Say, what do you do when your colleague at work struggles to produce his quota? If he’s a buddy, you help him out — right? Well, that’s all Detective Stephen Anderson did in New York, helping out his friend Henry Tavarez when his drug-arrest quota dropped too low. Anderson admitted in court that he planted cocaine on innocent people to boost Tavarez’ arrest numbers — and so did a lot of other police officers (via Instapundit):
Anderson, testifying under a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, was busted for planting cocaine, a practice known as “flaking,” on four men in a Queens bar in 2008 to help out fellow cop Henry Tavarez, whose buy-and-bust activity had been low.
“Tavarez was … was worried about getting sent back [to patrol] and, you know, the supervisors getting on his case,” he recounted at the corruption trial of Brooklyn South narcotics Detective Jason Arbeeny.
“I had decided to give him [Tavarez] the drugs to help him out so that he could say he had a buy,” Anderson testified last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Just how much did Anderson want to help Tavarez? Not enough to let Tavarez take credit for his own two legitimate busts that night in the same bar. Hey, Anderson had to make his own quota too, you know. Fuhgeddaboudit.
Anderson went on to testify that he personally witnessed the planting of drugs on innocent people “multiple times” as a method to boost arrests and meet quotas. Did it bother him? Not really. He was “seeing a lot of” the practice, even from supervisors. Besides, Anderson told the court, nothing happened to people busted for possession, so what’s the big deal? Yes, nothing — except having to hire a lawyer and hope that a judge or a jury would take the word over an accused druggie over a uniformed cop in court. I’m sure American justice prevailed in those cases and that none of those framed don’t have convictions on their records now, records that will follow them for the rest of their lives.
The first impulse is to blame this on the war on drugs, and claim that a repeal of prohibition will end these practices. They certainly will in narcotics enforcement, but I’m not so sure that the root cause of this is the war on drugs. This quota-driven approach to law enforcement isn’t just limited to drug laws, and it represents a kind of corruption that’s even harder to find and extinguish than graft. For the anti-prohibitionists, though, it does serve as an argument that far too much of police effort and attention (at least in New York City) gets directed at users rather than, say, rape, murder, and armed robbery. None of this instills much confidence in the police force, and now the state of New York will have to revisit every drug case over the past several years to find and address the miscarriages of justice that occurred thanks to this environment. That’s not going to help the cause of real law enforcement.