UPDATE: After I-Team Report, NYPD Lieutenant Says Department Does Enforce Arrest Quota
Quotas in the NYPD still exist for arrests and summonses in violation of a 2010 state ban on the practice, current on-the-job officers tell the I-Team, despite Police Commissioner Bill Bratton's repeated insistence that there are no quotas.
Bratton has said that the police department responds to conditions in communities to reduce crime. But Julio Diaz, New York chapter president of the Latino Officers Association, said, "I can tell you I’m a police officer, and there are quotas in the NYPD."
The 10 officers who spoke to the I-Team are plaintiffs, along with two other officers, in a federal class-action lawsuit that claims the NYPD is continuing to pursue illegal quotas and is punishing officers who don’t meet numerical goals.
They spoke together for the first time in an exclusive interview with the I-Team last week, deciding to share their stories after the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, Edwin Raymond, spoke to the I-Team last month.
The officers work in predominantly minority neighborhoods and they say the pressure from supervisors to "get numbers" is intense.
"They’ll tell you to your face: blacks, Hispanics, from 14 to 21, they must get stopped,” said NYPD officer Pedro Serrano.
He added, "We’re the predators. They’re the prey. The worst thing you can have is a police officer that needs an arrest for the month. There’s no discretion."
Officer Derick Waller told the I-Team, "At the end of the month, these officers who don’t have that arrest or those few summonses, they’re pressured to find something. You might not see anything but you go hunting, like bounty hunting for an arrest, locking up some old guy, some homeless guy, finding someone who’s spitting on the sidewalk, and you bring them in."
Officer Adhyl Polanco added, "The problem is, when you go hunting, when you put any type of numbers on a police officer to perform, we are going to go for the most vulnerable. Of course, we’re going to go for the LGBT community, we’re going to the black community, we’re going to those that have no vote, that have no power.”
Raymond, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said, "This is something coming from the top that trickles its way down, and that’s why we’re here."
In an interview last month, Raymond told the I-Team he has been secretly recording NYPD supervisors for two years in an effort to prove alleged quotas and retaliation against cops who don’t rack up numbers.
Bratton responded to Raymond’s claims with an expletive, calling them bulls---.
Bratton insists its policies are focused on the quality of arrests and summonses, not the quantity. In a statement, the NYPD added, "There are no numerical quotas in the NYPD. However, we expect our members to do their jobs. Just like any other organization, there are performance standards through which employees are evaluated. Our officers and supervisors are evaluated according to how effectively and appropriately they address the conditions within their area of responsibility."
The officers’ attorney, Chukwuenmeka Nwokoro, claimed he can prove quotas exist under the Bratton administration "with testimony, recordings, documents."
The officers claimed they have been retaliated against for refusing to meet quotas.
"Because you’re not punishing people, you’re being punished, you know," Officer Felicia Whitely said. "And it doesn’t make for a great environment because they want you to harass people."
The officers said they believe minority cops are being punished more severely than white officers for failing to meet numbers.
The city has asked a federal judge to dismiss portions of the federal lawsuit, claiming the officers haven’t begun to prove a case for either quotas or racial discrimination. A decision could come at any time.
Watch the full interview with the NYPD officers above.