In New York City, police rarely talk on the record at all, especially about a touchy subject like quotas. But, as NPR reports, Officer Adhyl Polanco is an exception...
"The culture is, you're not working unless you are writing summonses or arresting people," says Polanco.
One of the dirty secrets in law enforcement that no one likes to talk about is quotas. Police departments routinely deny requiring officers to deliver a set number of tickets or arrests. But critics say that kind of numbers-based policing is real, and corrodes the community's relationship with the police.
Polanco joined the force in 2005, and pretty quickly, he says, it became clear that his supervisors only cared about two things: tickets and arrests.
"I can tell my supervisors that I took three people to the hospital and I saved their lives. That the child that I helped deliver is healthy," says Polanco. "I can tell them that. But that's not going to cut it."
Polanco says he encountered an unwritten rule that officers are expected to bring in "20 and one." That's 20 tickets and one arrest per month. But it was tough to get anyone outside the department to believe him, because NYPD officials would always deny there were any quotas. They still do.
"There is no specific target number that we go for," said NYPD Commissioner William Bratton at a press conference in January. "There are no quotas, if you will."
Since taking over the department last year, Bratton has insisted he's more interested in the quality of arrests than the quantity. The NYPD declined to comment for this story.
"If citizens believe that tickets are being issued or arrests are being made for reasons other than the goal of law enforcement, which is about public safety," says Robinson, "then their trust in the legitimacy of the system is really eroded."
So why does numbers-based policing seem to persist in some departments?
Maybe because it's an easy way to track officer productivity. Tim Dees, a retired Reno, Nev., police officer who has also taught criminal justice, says it's the quality of police work that counts, not the quantity.
"That's a much more difficult metric to gauge," says Dees. "The satisfaction of the citizen, very difficult to put a value on that. And it's much easier for, frankly, lazy administrators to make it into a numbers game."
But some rank-and-file officers say the numbers game can actually make their jobs harder. NYPD Officer Adhyl Polanco says that in order to be effective, he needs the trust of the community.
"Nobody in the community wants people selling drugs in their building," Polanco says. "Nobody in the community wants shootings, so if we work with the people who don't want that, together we can identify who the criminals are. But what happens when you start harassing innocent people because I have to come up with my 20 [tickets]?"
Those tickets might look like productivity on paper, says Polanco. But he argues they're not actually making anyone safer.
But as Daniel Drew of Dark-Bid.com notes, In the NYPD, it's clear that the police are protecting and serving themselves at your expense...
To Protect And To Serve. But they never said they were protecting you.
The boys in blue are indistinguishable from the Crips or any other street gang in their extortion activities.
Officer Adhyl Polanco is suing the NYPD. He secretly recorded conversations in the Bronx. A sergeant said in the recording, "Next week, it could be 25 and 1. It could be 35 and 1. Until you decide you're going to quit this job and become a Pizza Hut delivery man, this is what you're going to be doing until then." 35 and 1 means 35 tickets and 1 arrest.
Polanco said, "Nobody in the community wants shootings, so if we work with the people who don't want that, together we can identify who the criminals are. But what happens when you start harassing innocent people because I have to come up with my 20?"
I wonder if there is a quota for running over citizens in your police cruiser? That quota was met yesterday.
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