Sutton has filed a class action suit involving anyone issued a criminal court summons from May of 2007 that was tossed due to it being legally insufficient. If the suit prevails, the NYPD may have to overhaul the way it issues summonses.
“It is simply not tenable that Commissioner Kelly and Chief Esposito did not — in the entire period of 2007 through the present — write or receive emails using terms” related to the word “summons,” Sutton wrote.
While evidence of the quota system is conspicuously missing from all exchanges involving the police leaders, there is an abundance of evidence of the system’s existence in communications among rank-and-file officers.
“We missed seat belt number by 30 last week unacceptable. if need be u guys will go with me 2 traffic stat 2 explain why u missed,” one text message from someone identified as Sgt. Carty reads.
“It’s ridiculous to have 50+ hours with one arrest,” a memo regarding four officers who worked 52 to 69 hours of overtime read.
The New York Daily News noted that a study conducted by John Jay College — College of Criminal Justice found 18% of summonses from 2003-2013 were dismissed due to the officer’s description of the alleged offense not articulating probable cause.
“The spoliation of this evidence clearly demonstrates Defendants’ bad-faith, grossly negligent, or at least, negligent destruction of relevant documents,” Sutton writes.
“The (evidence) production confirms what plaintiffs feared but defendants have repeatedly denied: Defendants have destroyed evidence that is unquestionably relevant to this matter,” Sutton continued.
To make things even more complicated, the department has a policy of shredding hard-copy documents which would be relevant to this case, including monthly activity reports where supervisors provide written feedback on officers’ “enforcement activity.”
The NYPD was not even advised by lawyers to retain communications until 2013, three years after the suit was filed.
"I can tell my supervisors that I took three people to the hospital and I saved their lives. That the child that I helped deliver is healthy. I can tell them that. But that's not going to cut it," NYPD Officer Adhyl Polanco, who has been outspoken on the touchy and secretive subject of quotas, told NPR in April.
A quota system has long been denied by the NYPD, but evidence of numbers-based policing persistently finds its way out of the department, and departments nationwide.
While some departments maintain that it is simply a way to track officer’s productivity, activists and community members see it as a way to ensure that officers are generating revenue from the community.
"If citizens believe that tickets are being issued or arrests are being made for reasons other than the goal of law enforcement, which is about public safety," Laurie Robinson, co-chairwoman of President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, told NPR, "then their trust in the legitimacy of the system is really eroded."