New York City’s largest police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, is limiting the number of “courtesy cards” it distributes to its membership, according to the New York Post. The paper says the group is reducing the number of cards it’s giving to active police officers from 30 to 20, and to retired cops from 20 to 10. This was reportedly a reaction to the discovery that some of the cards were on sale at eBay.
The courtesy cards—or “get out of jail free cards,” as the Post calls them—can be pretty valuable. While some Patrolmen’s Benevolent Associations insist the cards are just public relations tools, the New York union “encourages officers to avoid ticketing cardholders,” Newsday explains. The union presumably agrees with Newsday‘s interpretation, since it has posted the article on its website.
The cards cut to the heart of the problem with public-sector unions: They create an environment where government employees who are supposed to “serve and protect” the public instead get extra privileges. This is particularly dangerous with police unions, whose membership is armed by the state to enforce laws. Such unions regularly push for rules that protect bad cops.
The courtesy cards illuminate the culture of entitlement prevalent in much of law enforcement. Cops expect the cards to protect their friends and families from the indignity of punishment for a minor traffic violation or some other infraction of a petty law. But what about the rest of us?
“They are treating active members like shit, and retired members even worse than shit,” an unnamed retired New York cop on disability told the Post. “All the cops I spoke to were very disappointed they couldn’t hand them out as Christmas gifts.”
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