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The NYPD kept an illegal database of juvenile fingerprints for years (theintercept.com)
138 points by jbegley 31 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 55 comments

This tweet has been doing the rounds the last couple days too:


There honestly seems to be no actual value in maintaining the NYPD force, only cost after cost. It was even demonstrated pretty clearly that they were unnecessary when they went on strike and the city kept going just fine. Why do we give these bullies so much power at such cost when we get nothing in return?

Are you arguing that the NYPD in its entirety adds no value to quality of life in NYC?

New York city has been home to organized crime in the form of the mafia and gangs, boasted a huge murder rate in the middle of the 20th century, and is the frequent target of terror threats (literally the stated target of terror groups in their own words). Yet, the NYPD adds no value?

>> New York city has been home to organized crime in the form of the mafia and gangs, boasted a huge murder rate in the middle of the 20th century, and is the frequent target of terror threats (literally the stated target of terror groups in their own words).

The FBI was responsible for taking care of the last generation of organized crime in NY, not the NYPD, precisely because of internal corruption issues.


I would argue their value is highly inflated but that would go for any police department. The FOP is a very powerful national union who works in their own interest. Their power comes from their membership count, so it's in their interest to keep the numbers (both headcount, salaries and pension) growing indefinitely.

Someone hacked and released the FOP contracts a few years ago. I took a look at the contract for my medium sized city. 10 years on the force yields officers over $100K, plus pension. It's a pretty good gig, but I'm not sure it's worth the cost.



I think the drop in crime is more due to people not being interested in committing crimes, rather than some amazing work by the NYPD.

You also have to look at external factors. People don't rob other people of their iPhones anymore because of the cloud bricking functionality. They have no resale value without the passcode.

In 2017 when the NYPD reduced proactive policing the number of major crime reports dropped as well. That suggests that it is the NYPD that is creating "major" crime issues out of molehills.

This is a recurring story. Crime goes up and down with the economy. Bad economy? More crime. Great economy? Less crime. And yet everytime we're 5 years or so in a boom "prevention" becomes "important", and of course the lesser offences (like small drug offences) become important. Exactly when crime is close to the lowest level it'll be that decade.

This is very hard to explain, except of course when seen in the lens of "we must provide jobs for government workers".

The same is true for things like juvenile justice. More kids than ever locked up. And yet ... less abuse than ever, less youth crime than ever before.

What these systems are for, I don't know. But their numbers make it pretty clear what they're not for. They're not for protecting anyone in society.

I've frequently heard mafia-run areas were much nicer to live in.

>> I've frequently heard mafia-run areas were much nicer to live in.

Provided you weren't a minority.

Over the last ten years, NYC has averaged $1MM PER WEEK in payouts for abuse of power/force compensation. It's mind blowing.

Arrest them all. And by them, I mean the NYPD. They are a menace to the public safety and peace, and they should all be on trial for misconduct, or being complicit in misconduct. Everyone who has participated and not worked to change that system is guilty.

This isn't meant to be trolling but: why would they follow the law? No one is playing by the rules and no one is being punished. Not the politicians, not the government agencies, not the banks, not big tech, not big pharma, not the schools/teachers, not the cops, not the military. No one is being held to any kind of standard....

Luckily they make up for all of this by unfairly punishing individual citizens....without connections and who can't afford a good lawyer.

Not to mention, alot of energy is spent demonizing other countries for corruption meanwhile we have plenty of it here. Convince the citizens that everything is great here.

New York is a special case, but one that makes me concerned about the long term viability of large cities. I would guess that NYC's corruption issues have to do with scale and wealth comparable to many states or even countries, but very little outside scrutiny compared to what most states receive.

The day that public awareness/perception meets current affairs will result in a very interesting time in US history.

"Everyone who has participated and not worked to change that system is guilty."

Exactly. This is my mentality and has been for years. People like to complain about the "few bad apples" that make everyone look bad. Yeah, I'll acknowledge up front that overall in the country the majority of officers probably do their job fairly well and try to obey the rules and not violate people's rights. But my real problem is that their coworkers don't do shit about it when they know those people violate the law. They don't speak up. They don't stop them. They don't want to testify or offer up any evidence. And yet how many times have we seen these big public cases where the officer in question has a history of complaints and disciplinary action against them?

The difference between me and my coworkers and the police is that neither I nor anyone I work with has sworn an oath to uphold the law. So I'm not legally obligated to turn anyone in or do anything if I find out someone is breaking the law. But they are. And not only do they not do their job in that regard, they actively try to protect those people. And then they turn around and claim that the public is against them and that there is all this "us vs them" tribalism. Of course there is - they've made it that way. Do they honestly think that the general populace changed their view of the police of the past 50 years at random?

A personal anecdote. I got pulled over around 2 years ago for having a headlight out. Fair enough. But the officer proceeded to make up some bullshit about how I took too long to pull over, which was nonsense. I took 20 seconds to turn over (I went back and timed it) and that was because it was a one lane road with no shoulder - I pulled into a strip mall just up the block that I knew so we didn't block the street. He used that to then claim I used that time to hide something under my seat and suspected me of drug possession. Ordered me out of the car and tried to get me to let him search the car. I refused to grant permission. He said if I didn't give it to him he'd be "forced" to call the dogs and we'd have to wait around 40 minutes because they were far away. I didn't change my tune. We waited. The officer quietly talks to the dog's handler when they show up, deliberately away from me so I can't hear him and then the dog magically indicates/hits on my driver door. Which is interesting since I don't use drugs and only my immediate family has ever been in that vehicle and none of them use drugs. They toss the car and by now I'm both irate and afraid that they might plant drugs since this is clearly bullshit. I start to tell them how I know there's no drugs in the car and it's really interesting that the dog hit on the car considering I know for a fact that there are no drugs there and they will soon find out the same. I also openly and politely ponder what a lawyer might say about them forcing me to wait 40 minutes for dogs to show up since this was after the latest ruling from the supreme court about how long reasonable stops can be for things like that. I see one of them start to think things through and realize I don't actually have drugs in the car. The search completes and they don't find anything. But they also never cite me for the headlight being out and send me on my merry way 75 minutes after being pulled over. Now the real kicker - a friend of mine is in a relationship with a state trooper. I relayed this story to him and he flat out said he would have searched my car as well. When I asked why he said "you are a white male and you were traveling in the direction of a mostly minority town with drug problems (the next town over from where I was). They probably figured you were either going there to buy or you are a seller." To which I responded, "how the hell could they conclude that since I live like 3 minutes from where they pulled me over and I was going home?" And he just said that it wouldn't have matter to him either and he would have searched my car as well.

> People like to complain about the "few bad apples" that make everyone look bad.

People who use this phrase to complain about poor treatment of police officers drive me nuts, because they're completely ignoring what it means. The saying is, "A few bad apples spoil the barrel". As in, if you don't immediately get rid of the bad apples, it causes the rest to rot. Which is exactly what has happened with most police departments.

This is exactly correct, and honestly it galls me every time I read it because it's like the entire society has somehow forgotten not only this saying in its entirety, but this very simple fact about apples. Do people not eat apples any more? Judging by how many big packs of them I see at Costco, or the huge piles of them at every other grocery store I've been to, I find it really hard to believe that much of the American population somehow doesn't know what happens when apples go bad in proximity to other apples, because they keep trotting out the phrase "a few bad apples" as if it's no big deal or something you just have to expect with any group of people.

>I find it really hard to believe that much of the American population somehow doesn't know what happens when apples go bad in proximity to other apples ...

It's because the grocery store removes the bad apples.

The grocery removes the old, unsold apples, which includes both bad apples and good apples.

They--or at least the grocery businesses around here--do not take proactive measures to remove bad fruit of any kind. That is why I frequently see mold on fruits that have been purchased earlier in the same day.

I have seen enough of this to know not only that one bad apple will [eventually] spoil the whole bag, but also that one bad orange will ruin its bag, and one bad strawberry will embadden all the strawberries touching it, but that melons, potatoes, and pomegranates are still mostly good after you remove and throw out all the moldy parts.

Cops are more like oranges than apples. They go bad a lot faster in the presence of corruption.

I'm wondering if I should start talking about bad cops and calling them "bad oranges". But I don't think people will get it.

People already don't get it when you say "bad apple", so it couldn't hurt to throw the old metaphor down to the ground, handcuff it, and then beat on it for a little while afterward for "resisting".

Well, it would open the door for explaining the analogy, since no one gets the "bad apple" thing any more.

They're probably working off of the 1970 Osmonds song, that completely flipped it: "One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, dear."

You can't expect such a person to know anything about Bobby Peel's 9 Principles. [0] If anybody on this site knows a US cop that can name even a single one of them from memory, I would be very surprised, even though they form the ethical foundation for the entire profession of modern policing, along with some of Jeremy Bentham's work.

Peel organized the Metropolitan Police in 1829. Boston copied it in 1838. New York City followed suit in 1845, and Chicago in 1851. It spread fast to all northern cities (southern policing being largely based on the slave patrol instead). The "thin blue line" that seems to be endemic among professional cops in the US is a blatant violation of number 7, and severely undermines number 2.

That cultivation of an "us versus them" mentality, and the erosion of public trust and cooperation with the police, makes the force a decidedly non-modern police force--more like that military occupying force Peel wanted to avoid.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peelian_principles

>Now the real kicker - a friend of mine is in a relationship with a state trooper. I relayed this story to him and he flat out said he would have searched my car as well.

You need a better friend.

I think you are being too charitable. While there is some selection bias where people who have stories of police are more likely to report bad ones, most people get by by simply not interacting with the police.

The problem is a lot of legitimate issues do not end up documented. For example, an officer in a nearby small town was ordering drugs to people's houses and trying to pick them up. Did he have delusions of grandeur, and wanted to stage some bust? Did he want to sell them himself? Did he want to plant them on the teenagers at the local highschool?

We'll never know, because somehow what he was doing was never documented, he was never charged, and he "left of his own volition" for another department.

How many local cases are tainted because of this cop? Every drug charge years back is now suspect and should be thrown out. But it wasn't documented or reported.

>Everyone who has participated and not worked to change that system is guilty."

I'd care a hell of a lot less about them not ratting on each other for breaking the law if they didn't prosecute normal people for not ratting on each other when we break the law. I don't really care which they go for, just be consistent. The double standard is BS. If we don't get a pass then they shouldn't get a pass. If they get a pass we should get a pass.

Not sure what you mean here. I can't recall cases of people being prosecuted for not ratting on people. And the first amendment protects you from being required to make statements. The only exception to that which I can think of is when you are in court and you are under oath and required to testify unless there is a fifth amendment issue. Other than that, you can always refuse to talk to them in any scenario. And the other exception there is you are required to provide your name and basic identification if being detained. But that isn't ratting anyone out. So refusing to testify is the only one I can think of. Is that what you are referring to?

If you have knowledge of a crime and make it easy for the people committing the crime to cover it up or actively mislead investigation you will almost certainly catch some sort of charge. If you're not well to do that charge will probably stick. Meanwhile the cops that turn a blind eye or cover for cops falsifying time cards, keep their mouth shut about planting evidence and drive their drunk buddies home from the scene of the crash get what?

And that's not even counting the massive double standard when it comes to lethal force.

I don't understand how with all the email evidence there should be, how is it not possible to find and prosecute the person(s) responsible for ordering an illegal act by the government.

It would be possible, but the police is not know for cooperating in investigations.


So, technically, the government can't do illegal things. People working for the government do illegal things, and as they are functioning outside of their commission when they commit those crimes, they are not covered by sovereign immunity.

This is important to note as it makes it easy to diffuse responsibility for an act. The courts have more or less made it so that you must prove someone knew an act was outside of their commission and knew the act was illegal to get anywhere.

So who responded to emergencies during the strike? The state police, or did they have a contingency of NYPD still working?

They all reported to work and responded to real crimes. They just didn’t enforce the stupid laws that only exist to bring the city money.

I find it absolutely hilarious in a sad way that cops striking in a manner designed to undermine the government results in them acting in ways that benefit the citizenry.

Too bad they don't go on strike more often.

What do you replace them with?

A force that is bound by law to uphold Peelian Principles, and with a positive legal duty to assist persons in peril, to be prioritized over apprehending those who may be found breaking the laws or causing public nuisance.

So...as I usually ask when these sorts of things pop up - who's going to jail?

Probably no one, like usual. And the NYPD has the audacity to complain about the way the general public perceives them.

Bullying is an epidemic in our society -- all the way to the very top of our political institution.

People don't speak out because of the fear of repercussions. I spoke out. I was fired. My wages withheld. I was subsequently falsely reported to the police for criminal behavior by the corporate attorney, which is against their code of ethics -- or he lied about doing so, either way it's an ethics violation with at worst a slap on the wrist. When I reported the corporate fraud to that attorney he said he wasn't reading my emails.

I said, "you know. I told you. You are complicit." He refuses to respond.

I don't know where to go now.

Corporate immunity. No one is held to account.

> So...as I usually ask when these sorts of things pop up - who's going to jail?

Probably someone low-level, probably someone who had almost nothing to do with actual decision-making, and most likely someone Asian -- whom all sides can agree to dislike.

* case in point 1: the one person at the investment banks for 2008 who went down as a 20-something french guy,

* case in point 2: the two police officers who have gone down for inappropriate shooting include one African american person and one Asian PO

> When lawyers representing some of those youths discovered the violation, the police department dragged its feet, at first denying but eventually admitting that it was retaining prints it was supposed to have destroyed.

> To date, the department has made no public admission of wrongdoing, nor has it notified the thousands of people it impacted

How many cops are bastards? Every day the answer sure seems to be all of them.

Seems like they have to be. How else can a person choose a role of potentially violent arbitrarily given authority over all others.

NYPD - Smart phones & who else?

So everybody who knew about it and didn't do anything is a criminal.

Take their fingerprints, at least.

Presumably it should be fingerprints and DNA into the database, plus publish their arrest records in the local newspaper

Remember always: The US Supreme Court found that police in the United States have no obligation whatsoever to help. Anyone. Ever.

The police are a criminal organization and should be treated as such.

Not being from the US that sounds rather crazy, but apparently there's some [0] truth [1] to this statement?

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/justices-rule-po...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_v._District_of_Columbia

It's not completely unreasonable. Here's a quote from Warren v. District Of Columbia

> A publicly maintained police force constitutes a basic governmental service provided to benefit the community at large by promoting public peace, safety and good order. The extent and quality of police protection afforded to the community necessarily depends upon the availability of public resources and upon legislative or administrative determinations concerning allocation of those resources. The public, through its representative officials, recruits, trains, maintains and disciplines its police force and determines the manner in which personnel are deployed.

> At any given time, publicly furnished police protection may accrue to the personal benefit of individual citizens, but at all times the needs and interests of the community at large predominate. Private resources and needs have little direct effect upon the nature of police services provided to the public. Accordingly, courts have without exception concluded that when a municipality or other governmental entity undertakes to furnish police services, it assumes a duty only to the public at large and not to individual members of the community.

Australia [0] and England [1] are roughly similar (the only countries I googled; I don't have time to google more but I'd guess almost all countries are legally or practically the same).

In general in the US the courts are reluctant to second-guess police officers for decisions they might make in the moment. See also the controversial doctrine of qualified immunity that makes it much more difficult to prosecute police misconduct by saying if officers didn't know from a prior case that the exact specific thing they were about to do was illegal they can't be prosecuted. [2]

> Essentially, if you want to sue a police officer who you think violated your constitutional rights, you first have to convince the court that what happened to you was so outrageous that no reasonable person could have thought it was okay.

For example, according to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit it wasn't clear in 2001 that the govt's "enhanced interrogation" of US citizens, including the following, was torture [3]

> Denial of medical care for serious and potentially life-threatening ailments, including chest pain and difficulty breathing, as well as for treatment of the chronic, extreme pain caused by being forced to endure stress positions, resulting in severe and continuing mental and physical harm, pain, and profound disruption of the senses and personality.

[0]: https://www.robinsongill.com.au/resource/opening-the-door-on...

[1]: http://www.lawjournals.org/download/76/2-6-32-594.pdf&sa=U&v...

[2]: https://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform/reforming-poli...

[3] https://loweringthebar.net/2012/05/would-the-last-civil-righ... (this is a legal humor site, but it's by a lawyer and you can easily find a better source by googling if you want to be a spoilsport)

Jesus Christ people. Let's be honest here, the NYPD kept some data, we don't even know how large, about probable criminals. Further it used some detective work to guess who belongs to gangs. These don't look like big crimes to humanity.

I'd be much more worried about, you know, children under 14 committing crimes already.

The lunacy of some of these commenters...

We're a nation of laws, our entire culture and system is built around rule of law. These protections exist for a reason, to protect children who are not done developing mentally, from having their acts from following them around for life.

Rule of Law cuts both ways though, we don't get to just ignore laws we don't like, and the powers that be even more so cannot. If the law itself is a problem, you change the law.

Sure, it sucks, and the bureaucracy that is the NYPD probably means records are kept from longer than they should, and that is bad. But still, the kids data will not be used against them later on, i.e. crimes they commit at that time won't be prosecuted. Their data only helps arrest them if they actually commit a crime, so they would be the ones breaking the rule of law.

If you think the law is bad, then you should work with the government to get the law changed. Otherwise, you need to follow the law.

At least, that's what the police will tell you when you break the law. So why should they get a pass? It doesn't matter if the law actually isn't useful or is causing harm; the police are more bound to follow and enforce it than anyone else. So why are you making excuses for them?

I would make excuses for anyone who violated the law while acting with good intentions. The rule of law is important. But so is having a sense of proportion about illegality.

>Several years ago, Bella and Lisa Freeman, director of special litigation and law reform at Legal Aid’s Juvenile Rights Practice, started to notice that some of their clients had old police contacts showing up in their rap sheets that should not have been there

The whole reason this was uncovered was that many of these kids are recidivists, maybe the law is wrong

>the NYPD also maintains a secretive and controversial “gang database,” which labels thousands of unsuspecting New Yorkers — almost all black or Latino youth — as “gang members” based on a set of broad and arbitrary criteria

What is a gang database supposed to be based on? Gangs don't keep a signed and dated registry of their membership.

>My son was fingerprinted. He’s 14. I’m scared. What does this mean for his future

Means he should wear gloves the next time he commits a crime!

>What is a gang database supposed to be based on? Gangs don't keep a signed and dated registry of their membership.

Investigative police work, undercover officers, corroborated witness testimony. Iow, hard evidence, with accountability and restitution when they get it wrong. if a cop goes off the books they, and everyone with knowledge of said acts, should automatically lose all protection from civil claims. Great power, etc.

When the nypd gets it wrong innocent people die, go to prison, become pariahs and have no recourse against a notoriously violent, racist, and corrupt organization. The nypds rap sheet basically proves they're a gang muscling out the competition instead of actually fighting crime. Their lack of accountability, and refusal to actually purge the bad actors, only fuels the hate for them.

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