Being an undercover cop involves risks and possibly making decisions against one's conscience. But when is taking things too far? A YouTube video featuring a conflict between motorcyclists and an SUV driver in New York City went viral, amassing more than 7 million views. But the conflict aroused yet another controversy when one of the arrested bikers turned out to be an undercover NYPD detective.
The video, recorded from one of the riders' helmet cameras, lays down the facts. A biker slows down in front of a black SUV and collides, stopping the vehicle. Seconds later, the SUV takes off from the scene, hitting a couple of bikers in its way. A five-minute chase ensues, and when the SUV stops, caught in traffic, a biker thrusts his helmet onto the driver's window. Seconds before the video ends, another biker joins — punching in the rear window. This second biker was later identified as Detective Wojciech Braszczok, who spent the last five years of his 10-year career with the NYPD as an undercover cop.
On October 2, a day after he turned himself to police and three days after the event, 32-year-old Braszczok said "he was present" but "did not call 911 when the assault was taking place," according to sources. The incident left five motorcyclists, including Braszczok, charged, as well as a 33-year-old man beaten up on his wedding anniversary as his terrified wife and 2-year-old daughter remained in the car.
Many viewers are outraged with what Braszczok chose to do on the spur of the moment; however, Michael Palladino, president of the NYPD detectives' union, reportedly said, "Compromising his identity could compromise all the work he's doing and his safety as well." He added, "It's very difficult to lead a double life."
It's true. Many undercover officers are serving this country and its people, compromising their safety. But the NYPD would do well to be reminded:
"The MISSION of the New York City Police Department is to enhance the quality of life in our City by working in … accordance with constitutional rights to enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear, and provide for a safe environment."