In the wake of a leak that revealed a number of NYPD lieutenants cheated on their promotion exams, a culture of corruption has been unmasked at the police department.
The Daily News found that an internet message board used by the officers contained discussions of specific questions among the sergeants who took the test in 2011. The NYPD has filed a lawsuit against the officers.
Sergeants used the cheat site to gain insight for a makeup exam scheduled for November 15 of that year. Some even posted full lists of test answers on the message board. Records show that while only 29% of officers passed the initial test, over 65% passed the makeup exam. More than 2,200 sergeants took the 2011 test.
These revelations come among the release of an FBI probe into top NYPD officials receiving gifts in exchange for favors. A police source that examined the test results said many of high-ranking officers could have achieved their positions through cheating.
“The numbers you have show that the cheating was more widespread, and that means there are other captains who shouldn’t have been promoted,” the source told the Daily News.
Ed Mullins of the Sergeants Benevolent Association said the only solution should be to promote every officer who passed the test, regardless of cheating.
“Unless you can prove it, I think you have no choice other than to promote,” Mullins told reporters. “Unfortunately, the people of New York City may not be getting the best and brightest. If that’s the truth, that’s terrible.”
An FBI investigation of the NYPD revealed that a former chief of department, Philip Banks, accepted monetary gifts from business interests while operating from his position.
A photo shows Banks and a businessman in Israel, a trip allegedly paid for by the businessman. Banks also took golf trips to the Dominican Republic. The FBI investigation includes other top cops suspected of taking paid trips to the Superbowl, Brazil, and China.
Manhattan real estate mogul Jona Rechnitz and Brooklyn power broker Jeremy Reichberg were among those who developed relationships with the top brass of the NYPD. Both have also raised money for Mayor de Blasio and served on his inaugural committee. Reichberg hosted donors at his home in Borough Park, a community de Blasio once represented on City Council.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton described the FBI investigation as “the nature of the business,” saying, “We’ll just have to see where the investigation goes.” In the wake of the cheating scandal, the FBI reported that it’s expanding its investigation into Mayor de Blasio’s fundraising activities.
Despite Bratton’s self-constructed image as a progressive reformer, his attitude when dealing with these situations reveals complacency with corruption within the police department. Earlier this month, Bratton scoffed at the NYPD Inspector General for suggesting that police misconduct should come with predetermined penalties.
“We do not support that,” Bratton said. “I am the ultimate determiner of levels of disciple and while we work with guidelines, they are just that — guidelines. I am not supportive of definitive days for similar offenses — even similar offenses oftentimes have many nuances to them.”
Given that the NYPD regularly harasses mailmen, kills pedestrians, causes accidents, target activists, sexually coerce women, and frame innocent people, Bratton’s comments suggest he does not think a culture of misconduct plagues the police force. It should be no surprise that these sergeants cheated on their tests and that Philip Banks took gifts from a business magnate. In the context of the department’s history of violence and misconduct, these violations are just drops in a bucket.