NEW YORK WORLD ARTICLE ABOUT PINK SUMMONSES

The New York World did a tremendous amount of research to develop a fascinating piece about pink summons cases and how they get distributed around the city.  Here is a link to the article about pink summonses.

Along with the article is a nifty interactive map that allows you to select the type of summons you are interested in and see the number of such summons given by precinct, as well as a racial breakdown of the precinct.  Here is a link to this interactive summons map.

Personally, I am not certain about what conclusions, if any, can be drawn from this breakdown.  It may be tempting to make conclusions based on racial makeup of the precincts, but I am not so certain that any such conclusions are justified.  The fact that many summonses are dismissed is not necessarily evidence that they were issued for no reason or even without good reason.  When summonses are dismissed by the Court, prior to a fact-finding (that is, a trial) then it is for legal reasons related to how carefully the tickets were written.  In many cases, tickets are simply sloppily or carelessly prepared.  In such cases it is impossible to draw the conclusion that there was something underhanded going on in the issuance of the pink summons, since the reasons for the dismissal are purely technical.  It is perfectly conceivable that if a judge were to hear testimony from all parties involved, that the judge might decide that a case dismissed for legal reasons had factual merit.

I have no doubt that individual cases exist where individual police officers may have issued frivolous pink summonses, just as there exist individual instances of police officers behaving badly in other ways.  Yet every single instance of unwise conduct by a police officer is not always going to be the clue to some larger scheme.  It is possible there is no scheme.

I don't think the author of this piece is necesssarily suggesting the existence of a larger scheme, but I could see the article becoming the source of some for proof of something sinister.  I see this article as the start of a larger conversation about the interaction of police at a very local day to day level and the people they serve and protect.