Stop and Frisk

Cops Need Quotas, Say NYPD Brass, Because They're Too Lazy To Work Without Them


Reason 24/7

In a trial that focuses on the New York City Police Department's controversial practice of promoting "stop and frisk" — approaching and shaking down people, without specific cause, who officers think might be up to no good — police department officials have come up with a novel explanation: officers are leaned on to "produce" because they're too damned lazy to do their jobs otherwise. Without necessarily conceding that "performance goals" are the same as quotas, the brass insists that they have to set minimum standards to get cops out of their cars and … err … interacting with the public or they'd doze and eat doughnuts all day.

From the New York Times:

The picture painted in court of the New York Police Department's officers was not pretty.

Ten percent of them were malcontents who worked as little as possible. Unless they are being paid overtime, officers seem to avoid writing summonses. Indeed, some police officers need to be weaned of the idea that they are paid to drive around in their patrol cars, eating doughnuts.

And those sentiments came not from critics of the department, but from police commanders and city lawyers.

One of the surprising developments of the trial regarding the Police Department's stop-and-frisk practices is how top police officials and city lawyers have been willing to criticize some of the department's rank-and-file officers — all in an effort to counter testimony from whistle-blower officers who say that commanders had created quotas that pressured them to make street stops without the proper grounds.

Some of the testimony heard over the first six weeks of the trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan has had more in keeping with labor arbitration than with a constitutional case, as the city has tried to play down secret station house recordings, partly by characterizing some police officers as lazy.

"The sergeant is complaining that the cops on overtime didn't want to get out of the car," one deputy inspector, Steven Mauriello, testified after being played a secret station house recording of one of his sergeants exhorting his officers to work harder. "He doesn't want them sitting in the car reading the newspaper."

The two whistle-blowing officers have offered testimony that is crucial to the plaintiffs' claim that the department relies on a quota system to force officers to generate more "activity" — a category that includes arrests, tickets and street stops. According to the civil rights lawyers who brought the stop-and-frisk class action lawsuit, the number of street stops has soared over the last decade because police officers, under pressure to make the quota, have resorted to stopping people whom they have no reason to suspect of wrongdoing.

Are we entirely certain that a napping, doughnut-chomping police force is inevitable in the absence of quotas performance goals? Or that it would be worse than what New York City has now?

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