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NYCLU Urges NYPD To Set Boundaries for “Professional Courtesy”

In the aftermath of a report released today by the Civilian Complaint Review Board and an incident last month, the New York Civil Liberties Union today called on the New York City Police Department to assure that the “professional courtesy” given police officers and their friends and families does not turn into law-enforcement immunity.

“Nothing is more corrosive to law and order than the perception that law-enforcement officers are above the law,” said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Executive Director, in a letter sent earlier today to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

In last month’s incident a Brooklyn police officer, who during a visit to Kansas had been pulled over for and ticketed for speeding, wrote a letter to local court officials there to protest the fact that he had been issued a summons even after he had shown his NYPD identification card to the officer who had stopped him.

The officer’s letter states, in part: “I was dumb founded. I then tried to ask him why a cop would write another cop a ticket? He would not answer. I have stopped many people and the minute they pull out their Law Enforcement ID card I say ‘Sir or Mam have a nice day’ No questions asked.”

The CCRB report arises from a significant number of CCRB complaints filed by people who, after being stopped or investigated by police officers, produced cards issued by the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association (PBA) or the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association (SBA). These cards are made available to members of the Department to be distributed among their family and friends; they are commonly used to seek favorable treatment on behalf of the cardholder from police officers. The CCRB report explains that the officers in these cases wrongfully seized the cards, when in fact the cards should be treated like any other form of personal property.

“While deserving of great respect, police officers are not above the law and neither are their families and friends. The police department needs to assure that professional courtesy does not translate into law-enforcement immunity.”

Click here to read the NYCLU’s letter and the police officer’s letter. (Requires the free Adobe Reader.)

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