Retired NYPD Officers Charge NYPD Commanders Encouraged Cops to Arrest People of Color In Affidavits
|thenorthstar||Dec 6, 2019|
A retired New York Police Department (NYPD) officer, along with five other officers, have signed affidavits charging the department of targeting people of color for arrests to meet a “quota”. The affidavits are part of a lawsuit retired officer Edwin Raymond and three other officers filed against the City of New York, former Police Chiefs Bill Bratton and James O’Neill and Commander Constantin Tsachas, among others.
In the affidavits filed this week and viewed by The North Star, retired NYPD officer Pierre Maximilien wrote that he was discriminated against while working at the NYPD Transit Bureau District 34 from 2002 up to his retirement in 2015. Maximillien also alleged that homeless Black and Hispanic people were targeted during arrests so cops could make their arrest quota. The story was first reported by The New York Daily News.
Quick Facts About Maximilien’s Declaration
During his time working at the bureau, Maximilien wrote that then Commanding Officer Constantin Tsachas “put a greater emphasis on the arrest quota then any other commanding officer I have ever served under,” according to the lawsuit. Black and Hispanic officers would be denied vacation time, leave and overtime. The lawsuit also alleges that minority officers who did not make their quota would be subjected to shift changes, humiliation, and poor evaluations, “which would result in performance monitoring (making it nearly impossible to advance our careers) and try to make work as difficult as possible.”
The retired NYPD officer wrote in the lawsuit that minority officers who did not meet their arrest quota would “be treated differently and punished more severely than White officers who did not meet the arrest quota.” White officers who did not meet their arrest quota “would get a pass” from their commanding officer for the month and would “place them in areas or with partners who were extremely aggressive so that they could make an arrest quota.”
In 2014, Tsachas implemented a new policy called “Collars for Dollars,” where officers would be rewarded with overtime if they made an arrest. Following the announcement of the new policy, Maximilien wrote anonymous letters of concern to high-ranking NYPD officials and the NYC Department of Investigations about Tsachas' new policy and the discrimination he faced his declaration states.
After sending the letters, Tsachas called Maximilien into his office and accused him of writing the anonymous letters. Maximilien wrote in his affidavit that he denied writing the letters out of fear of retaliation. Following their conversation, Tsachas took away all of Maximilien’s overtime and was forced to do prisoner transport.
The lawsuit states that while on his transporting assignments, Maximilien noticed officers were targeting Black and Hispanic homeless people to meet their arrest quota. Tsachas’ closet lieutenants reportedly taught officers that they would not give summonses to “soft targets,” referring to White, Asian and Jewish people.
Maximilien wrote that if it wasn’t for the discrimination and abuse he suffered from Tsachas, he wouldn’t have retired from his job. “I loved my job as a police officer until I was forced to endure the abuse by Tsachas. If it wasn’t for Tsachas I would still be on the job,” Maximilien wrote.
Other Officer Declarations
Maximilien was just one of the several officers to provide an affidavit criticizing the NYPD’s quota of targeting and arresting Black and Hispanic citizens. Other Black and Hispanic officers also called out the abuse and discrimination they have faced with Tsachas as their commanding officer. Here’s what they had to say:
Aaron Diaz, a Hispanic-American retired NYPD officer, wrote in an affidavit that he worked the N Subway line in Brooklyn, New York, which is a route that is heavily populated by Asian commuters. Diaz said many of the riders would double up to go through the turnstiles. Tsachas told Diaz that “you should write more Black and Hispanic people and not Asians,” according to the affidavit. The commanding officer then proceeded to ask Diaz “You get on a train and you see a Black guy sitting there with tattoos. What do you do?” Diaz said he responded, “that he wouldn’t do anything because he has done nothing wrong.” Tsachas then became angry and then asked Diaz “Well what if he was drinking a coffee?” When Diaz said that he still wouldn’t take any action, Tsachas reportedly shouted, “you stop him for open container and run him to see if he has a warrant in the system,” the affidavit read.
Christopher LaForce, a Black officer now retired, claimed Tsachas would order officers to target Black and Hispanic civilians because he believed it was more likely to lead to an arrest, according to the affidavit. When LaForce challenged Tsachas, LaForce had his paid detail and overtime taken away according to his affidavit.
Another anonymous retired NYPD Hispanic-American officer said following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the citizens in the Transit District 34 were hit particularly hard. Tsachas reportedly got angry because officers were helping victims of the storm instead of writing summonses or making arrests, according to the affidavit. The officer wrote that Tsachas had immediate supervisors yell at their officers because they “wanted their numbers up to pre-hurricane level. We want more arrests and we don’t care how you get them,” the affidavit reads. Because the officer did not meet his arrest quota, he was denied overtime and placed on at a post where “it would make it virtually impossible to come into contact with enough people to even hope to achieve the number of arrests and summons Tsachas was requiring,” the officer wrote. The officer also said Tsachas would instruct officers to target Black and Hispanic civilians “as they were more likely to ‘pop’ which means have a warrant out for their arrest which would increase the arrest numbers.” The officer wrote: “I became a police officer to help people, not to hunt minority civilians in the streets because Tsachas has promotional aspirations.”
One active Hispanic officer wrote in his affidavit that Tsachas would “specifically tell me not to go to certain stations in predominantly white neighborhoods but rather would direct me towards what he called the ‘right’ stations. These ‘right’ stations just happened to be in predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods.” According to the affidavit, Tsachas ‘believed that if you stopped Black and Hispanic targets, these races were more likely to have an outstanding warrant which would generate an arrest for the district and increase Tsachas likelihood of being promoted. As a result, Tsachas would direct officers to subway stations that were in predominantly Black and Hispanic civilians as possible….It should be noted that this order by Tsachas was unlawful, yet he continued to make it punish officers who refused to break the law. The NYPD knew that he was giving these unlawful orders and allowed it to happen.’ Tsachas would characterize minority officers who failed to meet his idea of an arrest quota as “lazy and “lacked motivation,” according to his affidavit.
Despite allegations of discrimination against him, Tsachas was promoted to Deputy Inspector in 2016,The New York Daily News previously reported. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Raymond said Tsachas should have never been promoted. “It’s a spit in the face of communities of color that this man is given more power after being exposed as a bigot,” he told the publication.
Raymond’s lawyer, John Scola, told The New York Daily News that the NYPD has known about the accusations facing Tsachas for almost a decade, and they should have taken action. “If they had acted appropriately, they wouldn’t have retaliated against my clients with racially motivated punishments. We hope the NYPD take corrective action,” Scola told the newspaper. The NYPD declined to comment for TNS’s story “due to pending litigation.”
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said the NYPD should own up to the discrimination allegations. “The NYPD is in a better position than it was when I first got elected, but there is a lot to be held accountable for, and some of these changes happened during the new administration,” Williams told TNS. “When it comes to issues of transparency and accountability, there haven’t been many changes, so those are two areas where there needs to be a lot of focus.”
About the Author
Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.