NYPD Whistle-Blower Wins $280K Settlement

     MANHATTAN (CN) – The New York City Police Department agreed to cut officer Craig Matthews a six-figure check and expunge a poor performance evaluation it gave him for blowing the whistle on illegal police quotas in the Bronx.
     The police quota scandal has rocked the northernmost borough of the Big Apple since 2008.
     Matthews, a 17-year police veteran of the 42nd Precinct, was one of the officers who stepped forward to oppose it.
     He said that he started reporting issues with the policy to his then-commander, Capt. Timothy Brugge, in early 2009.
     Two years later, Matthews told Brugge’s successor, Capt. Jon Bloch, that the quota policy caused “unjustified stops, arrests, and summonses because police officers felt forced to abandon their discretion in order to meet their numbers,” according to his complaint.
     Matthews says that during one roll call his supervisor, Lt. Mark Sedran, threatened him by saying: “If you come after me, I will come back at you harder.”
     Matthews claims the department followed through by separating him from his longtime partner and punishing him with undesirable assignments and poor evaluations.
     He sued the city, ex-NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Bloch and Sedran in 2012.
     His lawsuit stumbled until the Second Circuit issued a key ruling earlier this year that strengthened the free-speech protections for police officers and other public employees.
     Nearly 10 months after that ruling, New York City reached a roughly $280,000 settlement with Matthews that erases the stain on his record.
     The officer’s lawyers at the New York Civil Liberties Union will collect $130,000 for their work on the case, and Matthews will get $157,582.72 in back pay and compensation, according to the three-page stipulation.
     The NYCLU’s associate legal director Christopher Dunn said in a statement that the settlement “completely vindicates” Matthews.
     “Quota systems in the NYPD drove the explosion of unlawful stops and arrests during the Bloomberg administration and seriously damaged police-community relations,” he wrote.
     A New York City Law Department spokesman said that “settlement of this 2012 case in the city’s best interest.”

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