Although PBA cards are the ultimate “get out of jail free” cards, not everyone can obtain one.
They’ve been known to save people from sticky situations, such as minor traffic infractions and arbitrary stops and searches, but what are they and how can you obtain one?
Describe the PBA card.
PBA, the term given to police labor organizations across the nation, is an acronym for Police Benevolent Association. The majority of the almost one million police officers who are union members work for independent organizations. The largest police union in the world, the NYPD union has more than 24,000 registered members.
In the past, certain unions have issued PBA cards to close friends and family members to help them avoid getting into legal difficulties.
In 2012, the director of the Police Institute at Rutgers University claimed that the practice had been going on for at least 40 years, if not longer. After police departments repeatedly claimed that they supported favoritism for cardholders, the cards have earned the nickname “get out of jail free cards.”
Officers claim that the PBA card is intended to help a specific group of people avoids minor infractions and that some users have stated that it has enabled them to receive a warning rather than a speeding ticket. Police unions have claimed that they are only a “tool for building public relations” and do not grant immunity.
Anyone with a PBA card?
PBA cards are typically given to the families of police officers, but they have also occasionally been given to acquaintances and coworkers of the officers.
By searching up the officer’s name, phone number, and signature on the laminated card, other officers can verify the relationship between the cardholder and the officer. The cards are said to perform best when the cardholder shares the same surname as the officer who issued the card.
The cards are occasionally given to community leaders, including politicians, religious leaders, and journalists. Some media businesses view them as potential conflicts of interest and advise their staff to stay away from them.
What rights do police have under the PBA card?
Even though the cards do not grant the user any special rights, many who use them assert that they can assist them to avoid traffic citations for violations including running red lights and speeding.
Police officers may issue warnings instead of making arrests, although they still do so in cases involving more serious infractions like drunk driving and dangerous speeding.
Former NYPD detective Angel Maysonet claims that although cardholders are not given any special treatment, they can help diffuse stressful situations.
Police said that while the cards were more commonly accepted by the public as they became more freely available years ago, they lost some of their credibility as time went on.
Others have warned that if you are impolite, they might not be able to exonerate you from minor offenses, and the police officer’s decision as to whether or not to honor the card is final.