A New York City police officer is accusing department leaders of enabling a “courtesy card” system that allows people with connections to law enforcement to avoid traffic tickets, reports the Associated Press. The laminated cards, not officially recognized by the NYPD, are treated as a perk of the job issued by the city’s police union to members. In a federal lawsuit this week, officer Mathew Bianchi described a practice of selective enforcement with consequences for officers who don’t follow the unwritten policy. Current and retired officers use the cards in exchange for a discount on a meal or a home improvement job, he said. In the Staten Island precinct where he works, Bianchi said many people he pulled over for traffic infractions flashed him one of the cards. “I see card after card. You’re not allowed to write any of them (up),” he said..
Bianchi said he was reprimanded many times for writing a ticket to a relative or parent of an officer. In some cases, his commanding officer would personally review body camera footage to see if he was giving those with cards a “hard time,” the lawsuit says. The final straw came last summer, when Bianchi wrote a ticket to a friend of the NYPD’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, Chief Jeffrey Maddrey. Three days later, Bianchi said he was ousted from his job in the traffic unit and moved to a night patrol shift. Bianchi said minority motorists were less likely to have access to the cards. John Nuthall, a spokesperson for the NYPD’s largest union, didn’t deny the existence of courtesy cards but said it was up to management to decide department policy.