By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
The sergeants in the crime analysis unit would call cops on the carpet to get them to explain why they took a given report, he says. He says there was a special bin for complaints involving the seven major crimes, and the following day, the complaints would be reviewed and "edited."
There were also a couple of arrests that bothered Polanco: In one case, a sergeant ordered the arrest of a young man for having a warrant for an open container, even though he had been slashed across the back—a wound that required 40 stitches to close. In another case, a man who had been shot in the leg was arrested and taken to the hospital in handcuffs because he had a prior warrant on a minor charge.
Polanco started wearing a tape recorder in August 2009 to capture some of the practices he had witnessed. "It was the only way to prove what was going on," he says.
He caught some of the same things that Schoolcraft recorded, particularly the quota pressure.
"Twenty [summonses] and one [arrest, the monthly quota]—make sure you take care of what you gotta take care of," a supervisor tells cops in one of Polanco's tapes. "I don't give a shit," another supervisor tells him. "You need to take care of your business, feel me? As a cop to a cop, make sure you take care of what you gotta take care of."
Polanco also recorded something more controversial: two police union delegates haranguing him to increase his summons and arrest numbers.
In one conversation, a Patrolmen's Benevolent Association delegate tells Polanco: "Twenty and one is what the union wants. . . . This is what the job is coming down to."
Later, another delegate tells cops in a roll call, "Things are not going to get any better. It is going to get a lot worse. If you think getting one and 20 is breaking your balls, guess what you're going to be doing? You're going to be doing a lot more. A lot more than what you think. This was all dealt with in the last contract."
This delegate is later heard to say: "This is not coming from me—this is coming from higher up. The unions agreed on it. We're unionized here. This is what we pushed through. And let's be smart about it. You gotta be smart about it."
"Play the fucking game," a delegate says on another tape.
"The delegates were basically saying, 'Go along with the program,' " Polanco tells the Voice.
This is controversial because the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association has long spoken out against quotas. But Polanco's tapes capture the PBA's own representatives essentially ordering officers to make their numbers.
A PBA spokesman says one of the delegates, Gaetano Fundaro, was found to be lying to his members about the quotas and was removed.
"There is not now, nor has there ever been, support for quotas by this union," PBA President Patrick Lynch tells the Voice. "When confronted with information regarding a delegate who made false claims regarding support for quotas, the union took immediate action that resulted in his removal as a delegate."
Lynch adds that the PBA has filed grievances in the past on quotas, and actually won such a case related to the 75th Precinct. He said the PBA has proposed a statewide bill that would allow the union to challenge any punitive action against a police officer for failing to meet a quota. "The PBA is unified in its belief that quotas for summonses and arrests are wrong and counterproductive for both police officers and the communities they patrol," he says.
In another parallel to the Schoolcraft story, Polanco was suspended on December 13, 2009, after he contacted the Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) to make allegations about downgrading, the constant demand for artificial quotas, and what he saw as retaliation by his lieutenant. "My supervisors knew I had gone to IAB," he says. "They were asking me why did I go to IAB?"
On the day he was suspended, he says, Polanco and his partner were working a checkpoint. His partner developed chest pains. Polanco wanted to accompany him to the hospital, but his lieutenant wanted him to stay at the checkpoint and write more summonses.
When Polanco insisted on going to the hospital after his partner's condition worsened, the lieutenant grabbed him. Polanco pushed him away. The lieutenant ordered him suspended, and demanded his gun and shield. Polanco refused, because he didn't feel safe giving his gun to someone who had pushed him. The lieutenant told Emergency Services he was to be treated as an "emotionally disturbed" person—the same term that Schoolcraft was tarred with.
Polanco is married with two children, and his wife is pregnant with their third child. He lives in Rockland County. While he is suspended with pay, he must drive each workday downtown to Internal Affairs on Hudson Street and sign a logbook, then turn around and drive home.
He is assigned to the military extended-leave desk, which seems like an attempt by the NYPD to hide him away. Instead, he has been outspoken, giving a deposition to the Center for Constitutional Rights.