A Guide to NYPD's Central Booking: Go for the Urine-Scented Everything, Stay Because They Won't Let You Leave
|NYPD's Central Booking Office in Brooklyn is like the Hilton -- if the Hilton smelled like piss and didn't let you leave for several days.|
My crime was not as glamorous as I would have hoped -- there was no police chase, no explosions, and no hostages were taken. Like an idiot, I forgot (read: declined) to pay a ticket I received in early March for allegedly not wearing my seat belt -- emphasis on the "allegedly."
I spent the next 17 hours working my way through various stages of the NYPD's booking process and discovered several painful -- in many cases urine-related -- realities of the criminal justice system in New York City.
For starters, they tell you the booking process should take no more than 24 hours. That guarantee is even posted on the walls of each holding cell on a poster explaining "what you can expect" during the booking process. However, as an officer in Brooklyn's central booking office reassured one of my fellow prisoners, "that 24-hour shit sounds good and all, but we can keep you here as long as we want. You could be here for 94 hours -- I don't care."
Second, everything -- and I mean everything -- in Brooklyn's central booking office smells like urine. It's pretty remarkable, actually -- it's as if they have piss-scented candles that they burn 24 hours a day to remind you that this is a place you don't want to end up ever again.
Third, don't wear a blazer to central booking. It will only prompt officers to call you "crazy white guy," and invite questions from fellow inmates to which there is no answer that will give you even a shred of street cred -- it's impossible to look cool when someone asks, "What the fuck did you do?" And your answer is "Well, shucks -- I forgot to pay a seat belt ticket I got while driving around in my fuel-efficient, reliable Mazda hatchback."