Not sure where to begin with this one:
It didn't matter whether drivers were drunk for state troopers from Troop I in Bethany to charge them with driving under the influence.
Three years ago, drunken-driving arrests were a game for several troopers in Troop I, according to a scathing report released Monday attacking how the agency polices itself.
The report, released by the state's Attorney General's Office and the New York state police, says it was an "open competition" among members of the troop's midnight shift to see who could make the most DUI arrests.
"They wanted to become members of the 100 club for the year," the report quoted one trooper, who was describing how each trooper tried to make 100 DUI arrests.
A state police internal audit in 2004 showed Troop I, where the "100 club" was active, made 500 DUI arrests in the previous year, far more than any other barracks. The midnight shift even received a departmental award for its DUI arrests.
Emphasis mine. The emphasized portion is just the first hint of the institutional shortcomings that would let this kind of thing go on (the assurances of Justice Scalia notwithstanding). When you base police performance on number of arrests, you create an incentive for officers to bring back lots of arrests. And you set the stage for this kind of "proactive policing." But it gets worse.
According to the report, it took serious misconduct for the troopers to log that many DUI arrests. The report said troopers were discouraging people from taking breath tests.
The troopers told people that if they took the breath tests they would have to stay in police custody longer before they could post bond and be released, the report states.
That allowed troopers to report they arrested drivers on DUI charges because the drivers admitted using alcohol or marijuana, the report stated.
Subsequent laboratory tests showed that many of the people arrested did not have drugs or alcohol in their systems, or had amounts well below the legal limit.
You have to wonder if anyone will go back and clear these people's records? What about people who lost the respect of their peers, or perhaps their jobs or even families because of a DUI arrest? Will they be compensated?
Believe it or not, it actually gets worse:
The audit's findings were turned over to the state police Internal Affairs Division. But the internal affairs investigation looked at only one trooper.
"The internal affairs investigation was conducted in such a haphazard manner that it would be impossible to determine whether or not employee misconduct occurred by reading the internal affairs investigation report," the report read. "Virtually none of the leads in this case were adequately followed."
The internal affairs investigation concluded the issues were not that serious and were the result of sloppy paperwork, according to the report.
It was common for the internal affairs division to try to protect fellow state police officers above all else, according to the report.
At minimum, the officers who did this and the internal affairs officers who covered for them should be fired. They should probably also face criminal charges. If I had to bet, I'd wager that their actual punishment will be quite a bit less severe.
Follow-up story here, which includes some pretty serious other allegations of criminal conduct on the part of police.
Thanks to commenter "David" for the follow-up story.