Executing old warrants -- no matter how minor -- is legal. But legal experts say the tactic becomes illegal if it is done solely to investigate political activity.
The half-dozen or so stories fit a pattern: each individual was approached and questioned by officers who said they were picking up people on arrest warrants for low-level, non-criminal violations, such as public urination, walking around with an open container of alcohol or biking on a sidewalk. These warrants can stay open for years.
Court officials say there are more than 1 million bench warrants currently open for these types of violations in New York City. But this week, squads of police officers decided to act on a few of them.