2003-03-01 / Community

Weiner: Police ID Too Easy To Get

According to an investigation conducted by Congressman Anthony Weiner's Office, fake police badges identical to those carried by the NYPD, New York State police and other law enforcement agencies are cheap and easy to get on the Internet. Today, Weiner announced legislation designed to keep these badges off the streets, and out of the hands of terrorists.

With New York on high alert for new terror strikes, security is being ramped up throughout New York City. But even the best measures just won't work if terrorists are able to use replica police badges to get through security checkpoints or gain access to sensitive locations. Over the past several weeks, an investigation by staff in Rep. Weiner's Office has revealed just how easy it is to get your hands on a fake police badge with just a few dollars and access to the Internet.

Fake NYPD badges available on the internet include: NYPD Lieutenant's Badge, for only $30, NYPD Captain's Badge, for only $80, NYPD Sergeant's Badge, for only $80, NYPD Detective's Badge for only $80 and NYPD Patrolman's Badge for only $80.

A New York State Police Badge sells for only $30 on the Internet.

So, why not just shut down the Internet sites that peddle fake police badges? Because even after September 11, it's legal to buy and sell them.

While it's true that federal lawmakers have tried to crack down on the illicit use of fake police badges, there are huge loopholes in the law, which undermine efforts of states like New York to ban them entirely. One loophole allows the sale of badges as long as they are to be used only "for any recreational purpose." Under the federal "collector's loophole", anyone who is a "collector" of replica badges (which, under the law, could be anyone) can still purchase them. And because states that neighbor New York, like New Jersey and Connecticut, don't have a ban on fake badges, any terrorist who wants to use them in NYC need only go on the Internet, purchase a badge or two, and have them shipped to an address on the other side of the Hudson River, or up Interstate 95, and then go pick them up.

That's why Rep. Weiner will introduce legislation to require written permission from the issuing Police Department before any genuine or counterfeit badge carrying that Department's name may be sold. Under this law, no NYPD badges would be available on the Internet without the City's permission.

The Weiner bill would also close the loopholes. Under Weiner's bill, collectors will still be able to purchase replica badges, but only ones encased in six inches of thick, hard Lucite. That way, fake badges will only be able to be used for their intended purpose: display. The bill would also completely strike the exemption allowing for badges used "for recreational purposes."

"Terrorists on the prowl in New York City should not be able to shield their nefarious purposes behind a fake police badge," said Rep. Weiner. "The prevalence of fake badges on the Internet means that anyone with access to a computer and $30 in their pocket can go a long way towards undermining the millions of dollars federal and state authorities are spending to keep us safe."

To purchase fake police badges, staff in Congressman Weiner's Washington D.C. office went on the Internet, and conducted a search for "New York collector badges." The result of the search included primarily two web sites, which sell several different replica police badges. At no time in the process were Weiner staff compelled to provide any information regarding how they intended to use the badges. The only acknowledgment of the federal law is a notice listing the legal uses for fake badges (for a collection, display, theatrical performance or recreation) and a disclaimer that unless you notify the seller in writing that you intend to break the law, they will assume that the buyer will use the badges legally.

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