New York City's police union and the NYPD collaborated to set arrest quotas for officers, confirms an audio recording obtained by The Nation on Tuesday. In the audio clip, recorded in 2009 by officer Adil Polanco, a union delegate argues for "20-and-1": a monthly quota for each officer of 20 summonses and one arrest. According to several police interviewed by The Nation, some officers are forced to "seek out or even manufacture arrests" in order to meet quotas and avoid department retaliation. The audio could be used as evidence in Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al., a case that opened yesterday in federal district court, whose plaintiffs allege the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy results in racial profiling. From The Nation: The NYPD has just surpassed 5 million stop-and-frisks during the Bloomberg era. Most stops have been of people of color, and the overwhelming majority were found innocent of any wrongdoing, according to the department’s own statistics. And though the number of stops may have gone down recently—as pressure on the department and increased awareness of the policy has officers and supervisors thinking twice about how they employ the practice—the existence of quotas ensures that New Yorkers will continue to be harassed unnecessarily by the NYPD. “The way I think about it,” says a patrolman, “is, say a fireman is told by a supervisor, we need you to put out fifteen fires this month. And if you don’t put out fifteen fires you’re gonna get penalized for it. So if he doesn’t find fifteen fires to put out, is that his fault? It’s not. But the fireman might even go out there and start setting fires, causing fires, just so he’s not penalized or looks bad…. And that’s kind of what the police officers are doing.”The quota could help explain a spike in stop-and-frisk encounters since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office. The NYPD logged its 5 millionth stop-and-frisk last week. The police who shot Kimani Gray--the teenager whose killing has set off mass protests in Brooklyn--intercepted him in a stop-and-frisk.
Camille Beredjick is a student of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a Spring 2013 ITT intern.