Domestic Abuse Victims: Don't Call NYPD if You Haven't Paid All Your Old Traffic Tickets

Amazingly pig-headed new policy from the NYPD, reported by NY Post:

Abuse of PowerPhoto credit: Poster Boy NYC / Foter.com / CC BY

Women who report domestic violence are exposing themselves to arrest under a new NYPD directive that orders cops to run criminal checks on the accused and the accuser, The Post has learned.

The memo by Chief of Detectives Phil Pulaski requires detectives to look at open warrants, complaint histories and even the driving records of both parties.

“You have no choice but to lock them up” if the victims turn out to have warrants, including for minor offenses like unpaid tickets, a police source said.

“This is going to deter victims of domestic violence . . . They’re going to be scared to come forward.”

Hey, only the guilty have reason to fear!

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  • ||

    The NYP headline runs: "NYPD cops ordered to run criminal checks on domestic-abuse victims".

    Until conviction (or a guilty plea) there's no victim, only a "complaining witness".

  • Enough About Palin||

    Right, because when the cops roll-up and find a woman with the shit kicked out of here there simply is no victim, just a """complaining witness"".

  • ||

    Yes, that's how the law works. Otherwise the cops could be juries, judges & executioners.

    Like in case of Yao Wei Wu.

  • Enough About Palin||

    And this is relevant how? So the cops went to the wrong door. It still doesn't change the fact that there was a victim.

    McGuinness added that police did eventually respond to the home where the complaint originated and arrested a man for assault.
  • ||

    And this is relevant how?

    I dunno: due process, presumption of innocence &c.

    The point remains: until conviction (or a guilty plea) there's no victim.

    Was Tawana Brawley a victim? Or the half dozen others (who made national news) who committed self-battery then claimed victim status of "hate crimes"?

    Jodi Arias' defense is that her killing Travis Alexander was justifiable homicide (self-defense): if that's true, even the dead isn't a victim -- as there was no crime committed.

    The cops deciding on the spot who is the victim is prima facie prejudice: they're prejudging the case.

  • Enough About Palin||

    The cops roll-up on a restaurant where 16 people are found shot dead execution style and you're position is that there is no victim? Got it.

  • ||

    You haven't answered my questions. Just because there are some cases where the status of the victims seem obvious, it doesn't mean that in all obvious-looking cases the "victim" indeed is a (or the only) victim. DV cases are notoriously non-obvious, what with mutual combat and the like...

  • phandaal||

    Not sure how this is relevant to the fact that cops are running checks on the alleged victims. The point still stands that if a woman has unpaid fines and legitimately does get the shit kicked out of her by her spouse, she'll go to jail as a side effect of reporting the abuse.

  • Enough About Palin||

    But thank G-d she's not a victim!

  • ||

    Not sure how this is relevant to the fact that cops are running checks on the alleged victims.

    Well, the NYP headline failed to add the word alleged, which you did.

  • phandaal||

    "Well, the NYP headline failed to add the word alleged, which you did."

    Side effect of growing up with lawyers. Some scars never heal.

  • ||

    Side effect of growing up with lawyers. Some scars never heal.

    Nicely played.

  • Enough About Palin||

    "Was Tawana Brawley a victim? Or the half dozen others (who made national news) who committed self-battery then claimed victim status of "hate crimes"?"

    OH MY GOD! 6 IN JUST 26 YEARS! IT'S A FUCKING EPIDEMIC!!!!111!111!

  • ||

    Yup, DV is a supposed epidemic, and even VAWA prejudges the cases in its (short) title.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Tawana Brawley was never considered a DV victim. She's not relevant to this piece and neither are any of the people who faked race crimes. They all had nothing to do with DV.

  • ||

    We were talking about victim status: the point is that mere accusation or even wounds don't make someone a bona fide victim until there was adjudication of the case. Just the same way that someone is a suspect, but not the perpetrator until found guilty.

    The NYP headline assigned victim status without a judgement existing that there was a crime committed (which had a victim). It is classic yellow journalism (which, according to Wikipedia, is: "[y]ellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers.").

  • Copernicus||

    "Until conviction (or a guilty plea) there's no victim, only a "complaining witness"."

    Bullshit....Sorry, but sometimes that is enough rebuttal.

  • ||

    No, you aren't sorry, and no, that isn't enough rebuttal by far.

  • Agammamon||

    Yeah, and also when the cops roll up to the door and see a man and woman screaming at each other with no visible injuries.

  • Agammamon||

    Or when they roll up to the door and "find a woman with the shit kicked out of here" because she tried to knife the dude and he beat the shit out of her.

  • Zeb||

    Um, no. There is still a victim (assuming they aren't making shit up). There is a difference between what the law recognizes and reality. In reality, you are either a victim or not, regardless of what a court says.

  • ||

    There is still a victim (assuming they aren't making shit up).

    Yes, but what method is used to decide that "they (i.e. the accusers) aren't making shit up"?

  • ||

    Knowing the accuser's background might cue you into the possibility that they could be making shit up.

  • ||

    I agree with this. The cop should enter any situation as a neurtal party, and not automatically assume that the accuser's statements should be taken at face value.

    Running a background check might turn up an arrest warrent for unpaid traffic tickets, or it might also turn up a history of false accusation of domestic abuse.

  • MJGreen||

    But the outrage is that victims will be deterred from calling for help. It's only focusing on actual victims, and not the larger category of accusers.

  • ||

    Because the check happens at the stage when there's only an accusation, it is impossible to separate the "actual victims" from the larger category of accusers. In order to not outrage the actual victims, all checks should be avoided. If that's the policy advocated for, then let's state that unequivocally.

    "NYPD cops ordered to run criminal checks on domestic-abuse accusers/complainants".

  • Enough About Palin||

    I wonder what would happen if they were required to run a check on the active police offices. I bet there are at least a few with outstanding warrents.

  • Enough About Palin||

    warrants

  • Hugh Akston||

    No you see police are held to a higher legal and moral standard than we mere civilians. That's why they have their own internal affairs divisions who police the police, so to speak.

    And because they are such upright and honorable defenders of public safety, those thorough internal investigations almost never find evidence of wrongdoing or criminality. Procedures were followed, officers acted appropriately and with surprising restraint considering the situation.

    That's why they coined the term "professional courtesy" to describe the relationships between prosecutors and cops: because both are so courteous and professional.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Calling the cops is a net positive for no one. The attacker gets jacked, the caller gets hassled, the surly copper has to put down his donut. No winners.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Don't forget the taxpayers.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Yet another example of the GOP's War on Wimmynz

  • db||

    I read that as "War on Wimmyinz" and thought you were talking about Pittsburgh feminists.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Calling the cops is a net positive for no one.

    The only time you should call a cop is after the fact; to clean up the mess, so to speak.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Even if I am being interviewed as a witness, I will consult with an attorney to plan everything I say, and most likely will provide no substantial information. Even in the case of a property crime against me, I will consult with an attorney and decide whether to bother reporting it or not.

  • sarcasmic||

    There's no point in reporting property crimes. The cops don't care. You'll be lucky if they even file a report. They'll run you for warrants, try to get you to submit to a search, and if they can't find anything to bust you for they'll leave.

  • Tonio||

    Except if you need to file an insurance claim. My experience is that the insurer won't accept a claim for theft unless there is a police report.

  • sarcasmic||

    You were able to get the police to write a report?
    My experience was just as I said. They ran me for warrants, said they wanted to poke around for drugs, and when I got all WTF confused and flustered being that I called them about a being a crime victim and they were treating me like a criminal, they mocked me a little bit and then left.

  • Tonio||

    My ex, not me, but yes.

  • some guy||

    Around here you can report small time thefts online. You never have to talk to a real person. They don't file a report but they give you a confirmation number to verify that the report was made. It's the best possible experience you'll ever have with the police.

  • Scooby||

    I'm sure it's a great experience, except when their crime reporting website plants spyware on your computer.

  • some guy||

    Only call the cops if you want someone arrested and are willing to take the chance that the someone is you.

    I'll bet the cops and petty bureaucrats see it as a net gain. They get to justify their jobs. "I responded to 8 domestic violence calls this month!" Never mind that they all ended up being he-said/she-said bullshit.

  • ||

    I wonder if this was done on purpose just to cut down on calls?

  • ||

    It was done on purpose because cops are lazy as fuck and since they won't leave without arresting someone, this gives them an easier time of figuring out who to arrest and call it a job well done.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Cops have better things to do than respond to every little domestic abuse situation. There's a whole city out there of dogs to be shot and assets to be seized.

  • some guy||

    Now domestic abuse is an excuse to shoot dogs and seize assets. Problem?

  • Enough About Palin||

    Could be. Cops hate going to domestic calls, which can be unpredictably dangerous. Officer safety and all that.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Nah, they hate going because the majority of the time it's bullshit like "James won't brush his teeth."

  • BlogimiDei||

    And they don't get to bust some heads. Most cops want to be a big brave man and bust some heads.

    I love JPD.

  • Tonio||

    Perhaps, Jimbo.

    Look to see this expanded to other arenas. IE, every complaining witness (and perhaps even non-complainers) will have a background check run on them and it's off to the pokey if you aren't squeaky clean.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    I am thinking along the same lines. Less calls = less reported domestic violence. Less reported domestic violence =? better crime statistics.

  • T||

    Running a warrant check on anybody they come in contact with is a de facto SOP for cops. I'm surprised it wasn't already spelled out somewhere in the depths of an NYPD procedure manual.

  • Hugh Akston||

    One more reason to never talk to any cop at any time.

  • sarcasmic||

    Running a warrant check on anybody they come in contact with is a de facto SOP for cops.

    Without probable cause it's illegal for them to demand identificiation. Not that matters. If you refuse you are guilty of contempt of cop, and there's no telling what will happen. It could range from an arrest for false charges that will be dropped the next day, to a good old fashioned beat down.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "There's your warrant, nigger."

  • T||

    There's an old cop saying in Texas: you may beat the rap but you won't beat the ride.

  • AlmightyJB||

    You guys are purposely trying to piss me off 'cause it's Friday aren't you? Can't we do the super douchbag stories on Monday's when I'm already in a foul mood? Every fourth Monday maybe a douchbag story of the month kind of like the nanny of the month? Chief of Detectives Phil Pulaski....you are fuckin' douchbag and so is any cop who listens to you, in case you did already know that. Please do not have children.

  • Tonio||

    Yes. You're welcome.

  • ||

    Things could be worse: sloop could be raining bad cop stories on your head faster than you could freak out about them. I've seen it happen.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Oh yes, he almost had me crawling away from the computer, retching, on more than one occasion.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah. Been there. Done that.

  • Torontonian||

    Wait... so if someone has an valid arrest warrant outstanding (you know... the kind issued by a judge in full compliance with the 4th Amendment), then police shouldn't bother actually arresting that person because he/she called the cops on some other person?

    What exactly is the point of issuing a warrant and then not to bothering to enforce it when the opportunity presents itself?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Well yeah if your a douchbag than sure.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Let's say you have an outstanding warrant for something like possession, failure to appear, or unpaid parking/traffic tickets. A statutory violation rather than an actual crime that has harmed anyone.

    Now let's suppose that your business has been burgled, or you've been assaulted, or your kid has been kidnapped. Someone actually got hurt and the criminal should go to jail for it.

    If your outstanding warrant wasn't serious enough to merit investigating and tracking you down in the first place, how is it just for them to arrest you for being stupid enough to bring yourself to their attention by reporting an actually serious crime?

  • Torontonian||

    So if your arrest warrant is for a such a trivial offence, maybe you should act like an effin' grown up and deal with it.

    I'll agree that it may not be worth expending a lot of time and effort to hunt down minor offenders with outstanding warrants, but when an alleged offender tells the cops exactly where he/she is, and then demands that they come to that location, maybe they should just do their jobs while they're already there.

    If it's just for them to issue the warrant, it's just for them to execute it.

  • ||

    Ignoring unjust warrants (for unpaid tickets, etc.) is a way of dealing with it.

    This background check thing is a bad thing.

  • T||

    The vast majority of outstanding warrants are failure to appear warrants for traffic offenses. I'm not sure how much effort the state should be spending on those.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Zero.

    Fuck all traffic laws.

  • ||

    ^^This.

    Until cops start pulling people over regularly for impeding the flow of traffic by driving slower in the passing lane, all other traffic tickets are complete bullshit.

  • some guy||

    And for following too closely. The stuff that actually causes accidents is rarely policed. So much easier to get someone for speeding or coasting through a stop sign.

  • AlmightyJB||

    What did the victim do to justify having her record checked? I mean it would be different if there was an APB out on her with her face posted in every cop car. But unless she has committed a crime, they should not be running a check on her just for the fucks sake of it. The same reason they can't come up to you and demand id unless you've committed a crime.

  • sarcasmic||

    The same reason they can't come up to you and demand id unless you've committed a crime.

    They can't legally demand id without probably cause. Not that that stops them. Once they demand your id, they're going to get it. If they get to beat it out of you, then that just makes their day.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Probably cause: 'Cause you probably committed a crime.

  • sarcasmic||

    I've had them tell me my untucked shirt could be concealing a weapon, and that was reason to search me and run me for warrants.

  • Tim||

    He's just a poor boy from a poor family
    Spare him his life from this monstrosity
    Easy come easy go - will you let me go
    Bismillah! No - we will not let you go - let him go
    Bismillah! We will not let you go - let him go
    Bismillah! We will not let you go - let me go
    Will not let you go - let me go (never)
    Never let you go - let me go
    Never let me go - ooo
    No, no, no, no, no, no, no -
    Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go
    Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me
    for me
    for me

  • sarcasmic||

    I hate that song.

  • Tonio||

    I'm not comfortable with this for any number of reasons, and see this program expanding to other "complaining witnesses" (and perhaps even non-complaining ones).

    The only practical reason I can see for this is to try to weed out "complaining witnesses" who are the agressor instead of the victim. But that's still an imperfect test.

  • phandaal||

    Sounds like proper training and a judgement call on the part of the officer would be able to weed out people who are calling without cause.

    Than again, that supposes several fantastically unlikely things, namely that someone would create the training and that the people who become police officers have any interest in this.

  • Flemur||

    phandaal: "Sounds like proper training and a judgement call on the part of the officer would be able to weed out people who are calling without cause."

    The call to police is itself defined as "probable cause", and no further evidence of anything is necessary to arrest someone, which is typically required by the bogus VAWA laws.

    I did some research a few years ago which indicated that about half of all DV calls by women are phony, and if the warrant checks, etc, cut down on that scam, then it's a good thing.

  • phandaal||

    Interesting. Probable cause seems to be loosely defined sometimes.

  • ||

    Well, to use their judgement the officer has to have access to information. This instructs the officer to look at information about the accuser, not just the accused. I can't see how tipping the scale slightly more in favor of the accused is a bad thing.

  • ||

    As other have already stated, I think you're off the wall on this.

    The cops SHOULD run background checks on both accuser and accused, otherwise there is no way to assess the credibility of the accuser. This is shifting the burden of proof onto the accused which is the opposite of what libertarian legal philosophy dicates.

    Obvsiously the cop doesn't make a determination of guilt of innocence on the spot, and shoudn't, but having some knowledge of the criminal history of both parties can affect how the officer handles and situation, and this means that the officer doesn't always have to take accusations at face value. It places both parties on an equal footing. Otherwise, you set up a systematic bias against the accused and in favor of the accuser.

  • AlmightyJB||

    So if a cop wanted yo run a check on me if I wasn't cooperating with him all he has to do is get someone to attack me and thats probably cause for him to do whatever the fuck he wants?

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