On August, 11, 2011, Yakov Dubin, a tourist from Atlanta, was walking through Central Park with his daughter when he noticed a purse on the ground. He spotted $27 in cash inside the bag and reached inside to get it–he says he was planning on turning it in to authorities–when he was arrested by a group of plainclothes police officers and taken into custody for four hours. The arrest was a part of the controversial “Operation Lucky Bag” program, in which police plant dummy purses with valuables inside around the city, then arrest anyone who picks them up. Now, Dubin is suing the city for $1 million dollars in the wake of the incident.
“It was a very bad experience,” said Dubin of the arrest. “I’m a law-abiding citizen. I’ve never been arrested, and for them to put me in handcuffs in the middle of the day in front of my kids was humiliating.”
Operation Lucky Bag, which basically amounts to straight-up entrapment, has been under criticism for a while now, including from Democratic State Assemblywoman Grace Meng. Last year, Meng introduced a bill to outlaw the practice, and said that it “discourages people from seeing something and saying something. It also discourages people from being Good Samaritans.” A Brooklyn judge also pointed out that Lucky Bag arrests were illegal, as the law gives people 10 days to turn in found goods.
Between Lucky Bag, stop-and-frisk, and TRIP, it seems like these days, the NYPD is incapable of making arrests that aren’t unlawful. So let’s hope Dubin gets his big payday, if only to punish the department for its sins.
(Photo: 401(k) 2012/Flickr)