The Jury Has Spoken

It’s like cigarettes causing cancer.  Everybody knew it, and still the tobacco companies denied it and fought it to the death.  Now the obvious has been proved: The New York Police Department has ticket quotas.  I’m shocked. Shocked!

From the Village Voice :

A Brooklyn jury yesterday ruled that ticketing and arrest quotas, long denied by the NYPD, do exist, and left a woman in cuffs after trying to stop her son’s arrest.

In a lawsuit filed by Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Carolyn Bryant, the jury found that the NYPD had a “custom and policy” on arrest numbers which violated her constitutional rights…

Notably, the Voice has had a series, “The NYPD Tapes,” about the 81st Precinct in Bed-Sty, where stop and frisk is generally based on people breathing and walking on the street.  Again, the proof came from inside the precinct.

Key testimony in the case came from Capt. Alex Perez, who told jurors that indeed arrest quotas were key in judging cops’ productivity.

It’s just management.  After all, how else can a supervisor know if beat cops are working or hanging at Dunkin’ Donuts?  There has to be some tangible evidence, like, oh, the issuance of tickets.  Arrests are a little harder to come by, plus somebody could get hurt if they have to run to catch some perp.  Tickets are quick, easy and generally result in a he said/she said dispute where police officers are likely to prevail.  After all, as the argument goes (and has always gone), why would the cop lie?

Now we have the answer.  Because if they don’t make their quotas, the catch it from upstairs, are unlikely to get better assignments or promotions and may well be treated poorly by peers and superiors alike.  Nobody wants to be the goat of the precinct.

The problems arise at the end of the day, or end of the month, when a cop’s numbers are down.  He knows it because his sarge has just humiliated him in front of all the other cops, and told him to get his butt on the street and write.  And so he must.

But there isn’t much to write about, as the natives are behaving well.  Yet there’s some kid in a backward baseball cap with his pants hanging low, or somebody driving a beat up car with darkened windows.  Bingo. And if nobody stands out, there’s always the baby momma with the big hoop earrings and nasty mouth.  Any cause will do, and no cause will do as well.  Just write them up.  There’s no way he’s going back to the precinct without a pocket filled with tickets to prove he’s working.

And the NYPD smiles.  Their cops are hard at work, earning their pay and protecting the citizens of the City of New York from all manner of miscreants.  They’ve got the tickets to prove it.  They remain a vital and necessary force for the protection and service of the law-abiding taxpayers.

So what does the NYPD have to say about this verdict?

Despite the jury verdict, a city lawyer [Zev Singer] told reporters, the NYPD “does not use quotas.”

Does that come in menthol?

Lest one think this puts the question to rest, bear in mind this was a Brooklyn jury, meaning that in the scheme or New York City credibility, it ranks poorly.  This is seen in the balance of the verdict.

Jurors came back with an invalid verdict, deciding there was no false arrest. But they still awarded punitive damages, prompting Bryant to accept a $75,000 out-of-court settlement.

Fuggedaboutit.  It could have been worse, had the case been tried in the Bronx.  For those inclined to wonder about the genesis of the underlying action:

Bryant claimed she was hurt confronting cops who busted her son for drugs. Charges against her were dropped and the drug case against her son was dismissed.

The plaintiff claimed injuries to her neck and knee, and was seeking $5 million in damages.  The settlement amount is about the New York norm for someone unlawfully forced to endure the odor of bad breath on the subway, which Bryant’s lawyer declared to be a “moral victory.” 

But at least the jury of six men found that the New York Police Department uses quotas, as if anyone thought otherwise.

H/T Packratt at Injustice Everywhere

4 thoughts on “The Jury Has Spoken

  1. Jdog

    Let me put on my cop hat; it’s as legitimate as my CDL hat (utterly not, after all):

    There’s a huge number of violations out there to be found, and a traffic stop — or a stop and frisk — is not only utterly lawful (under certain circumstances), but is the only way a street cop gets a good shot at catching bad guys. It doesn’t happen often, but if you’re doing patrol — the key to good policing — and you pull somebody over, there’s a chance that you find some crack on the seat, the bag from the bank robbery just about to explode from the dye pack, or hear the thumping sound of the kid who has been shoved in the trunk, still alive.

    And with a target-rich environment out there, any cop who doesn’t do a lot of stops and tickets just isn’t doing his job of patrol. Quotas are one way to catch them at it.

    A couple of friends of mine were — consistently, over years — the number one and two ticket writers in their suburban Minneapolis metro-area department. Neither one of them wrote more than maybe ten, twenty percent of the people they stopped. (The unwritten rule, then and there, was you gave either a lecture or a ticket, not both.) The white shirts probably loved the ticket stuff; what they wanted to do, and very rarely but occasionally did, was catch bad guys. (By which they didn’t mean parking meter malfeasants.)

  2. SHG

    A “target-rich environment.”  What a benign way to describe Bed-Sty.  And you look quite dashing in your 8 point cap.

  3. bill mcwilliams

    It might be a little more tolerable if the po-po quotas only targeted observable violations

    Police, n., an armed force for protection and participation.

  4. Jdog

    Actually, I was thinking of St. Louis Park (aka “St. Jewish Park”) Minnesota — I think that about 40% of the drivers go in excess of 10mph over posted speeds (including, I hesitate to add, me, from time to time, when visiting, which I do — I train the retired guys from that department not to be cops anymore. [Pinky swear.]).

    That said, sure, when I visited Bed Sty, I would have described it that way, and ditto when I lived at the Y in Hartford CT, back in the early 70’s (no matter what you hear, it’s not all that much “fun to stay at the YMCA”) — I think few, if any, of the junkies I hung around with* had regular jobs, or scrips for their heroin. (Perfectly nice guys, when the supply was cheap, and I think that all of them were into property crime, or reselling, rather than clonking people over the head and taking their stuff. Not that one asks such personal things.)

    *We watched “Dark Shadows” every day. Was years before I understand why junkies identified with vampires — the fact that the stuff they need, and bad, is white or brown, and not red, was beside the point.

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