In an agreement with prosecutors, former NYPD narcotics detective Stephen Anderson a testified in court that numerous officers and even supervisors in the division he worked for would set up innocent people in order to make arrest quotas. Charged with planting cocaine on four men in a Queens bar, Anderson admitted he was trying to help our a fellow narcotics detective who’s numbers had been low.
“Tavarez was…was worried about getting sent back to patrol,” Anderson testified. To help him out, Anderson gave Tavarez the cocaine so he could take credit for a “buy and bust”, something Anderson said was common, according to the NY Daily News.
Anderson had made two legitimate arrests and apparently made it clear he wasn’t going to share those with Tavarez. “As a detective, you still have a number to reach while you are in the narcotics dvision.”
This isn’t the first time arrest quotas have caused a problem. Quotas aren’t even supposed to exist precisely because they encourage unlawful arrests and behaviors like the scene Anderson described.
Anderson’s testimony came in an effort to prove that the conduct in this specific case wasn’t a one-time deal. The judge asked if t Anderson had seen this sort of practice frequently, to which he replied, “Yes, multiple times.” He went on to say “It was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers or even investigators.”
The case stemmed from a false arrest suit by two brothers who were arrested by Anderson and Tavarez. The city paid the men $300,000 to settle the suit after a video tape showed they had been set up.
When the pressure is on officers and detectives to be “productive” it’s usually directly related to how many arrests they are producing. An officer who makes many arrests appears to be more proactive and busy than one who doesn’t. But this isn’t always the case—an officer who takes the time to build good cases might not have the same number of arrests as one who is simply racking up the numbers.
Unfortunately, in all of this, it’s the innocent citizens who lose out. When Anderson was asked by the judge if he gave any thought to the citizens in these situations, he said, “It’s almost like you have no emotion with it, that they attach the bodies to it, they’re going to be out of jail tomorrow anyway; nothing is going to happen to them anyway.”
This story and revelation is alarming. And it begs the question, how common are such practices—not just in the narcotics unit but elsewhere throughout the department and even across the country?
If you are charged with a crime, there is always the possibility that you are innocent. The prospect of convincing a judge or jury of this fact can seem daunting. With a local defense attorney on your side, it is possible.
Contact our offices today for a consultation on your case and to find out what we can do to help.