On Thursday night, right before Christmas, the NYPD raided a Brownsville home. They arrested the residents, and one of the officers was even brazen enough to post Snapchats of the entire affair, with the caption “Merry Christmas Its NYPD!”
Only problem? The NYPD raided the wrong house.
According to ABC 7, the family’s only recourse for the situation was to file a police report and call 911. So they were actually expected to receive reasonable justice from the same organization they were just wrongfully raided by, who already had the audacity to post the ordeal on social media.
While the NYPD suspended the officer who posted the images without pay over the incident, they insist they raided the correct house. As ABC 7 stated in its coverage, even though an officer was brazen enough to post images of the raid, the NYPD would still not disclose why the home was being raided in the first place.
The photo is under investigation by Internal Affairs, which late Friday said the officer who took the photo has been suspended without pay. The department also said the officers were at the correct address, and had a warrant to go inside the apartment. But they would not disclose why home was being investigated.
And, as Reason.com notes, police officers posting images on social media is quite commonplace. While this officer’s conduct could cost him his job and will certainly cost the department a lot of money, the practice of officers using social media on the job is far more typical than you would think, given that the police shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing at all.
It’s worth nothing the similarity between posting Snapchats of arrested suspects and the use of fake traffic stops as holiday-themed publicity stunts. If you’re not familiar with that second thing, it works like this: police officers will illegally stop drivers so they can (maybe with one officer dressed up like jolly ol’ Saint Nick) hand out gift cards or other small goodies. The whole affair is recorded on camera and released for public relations purposes. They’re supposed to be heartwarming stories about good cops, but they’re actually terrifying abuses of police power, potential violations of the Fourth Amendment, and, quite frankly, just really creepy.
In both cases, the goal is to produce something that will “go viral” on the Internet. That’s fine for a bunch of college students who are bored during their winter break, but it is beyond inappropriate for armed officers of the law who are given broad authority to use force against their fellow citizens. There is absolutely no overlap between these actions and legitimate police work, not even if the NYPD hired the people who made Venn diagrams for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The Daily Mail covered the subsequent interview of the family, and it is worth noting that they could have actually gotten the right house as they claim. Still, without any comment from police on why the home was being raided or who the actual targets of the raid were, it is as difficult to take the NYPD at their word as it is to take the family at theirs.
No matter the reasons behind the raid, there is at least (somewhat of) a silver lining to the whole affair. The police didn’t have to draw and/or fire their weapons. When the police raided the wrong house in Tennessee several years ago, one of the occupants was shot to death by one of the officers. Of course, this was a drug raid gone bad, and we should all suspect that drugs were what the NYPD was looking for in their social media documented raid.
Maybe the police wouldn’t have the same justification to raid homes, if the war on drugs wasn’t policed with such a heavy hand by the state?