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Police Quotas: Could A Class Action Lawsuit Against The NYPD Be On The Way?

  5 Comments

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.

Ken LaMance

Comments

  • Rich Solita

    As a criminal justice instructor at two colleges and a published author in the field I would agree with you to a certain extent. I would be shocked if there was something in writing to your claim. It is the only reason a traffic court judge finds the driver guilty and believes the cop that a red light violation occurred. The cop has nothing to gain and the driver all to gain. If this were true all traffic cases would become a he said she said case and the 51% theory and beyond reasonable doubt mandate would be lost. As a 25yr veteran of Chicago I can say that your claim was always an assumption on the arresting officer mind and not in writing. I have never heard a superior say you must write a ticket,but I have heard that certain favors would be granted when asked for by the troops if you did not write tickets. What really blows a hole in your claim is the fact that it is literally impossible for anyone to believe that during an eight hour tour the beat officer did not see one traffic violation. That be the case, you can never prove one wrote the ticket because he had to perform. If it is in writing NY is screwed. If implied, no lawyer would waste his time and money on a maybe verdict. Thanks Rich Solita

  • Andrew Dat

    Rich, you’re right to assume that these mandates would never be in writing because they wouldn’t be. Quotas are largely illegal and raise constitutional questions especially in the case of unlawful arrest (namely the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments).

    I don’t believe that criminal violations never happen or that cops persistently lie or have ulterior motives when issuing citation or arresting people. However, when we live in a country whose policing agencies are both numerous, without across the board standardized procedures, and rely on commstat figures when determining crime statistics (which are especially utilized by politicians in the government), it’s not hard to imagine that these sort of police shenanigans are going. Not to mention the numerous case studies that have been done on this topic.

  • Frank Mutter

    Mr. Dat, your article has given me new insight as to what may have occured in my sister’s case. My sister was murdered in the Bronx in 1990. As it has occurred, I have been pushing, prodding and begging the NYPD and the King’s County District Attorney to conduct a proper invesigation since that time. I am now seeking an attorney who will help me construct a suit against these criminals with offices. What is particulary noteworthy is the fact that filing a class action law suit may be the preferred solution in this case. The individual who murdered my sister remained free for nearly two decades because of those named authorities unwillingness to do the jobs they are paid to do. The investigation was shoddy at best and criminal at worst. Sadly, the same individual who murdered my sister went on to become an international serial killer. (In Belgium they nicknamed him the Butcher of Mons). At least seven more women lost their lives because of the shoddy police/prosecution “work” by these NY authorities. If you would like further information, or if you believe you could help in anyway please let me know. I have a short synopsis of this case which I have compiled which I believe you will find interesting.

  • Doug

    When I worked as a police officer in NYC, the standard quota was 25 parking tickets, 10 moving violations, and 2 red lights. It was known as 25, 10, and 2 when referred to by the supervisors. When I worked in Anti-Crime, our quota was 2 felony arrests a month per man in addition to the 25, 10, and 2 that was required. Those numbers were incredibly easy to attain, especially in Manhattan North where I worked. Personally for me, those numbers were a joke and I wrote a lot more than that. I rarely wrote parking tickets and instead focused on moving violations, such as red light and no insurance ones. I averaged about 100 moving violations per month in addition to 20 arrests a month of those drivers for suspended licenses, stolen cars, and drugs.

  • Mike Hunt

    I just got two tickets for the same left turn (from the middle lane) on 2nd ave under the 59th street bridge. One was for “ignoring a sign” and the other was for making the actual left turn. It was July 31st in the afternoon, so the month was all but over. There were more than 12 police cars and vans just pulling drivers over like fish at a salmon run.

    The Latino officer was young, and would not look me or my passenger in the eye. My passenger thought it was racial because we were mixed race and officers were black and Latino. But i doubt that and disagree. I believe the double ticket for turning left from a middle lane was a set up for quota purposes because the left lane was blocked by a car that was double parked with flashers on. All drivers had to make the turn I made or sit and block traffic.

    The team immediately pulled a cab over after writing my ticket, as other nypd cars were doing the same thing. It was a feeding frenzey. The sight was demoralizing as anything i ever saw in nyc. Quotas undermine the integrity of nypd and all due respect Myers should have for the work cops do.

    I have paid over 2000 dollars for tickets of this nature year to date, so if you are thinking of moving to NY you should know Alec Baldwin is not crazy, the nypd leadership who allows these quota scams is crazy. Policing should not be a revenue generating business because it’s not a business. It’s corruption that chills all drivers who stop to think what these cops are clearly capable of doing.

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