Streams

Mixed Bag

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Paul Browne, Deputy Commissioner for Public Information at the NYPD talks about the Police theory behind "Operation Lucky Bag." Plus, Eugene O'Donnell, Professor at of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice responds to the program. And we speak with Carlos Alayo, a NY-based photographer who was picked up by the police during a "Lucky Bag" operation.

Guests:

Carlos Alayo, Paul Browne and Eugene O'Donnell
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [22]

Craig from Manhattan

This is a complete outrage and a misuse of resources. Are there not more important matters on which the police can focus their attention? Police deliberately inducing citizens to commit crimes in order to manufacture arrests to better numbers feels like entrapment. When does a citizen get the benefit of the doubt? I have lost my driver’s license before, and someone found it and mailed it back to me. I’m not so sure that most people would be willing to pick it up and go through the effort to return it if the felt they were under surveillance

Dec. 06 2007 11:00 AM
Linda from Queens

This is disturbing. I once lost my wallet in a snowy parking lot, only for it to be returned a week later, everything in place, including money, by a woman who took the time to pick it up, drive to my home and hand it over to me in person. She wouldn't accept a reward, just a thanks. I would hate to think that someone like that would be discouraged from doing the same again. And I bet if she had dropped the wallet off at the police station, I never would have seen it again.

I guess no good deed goes unpunished!

Dec. 06 2007 10:48 AM
Liti from NJ

shouldn't we worry about terrorists planting a bomb in a bag? the right thing to do if one finds a bag is to call the police asap, the worst thing to do is to pick it up. i grew up in Israel...

Dec. 06 2007 10:46 AM
Dj from manhattan

Why are the police not targeting the real quality of life issues like the re-emergence of squeegie boys at amongst other places the 138th st. exit of the Degan

Dec. 06 2007 10:45 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

You Can not ask citizens to “ if you see something say something.” and then arrest them.
Forget it. I’ll mind my own business- if it’s a bomb- what can I say.

Dec. 06 2007 10:42 AM
michael from brooklyn

This sounds like yet another case of the NYPD assuming people are guilty before they've committed a crime. It's the same mentality that lead to the mass arrests at the Republican Convention which has now lead to hundreds of court cases against the city as well as police shootings of totally innocent people.

It's endemic of a police state which is what New York is turning in to quietly while we all slumber. These people who've been detained should sue.

Dec. 06 2007 10:41 AM
Norman from New York

I have several times found wallets, bags and cell phones and returned them to the owners.

I do it because I think of myself as a contributing member of society.

I wouldn't think of turning it over to a cop, because I don't think cops are honest. I know that if I give the object back to the person who lost it, he or she will get it. They've failed their own integrity tests. If I give it to the cop, I don't know if the person will ever get it.

If I had been arrested in this operation, I would have called back some of the people that I've returned bags to, and asked them to testify in my behalf.

Dec. 06 2007 10:37 AM
matthias from new york city

Ha! Yeah, let's try this on the cops and see if they return the wallet, or see how it makes them feel that they are the subject of these games like all of us are. Or we could take all of Bloomberg's money away, make him live on the street for a couple of months and then drop a $20 bill in front of him on the subway.

Dec. 06 2007 10:36 AM
Miss from Midtown

Listening to this, I'm not going to say something if I see something.

Dec. 06 2007 10:35 AM
Delivette from Manhattan

The title operation lucky bag is a misnomer. There is nothing lucky or fortunate about this exercise. Tax dollars are wasted on setting up this sting, questioning people who did not return the bag, and indicting individuals who are not sophisticated, enough to deal with aggressive law enforcement individuals. They are criminalizing individuals who may not be aware that walking away with a lost item is a crime. While we think of this as a moral issue, few people think that this is a criminal act. Moreover, based on what the officer said, I do not believe that the data will be informative. What would be the implication from analysis of these data? Are we going to profile certain type of people because there were more / less likely to return the items? Shame on NYC for wasting my money!

Dec. 06 2007 10:35 AM
Miss or Ms

Possibly the dumbest situation, Ive heard of.

Ive lost my wallet twice and had it returned both times by kind people who picked my wallet off the street and later called me to tell me they found my wallet.

If this was a sting, thesc people would have been arrested?

Dec. 06 2007 10:33 AM
Erin from Brooklyn

I don't get it - if we see a "lost" wallet or purse we are supposed to leave it there? So the NYPD is assuming that we are all just criminals and not good samaritans?

This is disgusting.

Dec. 06 2007 10:33 AM
Sean Pisano from Brooklyn

I have returned so much property in my 30 years in NYC. Wallets, cell phones, etc... I would like to try to do the right thing but it seems like we should go back to minding our own business.

Dec. 06 2007 10:29 AM
Gaines Hubbell from Knoxville, TN

Hey, how come Carlos says there are credit cards. And the first guest representing the police department said there aren't.

Discrepancy between those. One is grand larceny and the other is petty theft?

Dec. 06 2007 10:28 AM
Kevin

Well what did was REALLY STUPID. He could have just said I found this just lying there, someone may have lost this.

Dec. 06 2007 10:26 AM
barry from manhattan

-- BL show responds:
We remove all comments that violate our posting guidelines. This comment was removed because it was offensive. http://www.wnyc.org/about/terms_comments.html

Dec. 06 2007 10:25 AM
Alan from NY

This is law enforcement. Why don't you criticize law enforcement for seeking to buy drugs, to bust drug dealers? Bad people don't just hang out with signs on their backs waiting to be busted. There are lots of ways to be critical...maybe be more constructive.

By the way, why would anyone in their right mind not seek out the police regarding a bag sitting on the platform. In Israel, if you picked up a bag like that, you'd likely get blown up!

Dec. 06 2007 10:24 AM
Paul Wood

For the NYC Police Department to call this program a success given how the measurement of success has been defined is seriously flawed from a statistical perspective.

There is no other term for this program than Orwellian.

It is so very sad and shocking that Deputy Commissioner Paul Brown, an apparantly articulate and intelligent man, can sincerely believe that such a program is something to be praised.

Dec. 06 2007 10:22 AM
Gary from Manhattan

This sounds like a great operation by the NYPD. Keep applying the "broken window" theory.

Dec. 06 2007 10:21 AM
matthias from new york city

This is an awful strategy. It just sets up a dynamic of distrust between cops and citizens. It is not discouraging, it is encouraging criminals by creating opportunities to turn people into criminals. If a kid who is maybe down on his luck or having a bad day picks up a bag thinking it's his lucky day he is then turned into a full scale criminal, sent to jail and learns to identify himself with 'crime'. This is just creating a bigger prison population. Do we really need to criminalize more people in this country that already has the biggest prison population in the world? Why don't we take this money and effort and use it to help keep people off the steeet and help people who are desperate. This is backwards thinking and should be illegal. Really an awful policy the police department should be ashamed.

Dec. 06 2007 10:18 AM
Brian from New York, NY

This is outrageous! I can't believe our tax money is going towards this. The role of the state is to enforce the law, not create opportunities to enforce the law. Doesn't the NYPD have a shortage of officers? I'm glad they aren't patrolling the ghetto I live in, b/c that might actually deter crime rather than creating it so they have something to do.

Dec. 06 2007 10:13 AM
Citizen

Lat time they did this they arrest a 52 year old woman for picking up a shopping bag

http://gothamist.com/2006/07/21/lucky_bag_opera.php

Dec. 06 2007 10:11 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.