The NYPD Tapes, Voice Series, Cited in Federal Lawsuit Alleging False Arrests


The Village Voice’s NYPD Tapes series is being cited in a lawsuit filed on behalf of two brothers ticketed and detained twice in 2010 and 2011 in Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct.

Scott and Stephen Faine allege they were arrested as part of a quota driven by the precinct commanders in the 81st, which was the setting for the Voice series based on secret recordings made by Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft.

The first arrest took place on May 17, 2010. Scott Faine, who suffers from seizures, was standing outside his home at 300 Vernon Ave. in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Police officers approached and questioned him. He told them he lived in the building but had no ID with him. Stephen went inside to get the ID. Stephen was unsuccessful, and the officers left. They returned a few minutes later and grabbed Scott, who promptly went into at least two seizures. The officers arrested him and took him to the 81st, where he had other seizures.

The second arrest took place on April 14, 2011. This time, Scott was standing outside a deli, while his girlfriend went inside to buy drinks. Two other police officers approached him and asked for his ID. He gave them the ID, but the officers said they wanted to detain him. Stephen arrived and tried to speak with the officers, but they arrested him, too.

Attorney Cynthia Conti-Cook, who represents the Faine brothers, says the arrests of the Faine brothers are concrete evidence of the effect of the police campaign to clear the streets that emerged in the Schoolcraft tapes in the Voice series.
“There is a strong connection in this case between the orders given to 81st precinct officers in the Tapes to ‘clear corners’ and the motivation these 81st precinct officers had to arrest Scott Faine for standing in front of his house in May 2010 and in front of a deli in April 2011,” Conti-Cook says.

“There was no reason, but for the motivation to ‘make numbers’, in either case for the officers to stop, question or arrest Scott. The consequences of the 81st precinct’s ‘clear corners’ policy is doing the most damage to Bed-Stuy’s most vulnerable residents, like Scott Faine, whose epilepsy makes him an easy target for harassment by the officers who should be protecting him.”
Excerpts from the lawsuit citing the Voice series:

17. “The NYPD Tapes Series” (or the “Series”), a Village Voice series by Graham Rayman, which began on May 5, 2010, detailed how the pressure for arrests and summonses led to quotas which in turn led to alleged violations of civil rights in Bed-Stuy’s 81st Precinct. The series relied on secret tapes made by Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft, who was assigned to the 81st Precinct at the time.

18. From the Voice “Series”,# the investigation unveiled that police officers in the 81st precinct were routinely threatened with discipline (transfers, shift changes, partner changes, and assignment changes) by their superiors if they did not make their monthly quota of summonses, stop-and-frisks, arrests, and community visits. “Again, it’s all about the numbers,” a sergeant says on October 18, 2009.

19. The Series also revealed “In a campaign to clear corners and building stoops in the neighborhood, the [81st] precinct commander and his subordinates issued orders that may have led patrol officers to violate citizens’ civil rights. The commander ordered officers to make arrests even when they didn’t witness the misconduct themselves. Cops were told to arrest people and “articulate” a charge later, or arrest people and hold them for hours simply for the purpose of clearing a corner, rather than for a specific criminal act.” ” ‘If they’re on a corner, make ’em move’ ” a sergeant says on November 23, 2008. ” ‘If they don’t want to move, lock ’em up. Done deal. You can always articulate [a charge] later.’ ” “How hard is a 250[stop and frisk report]? I’m not saying make it up, but you can always articulate robbery, burglary, whatever the case may be,” a sergeant says on March 13, 2009. “It’s still a number. It keeps the hounds off.”

20. The policies, procedures, customs and practices of the NYPD Lieutenants, Captains, Sergeants and Officers at the 81st precinct led to plaintiffs’ arrests on May 17, 2010 and April 14, 2011.