Friday, September 16, 2011
NYPD bosses tell cops to issue more summonses
The ongoing ticket-writing slowdown by fedup NYPD cops has become so costly to the city that a top police commander seems to have resorted to using a dreaded word in policing: quota.
Furious that so many cops are pocketing their summons books, the NYPD's chief of transportation asked a commander at a recent meeting if his cops had written 15 summonses for the month, police sources said.
Police brass deny imposing quotas on the ranks, preferring to call them "productivity goals," sources said.
But with pressure mounting as the slowdown costs the city almost a million dollars a week in summons revenue, three-star chief James Tuller's motivation was clear: Stop the slowdown.
Tuller's 15-summonses-a-month questioning came at a meeting late last month during which he asked commanders to come up with ideas on how to hike the numbers, the sources said.
With a ticket-fixing scandal looming over the department, the slowdown is a reaction among the rank and file to the bosses' efforts to ensure that all tickets are on the up and up, the sources said.
The Internal Affairs Bureau is closely examining tickets for accuracy, fining cops 10 vacation days if problems arise with a summons. The penalty was later reduced and a sliding scale instituted - but the summons numbers are still in the subbasement, with brass desperate to stop it.
"IAB has been cracking down at Traffic Court even harder," a source said, noting beat cops have been responding predictably: "It's gotten worse."
Summonses for moving violations, such as for running red lights, cell phone use and not wearing a seat belt, plummeted 44% citywide for the week ending Sept. 11 compared with last year.
Summonses for the previous 28 days were down 36.3% citywide compared with the same period last year, NYPD stats show.
The eight borough commands all saw double-digit drops for the week ending Sept. 11, including 42% in Manhattan South and 72% on Staten Island.
Individual precincts were also hit hard, with the 70th Precinct in Kensington, Brooklyn and Midtown North in Manhattan both down about 79%, for instance, and the 122nd Precinct on Staten Island down 77%.
A police union rep recently told cops at a Bronx precinct stationhouse that he wouldn't write summonses, but he added, "Use your own judgment." One cop said he meets requirements by giving drivers "warnings and admonishments" and noting them in his summons book.
The pressure coming from Tuller has put many commanders in a tough spot. "Most precinct commanders don't give a s--t about summons 'productivity.' Their careers are based on crime reduction," one cop source said. "The bosses can push a precinct C.O., but you still gotta get a cop to write them."