Whistleblower Testifies at NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Trial | Courthouse News Service
Saturday, December 2, 2023
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Whistleblower Testifies at NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Trial

MANHATTAN (CN) - Bronx police brass told the rank-and-file that if they refused to meet quotas, they would have to "drive the sergeant" or deliver pizzas, a suspended veteran officer testified Tuesday at a trial challenging stop-and-frisk practices.

Opening arguments began Monday in a trial challenging the NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactics. The New York Civil Liberties Union claims the trial began just after the NYPD stopped and frisked its 5 millionth person.

Police data show that nearly 90 percent of those stopped are black and Latino.

City lawyers claim that the data skews that way because crime disproportionately involves these ethnic groups.

During opening arguments, Center for Constitutional Rights lawyer Darius Charney said he would show ethnic bias through testimony from NYPD whistleblowers who secretly taped superior officers pushing quotas during roll call meetings.

One of these officers, Adhyl Polanco, testified on Tuesday. Polanco is an eight-year veteran of the NYPD, currently on suspension.

He said that in 2005, he spent his first six months on the force working in a so-called "Impact Zone," an NYPD operation that sends large numbers of rookie officers to high-crime areas.

During the next three years as a patrol officer in the 41st Precinct, Polanco said he learned, "There's a difference between written policies and what really goes on out there."

The NYPD Patrol Guide accepted into evidence instructs officers to "Render all necessary police service" to the communities they serve.

Polanco said, "It means helping people. It's why I became a cop."

But he claimed that his supervisors, including his Platoon Commander Lt. Andrew Valenzano, were more interested in his producing numbers of people stopped, summonsed and arrested.

An attorney for the city, Heidi Grossman, told the court on Monday that NYPD productivity goals constitute little more than an employer encouraging workers not to slack off on the job.

But Polanco said his supervisors were not satisfied with his "Monthly Activity Report" from January 2009, which was filled with duties that did not include arrests and summonses.

That summer, he said, "I started recording [roll calls] because I couldn't believe what I was hearing."

He said his supervisors demanded "Twenty summonses and one arrest per officer, at least."

And, Polanco claimed, "They said they wanted at least five [street stops]."

Polanco testified that one sergeant told officers that "if we didn't want to be a pizza delivery man, we better do what they say."

Another reprimand allegedly involved "driving the sergeant," meaning an officer would be pulled away from a partner and forced to patrol with his supervisor.

"It means that you have absolutely no discretion," Polanco said.

The end of courtroom hours interrupted Polanco's testimony Tuesday.

He was expected to continue testifying today about filing complaints with internal affairs, and being suspended from the force, ostensibly for filing false arrest paperwork.

He indicated that his secret recordings of NYPD roll calls will be played in court.

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