The following was originally posted on October 13, 2012 at Gothamist.com.
A former NYPD Detective testified last week that he regularly saw police plant drugs on innocent people as a way to meet arrest quotas. Ex-Detective Stephen Anderson, who worked in the Queens and Brooklyn South narcotics divisions, was called to testify in the trial of Brooklyn South narcotics Detective Jason Arbeeny, who has been charged with falsifying public documents and business records. Mister Anderson’s testimony was intended to reveal that, as the Daily News puts it, cop corruption wasn’t limited to a single squad. In fact, it’s pretty widespread!
Anderson was busted for helping plant cocaine, a practice known as “flaking,” on four men in a Queens bar in 2008. He testified yesterday that he did it to help out fellow officer Henry Tavarez, whose “buy-and-bust” arrests had been low. “I had decided to give him [Tavarez] the drugs to help him out so that he could say he had a buy,” Anderson testified in Brooklyn Supreme Court. Anderson avoided jail time by pleading guilty and agreeing to testify against other officers swept up in the corruption bust. (The two men that got flaked received a $300,000 settlement from the city.)
The corruption I observed… was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators,” Anderson testified, according to the Post. Asked by Justice Gustin Reichbach how he felt about setting up innocent men, Anderson replied, “It’s almost like you have no emotion with it, that they attach the bodies to it, they’re going to be out of jail tomorrow anyway; nothing is going to happen to them anyway.” And don’t worry about Mister Anderson; because of his plea deal, he’ll be out of prison in a couple of years anyway.
Reacting to Anderson’s testimony, Gabriel Sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance says, “One of the consequences of the war on drugs is that police officers are pressured to make large numbers of arrests, and it’s easy for some of the less honest cops to plant evidence on innocent people. The drug war inevitably leads to crooked policing – and quotas further incentivize such practices.”