A former New York City narcotics detective testified in court that planting drugs on innocent people was common practice, a quick and easy way to boost arrest numbers.
According to the New York Daily News, the practice is known among NYPD officers as “flaking,” and officers in Brooklyn and Queens narcotics squads were doing a whole lot of it.
Stephen Anderson, the former detective, was snared along with a group of other officers for “flaking” four men in Queens back in 2008. He is now cooperating with prosecutors and is spilling the beans on the crooked practice of framings and false arrests, often to reach arrest quotas.
"It was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators," Anderson testified in Brooklyn Supreme Court last week. "It's almost like you have no emotion with it, that they attach the bodies to it, they're going to be out of jail tomorrow anyway; nothing is going to happen to them anyway."
The Drug Policy Alliance, a group that promotes alternatives to the war on drugs, issued a statement calling the case against the officers indicative of larger, systematic failures.
“One of the consequences of the war on drugs is that police officers are pressured to make large numbers of arrests, and it’s easy for some of the less honest cops to plant evidence on innocent people,” said Gabriel Sayegh of the DPA. “The drug war inevitably leads to crooked policing — and quotas further incentivize such practices.”
This latest case isn’t the first time corrupt police practices and numbers fudging by the department has been exposed. A few years ago, an officer also in Brooklyn began secretly taping the activity around the department and uncovered a more sinister side to city policing.
Hundreds of hours of tape reveal how bosses threatened street cops if they don’t make enough stop-and-frisk arrests, “but also tell them not to take certain robbery reports in order to manipulate crime statistics,” according to the Voice. “The tapes also refer to command officers calling crime victims directly to intimidate them about their complaints.” (The popular public radio show, This American Life, did an in-depth feature on the padded stats in the Brooklyn precinct and the organized intimidation of the officer who was trying to blow the whistle.)
According to the DPA, the NYPD has recently come under fire recently for the arrests of more than 50,000 people last year for low-level marijuana offenses – 86% of whom are black and Latino – making marijuana possession the number one offense in the City. The group is also critical of the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk practice.
The marijuana arrests, the group says, are the result of “illegal searches” by the NYPD, as part of stop-and-frisks.
The statement continued:
Marijuana was decriminalized in New York State in 1977 – and that law is still on the books. Smoking marijuana in public or having marijuana visible in public, however, remains a crime. Most people arrested for marijuana possession are not smoking in public, but simply have a small amount in their pocket, purse or bag. Often when police stop and question a person, they say “empty your pockets” or “open your bag.” Many people comply, even though they’re not legally required to do so. If a person pulls marijuana from their pocket or bag, it is then “open to public view.” The police then arrest the person.