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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
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NYPD Brass on Hot Seat|in Stop-and-Frisk Trial

MANHATTAN (CN) - An NYPD inspector parsed words over whether he set "quotas" or "performance goals" for the number of people he wanted arrested or summonsed, in a trial challenging the police tactic.

Deputy Inspector Michael Marino testified Friday in Floyd v. The City of New York, a class action filed by four black men who claim police stopped and frisked them without reasonable suspicion.

Marino, a tall man with a manicured mustache, short gray hair and an athletic build, wore a single star on each shoulder of his uniform, showing his rank as a borough chief.

For several years he commanded all of the precincts in North Brooklyn, until he was transferred to Staten Island amid allegations of steroid possession.

Civil rights lawyer Jonathan Moore tried to grill him about human growth hormones until city lawyers stood up and shouted outraged objections, calling the questions irrelevant and a breach of medical privacy.

In 2010, Marino lost 30 vacation days and took a temporary probation after being found guilty of human growth hormone possession, according to the Village Voice.

Moore asked U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin to admit the testimony, to show that the "serious offense" had no impact on his career.

But Scheindlin, who is hearing the case without a jury, sustained the city's objection, stopping that line of inquiry.

Moore moved onto a different controversy, an arbitrator's finding in 2006 that Marino maintained a quota system that violated labor law.

Marino instituted so-called "performance goals" of 10 tickets and one arrest per month. He denies that that was a quota, but acknowledged that failing to meet it could have consequences for an officer.

In a 2010 deposition, however, Marino dropped his guard under questioning by a lawyer for the NYPD, who used the terms interchangeably, Moore said.

When asked in the deposition whether he had heard of the implementation of "quotas, performance goals," Marino replied, "I am aware of that."

That year officers in Brooklyn's 79th Precinct threatened a 24-hour "summons strike" to protest the quotas.

The New York Daily News, quoting an anonymous police source, reported that Marino announced at roll call: "Just try it. ... I'll come down there and make sure you write them."

On Friday, however, Marino claimed that he gave a stirring appeal on the impact such a strike would have had on the Bedford Stuyvesant community.

"I stood in front of roll call and I explained nothing was about numbers," he testified. "That these little dots on the wall were people who had something bad happen to them."

Earlier Friday, Det. Angelica Salmerone testified about her stop of Deon Dennis, one of the lead plaintiffs.

Dennis was planning to celebrate his fiancée's birthday on Jan. 12, 2008 when Salmerone and other officers stopped him in front of his apartment. Salmorone claimed she saw him with a bottle of Hennessey and a plastic cup; Dennis denies there was a bottle and says the cup was not his.

Salmerone testified that she gave whiskey bottle back instead of keeping it as evidence. She did not record the incident in her memo book or fill out a UF-250, a form for stop and frisks.

Plaintiff's attorney Gretchen Hoff Varner tried to undermine Salmerone's credibility by saying that the Civilian Complaint Review Board, or CCRB, substantiated a complaint against her for breaking a man's arm.

Salmerone responded that the Internal Affairs Bureau cleared her, and found that the man's arm had not been broken. She denies wrongdoing and was not been disciplined after the CCRB ruling.

To succeed on one of their claims, the class needs to show the city fails to discipline police who commit constitutional violations.

One attorney for the city failed on Friday to revamp stop and frisk's image with a linguistic addition.

After attorney Joseph Marutollo asked a series of questions about "stop, question and possibly frisk," Judge Scheindlin shot him a quizzical glance and asked him if he had ever heard the policy referred to in that way.

When Maratullo said that not all stops end in frisks, Scheindlin responded, "I understand that," but said she's never encountered that phrase in any testimony or documentation.

"It might be an improvement," she said.

Marutollo apologized and referred to stop, question and frisk by its conventional name.

More police brass are expected to testify when trial resumes Wednesday. Court will not be in session early this week for the Passover holiday.

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