Secret police documents become Thanksgiving parade confetti

Shredded documents from Nassau County Police were used

Shredded documents from Nassau County Police were used as confetti during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, according to a longtime parade-goer. (Nov. 24, 2012) (Credit: Steven Sunshine)

Nassau police reports? Cops' names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers? Plainclothes detectives' license plate numbers?

No, the shredded paper raining down on some spectators at this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade wasn't your typical confetti -- and police want to know how it happened.

Hundreds of shredded law enforcement records, apparently generated by the Nassau County Police Department, somehow became part of a blizzard of holiday confetti, according to the college student who made the discovery.


PHOTOS: Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade | Photos: 2011 Macy's Parade | Photos: 2010 Macy's Parade


"It fell on my friend and it said 'SSN,' and then it had a Social Security number, and then we started picking up all the other papers and seeing what they said," said Ethan Finkelstein, a freshman at Massachusetts' Tufts University.

"There's an emblem of the Nassau County Police Department on one of the scraps," he said Saturday.

Nassau police have promised to investigate.

"The Nassau County Police Department is very concerned about this situation," police spokesman Insp. Kenneth Lack said in a statement. "We will be conducting an investigation into this matter as well as reviewing our procedures for the disposing of sensitive documents."

The statement did not address who shreds sensitive police documents, who carts them away, or the progress, if any, of the investigation so far.

In the city for the holiday weekend, Finkelstein, 18, said a piece of the shredded police documents fell on his friend's jacket at 65th Street and Central Park West, prompting friends and family to take a closer look.

"Everyone kept picking up pieces of paper and you would see a Social Security number. You would read a line and it would say, 'At 4:30 a.m.' this happened . . .," he said.

Some shreds appear to reveal confidential details of Mitt Romney's motorcade during last month's presidential debate at Hofstra.

As of midday Saturday, Finkelstein said he hadn't heard from police. He alerted the news media to the situation on Friday.

The Upper West Side resident, who has been going to the parade since he was a young boy, thinks the shredded documents were not part of the parade's official confetti.

"They never have white confetti," he said of Macy's, which didn't return Newsday's calls seeking comment. "They always have colorful confetti."

The police documents were shredded into narrow horizontal strips running the width of the page -- one of the least secure methods.

The military requires that classified documents be cut into pieces measuring no more than 1/32 of an inch wide and a half-inch long, followed by a visual inspection.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Follow Newsday on social media

advertisement | advertise on newsday