New York Daily News

May 13, 2003

Cops: Ticket punchy

Say quotas pushed to make city money

By CELESTE KATZ and ALICE McQUILLAN
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

The average beat cop has been turned into a "summons machine" — forced to hit New Yorkers with tickets to raise money for the strapped city, the police union charged yesterday.

Illegal quotas are being enforced at precincts around the city — and the pressure's way up because of the city's financial crisis, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch and several fed-up cops said.

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

The union boss said parking, moving-violation and quality-of-life summonses written by cops from the city's 76 precincts totaled almost 1.2 million as of April 21 — a 6.7% hike over the same period last year.

But city officials slammed Lynch for releasing what they called incomplete and skewed figures — and said overall traffic summonses are down this year.

When taking into the account the entire police force — which also includes highway, transit and housing cops — and well as traffic enforcement agents, parking tickets have decreased 17.1% compared with last year, officials said.

And moving violations have dropped 6.9% so far, the officials said. Both sides agreed, though, that quality-of-life and criminal court summonses are up 15%.

"It is shocking that Pat Lynch, who at some point in his life was a police officer, would make such an amateurish mistake," said Ed Skyler, a spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg. "But considering his motivations, I guess it is not that surprising."

Lynch's spokesman, Al O'Leary, said the union cited figures it got from the NYPD.

The bitter words between the city and the union over the explosive issue of tickets and quotas came as New Yorkers are getting socked in the pocketbook — everything from tax increases to rising transit fares to growing traffic ticket fines.

Lynch further infuriated city officials by insisting what many New Yorkers have long grumbled: Cops have ticket quotas.

"There are absolutely quotas, and unfortunately, our members are afraid to go out at times and talk about them," he said.

Pressure to write

Several cops yesterday told the Daily News a typical quota is 20 summonses per month — with an additional two to eight for every overtime shift.

"With the prices of summonses now $105 or more, the average cop doesn't want to do that to a family," said John Flynn, the PBA's Manhattan South trustee. "The economy [stinks], but the pressure is so much out there to write summonses."

Handing out tickets hardly helps the popularity of New York's Finest — but officers who resist quotas face reprisals, several cops told The News.

"If you don't meet these numbers, you are threatened to be transferred off your shift or you can't get the overtime anymore," said a cop with almost 15 years on the job.

Although officers have complained about quotas for years, they said the current fiscal crisis has upped the pressure to make ever higher "performance parameters" — a common euphemism for quotas.

"I've seen a cop giving a kid a ticket for climbing a tree in a park, under the direct supervision of a lieutenant," said one 12-year NYPD veteran.

At the Manhattan Parking Violations Bureau yesterday, people lined up to fight tickets said the public is getting hit with more petty summonses.

Florence Dresler, 61, said she had just settled into her parked car on E. 86th St. last month when the meter ran out. She got a ticket.

"I know Bloomberg needs money, but it is outrageous what they're doing," she said. "Outrageous."

With David Saltonstall