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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cop Claims Ruled by Illegal System of Quotas

Cop claims Bronx precinct ruled by illegal system of zealous arrest quotas
The New York Daily News by Rocco Parascandola and Rich Schapiro - February 23, 2012
Color-coded reports track officer performance: lawsuit

An NYPD officer has sued, charging the 42nd Precinct is run under a zealous quota system.
A veteran NYPD cop claims his beleaguered Bronx precinct is ruled by an elaborate quota system that has created so much tension that cops now guard the locker room. In a federal lawsuit, Officer Craig Matthews charges the illegal quotas in place at the 42nd precinct have led to harsh punishments and pitted cops against each other. Some officers who complied with the quotas have had their lockers damaged, vandalized and even placed in the shower, the suit says. In a bid to stem the outbreak of “locker flipping,” on-duty cops now guard the locker room around the clock, the suit says. Central to the quota system are color-coded computer reports that categorize cops by the number of arrests, summonses and stop-and-frisks they carry out. Officers who fail to meet the reports are highlighted in red. Black ink is used to denote cops who are meeting the quotas, while silver is used to identify those who are meeting some quotas, the suit says. Matthews claims that officers who don’t hit their numbers are subjected to a slew of punishments, including undesirable assignments and the loss of overtime. “Cops are pressured to make numbers and are punished for not making them, which means that innocent people are exposed to baseless summonses, arrests, and stop-and-frisks,” said Matthews’ lawyer, Christopher Dunn. “The quotas must stop and the retaliation against those who complain about the quotas must stop.” The NYPD’s top spokesman, Paul Browne, denied the allegations. “Police managers are doing what their jobs demand and the public expects, supervising employees,” said Browne. He said the color codes do not specify quotas, but indicate “enforcement activity” for arrests, criminal summonses and stops for suspicious activity. “Black indicates an officer's activity in each category, silver indicates activity in at least one of the three categories, and red indicates no activity whatsoever in any of three categories,” said Browne. Matthews’ claims echo those of cops who have come forward in the last three years to reveal the department's habit of illegally setting quotas and punishing cops who don't meet them. A 14-year veteran of the force, Matthews says he was immediately irked by the quota system put in place in 2008. He says he complained about the system several times to his precinct’s commanding officer, Capt. Timothy Bugge. He also brought his concerns to Deputy Inspector Jon Bloch, the suit says. But the system continued unabated - and he soon was the target of a campaign of retaliation, the suit says. Matthews says he was humiliated by his supervisors in front of other cops and assigned especially dangerous duties, such as transporting several prisoners without the standard number of back-up officers. Matthews, who has received more than 20 awards for his police work, also started receiving poor evaluations. “If you come after me, I will come back after you harder,” a supervisor said, according to the suit. It’s not the first time the 42nd Precinct has been hit by the quota controversy. Last May, Officer Vanessa Hicks sued the NYPD, claiming she was transferred because she didn't conduct enough stop-and- frisks. In February` 2010, a precinct union delegate, Officer Frank Palestro, was transferred after he reported corruption to Internal Affairs, alleging that a female lieutenant ordered cops to write summonses for traffic violations they did not witness, refused to take crime complaints and tampered with a gun at a crime scene.

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