NYPD Entrapment Tactic Another Tool In Relentless Push For State Control

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If you see a stray wallet orphaned on the ground and pick it up, aiming to call the Department of Public Safety or simply to drop the wallet, intact, off at the local sheriff’s office, would you think twice for fear of being arrested for theft?

In New York City, you should think twice. For years, the NYPD has staged lost-wallet or dropped-credit-card scenarios in a bid to haul away the intrepid soul who’d dare nibble at the bait.

Thankfully, one Bronx judge has recognized the practice for what it is: entrapment. In January, Judge Linda Poust Lopez threw out a larceny case against a local woman whom cops arrested, at gunpoint — after they first planted a phone, money and cigarettes in a car, staged an incident that made the car appear to have been abandoned, and then lay in wait.

The woman, Deirdre Myers, and her teenage daughter, Kenya, lived in a building near the setup and happened to be outside on their stoop. They saw a guy pull up in the car get out, and start running from police in close pursuit. As he was “caught,” the fake suspect yelled out that he had left his items in the car; but, of course, he was just an undercover officer, his role in the charade fulfilled.

Kenya approached the car and saw the alleged belongings through the still-open door, and her mother approached the car with the intent of grabbing them.

“We live within walking distance of the 44th precinct. We thought we could just take it there. We wanted to turn it in to the police,” Deirdre Myers told the New York Daily News.

Even after the cops drew down on the mother and daughter and placed them in handcuffs, Myers thought a quick conversation with the officers would straighten things out. She spent the night in jail instead. That all happened in 2010, and the case has taken two years to resolve. The cops never backed down on Myers, with prosecutors continually urging her to plea to the charge.

That’s the NYPD’s “Operation Lucky Bag,” a baiting tactic the department has justified since 2006 for being effective in isolating would-be mass murderers or terrorists. Of course, what it really does is create a lazy crutch for beat officers to meet arrest quotas while expanding state power by qualifying the entrapment setup as simply an innocuous form of undercover sting.

But a sting involves probable cause, often is preceded by the issue of at least a search warrant, and manifests because investigators have demonstrated to a magistrate that one or more perpetrators are likely to be charged with specific crimes. Stings aren’t predicated on police hunches about how human nature will inform a random person’s response to seeing some lost property.

Although Lopez tossed the case and scolded the police in the process, the court action doesn’t invalidate the NYPD’s use of the entrapment tactic. Myers, however, is suing.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • Peter Barney

    NYPD have better time to bait and plant. Please find some real crimes out there!

    • momo

      Yeah, NYPD should investigate those illegal big gulps people are slurping at the 7/11.

    • Ibn Insha

      Apparently there are not many real crimes out there. Therefore, in order to justify their existence and big budgets NYPD is resorting to immoral tactics.

  • Vigilant

    “…after they first planted a phone, money and cigarettes in a car, staged an incident that made the car appear to have been abandoned, and then lay in wait.”

    “Abandoned?” I park my car at the Post Office and get out of it to do business; does that mean I abandoned the car? I hardly think so. A man leaves his car on the street to avoid capture and that means he “abandoned” the car? I hardly think so.

    Finding a wallet on the street and finding it in an automobile are two very different things, and it behooves you to know the difference, Mr. Bullard. Ms. Myers clearly heard the shouted comments of the pursued man, and therefore knew that the car was part of a crime scene. A phone call to the precinct would have been sufficient to resolve the matter, but physically reaching into the car to retrieve the booty is clearly illegal. If you believe Myers’ story, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

    And how about a little journalistic truthfulness, Mr. Bullard? You say “Kenya approached the car and saw the alleged belongings through the still-open door, and her mother approached the car with the intent of grabbing them.” They didn’t just “approach” the car, they REACHED IN to grab what appeared to be a wad of bills. If you can’t see the difference, then you have no idea what constitutes the rule of law.
    Granted, it was a poorly conceived plan on the part of the police, but it does not absolve the culpability of the Myers’ in sommitting a crime.

    • MeanieHead

      You make a very good point.

    • Freedomrequiresresponsibility

      A very valid point……too bad it still starts with a police department using tactics that The Supreme Court Of The United States Of America has been denouncing since 1932, in Sorrells V USA…..

      Those Police Officers PURPOSEFULLY and WILLFULLY broke the law and violated The Constitutional Rights of everyone in New York City that day…why haven’t they been arrested???

      • Vigilant

        For the simple reason that they broke no law. NAME the Constitutionmal “right” that has been violated and I’ll eat my hat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.bauer.5 Chuck Bauer

    When someone actually does take items out of your car they refuse to investigate it.

  • Big Red Johnson

    And you really believe they were going to turn the wallet over the police? Yeah, right.

  • BKenn01

    Doesn’t matter what the ladies intent was it is still entrapment. Police should not set up people to commit crimes