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Hallucinogenic Mushrooms and Steak Dinners Among Unusual Stuff NYPD Buys

By  James Fanelli and Murray Weiss | April 6, 2015 7:30am 

 The NYPD bought $13,368 worth of hallucinogenic mushrooms and ecstasy in 2011 for its drug labs.
The NYPD bought $13,368 worth of hallucinogenic mushrooms and ecstasy in 2011 for its drug labs.
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NEW YORK CITY — The NYPD has been doing some psychedelic shopping.

The department bought thousands of dollars worth of hallucinogenic mushrooms and ecstasy from chemical and laboratory supply companies in 2011 — but it wasn't so its officers could go on magical mystery tours of duty.

The mind-expanding purchases were made so the department’s drug testing lab would have samples to compare against what its officers seize on the streets, according to the NYPD.

“When examining a suspected illegal substance, it is necessary to have a verified comparison sample to validate the analysis,” department spokesman Stephen Davis told DNAinfo New York, adding that many law enforcement agencies make similar buys for their laboratories.

 McGruff the Crime Dog poses with kids at an NYPD-sponsored event.
McGruff the Crime Dog poses with kids at an NYPD-sponsored event.
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The NYPD’s dealers were chemical company Sigma-Aldrich Inc. and supplies firm Pina M, records show.

The department bought $13,368 worth of psilocybin — the chemical compound in certain mushrooms that causes hallucinations — from Pina on Dec. 22, 2011, records show. The NYPD bought psilocybin and MDMA, or esctasy, from Sigma on May 2, 2011, records show. The amount bought was not disclosed.

The drug buys were among dozens of unusual purchases that the NYPD has made during the past five years.

A DNAinfo review of spending records shows the NYPD shelled out thousands of dollars for meals at fancy restaurants, shoeshine machines and crime-fighting costumes. 

Here’s a look at some of those purchases:

STEAK DINNERS — New York’s Finest like fine dining. Records show the department bought thousands of dollars worth of meals at Gallaghers Steakhouse, Peter Luger and other steak houses.

In May 2014 it spent $3,400 at Gallaghers in Midtown. In 2012 the department racked up $600 worth of meals at the storied Peter Luger Steak House in Williamsburg.

In 2009 the department spent $300 at Italian restaurant Rao’s, a famed Harlem mob haunt where most foodies have a fat chance of getting a table. And last year the NYPD dropped $300 at Mark Joseph Steakhouse, which is just a short walk from the police department’s headquarters.

An NYPD spokesman said that the department purchases gift certificates from various restaurants and gives them to officers as part of a citywide employee appreciation program that rewards civil servants for good work.

The city Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which oversees the program, told DNAinfo that it gives the NYPD $200,000 to fund its appreciation program. DCAS spokeswoman Cathy Hanson said the department can augment the program through fundraising.

MCGRUFF AND OTHER CRIME DOGS  — In May 2013 the NYPD bought eight life-size costumes of McGruff the Crime Dog for $13,584 from Arfmann Marketing, an affiliate of the nonprofit National Crime Prevention Council.

The NYPD said it bought the costumes of McGruff — a beloved trench-coat-wearing cartoon canine from the 1980s who taught kids about crime prevention — for its Community Affairs unit. Police use the costumes at youth- and school-related events geared at teaching crime prevention and positive police interaction, according to a department spokesman.

The NYPD buys real dogs, too. Records show in 2010, the department paid $11,000 for two male German shepherd dogs for its K-9 unit.

CHINATOWN CONSULTANT—The NYPD’s 5th Precinct encompasses Chinatown, which is home to immigrants speaking different Chinese dialects. To help the precinct’s commanders and officers better navigate the landscape and understand the cultural nuances, the NYPD hired Shuck Seid as a community liaison.

A resident who founded the neighborhood’s auxiliary police unit in 1969, Seid served in the liaison role for nearly 45 years until he retired in 2014 aged 90.

“Due to the unique diverse nature of the local Asian community in this area, he had been brought on as a consultant and has provided a long list of local services,” Davis said.

Records show Seid was paid $24,750 in December 2011. It’s unclear how much he was paid in other years he held the job.

SHOESHINES — Patrol officers are the face of the NYPD’s operation and are expected to keep a polished appearance. That’s why the NPD has bought $69,000 worth of industrial-grade shoeshine machines between 2010 and 2014, a department spokesman said.

Each precinct station house has one of the machines, which cost about $1,450. Officers are expected to buff their boots before and during their tours.

• JET SKIS — The NYPD’s elite Emergency Service Unit responds annually to about 150,000 jobs ranging from building collapses to hostage crises to bomb threats to risky rescues. Some of those high-stake situations are on the high seas. That’s why, the NYPD said, it spent nearly $93,000 on jet skis in 2013.

ROBOTS — The NYPD hasn’t hired R2-D2 or C-3PO yet, but it’s spent at least $500,000 amassing an army of robots between 2009 and 2014, records show.

One vendor, ReconRobotics, accounted for more than half of the department’s purchases. The police department bought various versions of the tech firm’s Throwbot, a tiny remote-controlled, barbell-shaped machine that moves on two wheels. The 1-pound robot can be thrown into a dangerous area, roll threw tough terrain making barely a whisper and provide real-time video footage to officers.