An Eyewitness News investigation talks to a police officer who reveals the pressure they are under to make quotas.
When Officer Adil Polanco dreamed of becoming a cop, it was out of a desire to help people not, he says, to harass them.
"I'm not going to keep arresting innocent people, I'm not going to keep searching people for no reason, I'm not going to keep writing people for no reason, I'm tired of this," said Adil Polanco, an NYPD Officer.
Officer Polanco says One Police Plaza's obsession with keeping crime stats down has gotten out of control. He claims Precinct Commanders relentlessly pressure cops on the street to make more arrests, and give out more summonses, all to show headquarters they have a tight grip on their neighborhoods.
"Our primary job is not to help anybody, our primary job is not to assist anybody, our primary job is to get those numbers and come back with them?" said Officer Polanco.
Eyewitness News asked, "Why do it?"
"They have to meet a quota. One arrest and twenty summonses," said Officer Polanco.
This audio recording exclusively obtained by Eyewitness News seems to back up Officer Polanco's assertion of a quota. You can listen to one officer as he lectures his rank and file officers during roll call at the 41st precinct.
"Things are not going to get any better. It's going to get a lot worse," said a police officer.
He lays out clearly that they need to bring in the numbers.
"If you think 1 and 20 is breaking your balls, guess what you're going to be doing. You're gong to be doing a lot more, a lot more than what they're saying," said the officer.
In another recording, the 41st Precinct Patrol Supervisor appears to step up the pressure to write more and more summonses:
"Next week, 25 &1, 35 & 1, and until you decide to quit this job to go to work at a Pizza Hut , this is what you're going to be doing till then. Do you understand?" asked the patrol officer.
"He's being clear, the only choice that we have is to do it," said Officer Polanco.
Eyewitness News asked, "Are you telling me they're stopping people for no reason, is that what you're saying?"
"We are stopping kids walking upstairs to their house, stopping kids going to the store, young adults. In order to keep the quota," answered Officer Polanco.
"Yeah, they locked us up for nothing," said Zebulun Colbourne.
The Colbourne brothers say they and three other friends were the victims of quotas. All were arrested a few months ago after one of them had fallen while racing each other.
Eyewitness News asked, "You fell and that's how you hurt your eye?"
"Yeah, and they just wanted to arrest us. I told them I fell but that didn't matter to them," said Elijah Colbourne.
All five were accused of engaging in tumultuous and violent conduct that caused public alarm, given a summons for unlawful assembly and locked up overnight.
Eyewitness News asked, "So you're locked up waiting to see the judge, right?"
"Yeah," answered the Colbourne brothers.
Eyewitness News asked, "Then what do they do?"
"We don't see the judge, they let us out the back door after they kept us for a day and some change," said Elijah Colbourne.
The charges were dropped, but Officer Polanco says the patrolman still got 5 summonses toward their monthly quota.
"At the end of the night you have to come back with something. You have to write somebody, you have to arrest somebody, even if the crime is not committed, the number's there. So our choice is to come up with the number," said Officer Polanco.
One Police Plaza declined our requests to interview the 41st precinct commander. But, Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said, "Police Officers like others who receive compensation are provided productivity goals and they are expected to work."
Officer Polanco says if they are just goals, why are officers who fail to make them, re-assigned to different shifts or relocated far from home.
It's the consequences of not making the numbers or quotas, he says, that forces officers to give out bogus summonses.
"I cannot be more honest than I've been. There's no reason for me to lie, there's no reason for me to get into the trouble I am, cause I just could've kept quiet and made the money," said Officer Polanco.