Several dozen city cops have already pleaded guilty to ticket-fixing charges at disciplinary hearings held by the NYPD, and many of those cops are immediately retiring to collect their pensions, DNAinfo has learned.
In the first wave of disciplinary action in the massive scandal that's ensnared hundreds of cops and could send up to two dozen to prison, the NYPD has started offering plea deals to officers who don't face criminal charges for fixing tickets for friends, family and colleagues for everything from speeding to drunken driving.
Dozens of veteran officers who know they fixed tickets have filed for retirement to protect their pensions. Under NYPD rules, the department has one month to accept their application or bring charges against them, which would block their retirement.
The NYPD has started to close cases by offering tainted cops the opportunity to be docked a day's pay and forfeit five vacation days for every ticket they helped fix.
Several targets are cops who have been under a cloud of suspicion for months and are happy to take the deal, which would leave their coveted pensions, worth millions of dollars, untouched.
Among the first to grab a deal was a top official of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association in the Bronx, sources said.
Other union officials are following him, as are dozens of rank and file cops.
During the two-year probe, hundreds of police careers have hung in the balance. Many have anxiously pondered whether their service could end in disgrace and, worse still, lose everything they worked decades to retire on.
The level of anxiety among some officers has been so elevated they are viewed as nearly suicidal, sources told "On the Inside."
"The whole department is on pins and needles waiting for the shoe to drop already," one high level source said. "There are men and women who risk their lives every day who go home frozen with fear that they are going to loss their livelihoods and their pensions.
"It is not Chinese water torture, it's more like being water boarded," he concluded. "And some have been clearly showing signs of cracking."
And who can blame them?
On average, an officer can retire after 20 years with annual pensions equal to at least half their final year’s salary of approximately $91,000, not including overtime and other health and financial benefit packages for them and their families.
"On the Inside" has previously reported that the NYPD has a confidential list of at least two dozen officers who cannot retire because they are under criminal investigation for fixing tickets and covering up drunken driving incidents for relatives, friends or fellow cops. That list has been compiled by the Bronx District Attorney and NYPD Internal Affairs.
Those cops will learn their fate next month when a grand jury announces its findings, culminating a probe that included thousands of hours of secret phone recordings of NYPD officers. In the crosshairs are representatives of the city’s largest police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which itself faces possible enterprise corruption charges.
In a bizarre footnote to the ticket fixing mess, recently the NYPD decided to fine officers whose tickets were dismissed because of errors.
Those cops were slapped with the loss of 10 vacation days for every errant ticket. That meant honest cops who made a mistake on a summons received a stiffer sentence than those who admitted they illegally fixed a ticket.
The NYPD realized the injustice and subsequently amended the policy charging first-time offenders with the loss of two days pay, with penalties increasing from there for repeaters.
The entire fiasco has ancillary effect as well. It has led to reductions in the number of tickets being written by cops who feel it is better to avoid issuing a summons and not face harsh penalty for an error.
That has also cost the city millions of dollars in ticket revenue.