NEW YORK (AP) — Police brass in the Bronx were not concerned with whether patrol officers were saving lives or helping people, they were focused on one thing: numbers, said a New York City police officer testifying in a federal challenge to some street stops.
Adhyl Polanco said his superiors told him that he needed 20 summonses, five street stops and one arrest per month. It didn’t matter whether the stops were done properly, he said Tuesday.
“They will never question the quality. They will question the quantity,” Polanco said.
His testimony, which will continue Wednesday, was one of three department whistleblowers expected to discuss a culture that revolved around numbers and less around actual policing — and what lawyers said is leading to tens of thousands of wrongful stops of black and Hispanic men by the police.
The class-action lawsuit in federal court challenges the constitutionality of some of the stops. There have been about 5 million stops made by police in the past decade. City attorneys said officers operate within the law and do not target people solely because of their race. Police go where the crime is — and crime is overwhelmingly in minority neighborhoods, they said.
Testimony in the trial came as city lawmakers reached a deal Tuesday to install an inspector general for the NYPD following outrage over the department’s widespread spying on Muslims and stop and frisk tactic.
Police unions have condemned the inspector general idea, saying the department already gets plenty of oversight and the position would squander resources.
Polanco said if he didn’t get the numbers while working patrol in the 41st Precinct in the Bronx, he’d face poor evaluations, shift changes and no overtime. He started recording some of the instructions because he thought no one would believe him.
“They can make your life very miserable,” he said of the department.
Police officials have said that they do not issue quotas, but set some performance goals for officers.
Polanco, who joined the force in 2005, was suspended with pay for years after internal affairs officers brought charges of filing false arrest paperwork; he says the charges came because he detailed a list of complaints to internal affairs. He now works in a department video unit.