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“8 for 8″… Driving While Black in the Bronx

It seems that everyone knows that NYPD imposes arrest and summons quotas on its force except Spokesman Paul Browne and the folks inside NYPD’s public information bureau.  OK, well they know it too, it’s just their job to lie about it.

We met a couple of fine gentlemen recently, one of whom happens to drive an upscale SUV.  Middle aged guys, they haven’t had an interaction with cops for decades.  They’re stopped at a red light in the Bronx when the police pull them over.  The force them out of the car, search the car end to end, find nothing, and arrest them.  These two men don’t have the slightest idea why they’re arrested.  They’re just thrown into a police van and driven around while this team stops, frisks and makes arrests.

The cops needed eight that shift.  The cops spoke pretty openly to each other about it, I guess they figured anyone would take their word over a “criminal’s” word.  The cops in the van, you see, were part of an eight officer team to make low level drug arrests.  And the rule of thumb with the higher-ups at the precinct have a rule of thumb, one arrest for every officer.  So while our guys are sitting in the van, they hear the cops saying “we’re eight, we got six, we need two more.”

These guys had to hit their quota.  It didn’t matter if the people they arrested were innocent.  It didn’t matter if they had probable cause.  It didn’t even matter if the charges stuck.  They needed eight collars or their career was in trouble.  We figure the police had a “hunch” with these two.  Black men driving a nice car, might be drug dealers.  When they found nothing, they claimed to have seen them smoking a joint in the car, and charged them each with possession.  There was no marijuana though.  Charges dismissed.

No harm no foul?  Not really.  These two guys, around 50 years of age, spent a few hours driving around in that van, and a day and a half total from the moment they stepped into the van to the moment they were set free by a Bronx criminal court judge.   They needed civil rights lawyers to enforce their rights in federal court, so they came to us.  Hopefully you won’t need a civil rights lawyer.  Just watch out for worried looking cops whirling handcuffs around their fingers.  Could be that time of the month, quota time.

Founding partner Leo Glickman has a long track record of holding the powerful accountable and fighting for progressive candidates and causes. Mr. Glickman represents candidates for Statewide and Citywide offices as well as many candidates for local legislative positions.

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