New York Daily News



Monday, May 8th 2006, 6:51AM

YANKEES FANS, behave - you're being watched.

Transit cops in the Bronx are hiding out in secret rooms at subway stations near Yankee Stadium to catch more fare-beaters and scofflaws, police sources told the Daily News.

The peekaboo policing has led to a string of arrests - and allegations by disgruntled cops that their commanding officer has imposed an illegal ticket-writing quota.

In a recent directive to cops in Transit District 11, NYPD Capt. Johnny Cardona admonished some officers for not writing enough tickets and told them they would not get overtime money unless they handed out more summonses.

"We had a few personnel in certain squads that did not perform to standard," Cardona wrote in the April 18 memo obtained by The News. "So, effective immediately, those individuals will not be authorized programmatic overtime."

Cardona said he would evaluate the cops and possibly change their assignments if they haven't written more tickets by the time he returns from military leave later this month.

"I have been extremely patient about this and quite frankly, I am fed up," he wrote. "I am a fair person and will not tolerate anyone getting over while everyone else is pulling their load. I will see you about this soon!"

The memo does not mention a numerical goal - a key omission that would seem to shield Cardona from charges of imposing an illegal quota.

NYPD brass supported his actions.

"A good manager makes sure everyone pulls their weight. He doesn't let a few idlers escape their duty at the expense of the majority of active police officers," said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne.

"The captain addressed substandard performance by a few, and praised outstanding work by the rest. That's not quotas. That's leadership."

But a police source said Cardona has ordered that every transit cop write 12 summonses per month - drawing the ire of the city's largest police union.

"Management can call them whatever they want, but when punitive action follows a failure to write a target number of summonses, then it is an illegal quota," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. "Quotas are bad because they can interfere with our ability to fight serious crime and make for poor police-community relations."

In January, a city arbitrator ruled that the NYPD had an illegal ticket-quota system in the 75th Precinct in East New York, Brooklyn.

PBA officials have argued that police supervisors have imposed quotas in some fashion all across the city - charges that NYPD brass have strongly denied.

However, a cop assigned to Transit District 11 said officers in subways hide out in unmarked transit offices, janitor closets and bathrooms - peering out doors and windows to catch turnstile jumpers and other scofflaws.

"I've done it myself," the cop said. "It's pretty easy. Nine out of 10 of them don't run."

Preventing the crimes before they happen is not encouraged, the cop said.

"We could stand out there and prevent it, but then no one would jump the turnstile," he said. "If you want to get your numbers, you have to catch them in the act."