New York Daily News

May 29, 2003

Quotas? What quotas?

Mayor sez cops have 'performance' goals


see also "Tixed-off man grilled by Mike aide "

With outrage over the city’s latest ticket blitz growing, Mayor Bloomberg insisted yesterday that cops are not being forced to meet ticket quotas -- just “performance measurements."

"We don’t have quotas," he told a breakfast gathering of city lawyers. "But Commissioner [Raymond] Kelly will tell you ... he has performance measurements." "You could never run a police department of 40,000 people," the mayor added later in the day, "without some measurement tools."

But union leaders yesterday said Bloomberg can call it whatever he wants — cops are under increasing pressure to write more tickets as the cash-strapped city scrambles to find revenue.

"The department does take punitive action. It punishes police officers who do not meet their performance goals," said Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association spokesman Al O’Leary. "That means it's a quota. That means it's illegal."

"One officer told us the other day he went and put in a request for a day off and he was told, 'Go get me 20 [summonses] or you won't get the day off,'" O'Leary said.

Revenue hunt

The city's own numbers seem to tell the story. Bloomberg's latest budget calls for hiring 300 more traffic cops to boost ticket revenues by some $69 million next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

And data released yesterday by City Hall show that parking, moving and criminal summonses in patrol precincts new are up by 79,000 — or 8.2% on average — this year over last. Still, the number is down 16% from two years ago.

Michael O'Looney, a spokesman for Kelly, said the NYPD, "like every job, and every business in America, has productivity goals, aimed at measuring performance."

"These goals vary by demand, and without them, it would be impossible to effectively manage the largest police force in the country," he added.

In recent weeks, cops have issued summonses to unusual suspects, including a Bronx man tagged for sitting on a milk crate and an 18-year-old mom-to-be who got whacked $50 for sitting on a subway staircase while taking a breather.

Yesterday, another shocking case emerged — a city special ed teacher who was nailed for fare-beating Tuesday after pushing a cart of classroom supplies through a service entrance at the Lexington Ave. line's Brooklyn Bridge stop, just a platfrom-length away from City Hall.

Inez Galarza, 30, planned to swipe her Metrocard through the turnstile after being cleared to pass through the gate with her 11-year-old son by a token booth clerk. But she never had a chance.

A city transit cop immediately demanded to see some ID, saying, "It's too late," as Galarza begged to swipe her card.

"I just needed to swipe it through," said Galarza, noting that with a 7-day unlimited pass, she had no incentive to evade the law. "It's not like I was trying to get out of paying."

Galarza's husband, David, was so incensed by the summons that he staked out Bloomberg's breakfast speech Another recent summons so enraged David Galarza that he staked out Bloomberg's breakfast speech at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York yesterday — confronting the mayor during a public question-and-answer session.

"What's with all the quotas?" asked Galarza, waving a copy of his wife's summons in the air.

That's when Bloomberg made his comments about "performance measurements," adding in response to Galarza, "If your wife doesn't like whatever this law [is], the City Council can amend the law."

Bloomberg blamed the fuss over summonses on "the sensationalist press" and elections at the PBA, a charge the union denied.

He later produced a 1996 Daily News story showing how the city was issuing summons for trivial infractions as trivial as unlicensed Boy Scout bake sales, bicycle riders without bells and unlicensed mechanical pony rides— suggesting that nothing has changed.

"The fact of the matter is the police are doing a great job at keeping the quality of life in this city where we want it," said Bloomberg. "And, if occasionally, there is a ticket that doesn’t make a lot of sense — maybe in the case of the mom-to-be — it’s a shame that that happens.

Blaming the state

But Bloomberg's suggestion that complainants contact the City Council drew a biting response yesterday from Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan), who argued that many of the more arcane laws are the state's fault.

The milk crate violation issued last week to a Bronx man, for instance, can be traced to the state Agriculture Department, while tickets for taking up two seats on a subway train are the work of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Miller said.

"If he can’t get common sense to be applied, we will try to consider ridiculous situations and include exemptions [in the laws] in ridiculous cases," he said of the mayor. "I would have thought that it would be unnecessary to include exemptions for pregnant, tired women."

With Michael Saul