MANHATTAN (CN) - A second Bronx police officer on Thursday told a federal judge why he recorded his superiors pressuring him to stop and frisk more young black and Latino men.
"Well, judge. It's very simple. I have children. I try to be a decent person," Officer Pedro Serrano said, as choked back tears on the witness stand. "Excuse me," he said. "Whenever I talk about my kids, I cry."
Serrano, a short, bald, round 8-year veteran of the NYPD, was the second officer to acknowledge at trial that he secretly taped his supervisors.
Officer Adhyl Polanco, also from a Bronx precinct, testified earlier this week and some of his tapes were played in court.
Plaintiffs in the federal class action against New York City seek reforms to address racial disparities in the Police Department's street stops.
The first attempt at reform happened came 14 years ago in a similar lawsuit, which ended in a 2003 settlement requiring the NYPD to record every stop on a form called a UF-250.
Study of those forms indicated that roughly 87 percent of the roughly 5 million people who have been stopped were black or Latino.
The four lead plaintiffs in Floyd v. City of New York, who claim the NYPD racially profiled them, finished testifying this week. They were followed by police officers who were dissatisfied with how the program has been implemented.
The NYPD claims the racial disparities in the stops stem from its "proactive" policing of high-crime neighborhoods under what it call the CompStat program. But at least three whistleblowing officers, doubting the official explanation, have recorded how police brass discuss the program behind closed doors.
The whistleblowers include Officers Adrian Schoolcraft, from Brooklyn's 81st Precinct; Adhyl Polanco, from the Bronx's 41st Precinct; and Serrano, from the neighboring 40th Precinct.
Serrano on Thursday unveiled a June 30, 2010 recording of a female lieutenant, his precinct's integrity control officer, tell officers she's "looking for five" - which Serrano described as a quota for criminal summonses.
Later in the recording, the lieutenant apparently urges officers only to target so-called "Impact Zones:" designated high-crime areas based on computer-mapped data.
"Don't write activity outside the zone," she said, according to the transcript.
Later, she added: "St. Mary's Park, go crazy in there. Go crazy in there. I don't care if everybody writes everything in there. That's not a problem."
A month later, Serrano recorded another lieutenant, Jemal Doute, making a passing reference to "five-five-five," allegedly a veiled reference to quotas for summonses, arrests and patrols at public housing.
In 2011, Serrano's score dropped one point in every category on his yearly evaluation forms, down to 3 on a 5-point scale. The evaluations rate officers in 28 categories, including their integrity, imagination, reasoning and appearance.
"I think most of this is wrong, except for physical fitness," the pudgy Serrano said, to laughter in the court. "I'll accept a '3.'"
He said he was not a "hero" or a "zero," but "somewhere in the middle."
During cross-examination, city attorney Brenda Cooke said that placed him in the middle of the scale.
Serrano said that his supervisor acknowledged that the score had more to do with his numbers than his abilities.
He testified that Capt. Martine Materasso had told him that low "activity" was half of the reason for his downgrade.