Former New York Cop Blows Lid Off Drug-Planting Scheme

Former narcotics detective testified that officers routinely set up innocent people to meet arrest quotas.

Posted: 10/14/2011 05:10 PM EDT
Filed Under Crime

NYPD Drug Planting

For years, members of the Black community have claimed that many undercover drug agents were up to no good, and now shocking testimony from New York’s Finest validates those claims of corruption.

During a corruption trial Wednesday former New York City narcotics detective Stephen Anderson testified that he and other members of the Brooklyn South and Queens narcotic squads regularly planted drugs on innocent people in order to keep up with department arrest quotas.

Anderson was participating in the trial of Brooklyn detective Jason Arbeeny and was called to show that the practice of planting drugs, known as “flaking,” was commonplace among the narcotics detectives. Anderson, who was accused of planting cocaine on four men in a bar in 2008, was participating as part of an agreement made with prosecutors.

"As a detective, you still have a number to reach while you are in the narcotics division," he said according to the New York Daily News.

Advocacy groups called the practice a result of the country’s skewed objectives that stem from the war on drugs.

"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," said Gabriel Sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization dedicated to promoting human rights based alternatives to the drug war.

"The drug war inevitably leads to crooked policing — and quotas further incentivize such practices,” he said.

The group also reports that the NYPD has arrested more than 50,000 people last year for low-level marijuana offenses — 86% of whom are black and Latino — making marijuana possession the number-one offense in the City.

When asked by the judge whether he took the time to think about the repercussions of his actions, Anderson said, “It was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators.”

"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,” he said.

Two men who were framed by Anderson and his partner were paid $300,000 in a settlement with the city after surveillance taped showed the officer’s misconduct.

(Photo:  Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)