Police Officer Craig Matthews filed federal lawsuit against city and NYPD brass
By Daniel Beekman
A veteran NYPD cop made waves last week when he claimed his Bronx precinct is ruled by an illegal quota system.
But some residents in the 42nd Precinct have long suspected that stop-and-frisk quotas are being used, they told the Daily News.
Officer Craig Matthews filed a federal lawsuit in which he contends the precinct supervisors set minimum numbers that were expected of each officer in a given 30-day period: 15 summonses, 1 arrest and 2 street stops.
Darrell Vega, 21, applauded Matthews’ action.
“I believe it,” said Vega, walking near the 42nd Precinct station house. “The cops do it to me all the time. They stop and frisk me. They tell me I look suspicious because I have my hands in my jacket.”
Keith Holloway, 49, agreed. He lives in the Webster Houses, one of several public housing developments in the 42nd Precinct, which includes Melrose, Claremont and Morrisania.
“I see it every day out here, with the stop and frisk,” Holloway said, waiting for a stoplight at Third Ave. and E. 163rd St. “They stop people to make their quotas, so nobody wants to talk to the police…You stop me for no reason – why should I help you?”
The quota system at the Bronx precinct involves color-coded reports that categorize cops by the numbers of arrests, summonses and stops they carry out, according to the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Matthews by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The names of officers who fall short are highlighted in red ink and the cops are subjected to punishments such as tough shifts and less overtime, the lawsuit charges.
The NYPD has a policy to not comment on pending litigation. However, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly has defended the officer reports, arguing that concrete goals and measurements are needed to manage police work.
“The department would grind to a halt if we allowed every police officer to do what he or she wanted to do,” Kelly said.
But state Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, who represents much of the precinct, called the color-coded sheets a smoking gun.
“Good officers are being forced to do bad things to keep their jobs,” he said, noting that it was 42nd Precinct cops caught on video last month striking and kicking drug suspect Jateik Reed, 19.
There were 11,683 street stops in the 42nd Precinct in 2010, a 23% increase from 2009, said NYCLU lawyer Christopher Dunn.
The stops were made by precinct officers, as well as housing, detective, and other NYPD units.
“When you have mandatory quotas it means innocent people end up arrested and stopped,” he said. “Quotas destroy police-community relations.”
Roberto Morban, 26, said residents want police protection – and respect. He said the quota charges ring true because local cops seem to make more stops and arrests near the end of each month.
“It makes the kids…want to hate cops,” Morban said.