NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City police officer testified Wednesday that he’s already been labeled a rat and expects more retaliation from colleagues for testifying at a civil trial that the department routinely enforces quotas on arrests and other enforcement action and punishes those who do not achieve the artificial goals.
Officer Pedro Serrano told a federal judge in Manhattan that his colleagues in the Bronx already dumped out his locker and stuck rodent stickers on the outside, implying he is a rat for testifying.
“I fear that they’re going to try and set me up and get me fired,” he said.
Serrano, 43, was speaking publicly for the first time at the trial, which is challenging how the New York Police Department makes some street stops. His testimony was given to show a culture within the nation’s largest department that revolves more around numbers and less around actual policing.
Lawyers for the four men who sued say officers unfairly target minorities under the controversial tactic known as stop and frisk, sometimes because of pressure to make illegal quotas. Attorneys for the city say the department doesn’t profile — officers go where the crime is, and the crime is overwhelmingly in minority neighborhoods. Police officials have said that they do not issue quotas but set some performance goals for officers.
Serrano, who wore a suit Wednesday but was in police uniform earlier in the week, said he has been protesting within the department for six years about quotas for arrests, summonses, and stop, question and frisk reports each officer should achieve per month.
“I’ve been verbally telling my supervisors this is wrong,” he said. “They say, ‘This is the way it is; it’s been done this way forever.’ You can’t fight. It’s a losing battle.”
Serrano was the second whistleblower to testify Wednesday in the case. Officer Adhyl Polanco, whose story had already been made public in media reports, said police brass were not concerned with whether patrol officers were saving lives or helping people; they were focused on one thing: numbers.
Both officers said if they didn’t get the 20 summonses, one arrest and five street stops per month while working patrol, they’d face poor evaluations, shift changes and no overtime. Serrano said the push to get arrests came right after the academy and continued. He said he’s been punished for not having enough arrests.
“They tell you: ‘I need a specific number,’” Serrano said of his superiors.