Staten Island Advance
May 20, 2003

Cops told: Keep up ticket blitz

Disciplinary action for not filling 'productivity goals' includes no OT, transfers and refusal of days off

By RYAN LILLIS

Under orders from City Hall, beat cops on Staten Island are being pressured into filling strict quotas on the number of traffic violations they write each month, union officials and police sources said.

The number of summonses a cop must write every month has remained steady, but the heat that cops are being placed under to meet those numbers has increased in these times of budgetary woes, according to union officials.

Cops must fill their numbers by the end of the month, meaning officers -- especially those who get off to a slow start -- are hard-pressed to meet their quota as the calendar gets ready to change, sources said.

City Hall and the Police Commissioner both deny a citywide quota system exists within the NYPD, but admit that officers are given "productivity goals."

Cop sources say the pressure to fill quotas trickles down to the borough's precincts from Police Headquarters, and that supervisors on the Island -- from Borough Command all the way down to sergeants -- are forced to follow through with punishments if the numbers aren't met.

While cops are being told to write all kinds of summonses, the city is urging officers to hand out "hazard violations" for offenses such as speeding and running red lights and stop signs, sources said. Those offenses are difficult to reverse and are seen as moneymakers, a source said.

Typical disciplinary action for not filling monthly quotas can include a denial of overtime shifts, transfer to less-desirable assignments and a refusal of days off, police union officials said.

No Written Document

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said punishments are "certainly not a policy" for the Department.

In the end, the real losers are the people of Staten Island, who see the ties with their police force damaged with the mounting number of tickets, officials said.

"We want to build a partnership with the community, especially on Staten Island, where it's a family atmosphere and the people on this island support their cops," Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch said. "This makes it more difficult."

Police sources said there is no written doctrine supervisors follow when they enforce the quotas, but the numbers are real.

In the North Shore's 120th Precinct, for example, police officers must hand out 10 moving violations and 10 parking violations each month, sources said. With 215 uniformed police officers -- some of whom are on desk duty or in community affairs and don't write tickets -- that comes to more than 3,000 tickets a month for the precinct, sources said.

The quota numbers are the same for the Mid-Island's 122nd Precinct, geographically the largest precinct in the city. Union officials have complained that officers in the 122nd are already strained because of the precinct's size and its dwindling personnel.

On the South Shore, cops in the 123rd Precinct must issue between 12 and 15 violations a month, sources said.

Island a 'Cash Register'

City Councilman Andrew Lanza (R-South Shore) said the quota system is felt particularly hard on Staten Island, which the city sees as "a cash register."

"Laws ought to be enforced, but it ought to be even-handed," Lanza said. "The perception is there is an ability to pay here."

While the quota numbers have remained steady in recent years, beat cops are feeling more pressured to meet numbers as City Hall deals with budget shortfalls.

"The city wants to call it productivity goals," said George E. Winkler, the Staten Island trustee of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association. "I don't care what name you put on it, it's illegal."

Kelly said talk of quotas has existed "since the '60s, when I joined the department." He said officers are given goals to meet each month, but that they are not punished if they do not meet the numbers.

The PBA has charged officers are denied promotions if they consistently miss their quotas.

Kelly compared the Police Department to any other job, where more productive employees are chosen for advancement.

"Nobody is saying there's not a goal," Kelly told the Advance. "Part of the focus has to be on moving traffic safely. I understand it's not the most pleasant part of policing."

Ryan Lillis is a news reporter for the Advance. He may be reached at lillis@siadvance.com. CHATTER: Monthly ticket quotas per cop in each of Staten Island's three precincts, according to a police source: North Shore's 120th Precinct: 10 moving violations, 10 parking violations Mid-Island's 122nd Precinct: 10 moving violations, 10 parking violations South Shore's 123rd Precinct: Between 12 and 15 total violations.