New York 1 News

May 15, 2003

Rally at Ground Zero    

PBA Claims It Has Evidence NYPD Is Pushing Ticket Quotas

The head of the police union says he has evidence the NYPD is pressuring officers to write more tickets, a charge top Police Department officials deny.

NY1's Rebecca Spitz filed the following story:

Even when they've sat there so long they're almost covered up, they're impossible to miss: Parking tickets.

They’re the bane of every driver's existence, and these days, it seems they're everywhere.

Police officers say they're writing more than ever as the city tries to plug the budget gap. The police union charges supervisors are putting officers under the gun.

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch on Thursday described receiving an internal police memo that threatens to move supervising officers to the midnight shift if officers under their supervision don't write more tickets.

According to Lynch, another letter tells officers to avoid summonses for broken equipment. The PBA says that's because those tickets are not considered good for generating revenue.

“This is documentation that shows the pressure is on in the precinct station houses,” said Lynch. “Every station house we visit as union representatives come up with the same complaint - that pressure is coming down from management on a regular basis to issue these summonses, and to do it faster and faster.”

Lynch says current numbers show that police have written nearly seven percent more summonses so far this year compared to the same time last year.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly disputes the charge, saying traffic summonses have actually dropped by more than 17 percent this year. And NYPD officials say the Department has performance standards that must be met to keep traffic moving to reduce hazards.

But fearing the ticket blitz is a hazard to police community relations, the PBA is launching a new print and radio campaign called “Don't blame the cop.”

“You know that feeling you get when you come out of a grocery store and see a summons on your windshield?” says a voice in the ad. “Well, the city has doubled the price of a parking ticket, so you can expect that feeling to be twice as bad. Just don't blame the cop."

The PBA is shouldering the cost of the $100,000 campaign. Some New Yorkers told NY1 it's a good investment; others said they don't need to be convinced.

“I think they're being pressured to make money for the city,” said a New Yorker.

Said another: “In my heart, I'm not blaming the cops. I know it's coming from above, the higher-ups. But I feel resentment towards them. You can't help it, it's just human."

The PBA is just the latest union to use the media as a way to fight City Hall. Earlier this week, firefighters’ unions released an ad opposing the closure of firehouses. Before them, it was municipal workers, communications workers, health care workers, and teachers.

“Clearly, the mayor will say, ‘Look citizens, look union members, your leadership is wasting money on these ads,” said Baruch College professor Doug Muzzio. “And he's done that with marginal impact. I think the net effect will be positive for the unions in their warfare with the Mayor.”

New Yorkers are mixed about whether it's money well spent.

“I think the unions should spend the money more wisely,” said a New Yorker.

"Cops are always getting bad press, so might as well use the same medium to get their side of the story out there,” said another.

You can hear the new PBA ads on the radio starting Monday and read them in the papers the following week.