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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Judge 'Shocked' by 'Cowboy Culture' of Narcotics Cops

Brooklyn judge 'shocked' by 'cowboy culture' of narcotics cops
The New York Daily News by Oren Yaniv - November 1, 2011

Officer Jason Arbeeny planted drugs on innocent people he arrested, judge finds

Police officer Jason Arbeeny at State Supreme Court in Brooklyn where he was found guilty of 8 counts of official misconduct and filing false records by a judge following a bench trial. He faces up to 4 years in prison. A Brooklyn judge declared himself shocked by the "cowboy culture" of narcotics cops Tuesday when he convicted a detective of planting crack on an innocent couple. "Having been a judge for 20 years, I thought I was not naïve regarding the reality of narcotics enforcement," said Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach. "But even the Court was shocked, not only by the seeming pervasive scope of the misconduct, but even more distressingly by the seeming casualness by which such conduct is employed." He found Detective Jason Arbeeny guilty of eight counts of falsifying records and official misconduct in an explosive bench trial that revealed the police practice of "flaking" - nabbing blameless people to pad arrest quotas and earn overtime. The judge noted that several witnesses said narcotics officers were expected to make 60% of their arrests for felonies and that cops would spread collars around so they could all meet the quotas. The judge even said that paled in comparison to the "mindset in Narcotics that seemingly embraces a cowboy culture where anything goes in the never-ending war on drugs." Arbeeny, one of eight cops to be charged in the scandal, was found guilty of planting a twist of crack under a car seat during a Coney Island bust in January 2007 and for doctoring paperwork to make the arrest stick. He was cleared of 43 other counts, mostly related to two separate incidents that same year. The 14-year veteran faces up to four years in prison when he's sentenced early next year. He left court without comment. "It's a sad day when a police officer abuses his authority to plant drugs," prosecutor Charles Guria said after the verdict. "It's a very disturbing charge." Most troubling, Judge Reichbach said, was the "casualness" of arresting innocents, which emerged at trial. The attitude was made worse by officers' rationalizing that charges would likely be dismissed anyway - "a rationale that is transparently pharisaical," the judge said. Alluding to movies about police corruption, he said some of the testimony painted the Brooklyn South Narcotics squad "as a cross between 'Training Day' and 'Prince of the City.'"

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