Police corruption has been at the forefront of the national mind in recent years, thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement and high profile cases like Meek Mill’s probation violation and disastrous police response at Charlottesville. But the problem runs deeper in some departments. A Buzzfeed report has found that the New York Police Department has used a legal loophole to keep from firing officers who harass women, beat suspects and deal drugs off-duty. And to boot, it appears that the NYPD has attempted to hide the records of these actions.
To give you an example of the shocking behavior detailed in Buzzfeed’s article, it focuses in particular on officer Raymond Marrero, who still works for the department and draws a $120,000 salary despite a laundry list of crimes that includes hassling witnesses, attacking a man challenging a parking ticket issued by Marrero, and, most egregiously, beating up a citizen over a minor altercation. After refusing to chase men who allegedly groped a relative of a police department volunteer (Louis Deluca), Marrero told him to shut up. Deluca called Marrero a c**t in return, and then this reportedly happened:
The officers pushed him to the ground and arrested him, according to a lawsuit Deluca later filed. Back at the precinct, as Deluca was being taken out of the car, Marrero struck him with his police baton, opening up a gash on the top of his head. Another officer said there was so much blood, they had to clean it up with a mop. It took 12 staples at the hospital to close the wound.
…. Marrero pleaded guilty to multiple department charges, including striking an individual with “no legitimate police purpose,” “making unnecessary physical contact,” and “providing inaccurate, incomplete misleading answers” to department investigators, according to the files BuzzFeed News obtained. Yet the NYPD commissioner at the time, Ray Kelly, decided that wasn’t a reason to fire him. Instead, he was put on dismissal probation and he forfeited 45 vacation days.
“Dismissal probation” is a punishment conceived of to be handed down on people who have made innocent mistakes that have had severe consequences. It lasts a year, and during that year you keep your job, have your overtime reduced, and are not allowed to be promoted. It’s been used, however, to seemingly punish officers who engage in fireable offenses without actually firing them.
Adding to the problem, none of these records are publicly accessible. New York has a strict law that buries disciplinary actions on government employees, often making it impossible for citizens who may be facing trial to get details on potential misbehavior on the part of police that may be relevant to juries. Many officers in the records examined by Buzzfeed, for example, have been convicted of lying either to internal investigators or to court officials. New York City officials have yet to offer a full response to Buzzfeed’s piece.