“I can tell you, I’m a police officer, there are quotas in the NYPD.” Julio Diaz, a New York Police Department officer, does not mince words when it comes to alleged illegalities in the department.

Diaz is a part of the “NYPD 12,” officers who have filed a lawsuit against the department in federal court. All 12 officers are members of racial minorities, and they accuse the NYPD of violating laws (such as a 2010 ban on quotas) as well as the 14th Amendment.

“They tell you this to your face: Black and Hispanics between 14-21, they must get stopped,” says Pedro Serrano, another plaintiff. “We are the predators, they are the prey.”

In a group interview with NBC New York’s Sarah Wallace, the officers explain the quota process and how it forces them to disproportionately target minority communities. The officers come from different precincts, but all work minority-heavy areas in the Bronx and Brooklyn. The lawsuit also alleges that minority officers are punished more severely than their white counterparts for failing to fill a quota.

Officer Derrick Waller remarks that at the end of each month, officers who don’t have a certain number of arrests are “pressured to find something.” He continues, “You might not see anything. But you go hunting, like bounty hunting, for an arrest.”

Adhyl Polanco agrees, adding:

When you go hunting, when you put any type of numbers on a police officer to perform, we are going to go to the most vulnerable. We’re gonna go to LGBT communities, we’re gonna go to the black communities. We’re gonna go to those people that have no boat, no power. If we start doing what we do in midtown Manhattan, a phone call to the mayor’s office is gonna be made, and that’s going to be the end of it.

As Vox notes, this lawsuit “isn’t a new allegation for the New York City Police Department. A court previously shut down the agency’s ‘stop-and-frisk’ policy because it disproportionately targeted minority communities.” It’s also not a problem specific to New York City:

In Ferguson, Missouri, for one, a Justice Department investigation found cops were pressured by the city government to raise as much revenue as possible by ticketing residents. Since police were most active in neighborhoods that are predominantly black, these residents were targeted at hugely disproportionate rates: Ferguson is about 67 percent African-American, but from 2012 to 2014, 85 percent of people stopped, 90 percent of people who received a citation, and 93 percent of people arrested were black.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton declined to participate in Wallace’s interview, citing the officers’ lawsuit. But he has repeatedly maintained that numerical quotas do not exist.

Edwin Raymond, the lead plaintiff in the case, disagrees: “This is something coming from the top that trickles its way down.”

You can watch the full interview below:

—Posted by Emma Niles

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