FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York Civil Rights Lawyer Eric Sanders, Esq., of The Sanders Firm, P.C., alleges in a federal lawsuit filing that Police Officer Michael Birch was retaliated against for ‘not stopping enough male Blacks and Hispanics’ within the New York City Subway System
New York, January 7, 2016 – According to the lawsuit, Birch, who self-identifies as a White Hispanic, is a 16-year veteran police officer with an exemplary record who is being subjected to a campaign of unlawful retaliation and harassment for complaining about the highly developed illegal “performance goals” implemented within Transit District No.: 34.
According to the lawsuit these illegal “performance goals” although consistently denied by THE CITY OF NEW YORK; RAYMOND W. KELLY; WILLIAM J. BRATTON; JOSEPH FOX; CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS and their agents’ is a highly developed system designed to generate revenue and pecuniary gains to the detriment of citizens of color.
Birch claims in the lawsuit since 2011, THE CITY OF NEW YORK; RAYMOND W. KELLY; JOSEPH FOX; CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS and their agents within Transit District No.: 34, have developed and implemented a system of illegal “performance goals” mandating increasing numbers of arrests, summonses and stop-and-frisks to the detriment of citizens of color. Also, developing a detailed monitoring system including computer databases used to track, analyze and categorize police officers to ensure their compliance with the illegal “performance goals.”
Officers within Transit District No.: 34, were constantly pressured to meet the illegal “performance goals” and those who failed to meet the “quotas” were subjected to punishment including undesirable assignments, the loss of overtime, denial of leave, separation from partners, poor evaluations, etc. When Birch expressed his concerns about the impact of illegal “performance goals” within Transit District No.: 34 upon the civil rights of citizens of color, to CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS and other supervisors within the NYPD, he and other police officers were retaliated against particularly police officers of color, according to the lawsuit.
Birch contends in the lawsuit, the use of these illegal “performance goals” within Transit District No.: 34 is a microcosm of a larger public safety crisis regarding NYPD law enforcement activities. According to the lawsuit, for many several years, the NYPD has and continues to be besieged with complaints about its illegal use of “performance goals” leading to innocent citizens of color being stopped, frisked, issued legally baseless summonses, and even falsely arrested.
According to the lawsuit, Birch contends NYPD data reflects since 2002, more than five (5) million citizens were stop, questioned and frisked with the overwhelming majority, close to ninety (90) percent of the citizens forcibly stopped were released having committed no chargeable felony or misdemeanor offense under the New York State Penal Law. The overwhelming majority stopped were citizens of color.
Other than some anecdotal studies and analysis performed by the New York Daily News and other media companies, there have never been any comprehensive longitudinal studies regarding whether the NYPD policing and enforcement practices have a detrimental effect upon citizens of color, Birch contends in his lawsuit.
In November 2010, the NYPD through its Legal Bureau issued guidance to employees of the NYPD, which in essence “flaunts” the broad reach and protections of New York State Labor Law 215-a, by claiming supervisors can set “performance goals,”Birch claims in his lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, “performance goals” are just illegal “quotas” cloaked in different language.
Until Birch challenged the illegal “performance goals” implemented within Transit District No.: 34, he consistently received positive annual reviews, according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS through his supervisors within Transit District No.: 34 refined illegal “performance goals” implementing systems where police officers were credited for issuing “good” summonses — meaning Transit Adjudication Bureau (“TAB”) summonses particularly fare evasion because a person could “pop” meaning having a warrant therefore, the police officer can justify arresting the individual. Birch claims, police officers were — discredited for issuing “bad” summonses such as littering because it would not result in an arrest. He further claims the law enforcement activities were enforced according to the race of the citizen. Police officers who did not meet the illegal “performance goals” were subjected to a wide range of punishment, including undesirable assignments, loss of overtime, and denial of requested days off. In particular, assignments to the R and F train lines are considered undesirable assignments because Caucasian police officers and supervisors call them “ghetto” meaning transit lines primarily utilized by citizens of color.
After complaining to Sergeant Healy, and failing to meet the illegal “performance goals” as determined by CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS, Birch contends he was placed on Level One (1) Performance Monitoring, according to the lawsuit. Birch claims Lieutenant Ng and Sergeant Healy told him CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS placed into the Performance Monitoring Program due to his “lack of activity.”
Birch claims the Performance Monitoring Program managed by the NYPD Employee Management Division is used to unfairly punish police officers who refuse to meet the illegal “performance goals” imposed upon them. He also claims, the majority of employees placed into the Performance Monitoring Program are overwhelming police officers of color despite their numbers in the Department, according to the lawsuit.
Since December 2011, Birch began recording his interactions with CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS and other supervisors because he knew based upon past experiences, the Department always denies illegal “performance goals” exist, according to the lawsuit.
In May 2012, Birch met with CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS, Lieutenant NG and Sergeant Healy inside of the Conference Room, Transit District No.: 34. He was told by CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS he was being rated a 2.5 on his Yearly Performance Evaluation due to his “lack of activity,” according to the lawsuit.
On August 12, 2012 Lieutenant King requested to meet with Birch inside of his office. Once inside, Lieutenant King showed him the Interim Performance Evaluation approved by CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS rating him a 2.0 due to his “lack of activity,” according to the lawsuit.
On August 24, 2012 Birch met with CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS, Lieutenant Frank Monti and Sergeant Mai inside of the Conference Room, Transit District No.: 34. He was told by CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS he was being rated a 2.0 on his Interim Performance Evaluation due to his “lack of activity,” according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, during the meeting which was recorded, while reading some computer data, CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS suggested he was not stopping “enough” Male Blacks and Hispanics. Birch claims he told CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS he doesn’t target people, he’s not going to hide and play those sort of games, if he fills out a UF250 they deserved to be stopped. CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS seemed incredulous that Birch stopped more females than males as if somehow, females don’t violate the law.
On September 26, 2012 Birch was placed on Modified Assignment under the authority of JOSEPH FOX after he was accused of giving false and misleading statements about entries made in a notebook placed inside of the Omega Booth, according to the lawsuit.
Although Birch didn’t place the notebook inside of the Omega Booth, he acknowledges writing entries in the notebook complaining about illegal “performance goals” implemented within Transit District No.: 34, according to the lawsuit.
On October 15, 2012 he was ordered to report to the Employee Management Division. While meeting with a supervisor, which was recorded, Birch was notified he was placed on Level Two (2) Performance Monitoring based upon the recommendation of CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS, according to the lawsuit.
Birch claims, he told the Employee Management Division supervisor he was being “unfairly” rated by CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS and other supervisors. However, the Employee Management Division supervisor didn’t report his complaints about being retaliated against to the Internal Affairs Bureau in accordance with NYPD Patrol Guide No.: 205-38, according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Birch claims from Late September 2012 through February 2014, he miraculously had “no” performance problems.
In February 2014, Birch was ordered to report to the Employee Management Division where he was subsequently restored to Full Duty status and shortly thereafter, he was administratively transferred to the 69th Precinct, according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, upon Birch’s arrival, he met with the Commanding Officer and requested additional training due to the change of assignment from patrolling throughout the New York City Transit Authority Transportation System to street patrol which is diametrically different. Birch claims he never received any additional training.
On February 24, 2014, Birch received formal Charges and Specifications regarding the notebook incident inside of the Transit District No.: 34 Omega Booth, according to the lawsuit.
Birch claims, out of more than thirty (30) police officers interviewed about the notebook incident, he is one of the few officers to receive Charges and Specifications, according to the lawsuit.
In January 2015 Birch was administratively transferred to the 79th Precinct, according to the lawsuit.
Birch claims since January 2015 he miraculously had “no” performance problems, according to the lawsuit.
On September 16, 2015 Birch received formal Charges and Specifications regarding mishandling a domestic violence assignment, according to the lawsuit.
Birch contends, the Charges and Specifications along with other employment actions initiated by THE CITY OF NEW YORK; RAYMOND W. KELLY; WILLIAM J. BRATTON; JOSEPH FOX; CONSTANTIN G. TSACHAS and their agents’are in retaliation for him failing to go along with the illegal “performance goals” in violations of his civil rights under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983; First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, § 8 of the New York State Constitution.
“Unfortunately, people falsely believed with the appointment of a federal monitor and inspector general, the Mayor and NYPD management would stop violating people’s civil rights that is laughable. At this point, there is no political desire to end these practices. After all, the powers that be are more concerned about their personal legacies than the civil rights of the citizens. Quite frankly, the only way to stamp out this fraud and corruption is to aggressively hold people accountable with firings, civil liability and prison,” says Eric Sanders.
Eric Sanders, Esq., of The Sanders Firm, P.C., filed the federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York Docket No.: 16 cv 00034 on January 5, 2016.
ABOUT THE SANDERS FIRM, P.C.
The Sanders Firm, P.C. offers those in the New York City area legal services related and connected to civil rights, civil service rights, criminal law and discrimination. We firmly believe in everyone’s individual rights that are described and guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. We understand that our freedoms and liberties are sacrosanct and that they have been won in many and various hard-fought battles. We are committed in every way to protecting your civil rights. We are your voice for justice!
Eric Sanders, Esq.
President and Owner, The Sanders Firm, P.C.
Business Phone: 212-652-2782