NYPD Tapes: Federal Judge Lets Quota Lawsuit Go Forward
By Graham Rayman
We learned last night that a federal judge has granted class certification to a lawsuit which claims the NYPD’s quota policy is unconstitutional and results in summonses and stop and frisks being done without probable cause.
The lawsuit, which could turn into a fairly big problem for Mayor Bloomberg, relies heavily on tape recordings of police supervisors ordering officers to hit specific monthly summons numbers–all of which was first reported in the Village Voice’s award winning “NYPD Tapes” series.
The decision allows the lawsuit, filed by 22 New Yorkers, to move forward, and to in essence speak for all city folks similarly aggrieved.
The underlying claim is that the NYPD’s quota system, which officials deny exists, leads street cops to hand out summonses even when no crime or violation has occurred just to meet productivity demands from their bosses.
Cops who don’t hit their quota are punished, transferred, marooned to the midnight tour, and lose privileges.
Gerald Cohen, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, says the lawsuit seeks an injunction against quotas, more training for police officers, and new monitoring system, along with the usual monetary damages.
“Plaintiffs motion is granted,” wrote U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet. “The class is defined to include individuals who were issued summonses that were later dismissed … and who were ticketed without probable cause.”
Figures supplied to the court by the city indicate that about 6.2 percent of the 3.5 million tickets issued from 2004 to 2009 were dismissed as defective, and 17 percent were dismissed as insufficient.
And there is this curious fact: from 2004 to 2009, 2.2 million summons went through the criminal courts. Some 1.1 million were dismissed.
In other words, more than half the criminal court summonses which received a hearing were dismissed. In other, other words, a lot of criminal court summonses–for open container, pot smoking, blocking the sidewalk, etc.–are not worth the paper they are written on.
In his opinion, Sweet quotes from recordings made by police officers Adil Polanco and Adrian Schoolcraft–both of whom provided their recordings to the Voice.
The quota, according to Polanco’s tapes, was 20 summonses and one arrest a month. “Until you decide to quit this job and become a pizza delivery man, this is you’re going to be doing until then,” a supervisor says.
And in the Schoolcraft tapes, a supervisor says, “He wants at least 3 seat belts, 1 cell phone and 11 others.”
Now, police officials say there are no quotas. But come on, folks. Honestly?