An officer of the New York Police Department has been fired for writing tickets and summons to dead people, which he claims was due to a ticket quota that had been enacted. The idea of a “ticket quota” is not one many find comforting and it isn’t the first time it’s been alleged at a major police department.
Rumored NYPD ticket quota led to summons and fines against the dead
A 17-year veteran of the New York Police Department has been fired and sentenced to 150 hours of community service, according to the New York Post, for allegedly issuing traffic tickets and court summons to motorists who were dead. It’s one thing to for a Brooklyn car to get a stingy parking ticket, but it’s quite another to ticket someone who is pushing up the daisies.
Former officer Paul Pizzuto was found out in July of last year to be issuing summons, though never appearing in court to testify. It was noticed that he was writing an increased number of summons, based on information from previous summons he’d written, but that they were written in such a way that no one would have to pay any fines. Some of the summons were for people who were deceased.
Pizzuto is suing the city for wrongful termination, claiming that his superiors had raised a ticket quota and the 125 to 150 summons he normally issued in a month weren’t sufficient, which led to the ticket scam. His superiors assert that he had issued the increased summons to work overtime, in order to quell financial problems. Pizzuto also claims he was entitled to a hearing before being fired, though his superiors assert his was an “oath of office” violation and thus wasn’t eligible for one.
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He was fired in June, after being convicted of falsifying business records. Two other officers, connected to the case, were indicted, one of whom was convicted. Charges were dropped in the other case.
It’s also said, according to reports in the Village Voice and ABC7, a New York ABC affiliate, that officers are being pressured by Internal Affairs to write tickets that stick. It is alleged officers are docked three days vacation pay, worth $900, if a traffic ticket is tossed in court. They are also being pressured to write more tickets.
Far from first allegations
Previous allegations of an NYPD ticket quota have been made. In Sept. 2010, the New York Times received an audio tape, taken in April of that year at the 81st Precint, wherein Captain Alex Perez admonishes commanders that each “shift” had to write at least 20 summons per week and went on to say how many of what offense. He also warned that officers that didn’t meet quotas would be switched to graveyard shifts and if necessary, “I don’t have a problem firing people.”
By Sept. 2011, according to the Village Voice, at least two NYPD officers had filed lawsuits relating to ticket quotas.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg denies any “ticket quota” exists, according to ABC7. Spokespeople for the NYPD insist across the board that these aren’t “ticket quotas,” per se, but rather “performance goals” for employees to meet – see, for instance, the same blanket statement in articles on the New York Times, ABC7, and NBC New York – which isn’t outlandish, but the notion of police actively looking to ticket people is somewhat disturbing.
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/10/nyregion/10quotas.html?pagewanted=all
Village Voice: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/09/nypd_commander.php
NBC New York: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/NYPD-Ticket-Quota-Tape-102656399.html