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NYCLU Files Federal Lawsuit On Behalf Of NYPD Officer, Alleged Victim Of Retaliation

Suit: Officer Craig Matthews Harassed Over Reporting Illegal Quota System
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NYPD Cruiser (file/credit: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

NYPD Cruiser (file/credit: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – An NYPD officer who claims to be the victim of retaliation for whistleblowing, is getting help from the New York Civil Liberties Union.

According to a press release, the NYCLU Thursday filed a federal lawsuit challenging the alleged repeated retaliation against a veteran police officer who disclosed the use of an alleged illegal quota system for arrests, summonses and stop-and-frisk encounters in the 42nd Precinct in the Bronx.

According to the lawsuit, supervisors in the Bronx precinct have developed a detailed quota system, which includes regular color-coded computer reports used to track compliance with quotas.

Officers who fail to meet the quotas are highlighted in red ink on the reports and subject to a wide range of retaliation, according to the lawsuit. Officer Craig Matthews, a 14-year veteran of the NYPD, repeatedly reported it to the precinct’s commanding officers, according to the lawsuit.

In retaliation, the NYCLU says Matthews has been given punitive assignments, has been denied overtime and leave, has been separated from his longtime partner, has been given poor evaluations, and has been subjected to constant harassment and threats. “Quotas lead to illegal arrests, summonses, and stop-and-frisks, and they undermine trust between the police and residents,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, lead counsel in the case. “Officer Matthews chose to expose this abusive system, and in response his supervisors have made his life miserable. We believe quotas are a problem throughout the NYPD, and we’re confident the courts will put a stop to this unlawful retaliation.”

The lawsuit, filed on Matthews’ behalf in Manhattan federal court, asks the court to declare that the NYPD’s retaliatory actions violate the officer’s free speech rights under the First Amendment and the New York Constitution.

The NYCLU says it will soon will file a separate complaint seeking to have the quota system declared illegal under New York Labor Law. Together, the two actions seek to stop all alleged retaliation against Matthews.

1010 WINS has reached out to the NYPD for comment, but so far, they have had no response.

The 42nd Precinct’s quota system reflects a wider problem within the NYPD, according to the NYCLU. For years, the department has been mired in scandals about its use of quotas that lead to unjustified stops and arrests of innocent people, as stated in the press release.

In May 2010, the Village Voice ran a series of articles exposing a quota system in the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn as revealed by audio tapes secretly made by Officer Adrian Schoolcraft.

A police officer in Queens recently admitted that the use of enforcement quotas led officers to plant cocaine on innocent people in order to boost arrest numbers, according to the NYCLU. In August 2010, then-Gov. David Paterson signed legislation that expanded protections for police officers under the state’s anti-quota statute to ban retaliation against officers for not meeting quotas for tickets, summonses, arrests, and stop-and-frisk encounters.

“It’s no secret that the NYPD is using enforcement quotas,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Instead of retaliating against officers who expose this unjust and illegal practice, the NYPD should work to ensure that nobody is stopped and arrested because of arbitrary and illegal quotas.”

Quotas have become such a contentious issue in the 42nd Precinct, according to the NYCLU, that officers are now retaliating against other officers who comply with them.

In the last two months, the lockers of officers complying with quotas have been knocked over or vandalized, and the precinct has had to resort to stationing an officer in the locker room to halt this, according to the NYCLU.

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