In the past few years, the public outrage over racial discrimination throughout the New York City Police Department has reached a boiling point. Across the city protests sparked over the deaths of Eric Garner and Akai Gurley. Now, however, concerns about practices within the NYPD affecting minorities are being brought to light by a group of officers who feel they are being pressured into violating the civil rights of residents in minority communities due to quotas issued by their superiors.
Police officer Edwin Raymond is leading a group of 12 NYPD African-American and Latino officers who have filed a lawsuit against the department for setting illegal quotas which target minorities, and for punishing any officer who questions the practice. The officers cite policies put into place by Commissioner Bill Bratton when he held the position in the 1990s, including a practice known as “broken windows” in which he believed the city would be able to cut down on serious crime by showing that even someone who commits a less serious offense would still face punishment. This led to a system known as CompStat, in which arrests and crime statistics are carefully recorded in all five boroughs.
This is where Officer Raymond believes the problem stems from. In a New York Times Magazine article detailing his experience, Raymond claims the NYPD set numeric goals for officers to issue summonses and make arrests, which directly goes against the 2010 state ban on police quotas and the 14th Amendment which protects against racial discrimination. The police department vehemently denies a quota system and Commissioner Bratton flat out called the allegations, “bulls**t.” The officers who came forward say their supervisors would avoid implementing an actual quota by instructing them to “be proactive” or “get more activity” in areas with a high minority population.
A glaring example can be found in Brooklyn, where reports show that in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a predominately African-American neighborhood, 2,000 summonses were handed out over a three year period to residents riding bicycles on the sidewalk. During those same three years, only eight summonses were issued in the primarily white neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn, for the same offense. Officer Raymond also details how police hide in subway stations in order to catch anyone jumping the turnstile. An analysis by an advocacy group concludes 92% of those arrested for theft of service (the official charge for trying to avoid paying a fare) were African-American, Hispanic or Asian.
These 12 officers are trying to right the wrongs they feel the NYPD is committing towards minorities. In doing so they are risking their careers and reputations as police officers. They have explained the punishment for speaking up, including everything from being passed over for promotions to being admitted to a psychiatric hospital for almost a week. These officers take the public’s civil rights seriously and so should you. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a civil rights violation, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., to stand up for you.