Next time you get pulled over, and the cop asks you, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” maybe you should respond with, “Because you’re trying to meet your quota for the month?” Actually, don’t say that. You might get in trouble. Police quotas have been sort of an unspoken rule in police precincts. If police don’t meet them, that means less money for the city or county, and “non-compliant” cops could get transferred.
“Paul Pizzuto, a cop in the NYPD, got fired for writing tickets to dead people. He was writing between 125 and 150 valid traffic tickets a month, but his boss wanted more. His boss threatened to have him transferred if he didn’t issue more citations for speeding, running red lights and violating seat belt laws. Pizzuto said he felt bad for issuing these citations to people who didn’t deserve them, so he used information from old citations to write tickets for people who had long been dead.”
The idea of police quotas is nothing new. It’s one of those things that everyone knows exist, but no one is supposed to talk about it. The New York Daily News reported on a federal lawsuit earlier this year that involved Officer Matthews, another NYPD cop, suing his department for retaliation when he tried to expose their quota system:
“Central to the quota system are color-coded computer reports that categorize cops by the number of arrests, summonses and stop-and-frisks they carry out. Officers who fail to meet the reports are highlighted in red. Black ink is used to denote cops who are meeting the quotas, while silver is used to identify those who are meeting some quotas, the suit says. Matthews claims that officers who don’t hit their numbers are subjected to a slew of punishments, including undesirable assignments and the loss of overtime.”
This system inevitably pitted cops against themselves. It wasn’t simply “friendly competition.” In Matthews’ precinct, a guard had to be placed in the locker room to prevent cops “in the red” from destroying the lockers of those “in the black” who met quota.
Still, the NYPD deny any existence of a quota system. They claim that Pizzuto was only trying to earn extra cash because he was having financial difficulties. According to the New York Post, cops said that Pizzuto “had been having severe financial problems and had been doling out the tickets as a way of padding his overtime.”
Pizzuto was fired without a hearing. His department claimed that he didn’t deserve a hearing because he commited an “oath of office” violation, which they defined as a crime resulting from “knowing or intentional conduct indicative of a lack of moral integrity.” But how much “moral integrity” is in their system where police are forced to issue tickets to people whether they deserve them or not just to make money for the city or county? Then, it’s just another tax on Americans. And not to mention the bonuses and promotions that come with consistently meeting the monthly quotas. I think I’d rather police issue citations to dead people than to innocent people.