The Civilian Complaint Review Board says that police cannot seize people's "police union courtesy cards" when people possess them lawfully. The CCRB found that 11 police officers were wrong to confiscate the cards, which many people believe will help them out if they are stopped by the police. "Effectiveness" of the cards aside, the CCRB's suggestion is for the police force to better educate officers about the cards.
At the same time, the New York Civil Liberties Union believes that seized-card complaints means cardholders feel they deserve a "free pass." The cards, which are issued by the NYC Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, show an NYPD shield on them. NYPD spokesman Paul Brown told the NY Times that while the police department does not give card-carriers special treatment, "It’s understandable that police officers confiscated them from individuals who used the cards to try to unduly influence them."
We've heard about NYC PBA cards, but never seen one in action. Have you? And the AP mentioned two incidents that the CCRB investigated: A 52 year old father of an officer who was ticketed after spitting on the street and a woman who used a courtesy card when an officer responded to a noise complaint (the officer apparently said, "This is a courtesy card, but you're not being very courteous." -- ha!)