UNITED STATES NEWS

NYPD officer cites ‘courtesy cards,’ used by friends and family of cops, as source of corruption

May 30, 2023, 4:22 PM | Updated: May 31, 2023, 8:58 am

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City police officer is speaking out against the use of “courtesy cards” by friends and relatives of his colleagues on the force, accusing department leaders of maintaining a sprawling system of impunity that lets people with a connection to law enforcement avoid traffic tickets.

Though not officially recognized by the NYPD, the laminated cards have long been treated as a perk of the job. The city’s police unions issue them to members, who circulate them among those who want to signal their NYPD connections — often to get out of minor infraction like speeding or failing to wear a seat belt.

In a federal lawsuit filed in Manhattan this week, Officer Mathew Bianchi described a practice of selective enforcement with consequences for officers who don’t follow the unwritten policy. Current and retired officers now have access to hundreds of cards, giving them away in exchange for a discount on a meal or a home improvement job, he said.

In the Staten Island precinct where he works, a predominantly white area with a high percentage of cops and other city workers, Bianchi said multitudes of people he pulled over for traffic infractions flashed him one of the cards.

“I see card after card. You’re not allowed to write any of them (up),” he told The Associated Press. “We’re not supposed to be showing favoritism when we do car stops, and we shouldn’t be giving them out because the guy mows my lawn.”

Bianchi said he was reprimanded on numerous occasions for writing a ticket to a relative or parent of an officer. In some cases, his commanding officer would personally review body camera footage to see if he was giving those with cards a “hard time,” the lawsuit states.

The final straw came last summer, when Bianchi wrote a ticket to a friend of the NYPD’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, Chief Jeffrey Maddrey, according to the lawsuit. Three days later, Bianchi said he was ousted from his job in the traffic unit and moved to a night patrol shift.

The top chief, a long-time ally of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, is currently facing a department trial over allegations that he improperly voided the arrest of a former officer accused of menacing children with a gun.

A spokesperson for the NYPD said the department would review the lawsuit. Inquiries to Maddrey were not returned.

John Nuthall, a spokesperson for the Police Benevolent Association, the NYPD’s largest union, didn’t deny the existence of courtesy cards but said it was up to management to decide department policy.

“The law and NYPD policies afford police officers discretion in taking enforcement action,” Nuthall said. “Each police officer determines how to exercise that discretion based on the specifics of each case.”

The city’s police unions have long faced media scrutiny over the cards, both over the appearance of corruption and over their appearance for sale on eBay.

Bianchi said it was common for officers to receive stacks of cards from different union delegates. Dozens of courtesy cards are currently listed for sale online.

The ubiquity of the cards means that those without connections to law enforcement are less likely to get off with a warning, since officers are expected to write a certain amount of tickets, Bianchi said. In his experience, he said minority motorists were less likely to have access to the cards.

United States News

Associated Press

Pursuit of Milwaukee carjacking suspects ends with police shooting 2 teens in stolen vehicle

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A police pursuit of carjacking suspects in Milwaukee ended Thursday with police firing into the vehicle and injuring two teens, one of whom was pregnant and lost her baby, Milwaukee police said. Officers tried to stop the stolen vehicle just before 2:30 p.m. on Interstate 43 north of Milwaukee. The pursuit ended […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

2 crop dusting airplanes collided in southern Idaho, killing 1 pilot and severely injuring the other

ARCO, Idaho (AP) — Two crop dusting airplanes collided near an airport in southern Idaho on Thursday and crashed to the ground, killing one of the pilots and leaving the other with life-threatening injuries, officials said. The crash was reported at about 12:30 p.m. in an area covered by sage and grass near the airport […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Seattle police officer fired for off-duty racist comments

SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle police officer was fired for calling his Chinese American neighbor racist and sexist slurs while off duty in 2022, according to a news report. Officer Burton Hill was fired in May, The Seattle Times reported. The termination stemmed from an altercation with his neighbor, Zhen Jin, over the disposal of […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Appeals court panel refuses to delay Trump ally Steve Bannon’s 4-month contempt prison sentence

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court panel on Thursday rejected longtime Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon’s bid to stay out of prison while he fights his conviction for defying a subpoena from the House committee that investigated the U.S. Capitol attack. Bannon is supposed to report to prison by July 1 to begin serving […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

2 killed in helicopter crash in Washington state, authorities say

BLUESTEM, Wash. (AP) — Two men died in a helicopter crash in eastern Washington state, authorities said. Lincoln County Fire District 6 Chief Brandon Larmer told KREM-TV that the helicopter had two people aboard when it crashed Wednesday afternoon. The men who died were identified Thursday as 68-year-old Ryan Sandvig, of Spokane, and 63-year-old Mark […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Gold bars and Sen. Bob Menendez’s curiosity about their price takes central role at bribery trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors showed jurors at Sen. Bob Menendez ’s trial on Thursday multiple instances when he researched the value of gold as he tried to help a New Jersey businessman who authorities say bribed him with gold and cash. The evidence about the Democrat’s online searches was prominently displayed to a New […]

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

NYPD officer cites ‘courtesy cards,’ used by friends and family of cops, as source of corruption