An NYPD Detective is being sued for allegedly making bogus DWI arrests in order to earn extra overtime. The Daily News reports that Detective Darryl Schwartz has been sued at least three times and is facing a fourth suit, alleging that he arrested Bronx drivers who weren't drunk. One of the lawsuits that named Schwartz resulted in an $85,000 settlement from the city. Records that were eventually turned over to defense attorneys show that Detective Schwartz has a history of misconduct stretching back at least a decade, and that the NYPD has done little to discipline him.
Willoughby Jenett, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society, reviewed dozens of DWI cases involving their clients in which Schwartz made the arrest, and found that half of the adjudicated cases either ended in acquittals, dismissals, or pleas to lesser charges.
"I spoke to other attorneys who represented people who had been arrested by Detective Schwartz and all of them were either not driving or not drunk or some combination of those," Jenett told Gothamist. "Which is something you often hear from people, but the rate of dismissal or other ways these cases went away was very high."
According to Legal Aid, Schwartz made more than $173,000 in overtime from fiscal years 2015 to 2018, more overtime pay than what 97 percent of officers earned during the same time period, and the same time the tossed DWI arrests were made.
It wasn't until late 2018 that the Bronx DA finally turned over Schwartz's Internal Affairs Bureau file to defense attorneys representing people that the detective had arrested.
Schwartz, who joined the NYPD in 2003, was found to have filed improper paperwork for drug seizures in 2009 and 2010, while he was working at the prestigious Manhattan North Narcotics Bureau, according to the IAB file.
In 2012, he was docked three vacation days after he "failed and neglected to properly perform assignments regarding his assigned investigations," the file reads. State police were also called to his home in Westchester after a fight with his girlfriend; she did not press charges but the IAB file notes that Schwartz did not notify his superiors, in violation of department rules.
The next year, Schwartz was transferred to the 46th Precinct in the Bronx for "poor performance and discipline." Later in 2013 he accidentally fired his weapon and was sent for retraining, according to the IAB file.
In 2015, the Civilian Complaint Review Board substantiated claims against Schwartz that he abused his authority and wrongfully frisked two people in the Bronx in 2014 and failed to file a stop and frisk form for the encounters, according to a CCRB file. The IAB file notes that Schwartz was retrained.
In 2016, Schwartz was involved in a crash while on duty that was determined to be his fault, but was not disciplined, the file reads. Later in 2016 he was docked 10 vacation days after failing to property voucher a prisoner's wallet that allegedly had $1,300 in it; the wallet was lost.
In July of 2017, he failed to appear in court for a fourth time, and the next month was placed on IAB monitoring "based on member's history with the dept."
This past March, Schwartz was stripped of his badge and gun and placed on desk duty after he and another cop allegedly left a weapon in the back seat of a police car.
Schwartz's social media activity, which has since been deleted, reveals a penchant for sexually explicit and blatantly sexist memes.
Schwartz, who is 46, did not respond to our requests for comment. The NYPD has also not responded to our questions about why Schwartz received so little discipline given his history of infractions. The Daily News reports that another officer was disciplined for working at Schawrtz's side hustle, an event planning firm called Crew Love, but it's not clear if Schwartz himself has faced any consequences from the gig.
"He's not planting guns on people, and there's certain police officers who have done worse, but he's just an example of what is allowed to fester at the NYPD when there's not public oversight," said Jenett, the attorney.
Jenett specifically pointed to civil rights statute 50-a, which the NYPD and the City began reinterpreting in 2016, to shield disciplinary records from public view.
While virtually every other state in the country releases details of police misconduct, which are undoubtedly in the public interest, New York courts have sided with the police department and the district attorneys in keeping them private. District attorney offices cobble together their own lists of untrustworthy cops, but the lists are private. The Bronx DA's office did not respond to our questions about Detective Schwartz.
Last year, BuzzFeed published a trove of NYPD disciplinary files that showed that there were more than 300 cops who committed fireable offenses who were still on the job.
Earlier this year, an independent commission comprised of former U.S. Attorneys found “almost a complete lack of transparency and public accountability” in the NYPD's disciplinary process.
NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio have both pledged to "change" 50-a. A bill to repeal 50-a failed to pass the state legislature this year.
We asked the Mayor's Office what Mayor de Blasio is doing to promote transparency within the NYPD to ensure that there aren't dozens, if not hundreds more cops like Schwartz who are still on the job. We'll update if we get a response. The NYPD has not responded to our requests for comment.
"That law creates hoops that a defense attorney has to jump through to get access to what should be public records of a police officer's history of misconduct. This is not what the people of New York City deserve," Jenett said. "Cops like Schwartz are dangerous, and their actions can have really serious consequences on people's lives."