By Vania Andre and Fabiola Jean
Haitian American New York Police Department (NYPD) officer Edwin Raymond had his eyes set on becoming a sergeant. Having placed eighth out of 6,000 candidates who took the test, Raymond was confident about his chances.
Despite his optimism about his performance, his superiors thought otherwise and passed him over for a promotion three times in one year. Something simply was not adding up. He would soon realize that his promotion was denied, not because of poor performance, but because of his refusal to follow a banned procedure that the department was still putting to use.
“They purposefully slandered me on paper,” Raymond said. Every time his superiors would have a conversation with him about his review and arrest quotas, they would start off with the disclaimer that they didn’t believe in the practice either, but was forced to go along with it.
“The sergeant told me straight up this is the purpose of these evaluations,” he said.
Last month, Raymond opened up to the New York Times about his experiences and the unethical practices taking place in the NYPD. Since his story broke, the community has rallied behind him, calling for an investigation into his allegations. He is being revered in the community for his courage to stand up and alone to the NYPD.
“Officer Raymond is doing what 90 percent of the NYPD does not have the guts to do,” Jeff Higgins, Haitian-American author of Diffusing the Bomb, said. “If he and all the other plaintiffs win the civil class action lawsuit everyone is going to profit from it.”
In December 2015, Raymond became the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the city and police department. The suit, filed in the Southern District of New York court, alleges violation of their rights by “punishing and retaliating” against the officers for “speaking out against the quota.” Raymond and the officers were given “negative evaluations” and denied “upgrades and promotions” among other punitive actions.
“Although the NYPD has continuously denied the existence of quotas and asserts that it relies only on a set of ‘productivity goals’ or ‘performance goals,’ those phrases are mere euphemisms for a quota system.”
This is not the first time the department has come under fire for the use of quotas. Between 2008 and 2009, NYPD officer Adrian Schoolcraft secretly taped 117 roll calls at a Bed-Stuy precinct, as well as conversations with fellow officers and superiors. The tapes exposed a pattern of enforcing quotas, intimidating victims and performing unwarranted stop-and-frisks. The tapes, which were published by the Village Voice, brought much criticism that eventually led to a department ban on quotas in 2010.
“Despite its official stance against quotas, there is conclusive proof that the NYPD has been using and is still using the quota system,” the complaint alleges.
“This is an opportunity for us to have a new moment, a refreshing moment in this city,” Tamika Mallory of the Justice League NYC said. Mallory organized a press conference for Raymond on Mar. 1 to discuss the “instances of bias that led to the class action lawsuit” Raymond, and eleven other police officers of color filed against the NYPD.
This “case brings in question the continued use of arrest and ticket quotas used predominantly in communities of color,” the Justice League said in a statement. We are taking a “stand with the brave officers who recognized the practice of bias within the NYPD and had the fortitude and bravery” to fight against it.
“In the last eight years, I’ve unfortunately witnessed this quota destroy lives,” Raymond said. “When it comes to mass incarceration in New York City, the quota is at the root of it.”
Raymond’s goal in speaking out is to have federal injunctions in place to make sure “this stuff doesn’t continue” and that “officers are not evaluated based on arrests and summons.”
“People think this about a promotion,” he said. “I’d be a sergeant right now if I went along with this policy. “All this is about is eliminating this quota. [I] sacrificed my career so the community would be treated better.”
NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton has called Raymond’s allegations “bullshit.”
“Anyone who believes a quota system still exists should look no further than our arrest and summons activity,” the NYPD said in a statement, “which are down significantly, while crime last year hit a new record low.”
Despite claims from NYPD officials that Raymond’s accusations are baseless, fellow officers on and off the force back him up.
“He’s not a troublemaker,” a retired Haitian American police officer, who spent 21 years in the NYPD said. “I know who he is and went to junior high school with his older brother. He’s an intelligent young man, who has a lot of guts to call the department out on a widespread practice.”
He wants the Haitian community to mobilize behind Raymond the way Asians have for Peter Liang– the NYPD officer whose bullet ricocheted off a wall and killed unarmed Akai Gurley in a housing development in November 2014.
“There’s strength in numbers,” he said, “not in isolation.”