Ecstasy & steak-outs: NYPD expenses show eclectic shopping list, says report

Boxes containing magic mushrooms (Reuters / Jerry Lampen)
The New York Police Department spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on an eclectic assortment of items over the past five years, DNAinfo reported, purchasing everything from crime-fighting costumes and steak dinners to robots and hallucinogenic drugs.

More than $13,000 was spent on hallucinogenic mushrooms and ecstasy (MDMA, also known as Molly) from chemical and laboratory suppliers, though the NYPD wasn’t stocking up for police officers to expand their consciousness. Rather, they were buying samples to compare to what’s sold during street buys.

When examining a suspected illegal substance, it is necessary to have a verified comparison sample to validate the analysis,” department spokesman Stephen Davis told DNAinfo, adding that many law enforcement agencies make similar buys for their laboratories.

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Records show the department bought $13,368 worth of psilocybin from Pina lab in 2011 – the compound that in certain mushrooms causes hallucinations – and a separate purchase, also in 2011, consisted of psilocybin and MDMA from another lab, Sigma.

DNAinfo examined the spending records of the NYPD, finding that in addition to the drug purchases, the department had also spent thousands of dollars on meals, Chinese consultants, shoeshine machines and robots.

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During 2009-2014, the NYPD spent at least $500,000 on robots – half of which was spent with one vendor, ReconRobotics. The tech firm makes the Throwbot, a tiny, remote-controlled, barbell-shaped machine that can be thrown in the middle of a protest rally and provide real-time video footage to officers.

Other purchases included thousands of dollars on steak dinners at leading steakhouses like Peter Luger’s and Gallaghers. An NYPD spokesman told DNAinfo the steak dinners were part of a citywide employee appreciation program as a reward for good work.

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Another $13,000 was spent in 2013 on eight life-size costumes of McGruff the Crime Dog, which police say are used to teach kids about crime prevention by its Community Affairs unit. Two real dogs – male German shepherds – were bought for its K-9 unit and cost the department $11,000 in 2010.

Additionally, the NYPD hired a Chinatown resident as a consultant for their 5th Precinct, to help them understand cultural nuances with residents who speak different Chinese dialects.

The report also shows $69,000 was spent on industrial-grade shoeshine machines during 2010 and 2014. Each precinct house had one as police officers are expected to have shiny shoes before and during their duty. In 2013, the department spent $93,000 on jet skis for its elite Emergency Service Unit. The unit responds to building collapses, hostage crises, risky rescues and bomb threats. Some emergency situations involve the high seas.