Law enforcement abuse their discretion by providing favorable treatment to individuals that demonstrate a relationship to the law enforcement community. Private organizations affiliated with law enforcement have capitalized on this by creating association cards which are distributed by members to friends, family members, and others. Card holders present the card during encounters with law enforcement to signal that they have a relationship with law enforcement, with the expectation that they will receive favorable treatment. Though the cards have no formal authority behind them, strong norms in the law enforcement community punish officers that fail to honor them. Because the cards are distributed and honored on the basis of an individual’s official position and are used in a non-transparent way, the practice raises ethical and legal questions about whether it is corrupt. This paper explores the nature of the card system, its ethical and legal implications, and ways to end it, with a focus on New York State.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
Corruption by Card: How Police Association Cards Allow Law Enforcement to Cloak Self-Dealing as Discretion,
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/public_integrity/19