How to Buy a Free Out of Prison Card of New York

New York City cops are outraged that their largest union, the Patrolmen’s Charitable Association, is preventing them from giving out 30 PBA cards (often called free jail cards) to friends and family each year. Instead, they can only give out 20 per year. Pensioners get 10.

The PBA cards that are common in New York and New Jersey work very simply: if you are stopped or otherwise approached by a police officer, you can hand over your card along with your license and they can let you go. If you’ve never heard of them before, they may seem like a blatant abuse of power to you, because they are.

Cards are not officially recognized by any government agency. The NYPD’s official position is that their officers are not allowed to show favoritism. When reporter Kevin Manahan tried to confirm if the cards worked , most police officers just hung up. But four anonymous officers told him that a PBA card can often exonerate you for minor offenses like speeding.

The cards won’t save you from a more serious charge, and some cops ignore them. They absolutely won’t get you out of jail. But in a 2004 Newsday article posted on the NYCPBA’s official website, PBA’s head of public affairs, Al O’Leary, said bluntly, “This union is urging its members not to over-write their ticket.” This article provides instructions for using the PBA card:

Pass the card along with your driver’s license and casually state the name of the person who issued the card to you.

In 2006, former NYPD officer Eric Sanders gave further instructions to the New York Times:

According to Eric Sanders, a former NYPD officer who is now a lawyer in Lake Success, NY, when he is shown at a police stop, his union card usually “initiates a conversation.”

“The officer usually asks:“ How did you get the card? “” He explained. “Or, if the card has a shield number, he might say, ‘So where does this officer work?’ But if you have the card illegally and you pull it out, it will just make the officer angry.”

The reason cops won’t get that many cards now, according to the New York Post, is not to discourage this preferential treatment, but to make sure the rest of us can’t get our hands on the cards. Because (as The Times wrote in 2006) you can just buy it on eBay .

Cards currently sell for between $ 50 and $ 150, issued by multiple police organizations, with multiple levels of personalization. Some are signed by officers or contain an identification number; others are “family members” gold cards, which are reported to be more convincing. (There is only one relevant but sketchy list on Craigslist.) There are also various donation-based stickers and cards, but there is less evidence of their effectiveness.

Be careful when buying. Some of them may be fake or useless, and you definitely cannot ask an official source to check the card before purchasing it. Selling cards is not illegal, but it is frowned upon by a union that has tried for years to stop eBay sales. After all, what if the citizen gets a little indulgence without cheering on the cop?

PBA Cards For Sale | eBay


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