Still: Film Forum

New York City used to be cool, but not anymore. Where’s the grime, the three-card monty, the lowlives and beatniks, the hookers in Times Square? Well, according to an internal affairs investigation, a group of NYPD officers might be running a protection racket on a group of nightclubs in Queens. How charmingly seedy and old-school.

Ace crime reporter Murray Weiss at DNAinfo has the story: Twenty-three cops, including lieutenants, sergeants, and detectives, are under an internal investigation for allegedly taking protection money from bars and karaoke spots in Flushing in exchange for tipping them off about raids and allowing drug possession suspects to go free.

From DNAinfo:

The internal records include the names, photos and possible violations of department or criminal regulations each of 23 officers may have committed, but provide few specifics.

Sources say some allegations come from Yam, 35, who was arrested by Internal Affairs Bureau investigators and prosecutors from the Queens District Attorney’s Office, and taken to a secret location in a hotel where he was debriefed over two days.

The strongest evidence, however, was captured on recordings and surveillance tapes that shows Sung and Yam convincing fellow officers not to raid the clubs they were protecting or to free customers being handcuffed for using drugs there.

New Yorkers of a certain persuasion enjoy nothing more than bemoaning the gentrified current state of the city, sucked dry of its danger and character after eight years of Giuliani and twelve years of Bloomberg. No doubt, many of these changes are real—the grooviest record store in Brooklyn, a 20-year institution, announced its imminent closure today—but if one wants that classic New York grit, one need look no further than New York’s finest.

While everyone else is cleaning up, moving to Park Slope, having kids, and getting boring, NYPD cops still act like characters in Serpico or The French Connection. They bust heads, take bribes, plant guns on suspects, fantasize about cannibalizing women. That is some hardcore New York shit!

There’s another class of denizen who thinks the city has the opposite problem. New York was nice under Bloomberg and Giuliani, they say, but the communist Bill de Blasio is bringing back an uglier time. (This class of New Yorker can often be found reading the New York Post.) These people, too, can learn something from today’s NYPD scandal: If anyone in New York is stuck in the bad old days, it’s the cops.