In Its Defense, Police Dept. Cites Laziness of Its Officers
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.
The trial’s focus on quotas and productivity goals has illuminated the labor-management tensions that run deep through the Police Department, with 15,000 rank-and-file officers on the patrol force. “I think we’re charged with trying to get the police officers to work, do the things that they’re getting paid for,” the Police Department’s deputy commissioner for labor relations, John Beirne, testified.
So when Joseph J. Esposito, the department’s highest-ranking uniformed member until his retirement last month, testified in the trial, he offered candid insight into management’s view.
“You have 10 percent that will work as hard as they can, whenever they can, no matter how bad we treat them, how bad the conditions are,” Mr. Esposito said. These officers “love being cops and they’re going to do it no matter what.”
On the other extreme, Mr. Esposito said, “You have 10 percent on the other side that are complete malcontents that will do as little as possible no matter how well you treat them.”
In some precincts, Mr. Esposito noted, most enforcement activity, like ticket writing, occurred when officers were paid time-and-a-half overtime, instead of during their regular workweek.
“It’s a question as to why they can see activity when they are being paid overtime as opposed to not being able to see activity when they are on straight time,” Mr. Esposito testified.
Officers who complained about quotas were resistant to doing their job, city lawyers suggested.
In one of the surreptitious recordings made by a Bronx police officer, Pedro Serrano, his precinct commander suggested that the low number of stops that the officer conducted — just a few for an entire year — indicated that he was derelict in his duties when on patrol.
“We’re still one of the most violent commands in the city,” Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack said on the tape. “And to stop two people, you know, to see only two things going on, that’s almost like you’re purposely not doing your job at all.http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/nyregion/to-defend-police-city-cites-officers-laziness.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0