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An Unusual Civil Rights Issue We Now Face: Police Officers Making False Arrests to Earn Overtime


On February 19th, the New York Times covered a story involving police officers who stand accused of making false arrests in order to increase their incomes (a practice known as “collars for dollars”). The implications of the federal trial brought against them could have far-reaching impacts on criminal defendants affected by these officers, as well as others, as scrutiny in general falls on police activity and arrests in general.

Specifically, these officers will appear in Federal District Court this month (February) for an unusual civil rights trial involving accusations that they detained an individual simply to accrue overtime pay. If the officers are found liable, another trial will be scheduled which would arguably challenge policing practices all over the country; in particular, the question of whether police officers habitually use false arrests in order to bolster their pay.

“Collars for Dollars”: 1980s to the Present

This isn’t the first time concern over the practice known as “collars for dollars” has come up: The 1994 “Mollen Commission” report detailed numerous overtime schemes that were explicitly used by the City of New York’s police force. The report described police officers frequently involving as many police officers as possible in making an arrest in order to maximize those eligible for overtime, as well as claiming to discover evidence that would require them to enter the case as peripheral witnesses so that they would have to be on-hand or available to testify—and thus receive more overtime pay. It also described officers specifically directing arrests to the members who stood to gain the most overtime, even sending an officer into court to testify about events they never witnessed, just to receive the extra pay for going to court on their day off.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t just involve police officers taking advantage of taxpayer dollars; it involves making arrests (illegal arrests) of and bringing false charges against innocent people, who are then sent to jail for these accusations. This occurred in the 1980s in the infamous “Morgue Boys” case, and it occurred just recently, in January 2018, when a Queens detective (Kevin Desormeau) was found to have illegally arrested an innocent man under false drug charges; falsely claiming that he (Desormeau) personally witnessed the suspect dealing drugs; in order to file for overtime.

Criminal Defense Attorneys Who Do Not Accept Police Misconduct

Clearly, years of education and attempted reform have only had marginal effects on decreasing false arrests for the sake of overtime. You might be surprised at how frequently police misconduct is involved in criminal accusations.

If you have been wrongfully accused of a crime, we will do everything we can to unearth any suspicious activity on the part of police authorities, and ensure that you receive justice. Contact our experienced Florida and Massachusetts criminal defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out more.


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