Connect with us

Officer testifies stop-and-frisk program motivated by quotas and race



Officer secretly recorded conversation with his supervisor in which he is apparently told to target ‘male blacks 14 to 21’

The New York police department’s controversial stop-and-frisk program is being driven by a high-pressure quota system imposed upon lower-ranking officers by their supervisors, two NYPD officers testified in court this week.


The claims were made as part of a landmark class action lawsuit that began Monday. The suit seeks to prove that the nation’s largest police department has demonstrated a widespread and systemic pattern of unconstitutional stops that disproportionately target minorities.

Lawyers for the city have dismissed allegations of quotas and scrutinized the credibility of the suit’s plaintiffs, including their allegations of racial bias on the part of the department.

“The quota allegations are a sideshow,” city attorney Heidi Grossman said in opening statements Monday. “Crime drives where police officers go,” she added. “Not race.”

The trial represents a historic challenge to the legacies of NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly and mayor Michael Bloomberg, who have both vocally supported stop-and-frisk.


The NYPD has stopped approximately 5 million people over the last decade. According to department data, the vast of majority of those stopped are African American or Latino, many of them young men. In recent years nearly nine out of 10 of those stopped by police have walked away from the stops without a summons or arrest.

Darius Charney, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in opening statements that the trial is about more than numbers. “It’s about people,” he said. The NYPD has “laid siege to black and Latino communities” through “arbitrary, unnecessary and unconstitutional harassment”, Charney added.

Supporters of stop-and-frisk, including Bloomberg and Kelly, maintain that it is an essential tool that save lives and removes guns from the streets. Without stop-and-frisk, New York City would descend into violence not seen in decades, they argue. Young men of color – the group most frequently cited as victims of the program – would bear the brunt of violent crime, they say.


Both the mayor and the commissioner – as well as the city itself and several named and unnamed officers – are the defendants in the suit.

By law, the NYPD is permitted to stop a person if it has a reasonable suspicion to believe the person is about to commit a crime, is in the process of committing a crime, or has just finished committing a crime. An officer can frisk a person – patting them outside the clothing – if they have reason to believe the person is an armed threat. An officer can search someone – reach inside clothing – if they have encountered an object they have reason to believe is a weapon.

These conditions regularly go unmet, stop-and-frisk critics argue. They say the program has produced a sense of second-class citizenship in minority communities in which individuals – particularly young men – are routinely subjected to illegal and degrading stops.


‘We were handcuffing kids for no reason’

The trial began Monday with two packed courtrooms; one where the actual proceedings are taking place and one for the overflow of spectators, activists and politicians. The first four witness were each African American men who described stops they had experienced. City attorneys worked to expose inconsistencies between the witnesses testimonies and depositions, prove bias against the police department and discredit their claims of racial profiling.

By mid-week lawyers for the plaintiffs shifted focus from the experience of street stops to the internal NYPD incentive structure that allegedly motivates them.

Officer Adhyl Polanco began his testimony Tuesday by saying “there’s a difference between” the department’s policies on paper and “what goes on out there”, on the city’s streets.


Polanco testified that in 2009, officers in his Bronx precinct were expected to issue 20 summons and make one arrest per month. If they did not they would risk denied vacation, being separated from longtime partners, undesirable assignments and other consequences.

Polcano claimed it was not uncommon for patrol officers who were not making quotas to be forced to “drive the sergeant” or “drive the supervisor”, which meant driving around with a senior officer who would find individuals for the patrol officer to arrest or issue a summons to, at times for infractions the junior officer did not observe.

“We were handcuffing kids for no reason,” Polanco said. Claiming he was increasingly disturbed by what he was witnessing in his precinct, Polcanco began secretly recording his roll call meetings.

In one recording played for the court, a man Polanco claimed was a NYPD captain told officers: “the summons is a money–generating machine for the city.”


Bronx police officer Pedro Serrano also secretly recorded comments made by supervisors at the same Bronx precinct. His recordings were also played for the court this week.

On a track played Thursday, Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack was heard telling Serrano he needed to stop “the right people, the right time, the right location”. When asked what he believed McCormack meant Serrano told the court: “he meant blacks and Hispanics.”

Later in the tape McCormack says: “I have no problem telling you this … male blacks. And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem [to] tell you this, male blacks 14 to 21.”

Serrano claims his attempts to raise concerns about stop and frisk and the existence of quotas have been met with retaliation, including fellow officers vandalizing his locker with stickers of rats.


He choked up on the witness stand Thursday, as he described his reason for joining the suit.

“As a Hispanic living in the Bronx, I have been stopped many times,” Serrano said. “I just want to do the right thing.”

© 2013 Guardian News and Media

[NYPD photo via AFP]

Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

HBO’s ‘Real Time’ panel provides roadmap for Democrats to get DNI’s Ukraine report and speed-up impeachment



During the "Overtime" segment of HBO's "Real Time," Bill Maher and his guests took up the problems the Democrats are having acquiring Donald Trump'stax returns as well as other documents they need if they are going to impeach the president.

Responding to a question over whether the state of New York will indict the president, the conversation turned to prosecutors seeking Trump's taxes.

According to presidential historian Tim Naftali, there is precedent allowing the acquisition.

"Is it really that hard to get somebody's frigging, f*cking taxes? " host Bill Maher asked.

"Actually, there is a precedent," Naftali explained. "If the House started on the impeachment hearings, they could act on the precedent of 1974, where Nixon's taxes were turned over to the impeachment committee. So there is a precedent, but they have to make the decision that they are having an impeachment inquiry."

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Trump slams ‘partisan’ whistleblower, Biden pushes back



US President Donald Trump on Friday vigorously rejected a whistleblower's claim of wrongdoing, amid reports he used a call with Ukraine's president to pressure him to investigate the son of Trump's Democratic rival Joe Biden.

The whistleblower's secret complaint has triggered a tense showdown between Congress, whose Democratic leaders are demanding to review the complaint, and the executive branch which has barred them from doing so.

It has also raised concerns Trump sought to strong-arm Ukraine into providing damaging information on the president's possible 2020 challenger, which would represent dangerous foreign meddling in the US election -- similar to the interference blamed on Russia in 2016, when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Dem senator accuses the FBI of a carrying out a ‘cover-up’ for Brett Kavanaugh — and calls for an investigation



angry Brett Kavanaugh

Old wounds were reopened this week when a New York Times article, written by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, focused on Deborah Ramirez — one of the women who, in 2018, accused U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. And Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, in a USA Today op-ed published on Friday, argued that Kavanaugh wasn’t adequately vetted as he should have been.

Continue Reading
Help Raw Story Investigate and Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.