Officer Pedro Serrano says he was called a 'rat' for speaking out about the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy and recorded conversations he had with a superior about the procedure.
A top Bronx cop was caught on tape telling an NYPD whistleblower to specifically target “male blacks 14 to 21” for stop-and-frisk because they commit crimes.
Stop “the right people, the right time, the right location,” Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack is heard saying on the recording.
“He meant blacks and Hispanics,” Officer Pedro Serrano, who made the secret recording, testified Thursday in Manhattan federal court.
“So what am I supposed to do: Stop every black and Hispanic?” Serrano was heard saying on the tape, which was recorded last month at the 40th Precinct in the Bronx.
McCormack said to focus on the Mott Haven section, where the problem “was robberies and grand larcenies.”
“I have no problem telling you this,” the inspector said on the tape. “Male blacks. And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem [to] tell you this, male blacks 14 to 21.”
During cross examination, City lawyer Brenda Cooke got Serrano to admit that McCormack never said he wanted Serrano to stop all blacks and Hispanics.
“Those specific words, no,” he told her.
Serrano’s tape and testimony were introduced as evidence in a class-action lawsuit against the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk tactic brought by four black New Yorkers who claim they were targeted because of their race.
Also, the first of several tapes surreptitiously made by Brooklyn cop Adrian Schoolcraft made its debut at the trial.
This one was recorded at a Nov. 1, 2008, roll call and on it Lt. Jean Delafuente is heard telling officers that making the arrest quota should be easy in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“You’re working in Bed-Stuy, where everyone’s probably got a warrant,” he said.
Schoolcraft claims he was hauled off to a psych ward to discredit his allegations that the 81st Precinct pushed officers to fill arrest quotas.
Serrano told the court he taped McCormick because he had gotten poor performance reviews for failing to meet what he claims was the monthly quota of 20 summonses and five stops-and-frisk and wanted evidence to show he was being retaliated against.
For speaking out, the 43-year-old cop who joined the NYPD in 2004 testified earlier that he was smeared as a “rat” and ostracized by fellow officers.
Like Adhyl Polanco, the whistleblower officer who testified before him, Serrano said the quota system had the backing of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
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By Robert Gearty
AND Bill Hutchinson
/ NEW YORK DAILY NEW
March 20, 2013 updated March 21, 2013
A second NYPD whistleblower testified Wednesday that department brass pressured cops for arrests and stop-and-frisk quotas and that he was smeared as a “rat” for bucking the system.
Officer Pedro Serrano said he was ostracized for protesting the quotas demanded at the 40th Precinct in the South Bronx. “They said, ‘Hey, this is the way it is, you can’t fight a losing battle,’” Serrano testified in Manhattan Federal Court.
Serrano, 43, a member of the police force since 2004, followed Officer Adhyl Polanco to the witness stand in the class-action lawsuit against the controversial stop-and-frisk tactics.
Like Polanco, Serrano said the quota demanded by supervisors is 20 summonses and one arrest a month. He did not specify how many stop-and-frisks he was required to make.
He also backed Polanco’s claim that the quota system had the support of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
Serrano testified that he was once criticized by supervisors for failing to make any stop-and-frisks in a month when he surpassed his quota, issuing 20 summonses and making three arrests.
He said that since going to the Internal Affairs Bureau recently to complain, his stationhouse locker was tattooed with stickers proclaiming him a “rat.”
He said he also found the word “rat” next to his name on a roster list outside the stationhouse cafeteria. “I fear they’re going to set me up and get me fired,” Serrano testified.
Earlier Wednesday, secret recordings made by Polanco at the 41st Precinct stationhouse, also in the South Bronx, were played in court to bolster his testimony.
In the tapes, one of Polanco’s supervisors is heard demanding that cops make their “20 and 1” quota and lambasting those who came up short.
“If you want to be a zero, I’ll treat you like a zero,” patrol Sgt. Marvin Bennett fumed on tape.
Polanco also recorded his patrol commander, Lt. Andrew Valenzano, telling officers to meet their quotas by ticketing bicyclists.
“If you see people over there on bikes, carrying the bags, you know, good stops,” Valenzano says on tape. “That’s what we need.”
Officer Angel Herran, a union delegate, was taped telling officers the quota was agreed to “in this last contract.”
“They’re telling you to ‘go make money,’ ” Herran is heard saying.
Recordings of NYPD officers were played in Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday pressing cops into quotas.
In this instance, patrol Sgt. Marvin Bennett warns those who want to buck the system, calling them “zeros.”
“So we're going to start correcting and treating those who want to fight the cause and fight the power — that's no problem. No problem. Your names, each one of your names are important …. Trust me, your name is important.”
On another tape, Officer Angel Herran, a union delegate, pleads for solidarity.
“The union's agreeing on it and we're unionized here, this is what we do. You know? ”
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PUBLISHED: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2013, 2:38 PM
UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2013, 4:21 PM
NEW YORK — A police officer testified Wednesday that he taunted an innocent 13-year-old boy after he detained the teen under the New York Police Department's disputed program of stopping, questioning and frisking people on city streets.
Called as a witness in a civil rights case in federal court in Manhattan, Officer Brian Dennis conceded that he had told a handcuffed Devin Almonor to stop "crying like a little girl."
Asked on cross-examination if he thought the comment was appropriate, Dennis responded, "Looking back, no."
The Center for Constitutional Rights brought the lawsuit on behalf of four black plaintiffs who claim they were stopped by police because of their race. The center alleges that many of the 5 million stops in the past decade, mostly of black and Hispanic men, were made without cause.
Police officials say stop and frisk is a legal crime-stopping tool that has helped drive crime down to record lows. New York City saw the fewest number of murders in 2012 since comparable record keeping in the 1960s, and other major crimes are down to record lows, too.
U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, who is hearing the case, has said in earlier rulings that she is deeply concerned about the tactic. She has the power to order reforms to how it is used, which could bring major changes to the force and other departments.
In the second week of the trial, the plaintiffs' lawyers pressed Dennis and another officer, Jonathan Korabel, to explain why they stopped Almonor as he walked alone on a Harlem street in 2010. Dennis testified that while responding to 911 calls about a disorderly crowd in the area, he spotted the teen reach for his waistband as if he had a gun.
"I'm a kid. I'm going home. Leave me alone," Dennis recalled the boy saying.
The officers handcuffed Almonor and found no weapon. They took him to a stationhouse.
His father, a retired police officer, was asked to come get him. When the boy's parents arrived, they argued and tussled with police officers, lawyers for the plaintiffs said outside court.
On Wednesday, lawyers for the plaintiffs also introduced an NYPD memo dated March 5 mandating that suspicious behavior prompting certain stops "must be elaborated" — one of the remedies that had been demanded by critics of the practice.
In the past, officers were able to check off "furtive movements" on reports known as "250s" without further explanation. Now, "a description of that movement must be specified," the memo says.