The Casting Director for Police Lineups

Ever wondered where they find the people to fill in police lineups with the guys who didn’t commit the crime? Apparently, in New York, they hire this casting director:

For some 15 years, Mr. Weston has been providing the New York Police Department with “fillers” — the five decoys who accompany the suspect in police lineups.

Detectives often find fillers on their own, combing homeless shelters and street corners for willing participants. In a pinch, police officers can shed their uniforms and fill in. But in the Bronx, detectives often pay Mr. Weston $10 to find fillers for them.

A short man with a pencil-thin beard, Mr. Weston seems a rather unlikely candidate for having a working relationship with the Police Department, even an informal one. He is frequently profane, talks of beating up anyone who crosses him, and spends quite a bit of his money on coconut-flavored liquor.

Sounds like something from the movies, right? It sounds like a hectic life:

Mr. Weston says he is always on call; his Bluetooth earpiece comes off in public only when he goes to the barber for his weekly $16 trim. His cellphone, he says, holds the numbers of some 100 potential lineup fillers, mostly friends and acquaintances from the Mill Brook Houses, the public housing project in the South Bronx where he has lived most of his life.

He often complains about how people hound him for the chance to make a few dollars through lineup work.

“I can’t even play basketball on the courts or sit here and drink a beer,” Mr. Weston said on a recent afternoon. “People are always asking me if there is a lineup.”

Hey, someone’s gotta do it, right?

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