Grassroots Commentary

NYPD Food Felonies Unit to Help Make Better Food Choices

The People's Cube · Mar. 11, 2013

NEW YORK – Inspired by the dramatic improvements in New Yorkers’ health and well-being after he banned smoking and junk food, as well as large sodas, salt, trans fats, Styrofoam food containers, and loud earbuds, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that the NYPD is organizing a Food Felonies Unit (FFU) to further combat the proliferation of food crimes.

Nicknamed “Double-F-U,” the newly-formed unit is expected to be involved largely with restaurant menu supervision in its crime-prevention function, while also conducting sting operations on food service providers who break local ordinances.

The Police Commission, which will directly oversee the Double-F-U operation, has already reassigned more than 150 officers from various precincts and equipped it with new public-health-enforcement technology, such as, hidden cameras and GPS tracking devices.

“We’re used to this kind of work when it comes to drugs,” said Patrick O'Brien, a spokesman for the New York Retired Police Syndicate. “The Commission has signaled it wants the best officers from the precincts’ Narcotics Task Forces working on food cases. Trust me,” he declared, “they are going to be putting a lot of people in jail.”

With the expected deluge of new arrests, the District Attorney’s Office is also expected to reprioritize its caseloads to meet the flood of food felony charges that NYPD will be sending to them.

“Sure, the jail system is already tight, but I think the Mayor’s priorities mean that more of the traditional criminals will be released to make room for the food felons,” said Manny Shapiro, a local criminal defense attorney. “Since the mayor isn’t increasing anyone’s budget, the more resources they devote to one category of crimes, the more they have to pull from others.”

Other experts see the Double-F-U as a way to bring in much needed revenues through fines and penalties. Thus, a soda tap that dispenses 17 ounces of soda may lead, not as much to the arrest of a food vendor, as to a hefty fine that will help defray enforcement costs.

As local restaurateurs are hiring food law attorneys to help them navigate the new standards and regulations, the NYPD is retooling many of its old stand-by enforcement aids.

“They’ve already retrained several canine units to detect trans-fats in foods, which will save on lab costs,” said O'Brien. “But they’ll still have to use old-fashioned officer-led searches because the dogs can’t smell the difference between 16oz. bottles and the illegal sizes.”

While certain criticism is expected, many believe that Mayor Bloomberg’s battle for the greater good is larger than one person’s individual liberties.

“Good intentions always trump negative outcomes,” Shapiro said.

Most New Yorkers agree agree that in a city which relies on restaurants and street vending for much of its food, additional scrutiny is only expected to improve the quality of their own dining choices.

“Oversight always makes things better,” O'Brien says. “And restaurants are no different. The closer we watch ‘em, the better they will perform to avoid bringing down the heat, so to speak.”

Authorities are assuring New Yorkers that, while the Mayor’s Double-F-U will be saving them from their unhealthy lifestyles, the skyrocketing health benefits are expected to save the public millions in treatment of preventable diseases.

“Once the people feel good about it, they will not give a damn about the government crackdown on illegal foods substances or the persecution of food criminals,” said Shapiro. “New Yorkers value compliance so long as it makes them feel good.”

This article is a satirical collaboration of The People’s Cube authors under the collective name of Igor Toutellalai.

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