Four officers in New York City are in court this week over charges they purposely made false arrests in order to benefit from increased overtime pay.
The practice, known as “collars for dollars,” has been perpetrated by officers in the Big Apple for decades and takes many different forms. In this particular instance, an officer who was part of a stakeout made an arrest against a person allegedly involved in a cocaine deal.
Two individuals were arrested, but cocaine residue was only found on one person. The two never made any interactions with each other that the police were aware of. The second individual was later found innocent of all charges and filed the lawsuit against the officers.
Making several arrests can benefit officers. Each one who makes an arrest gets paid for being a part of the process. So if two arrests are made, two officers can benefit financially from that sting. Additional officers can also reap the benefits, acting as witnesses and filing police reports themselves, resulting in extra income as well if it occurs after their scheduled hours.
If any of the four officers are found guilty, it could lead to a larger lawsuit against the city’s police force to determine whether the practice is widespread.
According to records, the man who was falsely arrested — Hector Cordero, a store clerk — was brought into a precinct for questioning even though officers found no cocaine on him. He left the precinct around 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 24, 2014, the same day he was detained, to go to court. He was released from the courthouse at 8 p.m.
Yet two of the officers said they had worked several hours after Cordero was released, even though they were only scheduled to work until about 3:30 p.m. that afternoon. One officer logged that he even worked into the following morning.
If found guilty, the NYPD will have to explain itself and demonstrate that other officers aren’t engaging in similar tactics elsewhere in the city. But perhaps they should do so anyway to alleviate concerns from citizens they’re meant to serve. The track record as of late for the NYPD is far from stellar, and to improve their reputation, New York City cops need to create less doubt about their practices in order to gain the trust of the public again.