If you’ve ever suspected that cops have quotas, and are directed who to roust and farm for fines, consider your worst suspicions confirmed. Naturally, it’s NYPD. Naturally, it’s racist.

NYPD employs around 50,000 people, and has a budget of around $4 billion. That’s a pretty huge budget, but there’s no sense not taking the opportunity to grab a bit more cash through fines. But only throw the fines at the targets that are most likely to have to pay up, who won’t lawyer up, who are less likely to have a good channel and the energy to complain. Poor people don’t sue; they just wind up poorer.

An employment lawsuit against NYPD has surfaced claims that one of the local commanders had directed his beat cops to meet quotas, and the quotas were racialized. [nyd]

The rules of “collars for dollars” at NYPD Transit District 34 were clear.

Cops who arrested black men were rewarded with more overtime, a now-retired officer, Pierre Maximilien writes in an explosive declaration filed Monday in a discrimination lawsuit brought by Sgt. Edwin Raymond and three other cops.

The declaration is one of the latest developments in a long-running case brought by black and Hispanic cops who charge they were forced to arrest more blacks and Hispanics than other groups. They were treated harshly and denied promotions if they refused, the lawsuit alleges.

Asian, Jewish and white people – known as “soft targets” – were not to be slapped in cuffs. All cops in that district were to fill a collar quota, but black and Hispanic officers who didn’t meet expectations were treated more harshly by then-Commanding Officer Constantin Tsachas, Maximilien writes.

Basically, it’s the “shakedown by cop” strategy that we imagine in endless movies, where the redneck cop says who suffers and who doesn’t. It’s just that the redneck cops are running NYPD.

Usually, when someone hears about a story like this, there’s a question like “why didn’t they come out with their story?” Because it was pointless:

Maximilien, 49, retired in 2015, saying he could no longer endure Tsachas’ racist retaliation. He writes that when he refused to follow those orders, he was reprimanded, his overtime was stopped and he was assigned only to transporting prisoners. He writes that he tried to raise warning bells about the quota system with top NYPD chiefs, the Department of Investigation, and the police unions, but no one acted.

One problem with racists is that you are never their friend, if you’re the wrong race. You may be useful, briefly, but once they start to bring their hatred in, it’s going to result on attacks against everyone. I.e.: eventually it doesn’t matter if you’re a black cop – eventually it comes down to that you are black and that is more important than being a cop.

Black and Hispanic cops in general were punished more severely for failing to meet the quotas.

“The supervisors would place the minority officers in punishment posts by ourselves, deny vacation or leave, deny us overtime, change our shifts, give us bogus command disciplines, yell at us in roll call, and give us poor evaluations,” he writes.

Add this to “stop and frisk” and you’ve got a view into the ugliness of Mayor Bloomberg’s New York: [nyt]

“You should write more black and Hispanic people,” Tsachas allegedly told Aaron Diaz in 2012. “You are stopping too many Russian and Chinese”

New York needs a police department to police its police.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    NYPD employs around 50,000 people, and has a budget of around $4 billion.

    Or $80K per head – not counting buildings, cars, tools, utilities, contractors, the disproportionate share taken by top brass, etc.

    The actual cop on the street beat might see half of that, if lucky: not a lot in the face of NYC cost-of-living. How much of unjustified police violence derives from accumulating daily financial stresses?

    No wonder the department apparently uses overtime as a primary reward/incentive.

  2. says

    New York needs a police department to police its police.

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    It seems this is a very old problem . . .

  3. bmiller says

    Pierce: The best way to reduce bribery and corruption in policing is to make sure the police are reasonably paid.

    Though even the “overpaid” brass are paid at a ratio to the officers that pales in comparison to the ratio bizness CEOs earn when compared to their peons. No Police Chief earns 30 or 50 times the community service officer salary. I would actually argue that being a public agency boss warrants being paid two-three times the line staff just because of the political headaches.

  4. cartomancer says

    ahcuah, #2

    The phrase has entered popular discourse to refer to a serious issue of public accountability, but few realise that its origins are much less grandiose. It comes from Juvenal’s sixth satire, on why one shouldn’t get married (spoiler alert, it’s because women are awful). The context is that if you try to post guards over your wife while you are away, to prevent her from having sex with other men, she will just have sex with the guards.

  5. jrkrideau says

    New York needs a police department to police its police.
    Perhaps a contract with the Chicago Police?

  6. lochaber says

    Pierce R. Butler@1> Generally, from what I’ve seen, cops are paid quit well, and this is a myth that needs to die.

    If anything, I’d expect that most of the people employed by NYPD aren’t cops, but support staff, who likely are getting paid far less than $80K/year.

    not NYPD, but over here in the SF Bay Area, most cops start at around ~$80K or more. I’ve been looking at various job boards for cities/counties/states in the Northwest this past year, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cop starting position, even in a rural area, as low as $40K

  7. lochaber says

    Pierce R. Butler@7>

    huh. well, I didn’t think the starting salary would be anywhere near that low. I feel like there has to be some catch, but in all likelihood, I was just wrong with my perceptions, and didn’t bother to check.

    In my defense, it does double after 5.5 years (no idea whether that’s a probationary period/threshold lump increase, or a linear increase over that time period, and, frankly I’m too lazy to find out. It still beats almost any other job with similar requirements re: education and length of training…), and they are allowed to draw GI bill benefits during the first two years (I’m not familiar on all the current details, but I think sometime around or after ~2008 or so they changed the GI Bill to include COLA based on zipcode, which would be a huge boost to NYC area residents) so that would make it a lot more lucrative for recent vets.

    So, I’m surprised that they start that low, but I still suspect the bulk of the NYPD payroll is clerks and techs and assorted other non-cop positions, who are paid far less. And then I imagine there is some budget fuckery, what with them being a subset of NYC, and likely sharing a lot of resources, structures, etc. And, if they run anything like they do over here in the SF Bay Area, I think they can directly charge overtime and such towards whatever business or organization is deemed “responsible” for the “necessity” of overtime cops, so those charges likely aren’t included in the official “budget”

    And now I’m reminded of asset forfeiture, and wondering how that plays into things…

  8. says

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cop starting position, even in a rural area, as low as $40K

    You’re right – that’s not a living wage in NYC and the surrounding areas.

    If the cops don’t get paid enough, they will start to take things.

  9. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    One of the best guides to history I’ve ever read, The Cartoon History of the United States, pointed out that sometimes cops would join strikers and depicted one cop saying “Cops are just workers in blue!” It’s important that we both criticize the practices of police departments who are tainted by institutional racism, capitalist brutality against the poor, etc. and also honor police officers as workers. So, yeah, cops should be paid better than a living wage because workers should be paid better than a living wage. A reasonable living wage has been estimated in Manhattan to require something like $80,000, so that should be the floor.

    And, yeah, sociological research definitely does back up that corruption and poor behavior can stem from bad pay, though in this case that’d be a tiny part of what’s going on.

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