The PBA recently started running a radio campaign attacking the NYPD for taking away vacation days when police officers lose traffic ticket cases at the Traffic Violations Bureau due to clerical errors or other honest human error. In the ad, union President Pat Lynch states that “[m]ore stress is put on police officers by NYPD management than by criminals.”
Last June, in a post entitled “Crack Down At NYC Traffic Violations Bureau“, I was one of the first to report that Internal Affairs Officers would be stationed in the various Traffic Violations Bureaus to “monitor” police officers. I followed two months later with a post called “NYC Cops Stop Writing Traffic Tickets” criticizing the Internal Affairs practice of docking police officers vacation time for messing up a traffic ticket case. Well, now, the PBA is spending substantial sums to educate the public of the evils of this practice.
This practice encourages police officers to lie about traffic ticket cases in order to keep their hard-earned vacation time. For instance, if an officer does not remember the direction of travel (an element needed to prove his or her case), then that officer may simply make it up to establish a legally-minimum case. It is a really bad situation for motorists and, more importantly, obtaining justice.
The NYPD responded to the ad by releasing statistics that show a 73% conviction rate on tickets for the first two months of this year, compared with 55% over the same period last year. The added that the jump is attributable to more police officers “showing up” to court.
However, in our 20+ year experience in all of the NYC traffic courts, “no shows” is not the true underlying reason for the spike. The “no show” rate has not dramatically decreased. Police officers generally appear in court and, in fact, are scheduled to be there at convenient times and on multiple cases. Instead, I believe the threat of losing vacation days has turned good cops bad.
We join the PBA in condemning this practice and hope it is rectified immediately. Police officers should be treated like adults and not penalized for being human.
What do you think?