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  #1  
Old 23 January 2018, 04:12 AM
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Police How US 'get out of jail free' cards work

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA) is reducing how many cards are issued to members, according to the New York Post. A source told the Post the cutback was ordered to prevent the cards' sale online. The plastic cards can be presented to officers to indicate the holder knows another officer, reportedly to "wiggle out of minor trouble".

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42780382




I can’t belive these things are legal. It’s like a personal entitlement card.
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  #2  
Old 23 January 2018, 02:22 PM
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I agree. It's all kinds of wrong. In my old job, I held a position that might make police tend to be lenient toward me. I was careful not to put my work ID near my driver's license in my wallet, because it would be wrong (and unethical, and illegal) to accept favorable treatment because of my position.

I did not ever want to be in a position of having to argue with an officer to give me a ticket. I know people who had to do just that.
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  #3  
Old 23 January 2018, 07:58 PM
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I respect you for not taking advantage of that, because it would be an easy thing to do when you’re looking at things like higher insurance rates and paperwork. That takes a special kind of self control.

I’ve heard various stories (that I assumed were urban legends) about holding your hands a certain way when a traffic cop approaches to indicate you are family of an officer, etc, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but the fact that the unions are brazen enough to print these cards out just feels like institutionalized corruption.
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  #4  
Old 23 January 2018, 10:46 PM
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Police

While I agree that it is wrong to expect ANY special treatment because of one of these cards - or a window decal or tiny badge as I've seen in my area - I would like to make one observation.

In an environment where some police officers have been known to be more suspicious of, or belligerent towards, certain people because of skin color, gender, age, etc. a sign like this that simply says "I respect the police enough to show it" may help make for a more friendly exchange. I fully understand that a lot of people expect special treatment, but asking for friendly treatment is no sin.
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  #5  
Old 24 January 2018, 01:15 PM
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Dr. Winston O'Boogie Dr. Winston O'Boogie is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChasFink View Post
While I agree that it is wrong to expect ANY special treatment because of one of these cards - or a window decal or tiny badge as I've seen in my area - I would like to make one observation.

In an environment where some police officers have been known to be more suspicious of, or belligerent towards, certain people because of skin color, gender, age, etc. a sign like this that simply says "I respect the police enough to show it" may help make for a more friendly exchange. I fully understand that a lot of people expect special treatment, but asking for friendly treatment is no sin.
You shouldn't have to ask for friendly treatment; that should be the expectation.
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  #6  
Old 24 January 2018, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Winston O'Boogie View Post
You shouldn't have to ask for friendly treatment; that should be the expectation.
professional, equal treatment should be the expectation.

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  #7  
Old 24 January 2018, 03:26 PM
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"Should be" is not the same as "is".

IMO, the problem is not the existence of the cards per se, it's the expectations people have attached to them--both the cops that grant immunity, and the civilians who expect it.

Seaboe
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  #8  
Old 24 January 2018, 03:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaboe Muffinchucker View Post
IMO, the problem is not the existence of the cards per se, it's the expectations people have attached to them--both the cops that grant immunity, and the civilians who expect it.
What other purpose could the card have, though? "Here's a card that you can show to the police if you get stopped for something, so that they can ignore it. We issue them to create an ethical conflict for training purposes."
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  #9  
Old 24 January 2018, 04:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Winston O'Boogie View Post
You shouldn't have to ask for friendly treatment; that should be the expectation.
Agreed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alarm View Post
professional, equal treatment should be the expectation.
Agreed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaboe Muffinchucker View Post
"Should be" is not the same as "is".
And agreed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
What other purpose could the card have, though? "Here's a card that you can show to the police if you get stopped for something, so that they can ignore it. We issue them to create an ethical conflict for training purposes."
And this is the real problem. While the "I'm a friend" explanation is the one often used publicly - despite the fact that even that implies unequal treatment - everyone who uses them has a not-so-unwarranted expectation that these cards will get them out of small-to-medium sized trouble.
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  #10  
Old 25 January 2018, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChasFink View Post
And this is the real problem. While the "I'm a friend" explanation is the one often used publicly - despite the fact that even that implies unequal treatment - everyone who uses them has a not-so-unwarranted expectation that these cards will get them out of small-to-medium sized trouble.
And this is a big part of the issue, really... what's "small" legal trouble?
A traffic stop for a broken taillight?
A traffic stop for a broken taillight but the passenger is carrying a large quantity of illegal drugs?
A traffic stop for a broken taillight, that was happened during a hit and run that left a person dead?
A traffic stop for a broken taillight, that happened during a kidnapping, with the person locked in the boot of the car?

The fact that judgement has to be involved in determining if the officer involved accepts the card's premise or not should be enough to tell anyone that it is not a good idea.
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  #11  
Old 25 January 2018, 03:14 PM
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The card's a bad idea, certainly; but the officer making a stop for a broken taillight does still have to use judgement.

Automatically searching the car would be a bad idea. Automatically searching the car when permission hasn't been given would probably be illegal. Failing to search the car when frantic thumping noises are coming from within the trunk would be an even worse idea. -- though I suspect that in the latter case calling for backup first would be wise.
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  #12  
Old 25 January 2018, 03:23 PM
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No

Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Failing to search the car when frantic thumping noises are coming from within the trunk would be an even worse idea.
***BAD TASTE JOKE WARNING***
If the person in the trunk wants to be rescued, he or she should try to waive a "get out of jail free" card through the slit between the body of the car and the trunk lid.
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  #13  
Old 25 January 2018, 04:16 PM
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They should unless they think they can roll doubles on their next turn.
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  #14  
Old 25 January 2018, 06:32 PM
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I was just trying to offer an example where one small "offence" could hide escalating consequences.

For example, the drugs: the officer would have to approach the driver in any case to get handed the card. If he takes the card at face value, does he look at the occupants with a critical eye, or does he just hand the card back and say "move along"? If the passenger had "more cocaine than any one man should possess" in a bag on his lap, would the officer notice?


Sorry, I just had to use that quote again, I find it hilarious...
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  #15  
Old 25 January 2018, 06:35 PM
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AIUI, many (most) stops for something minor as a broken taillight would be either to just tell the person to fix it or because the officer has suspicions about the car/driver and needs a reason to stop them.
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  #16  
Old 26 January 2018, 01:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
We issue them to create an ethical conflict for training purposes."
That might actually be a better excuse than the whole, “It’s make cops feel safer, even though criminals can buy them on eBay” thing.
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  #17  
Old 26 January 2018, 01:57 AM
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Totally honest confession; I used to see this kind of thing on TV shows (L&O, Homicide, etc.- I'm talking 15-20 years ago) where a detective or ADA would give someone who helped with a tip or something a card. I thought it was their business card, and scribble something on it. Or some low level criminal would hand them a card he got form another precinct. In one the ADA said it was good for something up to a pretty significant felony.

Anyway:

1. I thought these were totally made up for TV.
2. Even in the show, I thought they were just the person's business card with a scribbled note.

So they are real and they are actual laminated cards, part of an organized program???
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  #18  
Old 26 January 2018, 01:47 PM
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Read This!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Dave View Post
Totally honest confession; I used to see this kind of thing on TV shows (L&O, Homicide, etc.- I'm talking 15-20 years ago) where a detective or ADA would give someone who helped with a tip or something a card. I thought it was their business card, and scribble something on it. Or some low level criminal would hand them a card he got form another precinct. In one the ADA said it was good for something up to a pretty significant felony.

Anyway:

1. I thought these were totally made up for TV.
2. Even in the show, I thought they were just the person's business card with a scribbled note.

So they are real and they are actual laminated cards, part of an organized program???
I think your interpretations of what you saw on TV were mostly correct. The cards we're talking about here are not considered as iron-clad as the TV version you mention. They're given as thank-yous to PBA contributors as well as close friends and family of cops. As I said, window decals and sometimes little replica badges are also given out. The cards and decals sometimes have years on them to indicate you're an ongoing contributor. These are VERY common in Nassau County, NY, where I live and I believe they are also in NYC and other nearby areas.

A discussion on the Howard Stern show years ago (Stern had a card but was embarrassed to use it) indicated it went a lot further if you said your father, brother, etc. was "on the job", i.e. a cop. I never heard of the hand signals Little Pink Pill mentioned.
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  #19  
Old 26 January 2018, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Dave View Post
So they are real and they are actual laminated cards, part of an organized program???
IDK that we can assume the ones we've seen on TV are PBA cards. They might just as easily be a business card with a note on it.
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  #20  
Old 26 January 2018, 02:23 PM
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I've been given business cards from police detectives in case I got more information or I needed to check on the progress of the investigation. They were basically standard business cards with the police department logo and the detective's business cell phone number.
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