NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly responded to an Eyewitness News investigation that raises the possibility that the Department's aggressive police policies with its emphasis on quotas are filling the courts with innocent people.
Eyewitness News Reporter Jim Hoffer: "The emphasis by the Department on performance goals, quotas whatever you want to call it are leading to bogus summonses?"
Commissioner Ray Kelly: "All I can tell you is that crime is down to record lows, we've seen a little increase, lowest number of murders in this city since we've started to record them accurately."
But are innocent people getting caught in the NYPD's widening crime fighting net? Court data we've obtained suggests a strong possibility. In 2008, city courts handled 382 thousand misdemeanor criminal summonses such as disorderly conduct and loitering. Out of those, 193 thousand were tossed out by the courts. Fifty-one percent of all summonses dismissed.
Jon Shane spent 20 years as a precinct commander with the Newark Police and he says the 50 percent summons dismissal rate needs to be investigated.
"It gives rise to the presumption that at best the evidence is very weak against defendant and perhaps there was not probable cause," said Shane, who now teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
In many cases, the summonses are tossed out because: "The NYPD fails to file any evidence of wrong doing".
Jose Sanchez got a disorderly conduct charge for standing outside a store and like half the people standing in this line waiting to see a Judge, Sanchez's summons got thrown out.
"I think they just single people out for no reason at all," said Sanchez.
Hoffer: "Half of all summonses thrown out. What do you think is going on?"
Kelly: "A lot of complex reasons for that, courts approach to these summonses. We can only do our job and then it goes into the purview of the court."
Emails we received from current NYPD officers suggest quota pressures play a role.
One writes: "THEY CONSTANTLY WANT YOU TO VIOLATE PEOPLES' RIGHTS AND MAKE FALSE STATEMENTS TO GET THE ARREST." Another officer writes: "COMMANDS PUT OUT A LIST EVERY MONTH OF THOSE WHO DON'T HAVE AN AREST, LABELING YOU A ZERO."
Commissioner Kelly is unapologetic.
"I'm proud of the record of the men and women of the Department, because I know that we are saving lives," he said.
Crime in New York remains at record lows, but recent Justice Department numbers show other cities are also experiencing record low levels of crime, including cities that don't use quota driven police tactics.
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