Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
The NYPD’s practice of leaving wallets, cash and bags in plain sight and arresting those who pick them up promotes immoral behavior, according to an ethicist.
Dr. Anne Klaeysen, leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, said it’s unethical not to try to return a lost wallet to its rightful owner.
"I think it's an obligation when we see a wallet to pick it up and to make every effort to return it to its owner,” she said. “I don't think it’s an ethical dilemma. I think it's an ethical obligation to do that.”
The police department is being sued for the program known as Operation Lucky Bag by plaintiffs who claim it’s unconstitutional.
Brittany Siler, 19, in the West Village said she wouldn’t want to pick up someone else’s property for other reasons.
“You never know what's on there,” she said. “People are trying to kill politicians with powder and other poisons.”
The NYPD did not return request for comment.