Leaders of the New York Police Department offered an innovative (if self-deprecating) rationale for its practice of stop-and-frisks: 10 percent of its officers are lazy and need an incentive to get out of their squad cars.
The argument is all the more surprising because it comes as part of a civil trial focused on the department's practice of stopping people on the street suspected of crimes and searching them. That practice, dubbed stop-and-frisk, has overwhelmingly targeted people of color — and only rarely resulted in any arrests.
Data from the ACLU.
The civil trial is meant to hold the NYPD accountable for the practice. Plaintiffs have argued that the NYPD's enforcement of a quota for its officers to stop people has resulted in a practice widely condemned as biased and a violation of civil rights. The police department's argument is that no such quotas exist, and that any evidence implying that they do is simply how they tried to motivate bad cops. The New York Times reports:
[W]hen Joseph J. Esposito, the department’s highest-ranking uniformed member until his retirement last month, testified in the trial, he offered candid insight into management’s view.
“You have 10 percent that will work as hard as they can, whenever they can, no matter how bad we treat them, how bad the conditions are,” Mr. Esposito said. These officers “love being cops and they’re going to do it no matter what.”
On the other extreme, Mr. Esposito said, “You have 10 percent on the other side that are complete malcontents that will do as little as possible no matter how well you treat them.”
One deputy commissioner testified that the entire trial was about how the department was "trying to get the police officers to work, do the things that they’re getting paid for."