No good deed goes unpunished, according to a civil liberties group in New York City.
The New York Civil Liberties Union is calling for the New York Police Department to abandon its Operation Lucky Bag program, the Daily News reports.
Lucky Bag is a program conducted by undercover cops in an effort to reduce crime. It involves planting shopping bags, purses, backpacks and wallets around the subway system, and then watching unsuspecting passersby to see how they react. But some do-gooders who pick up such items in an attempt to return them to their rightful owner feel unfairly ensnared after cops stop and frisk them, and often run a criminal history check.
Freelance photographer Carlos Alayo tells the Daily News he was late for a business meeting when he noticed a wallet lying on a subway platform bench.
He picked it up and put it in his bag, thinking he would track down whoever lost it, in an attempt to return it.
Alayo’s action resulted in him being frisked, made to put his hands against the wall and hand over his identification so the officers who stopped him could do a criminal history check.
"It wasn't even crossing my mind what was inside [the wallet]. I was trying to get to my appointment," Alayo told the Daily News.
"It made me feel like I was a criminal, like I did something wrong,” Alayo told the Daily News. “The look on [the cop's] face, it was like he already knew that I was arrested. He said, 'Don't lie to me, just tell me how many times you've been arrested.'”
According to the NYPD, last year the Transit Bureau arrested 101 individuals with prior arrest histories through the decoy program. Those 101 people had a combined total of 761 prior arrests. On at least 178 other occasions, the bag left on the bench or seat was turned over to proper authorities.
"Policies like this are hellbent on stopping people from being good Samaritans," Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, told the Daily News.