The New York Times chimes in this morning on the big (?), bubbling scandal at the New York Police Department in which around two dozen officers in the Bronx could face allegations of making traffic violations disappear for friends, family or otherwise important people. While it’s likely that no great harm was caused to any one person as a result of this systematic abuse of power, the Times still oddly spends its first two sentences in today’s report couching the allegations in defensive language, noting “It is a practice that by all accounts has been around almost as long as the traffic laws…,” and “In the annals of small-bore corruption, there are few things more commonplace…” Bullshit favoritism is still bullshit favoritism.
The grand jury investigation is the Bronx is not yet complete, but it “has involved the extensive use of wiretaps and put hundreds of officers under scrutiny,” with “dozens” testifying already, including “at least one high-ranking official.”
But the anonymous sources quotes in the Times story call the crimes “relatively minor,” probably because an unnamed “law enforcement official” has it in his or her best interest for the NYPD not to be embroiled in a massive scandal. One targeted officer’s lawyer said of the ticket-fixing, “It cannot be condoned, but on the other hand, it should not be prosecuted,” because of course he did.
Anyone who has ever known anyone who knows a cop — or alternatively, anyone who has ever watched television — knows about this practice. It may not be juicy or sexy or make for good newspaper copy, but when people feel extra-safe in their decades and generations of rule-breaking, that seems like a perfect time to whip them in the ass.