May 13, 2003

Ticked Off Over Tickets

PBA, department clash on 'quotas'

By Sean Gardiner and Christian Robért STAFF WRITERS

Are the city's police officers writing more parking tickets, or is the Police Department issuing fewer tickets? The answer is both.

A battle of numbers emerged yesterday after Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, accused the department of forcing illegal "quotas" on his union's 22,927 patrol officers.

The officers, Lynch said, are being forced to write more parking tickets, traffic infractions and summonses for violations to raise revenues and help close the city's expansive budget gap.

"We're saying it's a quota," he said. "And if our members don't meet the quotas, they get harassed by management, they find their assignments changed, their hours changed, and that of course turns their life at home upside down."

Lynch said the department's statistics back up his assertion that quotas, which are illegal and a practice the police brass has long denied goes on, are indeed in place.

Despite having 1,009 fewer police officers this year than in 2002 - 22,927 compared to 23,936 - parking tickets, moving violations and "C-summonses," tickets issued for minor offenses, are up by 75,700 or 6.7 percent, according to the numbers the PBA used.

According to the numbers, police officers issued 1.2 million tickets between Jan. 1 and April 21 this year, compared to 1.12 million for the same period last year. More recent statistics, through May 11, show that overall summonses are up 5.7 percent.

Included in that increase is a 4 percent hike in parking tickets written by police this year. With the cost of parking tickets increasing from $55 last year to $85 or $105, it would mean that the NYPD - with 912,414 parking tickets - has written from $77.6 million to $95.8 million in tickets, compared to $48.3 million in tickets - 877,443 tickets - through the same time last year.

"The NYPD has become a summons machine, generating millions of dollars to close the city's budget gap while eroding the relationship between the police and the communities they serve," Lynch said.

But answering the PBA's assertion, police spokesman Michael O'Looney said the numbers the PBA was relying on were only for the cops assigned to the city's 76 precinct station houses.

Those numbers didn't include summonses written by units like Highway, Transit and Housing and the Traffic Control Division this year. Those numbers would show overall parking summonses down by about 460,000, or 17.1 percent, and moving violations down 6.9 percent, O'Looney said in a statement.

O'Looney said the problem was the PBA failed to raise the issue with the department before going to the media.

Edward Skyler, spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said the PBA made an "amateurish mistake," adding that Lynch has "no credibility on this issue."

Albert O'Leary, a spokesman for the PBA, said the numbers were provided by the NYPD. He added that even if the overall number of tickets is down, the fact remains that most police officers are being forced to write more tickets.

Cheryl Snyder, 42, a graphic designer who was sitting in her car yesterday in the East Village, said she agrees with the more-tickets scenario. "It almost seems like a desperate effort to bring in money," she said.