Law and Disorder: The Bank Robber Cop


We like dichotomies: you’re either with us or against us, Yankees or Red Sox, cop or robber. So, when that dichotomy blends into some kind of liminal figure who blurs those strictly defined boundaries, we find that unsettling. Look at the befuddlement and confusion that took over Oprah’s audience when the talk-show queen had the pregnant man on her show a few weeks ago.

While it’s to a lesser degree, the case of the rookie cop-turned-robber also provides that sort of “hmm…” moment. Christian Torres was an NYPD rookie who was arrested in Muhlenberg Township, Pa., last week for robbing a bank and allegedly getting away with $113,000. Torres also has been charged with twice robbing an East Village bank last November, taking a combined $118,000. He allegedly used the haul to by his fiancée an engagement ring and to pay off his bills and buy a new car.

Torres has confessed, and he told investigators that he had tried to rob the Pennsylvania bank once before, but got cold feet. The fact that this story comes on the heels of reports that other cities are trying to recruit New York cops with promises of nearly double starting salaries to what the NYPD offers makes it all the more outrageous. Are we going to get stories about how cops need to resort to robbery to make ends meet? That’s a quick and easy column for someone to bang out to court outrage.

Christian Torres and his felonious extracurricular activities is bound to be chatted about around the water cooler for the next few days, and there is a perverse, ironic delight in seeing him led off in cuffs accompanied by a uniform officer sworn to uphold the law. You know, like he was supposed to do.

Speaking of salaries, here’s a tangentially related follow-up. Remember the slip-and-fall judge? The Daily News reports that Supreme Court Justice Jack Battaglia is claiming lost pay in his case, despite that judges get unlimited sick leave with full pay. The News quotes a custodian who balks at the claim, noting that Battaglia makes $136,000. That’s just a little more than one of Torres’ robbery hauls.