“Courtesy cards,” are cards given out by the NYC police union (and presumably elsewhere) to friends and family who use them to get easy treatment if they are pulled over by a cop. I was stunned when I first wrote about these cards in 2018. I thought this was common only in tinpot dictatorships and
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“Courtesy cards,” are cards given out by the NYC police union (and presumably elsewhere) to friends and family who use them to get easy treatment if they are pulled over by a cop. I was stunned when I first wrote about these cards in 2018. I thought this was common only in tinpot dictatorships and flailing states. The cards even come in levels, gold, silver and bronze!
A retired police officer on Quora explains how the privilege is enforced:
The officer who is presented with one of these cards will normally tell the violator to be more careful, give the card back, and send them on their way.
…The other option is potentially more perilous. The enforcement officer can issue the ticket or make the arrest in spite of the courtesy card. This is called “writing over the card.” There is a chance that the officer who issued the card will understand why the enforcement officer did what he did, and nothing will come of it. However, it is equally possible that the enforcement officer’s zeal will not be appreciated, and the enforcement officer will come to work one day to find his locker has been moved to the parking lot and filled with dog excrement.
A NYTimes article discusses the case of Mathew Bianchi, a traffic cop who got sick of letting dangerous speeders go when they presented their cards.
By the time he pulled over the Mazda in November 2018, drivers were handing Bianchi these cards six or seven times a day. (!!!, AT)
…[He gives the ticket]…The month after he stopped the Mazda, a high-ranking police union official, Albert Acierno, got in touch. He told Bianchi that the cards were inviolable. He then delivered what Bianchi came to think of as the “brother speech,” saying that cops are brothers and must help each other out. That the cards were symbols of the bonds between the police and their extended family and friends.
Bianchi was starting to view the cards as a different kind of symbol: of the impunity that came with knowing someone on the force, as if New York’s rules didn’t apply to those with connections. Over the next four years, he learned about the unwritten rules that have come to hold sway in the Police Department.
Bianchi is reassigned, given shit jobs, isn’t promoted etc. Mayor Adams and police chief Chief Maddrey protect this utterly corrupt system.