Police Have Ticket Quotas? No Longer, Says Albany

Courtesy of davidsonscott15 via Flickr

by Eitan Kahan

As a slew of lawsuits fill the docket claiming cops are being forced to meet quotas on arrests and summonses, Governor Paterson signed a tough anti-corruption bill into law, making such activity illegal.

The move was met with shock from NYPD brass and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who expected the bill to be vetoed instead. Prior to the signing, Bloomberg wrote to Paterson, “This legislation could seriously impair the effective management of police personnel and resources throughout the state.”

Apparently, Paterson disagreed.

Ahead of the bill’s passage, the NYPD leadership has been swooning from the most prominent lawsuit, brought by Officer Adrian Schoolcraft. He claimed widespread corruption in the highest reaches of the NYPD, specifically relating to the secret establishment and enforcement of quotas for issuing summonses and arrests.

Officer Schoolcraft claims he “surreptitiously tape-recorded supervisors demanding that officers give specific numbers of summonses and arrest people not engaged in criminal activity.”

He further claims that after documenting and trying to stand up against the system, he faced threats and intimidation in a bid to silence him. The NYPD allegedly went so far as having him committed to a psychiatric ward in an effort to cover up his claims, he says. The suit is currently ongoing.

In response to Schoolcraft’s lawsuit, the NYPD maintains that such activity never took place and that their “process is sound.”

“In those rare instances where crime data was manipulated, disciplinary action was brought,” Police spokesman Paul J. Browne said in a statement. “The crime-reporting process is sound and subject to more internal auditing than any other police department in the country.”

But Browne’s battle with the perception of malfeasance just took a turn for the worse, as the Daily News got their hands on internal memos that list various minor traffic violations and the number of weekly tickets cops are required to issue for them. The existence of these memos seems to contradict the NYPD’s claims that such quotas never existed.

Responding to the Daily News’s memos, Browne said the papers were posted without supervisor approval, and would never have been authorized by the commanding officer of the precinct.

With evidence mounting that such a system actually exists, the law signed by Paterson appears to prohibit punishment for not meeting quotas. According to an article in The Chief, a newspaper for civil servants, the law is sponsored in the State Senate by retired NYPD Captain Eric Adams. It expands existing legislation that prohibits quotas for traffic summonses. Both laws forbid departments from retaliating against officers who don’t meet numbers.