NYPD Officers under "quota" pressure

March 2, 2010 10:18:42 PM PST
Some police officers at the 41st precinct in the Bronx say they are under constant pressure to make a quota. According to them, it's 1 arrest and 20 summonses per month, better known as 1 and 20.

"If you think 1 & 20 is breaking your balls, guess what you're going to be doing? You're going to be doing a lot more," an officer is heard saying on tape.

The audio tape that we obtained of a roll call underscores the emphasis that the precinct seems to place on numbers.

"Next week, 25 and 1, 35 and 1 and until you decide to quit this job to go work as a Pizza Hut deliveryman, this is what you're going to be doing until then. Do we understand each other?" the patrol supervisor is heard saying.

It's that relentless pressure to write summonses that some young people in the community say has led to them being repeatedly stopped, questioned and even frisked for no reason.

"They have you against the wall. They pat you down," Emmanuel Candelario of the Bronx said.

The Fordham graduate student says he's been stopped and frisked at least 10 times in the last 5 years.

"People feel unsafe when police are around because anytime they might get stopped, they might get frisked," he said.

Recently released data, show the NYPD stopped and questioned more people last year than in any year since the department began keeping records. A total of 575-thousand people, 87 percent of them minority. Only around two percent of the stops yielded drugs, guns or other law enforcement benefit.

"Nine out of 10 times they stop someone, they get it wrong. They're stopping an innocent person," Darious Charney of Center for Constitutional Rights said.

The NYPD would argue that no one is stopped without reason, but the circumstances often given on official stop and frisk forms seem purposefully vague, such as stopping someone for "furtive movements" or for ''wearing clothes commonly used in a crime." The Center for Constitutional Rights says the NYPD is sowing the seeds of deep resentment.

"It's damaging because it builds so much distrust between the police and the communities they're policing," Charney said.

Writer and poet, Frantz Jerome has lost count of the number of times he's been stopped.

"They patted me down, had me turn around put my hands on the store's gate," Jerome explained. "I get stopped, violated and sent on my way. All I could think of was how is this any different than the sixties?"

The NYPD denies they have quotas. Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne did tell us that "police officers, like others who receive compensation, are provided productivity goals and they are expected to work." Some crime experts would also argue that the NYPD's aggressive stop and frisk policy has played a key role in making New York the safest large city in the country.

But a Bronx Police officer, tired he says of harassing innocent, mostly minority men gave us a rare, on-camera interview to expose what he calls out of control stop and frisks fueled by a department's obsession with numbers.

"I guess it's unlawful for you to have your hand in your pockets. Or, I guess it's unlawful for you to walk home from school or go to the store. Is there a law that prevents anyone from doing that? Not that I know about. And is that a reason to go through people's pockets and search them and do all these things? Absolutely not," Officer Adil Polanco said.

Officer Polanco is on modified duty for disobeying orders in a dispute about going to the hospital with his partner who had become ill.

One other note, in 2009 nearly half of those stopped and frisked were, according to police, stopped because of "furtive movements."

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