Police Quotas: Could A Class Action Lawsuit Against The NYPD Be On The Way?
America’s criminal justice system is premised upon the notion of blind justice. The concept essentially posits that in matters where a person has been accused of committing wrongs against society, that the processes used and people who investigate and determine such a person’s guilt will both be free of prejudices and biases.
The idea is a wonderful one to aspire to and idealize, regardless of its originality. Every actor in every level of our country’s criminal justice system, from the prosecutors to the judges, is taught to adhere to this basic standard. It’s too bad that the police didn’t seem to get the memo.
Now before I start getting angry emails from cops and acquire wheel boots on my car, I should clarify that I know not every cop is corrupt or doesn’t do their job in accordance with fairness. I just made that blanket statement for comedic purposes. The more accurate statement would be that at the very least, a vast majority both managing and patrol officers in the New York Police Department seem to have trouble with the whole concept of blind justice.
The good news is that the heat is off the Los Angeles Police Department for now. The bad news is that residents of New York now have to contend with ticket quotas. If you haven’t heard about the controversy, the idea behind ticket quotas is that police officers are required by their precinct chiefs to issue a certain amount of tickets each month. The reason it’s done is because tickets carry fines, which when paid, contribute to government coffers for use for everything from public programs, government payrolls, and of course grease money (just watch The Wire if you don’t believe me).
However, police quotas extend beyond mere tickets. As indicated by tape recording captured by former NYPD officer Adrian Schoolcraft, it was standard practice for the NYPD to mandate quotas for arrest and crime reporting, as well. As you can probably imagine, this is not a good way for any police force to run. The incredibly horrific injustices that resulted from this quota system led to some of the oddest and most unnecessary impediments of constitutional freedoms this country has ever seen.
For instance, requiring cops to conduct a certain number of arrests each month caused police to arrest people without charges, a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, holding them and then creating charges later. Even more shocking were attempts by officers to reduce crime in certain areas. To do this, police either didn’t arrest suspects for crimes or reduced more serious felonies to misdemeanors. In one case, a NYPD detective allowed a multiple rapist to roam free by reducing his charge to assault. Not only is this disgusting from a legal perspective, it’s also reprehensible from a moral one.
Some of you may be thinking there isn’t a problem with requiring cops to meet quotas; after all, they’re doing a job just like anyone else and their employer can tell them what to do. And you’d have a valid point since police face both public and political pressures from above to show results.
However, two points: 1) Being a cop isn’t the same as other day jobs because police officers are entrusted with a higher responsibility to protect the public and are given authority to restrain the publics’ constitutional rights, and 2) Police quotas in New York are against the law.
That’s right – police quotas are completely illegal under New York state law. So why would the police so ironically break the law? Other than to serve as a potential basis for a great movie someday, the higher ups in the force have been mandating these unspoken quotas for the very reasons mentioned above. However, just because cops feel pressure doesn’t make it okay.
For all of you reading this out there, look down at your watch (or the clock in the corner of your computer screen). Take note of the time because it marks the moment you realized that New York residents are on the precipice of a huge class action lawsuit against their state’s government and police agencies.
With all the new evidence coming in every day showcasing the NYPD’s corruption, it’s only a matter of time before the class action suits start coming in.
Now some of you out there may be thinking that suing the government is hard because they are largely immune. And you’d be right, but the key word there is “largely.” Government immunity only stops lawsuits based on claims of harm suffered from legislative actions. It doesn’t protect against pure corruption or abuse of authority, which is the case here.
So what can you expect to see next in the Big Apple? Well, if a class action lawsuit against the NYPD prevails, you can expect to see huge payouts, police layoffs, and of course many, many conviction reversals.
See what happens when you ignore blind justice? If you’re not following it, there are always other people who see it as gospel.