So one of my best friends, a lovely, intelligent, caring mother of three, was in Manhattan the other day and was stopped by a policeman for some minor traffic question and his system showed him that she had an outstanding ticket or two (which it turned out was a mistake, she had the canceled checks to prove she paid them) and as a result she was handcuffed, that's right cuffed, and taken to jail, that's right a pissy, dank, grungy, New York City jail, for a possible traffic violation because of supposedly (but turns out not) unpaid other traffic violations.
This explains everything wrong with most police departments today. The cops eventually recognized their mistake and admitted it and let her go, but she still had to go before a judge and the judge decided that despite the canceled checks he had his own suspicions about the timing, and so she has to go to court and fight it.
According to an NPR show I was listening to this morning with the guy who created THE WIRE, in Baltimore solving a murder through diligent detective work gets a cop nothing extra, but randomly arresting people for minor drug or traffic offenses can get the same cop extra points on their record and in most cases extra money in their paycheck.
The system used by almost all police departments in the USA now rewards cops for petty arrests and fines rather than actual violent and serious crime solving. And doesn't reward just the cops, but the judges and entire system as the fine money is used for municipal budgets. Argh.