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NYPD Officers With Misconduct Histories Are Becoming ‘Florida Heroes’

And more balmy links for your Tuesday.

9:48 AM EDT on May 23, 2023

NYPD officers stand in a row in a subway station.
(Hell Gate)

It's hard to be in the NYPD. You have to wear pants in the summer, even when it's hot out. Look at your phone for like one second and someone with a nose ring is accusing you of playing Candy Crush. If you get stuck on traffic enforcement, you might have to drive around in one of those humiliating Smart cars. 

If anyone understands how hard it is to be a cop, it's Florida Governor Ron DeSantis—who, despite never being a police officer himself, is A) a veteran and B) Italian American, so he gets the gist. That's maybe why, in October 2021, DeSantis and his attorney general extended an invitation to dissatisfied cops around the country: "Be A Florida Hero." The recruitment campaign, codified into law again as HB 3 in April 2022, offers cops who leave their departments behind and move to Florida incentives like $5,000 hiring bonuses, assistance for first-time home buyers, and private school scholarships for their kids. "While other parts of the country are mistreating, marginalizing, and defunding law enforcement, in Florida we continue to prioritize and appreciate our law enforcement officers," DeSantis said in a statement last April. 

A particular segment of New York's finest seems to be taking DeSantis up on this sweet little offer. (Who among us hasn't fantasized about getting away from the stresses of a toxic work environment?) According to a new report from the Daily Dot, the list of cops who've relocated and received the HB 3 bonus includes "at least two dozen officers with identical names that also appear in NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) database." That's completely understandable—imagine, say, you're former NYPD officer Daniel Meblin, and you were accused of beating up a protester in May 2020, which later resulted in a $160,000 settlement payout by the City, and accused of sexually propositioning someone in April 2021. (According to the CCRB, that complaint was dropped when they were unable to get in touch with the complainant.) Do you know how many annoying meetings you'd have to go to? How many of your vacation days would be on the line if the CCRB substantiated those allegations and the police commissioner decided to actually punish you? (Thirty for the propositioning, plus a potential 15-day suspension for the use of force, according to the current NYPD disciplinary matrix.) Why wouldn't you, like Meblin, move down to Florida and be an "exemplary" officer at the Palm Beach Police Department instead—which, according to a representative from that department, Meblin is.

The Daily Dot report found other former NYPD officers who packed up and moved to the Sunshine State that left behind a trail of CCRB records, NYPD internal investigations, and lawsuits  for misconduct like tackling a teenager on her way to school, in one case, and fatally shooting a man wielding a folding chair as a weapon in another. 

For what it's worth, NYPD leadership appears to recognize there's a problem—in 2022, Commissioner Keechant Sewell, the ultimate authority in officer discipline, rejected more than half of the disciplinary recommendations handed to her by the CCRB, almost twice as many as her predecessors, and in recent weeks, she has pushed to make punishments in the NYPD's disciplinary matrix even lighter than they already are. That, at least, is a light at the end of the tunnel for our men and women in blue who don't do well with humidity.

We've reached out to the CCRB for comment about potential changes to the NYPD's disciplinary matrix and whether their investigative process is part of what DeSantis means when he says cops in states like New York are "mistreated" and "marginalized." We will update this story if we receive a response. 

Now, some bonus links to get you through Tuesday:

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