A new set of recordings made in April and May in Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct and obtained by the Voice capture the precinct’s commanders and their mid-level bosses discussing how to pressure the rank-and-file to hit their quotas.
In the new recordings, the precinct commander lashes out at underlings who aren’t writing enough summonses to meet quotas ordered by higher-ups, and talks derisively of an officer who secretly recorded roll calls in the precinct in 2008 and 2009. He refers dismissively to an internal investigation into the downgrading of crime statistics in his precinct.
Meanwhile, his executive officer identifies the specific number of summonses and arrests his bosses want — 20 per week per shift — and threatens to penalize any officer who doesn’t hit the number. He indicates that the quota number is being demanded by the patrol borough command.
The Voice‘s five-part “NYPD Tapes” series made use of a much larger set of recordings of 117 roll calls made in 2008 and 2009 by Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft. Those recordings offered an unprecedented look inside how a typical NYPD precinct operates.
The new tapes were recorded in April and May 2010 by a high-ranking supervisor assigned to the 81st Precinct. The Voice obtained the tapes through a lawyer representing Schoolcraft, Jon Norinsberg, and agreed to keep the source’s identity confidential.
The Schoolcraft tapes included evidence of the downgrading of crime complaints, refusal to take complaints, the use of job penalties to hit quotas, that stop-and-frisks were improperly the subject of quotas, staffing shortages. The tapes also raised the question of whether orders issued by precinct supervisors led to civil rights violations on the streets of Bed-Stuy. And the series reported instances of downgrading of sex crimes.
The new recordings — of two one-hour-long precinct staff meetings — offer more evidence of the constant emphasis on quotas in the NYPD. For the first time, these recordings reveal what precinct commanders are telling lieutenants and sergeants to tell the rank-and-file.
The recordings were made after Schoolcraft had been forced out of the precinct, and questions began to surface about how the station house was run.
The new recordings are also significant because they demonstrate once again that the pressure that the precinct commander was placing on the rank-and-file emanated from his higher-ups at borough command and police headquarters.
In the first of the recordings, about an hour in length, made on April 1, 2010, the precinct commander, Deputy Inspector Steven Mauriello, and the executive officer in the precinct, Captain Alex Perez, list officers by name they say haven’t been producing enough summonses and arrests, and note the pressure coming down from above.
Referring to two precinct officers, Mauriello says, “They couldn’t get a collar in a laundromat, those guys.”
Mauriello goes on to say: “Pass the word: I got a heads-up from somebody at 1PP [police headquarters]. From now on, they gonna look at any traffic stat and CompStat, and the [commanding officer] and my XO [executive officer] are gonna get our cojones busted in for patrol’s activity.”
“What happens is I’m going to shake it up,” Mauriello says later in the meeting. “That’s coming down the pike, but to step this up is I got an irate bureau chief [Deputy Chief Michael Marino] calling me up here yelling at me two days in a row about midnights and cell phones and this bullshit initiative.
“And now he’s going to grab platoon commanders and look at their evaluations and I look at the sergeants and I look at every cop in the squad and see what we’re giving them. That means I have to go down there and get my balls, cojones busted by these two guys telling me I don’t know how to run my command.”
“So now — I will say right now — it’s not good to be a boss right now if your squad ain’t pulling weight,” he adds. “Your squad ain’t pulling weight, that ain’t good.”
Captain Perez goes on to specify the number of summonses required from each shift of officers, saying the number has been established at the borough command.
“They are counting seat belts and cell phone, double parkers and bus stops,” he says. “If the day tours contributed with five seat belts and five cell phones a week, five double parkers and five bus stops a week, okay.
“If I get the same numbers from the third platoon and whatever the midnight kicks in, it’s gravy,” he adds. “You as the bosses have to demand this, and you have to count it. Your goal is five in each of these categories…I’m not looking to break records here, but there is no reason we should be missing this number by 30 a week. That’s what your job is as bosses.”
Perez then tells his sergeants and lieutenants that he had little problem punishing officers who do not “pull their weight.” He tells them he’s transferring three officers from days to the midnight tour.
“I don’t care about people’s families,” he says. “If they don’t want to do their job, their paycheck is taking care of their family. If they don’t realize that, they’re going to change their tour, they are going to start being productive if they want a tour that works for their family.
“When I identify who’s stealing, they are going to go to a different platoon,” he adds. “If this job don’t work for them, they can find another job. That’s my attitude.”
Under the law, an agency is allowed to set goals, but they can’t tie those goals to disciplinary action or any penalty. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has long opposed the use of quotas in the NYPD.
Perez goes on to criticize any officer who volunteers repeatedly for critical response, a special anti-terror detail ordered by Commissioner Ray Kelly that drives around the city with lights and sirens.
“If nobody cares, I don’t care, either,” he says. “You’ll work when I tell you to work. You don’t have to be happy about it. And if you don’t write, that’s fine. Because after I bounce you to a different platoon for inactivity, the next thing is to put you on paper, starting writing you below standards and look to fire you. I really don’t have a problem firing people….If you don’t wanna work, fine. I cut the line. I’m not going to tow you.”
In the new tapes, Mauriello is heard acknowledging that an investigation by the Quality Assurance Division, the NYPD unit which investigates crime statistics, had found a number of crime complaints that had been improperly classified in precinct records. He describes the probe as a “bullshit investigation.”
The allegations that led to that investigation were made by Schoolcraft. Mauriello makes a passing reference to Schoolcraft as “that fucking asshole upstate,” and warns his supervisors to be careful around the rank-and-file.
“These guys and girls are nice people, but they aren’t your friends,” he says. “The PBA is telling them to wear fucking wires… There’s an epidemic right now of rats coming out here wearing tape recorders and distorting the facts… Haters, malcontents, losers. And you know we got some in this place.”
Referring to his bosses, Mauriello says his bosses are nervous, and are increasing the pressure on the precincts. “They are panicking up there,” he says. “They are worried about this. They are worried about that. Oh, crime is crime, but they are going to make sure they take your toes, your fingers, your elbows, they are going to cut one by one. Almost like the movie ‘Hostel.'”
In the second of the two tapes, recorded in mid-May, 2010, perhaps offering a view held by other precinct commanders, Mauriello expresses frustration with QAD second-guessing the initial crime reports. He refers to an incident where, he claims, the victim initially told police he lost his wallet, then much later changed his story to theft.
“This is how QAD fucks me,” he says. “The cop thinks that he [the victim] lost the stuff. At no time did anybody touch him or anything, so when the guy calls back now, now this is two months later. QAD called back a year later and saying they are going to upgrade this to a grand larceny. But the cop is saying one thing. The guy tells the cop on the scene one thing, and now we call back two months later, the guy is fucking pickpocketed.”
Mauriello also emphasizes to cops that they make sure not to take a report on any incident that happened outside the precinct. “We’re not doing favors for people,” he says. “It’s a robbery in the 32[nd Precinct in Harlem]. You know what. That’s it. Let the 32 call them up.”
“Other commands have no problem dumping stuff in this computer without even calling us up,” he adds.
The second tape also captures Mauriello and his supervisors discussing the first two parts of the Voice‘s NYPD Tapes series, and whether Schoolcraft violated eavesdropping laws in making the secret recordings.
“You know, I thought it was a dead issue until The Village Voice came out,” he says.
Of the Voice series, Mauriello declares, “I ain’t worried.” “The Village Voice‘s got their own agenda,” he adds. “Anybody who would say this guy [Schoolcraft] did the right thing by wiretapping, it is what it is. He has an agenda. It wasn’t to be a police officer. It was to sue the job one way or another. So, that’s what he got in the end. So what are you gonna do? I’d rather not talk about it.”
Mauriello does not, in the tapes, address the episode in which Schoolcraft was forcibly carted off to the psychiatric ward at Jamaica Hospital for six days after he reported allegations of misconduct to Internal Affairs and QAD.
Mauriello also defends his tenure as precinct commander. He repeatedly demands of his supervisors that they tell cops not to drive by troubled areas without getting out of their cars. He talks at length about his work ethic, and notes that his father worked three jobs.
“The cops gotta know their function,” he says. “You’re out there to prevent violence, to prevent shootings.”
Mauriello is also heard wondering how the Voice was able to gain access to the lobby of the precinct and take photographs for the newspaper’s series. “How does The Village Voice take pictures inside the precinct and you guys don’t see that?” he says. (A Voice photographer simply walked into the lobby and took the photographs.)
Mauriello was transferred from the precinct in early July to the Bronx Transit Borough. Schoolcraft has filed a $50 million lawsuit, which alleges he was the subject of retaliation after allegations of misconduct.
Part 5 of the Voice series is here.