In an effort to switch the focus back to police accountability, Gangi needed to find a way to shift the public eye back to eliminating harmful police practices, namely“broken windows”policing andquotas, or quota-based policing.
Due tothe attacks on New York City Police Department officers, PROP — and other reform groups like it —could no longer depend on large turnoutsfor city-wide protests and demonstrations.
The solution came in the form of a public demonstration, what Gangi called the Park Slope Action.
Gangi, eager to repeat the success, moved to build on the momentum with another similar demonstration.
However, the problems of where and how to repeat it were stymied by the approaching cold weather. In the meanwhile, PROP kept moving.
Retired NYPD Detective Carlton Berkley bellowed into the mic,
Some of you might say quotas don’t exist, let me tell you something…Quotas DO exist. They’ve existed before me, they exist now, they’ll continue to exist.
Enter PROP’s NYPD quotas panel. Berkley became one of the many voices that came to be heard during the panel and Q&A.It was Gangi’s hope the panel consisting of a current police officer, two attorneys, a police officer’s wife and Trujillo would help inform and empower the local community.
There was a purpose for holding the event in the Abyssinian Baptist Church,nestled deep within Harlems 32nd Precinct.
This neighborhood of 70,942 reportedly accounted for 6,900 summonses in 2013,averaging 9.73 summonses per 100 residents, one of the highest rates in Manhattan.
Across the river in the Bronx’s Mott Haven and Melrose, over15,000 summonses were issued, with an average of 16.48 per 100, among the area’s more than 91,000 residents.
Compare those numbers to the 24th Precincts2,482 summonsesissued in the Upper West Side, averaging 2.33 per 100 for a population of 106,460 residents.
NYPD officer Adhyl Polanco stated,
If I were to stand on the corner in an area with a high amount of crime, and the crime rate goes down in that spot, I won’t get rewarded for that. I can’t come into the precinct with that. That’s not gonna cut it, it has to be arrests or [summonses].
Polanco described what has long been a criticism of NYPD policing: The NYPD only measures police activity through arrests, summonses and tickets. Berkley confirmed the criticism, saying,
If you wanna take some time off, take another shift, so that you can go see the birth of your daughter? Too bad. They’ll use that against you, and say, ‘You want that shift? You better go out there and get those numbers.’
The effect of forcing officers to meet quotas and make a certain number of arrests and summonsespushes many cops to make false arrests,or issue questionable summonses when they’re unable to find enough legitimate offenders.
Quotas arealsoillegal in the state of New York.
So, how are NYPD precincts getting away with quotas?
Officer Polanco said,
They call themPerformance Goals/ Activity Reports.
Officers with low Activity Reports are sanctioned, and so begins the cycle of making your numbers in order to stay afloat in the force.
Gangi, Trujillo and other activists like them believe the existence of thisde facto quota system is primarily what drives broken windows policies.
So, where are the stats for both sides? Well, theyre one and the same.
Broken windows supporters often cite the overall drop in felonies from the early 1990s to the late 2000salong with the rise in low-level arrests and summonses.
However, opponents of the policy like Gangi and Trujillo consistently point to specific years in that period where misdemeanor arrests would drop, butcrime would continue to fall.
You could even say theYankees rise in championships could have an effect by that reasoning.
Indeed, sociologists and statisticians alike are finding it difficult to show direct correlation between broken windows policies and the slow, steady decline of major crime in New York.
Instead, the fall in children with lead poisoning and other cultural factorsshow closer relationships with the decline in major crime than an uptick with misdemeanor arrests does.
Even NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton conceded,
Youre not going to find the scientific study that can support broken windows one way or the other.
However, in the same interview, Bratton added,
The evidence I rely on is what my eyes show me.
This reasoning doesnt satisfy police reform activists like Gangi and Trujillo.
Its deeply immoral. Its blatantly racist as its applied in New York. It targets people of color.
This is why demonstrations like the Park Slope Action were effective, in Gangis opinion.
They offer white New Yorkers a brief look into the lives many black and brown New Yorkers often face under broken windows policies.
Its also why PROP decided to turn its attention toSantaCon,a holiday pub crawl undertakenby predominantly white residentsthat hasrelatively low reports of arrests/summonses.
An officer told an anonymous PROP intern,
Thats not illegal in New York.
The intern replied,
Oh, OK, its not? You can just be wasted on the street and…
Yeah, the officer confirmed.
The intern pressed,
What about like paper bags, open containers?
Thats not illegal in New York, the officer repeated.
Ironically enough, the small band of PROP volunteers at SantaCon found several instances where party goers were arrested and issued summonses, butnone of them was white.
Throughout the event, volunteers chose to bring up the issue of broken windows policing to SantaCon goers, urging them to consider what it would be like if NYPD officers chose to focus on more serious crimes rather than harshly penalize misdemeanors and civil violations.
However, to Gangi, the demonstration wasnt anything close to the success he had hoped for. It received virtually no coverage. He would have to aim for a bigger audience: the2017 mayoral race.