MANHATTAN (CN) – A veteran police officer sued New York City and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly in Federal Court, claiming they subjected him to “a campaign of retaliation and harassment for having reported the existence of a highly developed quota system in the 42nd Precinct in the Bronx.”
“This retaliation comes in the context of a city-wide controversy over the NYPD’s use of illegal quotas and the damage such quotas inflict on innocent people, policing, and police-community relations,” Craig Mathews claims in his complaint.
The complaint continues: “Since 2008, supervisors in the 42nd Precinct have developed and implemented a system of quotas mandating numbers of arrests, summonses, and stop-and-frisks (with one supervisor describing stop-and-frisks as being ‘worth their weight in gold’). As part of the regime for enforcing these quotas, supervisors have developed a detailed monitoring system that includes computer reports that use color coding to categorize officers in terms of their compliance with quotas. Current reports use black ink to identify officers who are meeting quotas, silver ink to identify officers who are meeting only some quotas, and red ink to identify officers who are not meeting quotas. Officers in the precinct are constantly pressured to meet the quotas, and those do not are subject to punishment including undesirable assignments, the loss of overtime, denial of leave, separation from partners, and poor evaluations.
“Concerned about the impact of illegal quotas on policing and police-community relations, Officer Matthews on at least four occasions has notified commanding officers of the 42nd Precinct about the quota system being used by mid-level supervisors. In response to having spoken out about the precinct’s quota system, Officer Matthews has been retaliated against in ways that are more severe and differ from the punishment being imposed on the many other officers not meeting the quotas. And at a roll call last month, a supervisor running the quota program said, ‘If you come after me, I will come back after you harder.’
“The quota system in the 42nd Precinct has pitted police officers against each other, straining professional relationships and diverting resources away from law enforcement activities. Officers who comply with the quotas have had their precinct lockers dislodged and overturned, with the lockers sometimes being placed in the shower or their locks being plastered shut. This practice of ‘locker flipping’ has escalated to the point where on-duty police officers are now assigned to guard the precinct’s locker room around the clock.
“The use of an illegal quota system in the 42nd Precinct reflects a larger crisis in the NYPD. For several years, the Department has been engulfed in a scandal about its use of quota systems that lead to innocent New Yorkers being stopped and frisked, given summonses, and even arrested. Through tape recordings, officer complaints and admissions, and newspaper reports, quota systems have been uncovered across the city.
“The defendants have violated Officer Matthews’ rights under the First Amendment and New York Constitution. He seeks an injunction requiring the defendants to cease all actions in retaliation for his protected speech, as well as an award of compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.”
Mathews, a 14-year NYPD veteran, is represented by Christopher Dunn, with the New York Civil Liberties Union.