NEW YORK, NY – When confetti fell on bystanders during the recent Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade they found a lot more than colored paper clinging to their hair and clothes. As the marching bands played and balloons floated by overhead, some were also showered with strands of confidential personal information about members of New York’s finest, the police.
Ethan Finkelstein, a Tufts University freshman, was watching the parade at 65th Street and Central Park West when he noticed a strip of confetti stuck onto his friend’s coat. Finkelstein told PIX11 News, “There are phone numbers, addresses, more social security numbers, license plate numbers and then we find all these incident reports from police.” One confetti strip came from an arrest record, and another strip clearly revealed, “At 4:30 A.M. a pipe bomb was thrown at a house in the Kings Grant’ area.”
Potentially damaging information was contained in the confetti strips including the names of undercover Nassau County detectives along with dates of birth and other highly sensitive personal information. “I’m just completely in shock,” said Finkelstein, 18. “How could someone have this kind of information, and how could it be distributed at the Thanksgiving Day Parade?”
Three days after the parade it was revealed the highly classified police documents that ended up as parade confetti came from a police employee who had attended the parade as a spectator. Confidential sources told PIX11 News that an employee of the Nassau County Police Department had brought shredded NCPD documents with him for his family and friends to use as confetti.
Neither the police officers’ union nor the detectives’ union in Nassau County would comment but it has been revealed that the NCPD will offer identity protection services for the officers whose names and personal information were found in the shredded documents.
Investigators from the department’s internal affairs division removed the confetti shreds from the Finkelsteins’ home with the family’s permission. The department is also reviewing its document disposal procedures, and is even considering acquiring cross shredding machines for every police unit. Cross shredders shred paper horizontally as well as vertically, which results in small, shredded squares of paper, rather than long strands.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale is now deciding whether or not to take disciplinary action against the employee.