations that they had brought illegal firearms, slot machines and black-market cigarettes into New York City. Recently, other officers have been charged in federal court with making false arrests, and there was testimony in a trial in Brooklyn that narcotics detectives planted drugs on innocent civilians.

Of the 16 officers arraigned on Friday, ranking as high as lieutenant, 11 were charged with crimes related to fixing tickets. All of them pleaded not guilty, and all but two were released without bail. Officer Ramos was held in $500,000 cash bail. Jennara Cobb, a lieutenant in the Internal Affairs Bureau, was released after posting a $20,000 bail bond. She was accused of leaking information about the investigation to other officers.

Five civilians were also arrested in the case. Among them was Officer Ramos's wife, charged with participating with him in an insurance scam.

The outpouring of angry officers at the courthouse had faint echoes of a 1992 march on City Hall by off-duty officers to protest Mayor David N. Dinkins's call for more independent review of the police. And it raises unsettling questions about the current mind-set of the police force.

"It is hard to see an upside in the way the anger was expressed, especially in Bronx County, where you already have a hard row to hoe in terms of building rapport with the community," said Eugene J. O'Donnell, a professor of police studies at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "The Police Department is a very angry work force, and that is something that should concern people, because it translates into hostile interactions with people."

The behavior could be construed as violating department rules. Even when officers are off duty, the police patrol guide states, "Conduct which brings discredit to the department or conduct in violation of law is unacceptable and will result in appropriate disciplinary measures."

Mr. Kelly said he did not witness the officers' courthouse conduct, but added, "I think it's understandable that officers rally around when there's a time of trouble."

A police official said Mr. Kelly did not condone the hostile comments made by some officers. Particularly disturbing, the official said, was a news report that said some officers chanted "EBT" at people lined up at a benefits center across the street, referring to electronic benefit transfer, the method by which welfare checks are distributed. The people had apparently chanted "Fix our tickets" to the officers.

"To begin ridiculing people in the welfare line across the street doesn't endear you to the public eye," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to be heard directly criticizing members of the force.

The charged officers, accused of extending favors, seemed to have received a favor of their own from the authorities. They were spared a "perp walk," the ritual in which suspects are walked to their booking or arraignment while photographers and videographers document their shame.

Instead, the officers were loaded into black vans at the Central Booking garage, then driven into a garage in the courthouse.

The ticket-fixing investigation began serendipitously in December 2008, after investigators began looking into accusations that Officer Ramos allowed a friend, Lee King, to sell drugs out of two barber shops named Who's First that the officer owned in the Bronx. A wiretap was placed on Officer Ramos, which yielded conversations about fixing tickets.

The authorities said Officer Ramos provided Mr. King with an apartment, a cellphone, a car and a parking placard. He was one of the civilians arrested.

Prosecutors said the bulk of the vanished tickets were arranged by officials of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the city's largest police union. All the officers charged with fixing tickets are either current or past union delegates or trustees.

As the investigation unfurled, the union played down its significance and consistently referred to ticket-fixing as "professional courtesy" inscribed in the police culture.

Patrick J. Lynch, the union president, said in a news conference that the officers had been arrested on something "accepted at all ranks for decades." He did distance himself from those charged with graver offenses. He said he would have turned his back on Officer Ramos if he could have done so without insulting the court.

Mr. Kelly said that those who tried to rationalize ticket-fixing as part of the culture "are kidding themselves, especially if they think the public finds it acceptable."

During the investigation, overseen by the Bronx district attorney's office, prosecutors found fixing tickets to be so extensive that they considered charging the union under the state racketeering law as a criminal enterprise, the tactic employed against organized crime families. But they apparently concluded that the evidence did not support that approach.

The Bronx district attorney, Robert T. Johnson, said the tickets fixed had robbed the city of $1 million to $2 million.

While the union's highest echelons were untouched by the indictments, the timing was troubling for the organization. It faces various labor issues, like the loss of members because of the department's shrinking size and efforts by public officials to reduce their expensive perquisites.

Stephen C. Worth, a lawyer for the union who with his partner represented 11 of the defendants at the arraignment, criticized the case as "prosecutorial overcharging" for "relatively minor administrative misconduct at best."

On Thursday afternoon, the police union sent a text message to 400 delegates urging them to show up at the court. Scores of police officers began filtering in around midnight on Thursday, when some of the accused officers arrived for booking. Some off-duty officers wore dark-blue T-shirts with the message on the back, "Improving everyone's quality of life but our own."

Forming a wall four deep in the main foyer, they applauded as the defendants appeared. The indicted officers waved and pumped their fists. A court official who came out to calm the crowd drew insults. A woman told the officers to return for the arraignments.

On Friday morning, on the street outside the courthouse, some 350 officers massed behind barricades and brandished signs expressing sentiments like "It's a Courtesy Not a Crime."

When the defendants emerged, many in the crowd burst into raucous cheers. Once they had gone and the tide of officers had dispersed, the street was littered with refuse.


Reporting was contributed by Al Baker, Joseph Goldstein, Colin Moynihan and William K. Rashbaum.

 

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+127 # Inland Jim 2011-10-29 16:30
Just Following Orders. Good nazis.
 
 
+125 # humanmancalvin 2011-10-29 16:40
These thugs, both the accused & their unlawful media pushing brethren are the same hypocrites beating & macing the OWS movement. The police always feel they are above the law, they are the law in their warped thinking.
 
 
+125 # BishopAndrew 2011-10-29 17:21
Good Nazis indeed! Whether it is the Oakland Militia disguised as a police department shooting unarmed Marine vets and throwing percussion grenades at those trying to help him or the killing of a dog named Parrot becuase he was guilty of staying with his companion in the crowd of peaceful protestors or any minority that have been declared open season on by these militias, the time has long since passed that swift prosecution should be made of testosterone driven sociopaths in blue. As long as we allow these paramilitary departments to be above the law they are sworn to uphold we allow and encourage oppression and criminal violation of civil liberties.
 
 
+92 # maheanuu 2011-10-29 17:22
Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely! Pigs! There is no other word for these scum. But then again they are all part of the Corruption that controls the Country today. Like Marine Sgt. Thomas stated "You Have NO Honor!" The ME First Generation! The World IS Watching..... But apparently NY's Finest do not give a tinker's dam about such things.
 
 
+71 # MainStreetMentor 2011-10-29 17:53
Wall Street investment bankers hired the NYPD to do such things as described in the article above ... just like the corporation tycoons of the 20s and 30s did for union busting and riot inciting. Yep ... it's been that way since New York City was founded and the garment industry was using 7 year olds as laborers. There are some within the NYPD who actually believe in what the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are doing - but the rest of the "boys in blue" don't care ... except for the cash they get from their corporate puppeteers.
 
 
+57 # rradiof 2011-10-29 19:01
Right On! No need for Pinkertons anymore. Just contract the "NYPD Paid Detail."
 
 
+70 # rradiof 2011-10-29 17:53
As we say in Chicago, "the biggest gang in town wears blue."
 
 
+50 # Doctoretty 2011-10-29 17:59
It is beyond my sense of reasoning how these officers can justify the corrupt behavior of their colleagues. What kind of culture have we become?
 
 
+15 # Glen 2011-10-30 11:00
Doctoretty, it is not "what kind of culture have we become"; it is what the U.S. has always been. True American history is not taught in schools. All agencies for any type of enforcement have been bloody brutal in the past. Any threat to the system will bring it out any time anywhere. If the protests continue, the brutality will get worse.
 
 
+62 # Urbancurmudgeon 2011-10-29 18:24
What’s wrong with the NYPD? They appeared, for the last few years to be one of the best departments in the country. Then they disgraced themselves by their conduct with the OWS demonstrators and now this. Strangely enough, the fact that there are criminals in the department is no surprise. Any group that size will have few bad apples but when those bad apples are supported by the rest of the department that is a disgrace and when Ray Kelly says that it’s, “understandable that officers rally around in time of trouble,” then we have a real problem. This isn’t the kind of trouble that supports rallying. This isn’t someone’s kid who broke his leg. This is widespread criminal activity. The ticket fixing was only the beginning. The guns and drugs are the real thing and to see supposedly honest officers supporting these guys is really despicable. Right now the whole department is in disgrace.
 
 
+12 # Beth Carter 2011-10-30 11:33
If you haven't heard about Adrian Schoolcraft, you might want to check it out. It details misconduct from NYPD brass to a regular police officer who has the true heart of a peace officer. Humans have a deep capacity for denial. Should the trial actually be a real trial and not a farce, the supporting officers may change their minds. What bothers me out of all of this is the little said about planting drugs on innocent civilians. How many of our brothers and sisters of color are in jail at this very moment from such dishonorable behavior. The estimate was $1 to 2 million dollars in lost tickets, but how do we evaluate what has been lost by those falsely accused and sitting in prison?
 
 
+39 # sandyboy 2011-10-29 18:46
Oh dear. In the UK we keep losing London Police Commissioners and pals for one corrupt/inept reason or another. Trouble is we need cops to run to our aid and do jobs, see stuff, thatd drive most of us mad. They're not all "pigs" or "Nazis" - but they do seem to think the tough job makes them above the law, and judging by behaviour at arraignment and Occupy protests seem prone to mob mentality as much as the rioters we had here in the UK. Shame. The fact they left the street full of garbage tells us all we need to know about their attitude.
 
 
+17 # Texas Aggie 2011-10-29 19:59
And you guys hired one of the culprits responsible for developing this attitude to be your top cop because he showed that he could be tough. I don't know what your government was thinking, but maybe, like the republicans, the Tories don't think.
 
 
+36 # John Briggs 2011-10-29 18:47
Police culture is conformist, so cowardly, but no more so than corporate cubiclers, junior high schoolers or academics.

Worrisome here is the abuse by these cops at the behest of their union of the extraordinary powers we have granted them. They are armed; they may use force. And as we saw Friday they believe collectively that they should be immune to prosecution.

As troubling--the faint reaction by Ray Kelly or Mayor Bloomberg to Friday's collapse of police dignity and discipline.
 
 
+36 # XXMD48 2011-10-29 18:48
Inland Jim is right. Tha nazis who were prosecuted during the Normberk trial were defending themselves with statement: "We just followed the orders".
NY police officers have to recognize, and rather early then late, that they are part of the 99% - absolutely disposable and without any respect from the Superiors with Superiority complex.
 
 
+46 # phrixus 2011-10-29 19:01
What is it with you cops whom commit crimes and then act indignant when prosecuted? Your job is to enforce the law, not break it. When you act illegally you are by definition, a criminal. What a bunch of prima donna's.
 
 
+26 # GeeRob 2011-10-29 19:08
Remember the man and the movie, Serpico?
 
 
+21 # Dion Giles 2011-10-29 22:05
It seems honest NYPD cops are so rare that when one is discovered it becomes a movie classic! Police corruption is a worldwide plague, a logical consequence of the way the 1% use lobbying (weaselspeak for corruption of those who are entrusted to wield power) to rule over the 99%.
 
 
+29 # walt 2011-10-29 19:10
Anyone else old enough to remember the Knapp commission in NYC? so much corruption was uncovered that they closed the door.
Police, judges and politicians should be held strictly accountable for their behavior.
As one looks at some of the NYPD behavior with Occupy Wall Street protesters, we have to wonder about whom they are supposed to represent and protect! And they have a union too???
 
 
+39 # tedrey 2011-10-29 19:12
Can anyone explain what the police mean by holding the numerous signs that read "Just Following Orders"? This seems to be important to them, but really doesn't make sense yet. What orders? Whose orders? Shouldn't we find out?
 
 
+19 # Michael_K 2011-10-29 19:59
Quoting tedrey:
Can anyone explain what the police mean by holding the numerous signs that read "Just Following Orders"? This seems to be important to them, but really doesn't make sense yet. What orders? Whose orders? Shouldn't we find out?



I vass chust falloving ze hoarders is your standard Nuremberg Trials defense, invoked by Nazis of all stripes. Perhaps it's a form of "admission against interest" by the NY Pinkertons?
 
 
+16 # KittatinyHawk 2011-10-29 19:15
Streets were littered with Refuse...These are the same people who want to call OWS dirty..slobs
Cops are told by their Superiors who to do favors for esp big league and PAL contributors. This is decades if not century old..get with it.
Every one who does the favor of letting tickets go etc also gets to do it for their friends and family. That they say it is only 2 million is a hunk of turds, more like in the ten million in favors...Kelly has done his share to get where he is. He would not be where he is if he did not do as he was told, told others where the bear craps.
So if you are going to investigate do not stop with these few, lets clean up the NYPD altogether.
Funny thing is there are more snitches in the PD than in the Jails, one does learn from the other.
I remember cops takin care of their neighborhoods, and their own, my family were cops.
I think there is a lot worse going on in the PD than doing some parking ticket favors. This a a rue, beware NY.
Rest of you who do not like paying your tickets, pick up your trash and obey the law, then you friends and family wouldn't be investigated. Hypocrites, fine role models for your kids. I know your types, you are the problems not the solutions.
Look up Kelly's Favors
 
 
+24 # Archie1954 2011-10-29 19:17
Well, well it looks like the police are using the same powerful intimidation on the judicial and civilian institutions that the US military uses on the
President and the Congress. Those that hold the weapons rule the country! Didn't you know that? Well you are certainly learning it now.
 
 
+19 # fredboy 2011-10-29 19:32
Were the assembled officers cheering the alleged wrongdoing? Really tragic.
 
 
+29 # Lee 2011-10-29 19:36
Sure they were "following orders"! So were the Gestapo.
 
 
+18 # jerryball 2011-10-29 19:40
Above the law. Above the law. Above the law. Tsk tsk tsk.
 
 
+12 # sandyboy 2011-10-29 19:46
One fears that those signs, tedrey, and calling their boss a hypocrite, imply a threat to tell all if pushed about some of those who tickets were fixed for and just who ordered it, no? Let's wait and see. This one will run a long time, I bet.
 
 
+14 # Michael_K 2011-10-29 19:57
Ray Kelly, in proper feudal form, reserves exclusively to himself the right to pimp out the services of the NYPD. Woe to those who would carve out their own profit-making niche within that corrupt system.

Students of history will understand exactly what I mean when I call the NYPD the New York Pinkerton Delinquents.
 
 
+20 # Texas Aggie 2011-10-29 20:02
The thing that hit me the most was the comment that this wasn't going to do their public relations any good at all, especially after the way they behaved toward the OWS protestors. Truer words were never spoken.

And it seems to me that it would be justifiable to ask all the cops who support these crumbs to chip in to pay the tickets for the city.
 
 
+17 # Tee 2011-10-29 21:33
The law only seem to be for the fools who strictly obey them. What hypocrisy! If the police, the politicians, and the ruling elite don't follow the law and those in charge with enforcing the law don't; we are faced with total lawlessness thanks to the corrupting influence of money.
 
 
+17 # USA2012??? 2011-10-29 21:42
You're the police so get over it: you're suppose to set a lawful example not be an unlawful exception!
 
 
+9 # seeuingoa 2011-10-30 01:57
"just following orders"

Those were the words of Adolf Eichmann
 
 
+11 # itchyvet 2011-10-30 04:05
Seriously people, do you all live in a vacum ? If anyone is the slightest bit interested, check out our history, you will find similar situations existed within Germany prior to WW 1 and WW 2.
As long as the power actions supported the Govt of the days agenda, a blind eye was turned to such events, even when mini civil wars broke out in the cities streets.
How long will it be before similar happens in the U.S. ?
IMHO, not too long now.
 
 
+14 # moby doug 2011-10-30 07:36
Police become so fraternal, so intent on supporting each other---"my brother, right or wrong," they quickly lose sight of what is supposed to be their number one priority: UPHOLDING THE LAW and protecting John Q. Citizen. Nowhere is this clearer than in the rhetoric spouted by the NY Policeman's Benevolent Association, which is up to its neck in this scandal.
 
 
+15 # unionman 2011-10-30 07:49
The cops are the new brown shirts plain and simple
 
 
+14 # Capn Canard 2011-10-30 07:54
Time for a name change: The Police States of America. Scabs and thugs
 
 
+15 # mwd870 2011-10-30 08:13
Let them be angry . . . and made accountable for their crimes.
 
 
+11 # DLT999 2011-10-30 10:15
It's the way these bottom-of-the-c lass-in-school- trouble-makers become cops. I talked to someone who went thru the training but couldn't become a cop because of a sudden illness he got. He said there were told how to act when stopping someone and how to get someone out of the car and having the right to frisk them. BUT he said it was shocking to see some really crazy guys, in class, demonstrating such violence and filthy obscene cussing while going through this exercise with another cop --- and they would only get a correction from the instructor and that was it. But these guys kept behaving this way -- and they let them be cops anyway. The PD WANTS nuts and psychos in their dept is all I can deduce.
 
 
+8 # Activista 2011-10-30 11:21
They act against US citizens as in occupied Iraq - and police violence is escalating.
Yes they are psychos with guns ...
 
 
+8 # Activista 2011-10-30 11:17
POLICE all over the America - small towns - is ruling on their OWN with no accountability. Town s do NOT belong to their citizens - they belong to POLICE, City Managers - "money" elected officials - OLIGARCHS.
Budgets are slashed - but the police tickets are NEW revenue - $100 for dog of leash, $40 traffic tickets --etc. SICK autocratic society - police state
 
 
+2 # Lulie 2011-10-30 11:35
This is an unfortunate time to be bringing such shame to a public-employee s union. I would imagine that part of the reason the police are so angry is that they are not given a salary or respect commensurate with the tough job they do. The union members could and should be working to make things better for the officers, but instead they're helping make things worse by defending corruption and glorifying crime. No surprise then, that we end up with explosive situations like Oakland.
 
 
+11 # Dave_s Not Here 2011-10-30 13:20
Ignorant, mercenary thugs, all of them. They were bullies in school and sought employment where they could be well-paid, armed bullies with a license to kill.

Nice people don't run around with guns looking to kill people... bullies and assholes do. And if you're a cop reading this, yes, I just publicly called you an asshole. Tough shit..
 
 
+4 # FLAK88 2011-10-30 14:28
What a bunch of SLOBS !
 
 
+5 # SenorN 2011-10-30 22:06
We should have far higher standards than we do for admission to the ranks of law enforcement. Officers are subjected to tremendous stress and frequently to situations in which the average person would lose emotional control. Put this together with the fact that, as most of us realize, an officer is often in a position to kill someone with impunity, and you realize the importance of having high standards for these public servants. (Of course, high standards in any profession should lead to high pay, as well!)
 
 
+2 # RLF 2011-10-31 06:18
Ray Kelly should have been at THIS demonstration, taking pictures and investigating these a holes! They decide what laws to enforce and on whom??? WTF??? These guys are out of control. A courtesy my ass!
 
 
+3 # Linda 2011-10-31 07:32
This whole country is run by the mafia and they are trying to run the world .
From the ordered assasinations of government leaders to the police force that is suppose to protect us but instead attacks us and falsely imprisons us .
This whole country needs to be dismantled and reassembled anew from the bottom top down .
 
 
+4 # Scottford 2011-10-31 10:05
They need a "probe" to decide if there is corruption? They just need a probe, period, like the kind they'll get in prison.
 
 
+2 # noitall 2011-10-31 20:59
Morally bankrupt = "Just following orders".
 

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