Extending the courtesy of ticket-fixing to fellow officers, pepper-spraying peaceful protesters, and planting drugs on innocent suspects to meet arrest quotas are but three of the NYPD's less savory on-the-job exploits which have been put under the microscope via recent high-profile cases. But the NYTimes' Jim Dwyer points us in the direction of one person's smaller story of a particularly frivolous arrest which seems just as ridiculous as those bigger cases: a 21-year-old female student was arrested and held by NYPD for 36 hours for not carrying ID. And as Dwyer so simply puts it, once she finally reached a courtroom, "the judge proceeded to dismiss the ticket in less than a minute."
Samantha Zucker, who is from Westchester but goes to school at Carnegie Mellon University, was visiting NYC on October 22 with a group of seniors looking for jobs in design industries when she had her fateful run-in with cops. She and friend Alex Fischer were walking in Riverside Park after its 1 a.m. closing when they were confronted by police. “We’re there five minutes when a police car came up and told us we had to leave because the park was closed,” Fischer said. “We said, ‘O.K., we didn’t know,’ and turned around to leave. Almost immediately, a second police car pulls up.”
The students were given tickets for trespassing, and the officers demanded their IDs. While Fischer was allowed to leave after showing his, Zucker had left her wallet in a hotel two blocks away. Police wouldn't allow Fischer to go get it for her, and Zucker was handcuffed and forced to spend the next 36 hours locked up shuffled between a cell in the 26th Precinct station house on West 126th Street and central booking in Lower Manhattan. It's as if she had been eating doughnuts in a playground while unaccompanied by a minor!
The arresting officer, identified as Police Officer Durrell of the 26th Precinct in court papers, also allegedly made fun of Zucker while she was being held: “He was telling me that I needed to get a new boyfriend, that I should get a guy who takes me out to dinner,” Zucker said. “He mocked me for being from Westchester.” After two nights in custody, the judge dismissed all charges in seconds.
Dwyer describes Zucker's pointless arrest in poetic terms, calling it indicative of a larger cancer choking the effectiveness of the NYPD: "the staggering waste of spirit, the squandering of public resources, the follies disguised as crime-fighting." He also connects that with the controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which accounted for more than 600K arrests last year.
According to NYPD spokesman Paul Browne, officers can allow a friend or relative to retrieve ID. Zucker isn't only upset with the arresting officer however—she also blames a culture of complacency which prevented anyone from helping her during those 36 hours: “While it may have been one out-of-control officer that began the process, no other officer had the courage to stand up against what they knew was a poor decision,” she said.