We at PROP are very excited to announce the release of our new report, In Their Own Words: The Biggest Gang Here in New York City. The report presents quotes from New Yorkers throughout our city who all too often experience and endure disrespect and abuse at the hands of NYPD officers. Interested and informed persons are familiar with the statistical evidence of the NYPD’s misguided and racially biased tactics. This report seeks to put flesh and blood on the bones of these numbers, to present the terrible human consequences of stop and frisk and other objectionable NYPD practices, and to show the very real ways these law enforcement approaches hurt and severely compromise the lives and well-being of people and communities.
Our concern is not with the proverbial “few bad apples,” a dubious response that Department defenders often put forward when police wrongdoing is exposed. It is an argument that belies a substantial body of evidence, including what the quotes presented herein inform us about the day-to-day practices of the NYPD. Our concern is that the illegal and biased tactics employed by street cops reflect a system-wide attitude and culture. Our concern, too, is that these bad practices mainly target marginalized groups: black and brown young men, people from low-income areas, sex workers, LGBT persons, mentally ill people, street vendors, and the homeless. It is our hope, with this document and other PROP reports, to address these systemic failures directly. As a start, the City’s policy makers should abolish the quota system, the application of the so-call productivity goals, which robs street officers of individual discretion and drives many of the current everyday NYPD practices that inflict harm and hardship on so many New York City residents.