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Civil Rights

NYPD Officers Sue Over Hidden Racial Arrest Quotas

— September 8, 2015

Despite assurances from the NYPD that it stopped using racially-motivated “stop-and-frisk” practices to fill ticket, arrest and summonses quotas, several NYPD officers have recently filed suit over the fact that they are being penalized for speaking out against such practices, which are ongoing. Among the retaliation these whistleblowers have seen: poor performance reviews compared to white colleagues, assignment to dangerous beats without a partner, threats of termination and being called a “fucking bitch.”

Take your mind back two years to a class action suit that put the NYPD in the spotlight over hidden quotas regarding tickets, arrests and summonses. The quotas resulted in an abuse of stop-and-frisks, largely involving people of color. The public was assured that these discriminatory practices were abolished. Guess what? The NYPD lied. Just recently, NYPD officers sue over hidden racial arrest quotas.

The suit is driven by the fact that officers of color who speak out against or refuse to comply with the discriminatory practice are being threatened and punished. They have good cause to speak out. These hidden quotas have been a problem for years and, despite assurances, they were never halted. Ninety percent of those unlawful stop-and-frisks done between 2002 and 2011 were conducted against African Americans and Latinos. Almost 90% of those stops didn’t result in tickets or arrests and the majority of the ones that did involved marijuana.

Twelve African American and Latino officers joined to accuse the NYPD of violating New York states labor laws by using the hidden quotas. The suit also mentions the harassment, threats of job loss, denial of benefits and transfers to less desirable assignments endured by those who spoke out. In addition, the suing officers regularly receive poorer evaluations than their Caucasian counterparts.

The class action isn’t the only suit, though. Adhyl Polanco has also filed suit alleging retaliation from colleagues that has been ongoing since 2009. Polanco was a “whistleblower” who exposed the hidden quota system to the media, as well as the widespread corruption in the NYPD. After he revealed the NYPD’s dirty secrets, he was suspended, put on mental watch & probation and even called a “fucking bitch” by a fellow officer.

Officer Adhyl Polanco
Officer Adhyl Polanco

Polanco isn’t the only one against whom such punitive actions have been taken. Sandy Gonzalez was assigned to a dangerous neighborhood, in freezing temperatures, all alone. Pedro Serrano, a Puerto Rican officer, was reprimanded when he complained about the discriminatory practices in his precinct, largely Puerto Rican. His supervisor’s response was that Serrano’s precinct was largely a bunch of animals. On other occasions, Serrano has been given poor evaluations after exposing officer misconduct, such as a white officer unzipping an African American’s pants and touching the man’s penis and buttocks.

The officers’ quest for help has not been in vain. City attorney Elinor Sutton charged the NYPD in July with destroying evidence regarding hundreds of thousands of summonses issued soley to meet the hidden quotas. She also has emails and texts regarding the issue, thanks to other whistleblowers. These electronic communications have since been deleted from NYPD records.

Deputy Commissioner and NYPD mouthpiece, Stephen Davis, asserts, “There are no numerical enforcement quotas established by the NYPD. Performance evaluations are conducted for all department employees based on an assessment of their duties, responsibilities and specific conditions of their assignments.”

So, the 2002 – 2011 data on stop-and-frisks by race is just coincidental? In a city of about 8.5M residents, only the African Americans and Latinos were doing something (usually nothing) to give officers reason to stop them? One finds that hard to believe. Screw that! One cannot find any possible logical explanation for it and so one summarily denies that there is any truth to Davis’ assertions.

Bill Bratton, the current Police Commissioner, announced in 2014 that he was committed to slowing down the stop-and-frisks used to meet the hidden quotas. He’s also gone on record accusing his predecessor of creating animosity between officers in communities of color.

Bratton told The New Yorker, “The No. 1 issue we heard over and over again was that the black community—rich, poor, middle class—was concerned about this issue. The commissioner, whom they liked quite a bit, and Mayor Bloomberg, who polled well for a long time, just weren’t listening. They were kind of tone-deaf to this issue. So we worked really hard, myself and Mayor de Blasio, to respond.”

And yet, the problem with quotas and retaliation persists. It’s a safe bet no one called Bratton a “fucking bitch,” either. At least not to his face.


NYPD Officers Sue Saying They’re Being Punished For Refusing To Discriminate

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