New York Daily News

February 26, 2015, 1:21 PM

  

 

NYPD cop who blew whistle on alleged quota system can pursue suit against city: federal appeals court

BY STEPHEN REX BROWN

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that an NYPD officer’s lawsuit against the department for retaliating against him after he complained of a quota system may proceed.

The order by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals found that Craig Matthews complaint about the system — which he said was color-coded and included a point systems for “good” summons — was protected by the First Amendment.

It reverses a 2013 ruling by Manhattan Federal Court Judge Paul Engelmayer who found Matthews spoke in his capacity as a police officer and public employee — a breach of protocol.

“Today’s decision protects the ability of police officers to speak out against this kind of misconduct when they see it. New York City’s finest should be applauded when they expose abuse, not abused and retaliated against,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn.

Appeals Judge John Walker Jr., writing for the three-judge panel, said that the channel Matthews used to sound the alarm on the system — talking to the commanding officer of the 42nd Precinct in the Bronx — was also available to civilians.

“Matthews pursued the same avenue to complain about a precinct-wide policy as would a concerned civilian,” the ruling read. The case will now return to the lower court and proceed.

Matthews’ suit alleged that an elaborate quota system pitted cop against cop.

Color-coded computer reports categorized officers by the number of arrests, summonses and stop-and-frisks they carried out, he said.

Cops who didn’t meet goals were allegedly highlighted in red.

Black ink was used to denote cops who meeting the quotas, while silver indicated an officer achieving some goals, the suit said.

Matthews, who was hailed as a hero after he and other colleagues shot a gunman near the Empire State Building in 2012, said he was given undesirable shifts and assignments after he complained about the quotas.

A spokesman for the city Law Department said the decision was being reviewed.

sbrown@nydailynews.com