New York, NY — A little-known police privilege doled by a major union is now making mainstream headlines. According to a report from the New York Post, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), which represents officers in New York City, recently cut the number of ‘get out of jail free cards’ officers can issue to their friends and family for minor infractions.
“Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association boss Pat Lynch slashed the maximum number of cards that could be issued to current cops from 30 to 20, and to retirees from 20 to 10, sources told The Post.”
As it turns out, ‘get out of jail free cards’ are not simply a fictional aspect of the Monopoly board game. When officers give these cards out, recipients can theoretically use them to claim stature. By signaling to the officers who pull them over that they know other cops, they reduce their chances of being cited. Lynch reportedly cut the number of cards issues because some were being sold on eBay.
NJ.com reported on these special cards nearly six years ago, specifically highlighting their secretive nature. Writing for the outlet, Kevin Manahan recounted his efforts trying to get comments from police officers about them.
“I called patrolmen (click). Detectives (click). Sergeants (click). Lieutenants (click). Captains (click). Deputy chiefs (click). Police chiefs (click). I tried to get comment from state PBA president Anthony Wieners (crickets). It’s a sensitive subject.”
“Nobody wants to go on the record about this,” one officer reportedly told him. “People read this, and they get upset and start screaming about special privileges. It’s not good publicity.”
These cards have apparently been around for quite some time. “I go back 40 years and they’ve been around as far back as I can remember,” said Wayne Fisher, director of the Police Institute at Rutgers University. “I’m sure they go back a lot further than that.”
Though according to that 2012 report, the cards have become less effective over the years, Lynch’s decision has still drawn outrage.
“They are treating active members like s–t, and retired members even worse than s–t,” one NYPD cop who retired on disability reportedly told the Post. “All the cops I spoke to were . . . very disappointed they couldn’t hand them out as Christmas gifts.”
The NYPD and PBA declined to comment on the story, which further highlights the different standards of justice applied to police officers and regular citizens without special privileges. The PBA has established itself as an unflinching ally of officers, often rushing to their defense even when they commit violence against unarmed, nonviolent individuals.
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