The Scandal of Racist Marijuana Arrests
(new Nov 2013 - from The Nation
and The War on Marijuana in Black and White
from the ACLU


NY City's Marijuana Possession Arrests






Stop and Frisk New York 


• STOP & FRISK NYC (news excerpts)




Race and Marijuana Arrests, USA

210,000 Marijuana Arrests in Colorado

240,000 Marijuana Arrests in Washington






















Adrian Schoolcraft may turn out to be one of the most influential uniformed police officers in the history of the NYPD, someone like Detective Frank Serpico who revealed widespread police corruption.  Serpico's reports and testimony about police officers who took graft and bribes led Mayor John Lindsay to create the Knapp Commission in 1970, which then led to the subsequent reform of the NYPD.  So extensive was the corruption, especially among the anti-drug police, that higher ups assigned Serpico to work undercover for them in narcotic squads and he was honored by the NYPD. Adrian Schoolcraft, however, worked entirely alone, as a regular uniformed officer, to document enduring dishonest, unethical and illegal practices ordered by top commanders in the NYPD. 


Armed with a small, inexpensive, digital recorder, for over a year Schoolcraft recorded hundreds of hours of roll calls, commander exhortations, and orders from supervisors. He documented the NYPD's arrest and ticket quotas, the department's obsession with numbers and petty crime, the down grading of serious crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, and the non-reporting of other crimes, by police supervisors and commanders.  He worked in Brooklyn's 81st precinct, Bedford-Stuyvesant, where the victims of the NYPD's practices were overwhelmingly poor black and Latino residents.


When Schoolcraft reported what he had documented to the NYPD internal unit which audits crime statistics, his supervisors began a campaign to intimidate, stigmatize and silence him.  In 2009 a NYPD unit, led by NYPD commanders, entered his home without his permission and arrested him.  They then locked him in a city mental hospital for a week until his father hunted him down and demanded his release. As all this happened, Schoolcraft responded coolly and calmly, recording his own commanders breaking into his home, threatening and arresting him.  Instead of being intimidated and retreating, Schoolcraft – by all accounts a mild-mannered and responsible cop – released the recordings to the press and sued the NYPD.


Neither Mayor Bloomberg nor Police Commissioner Kelly have answered any questions or made any statements about Schoolcraft. Schoolcraft has refused to settle his lawsuit out of court, insisting on an open trial so he can present evidence and witnesses, and so the public can learn from his case. He is represented by three attorneys, two of them former assistant district attorneys in NYC, deeply knowledgeable about police practices. 


Schoolcraft also found Graham Rayman, a dedicated and resourceful journalist at the Village Voice.  In 2010 Rayman published five feature-length articles, totaling 25,000 words about Schoolcraft and other police officers who have come forward to talk about the enormous pressure put on police throughout the city to meet explicit and now illegal quotas for stop and frisks, summonses, and petty arrests.  The Village Voice put Rayman's award-winning series on the web along with excerpts from Schoolcraft's recordings. 


The Voice's "The NYPD Tapes" series has generated much other coverage including an episode of Ira Glass's "This American Life" radio show on NPR.  To explain the quotas for arrests of petty offenses and criminal court  summonses (sometimes for non-existant offenses) and for Stop and Frisk forms, Glass  wove interviews with Schoolcraft and Rayman along with those of other knowledgeable individuals including two long-time criminologists, John Eterno and Eli Silverman (one of them a former NYPD captain).  They are also authors of a new book, "The Numbers Game," about this same widespread corruption of crime statistics within the NYPD.


Below are links to Grayam Rayman's articles,  a recording of Glass's show and transcript of it, and to other coverage of his case – to help make it easier to find this important body of work about what the NYPD is doing right now. 


This history-making case is by far the most revealing police scandal of the Giuliani and Bloomberg years.  It may take years – perhaps until after the movie version (as happened with Serpico) – for the implications and impact of Schoolcraft's contribution to be completely understood


Schoolcraft's story and evidence shows some of what "zero tolerance" and "quality of life policing" actually means for ordinary police officers, and for the residents of New York City's black and Latino neighborhoods. 





The NYPD Tapes: Part 1

Inside Bed-Stuy's 81st Precinct

By Graham Rayman,  May 04, 2010,

6000 words

pdf version:

print version:

web page:


Two years ago, a police officer in a Brooklyn precinct became gravely concerned about how the public was being served. To document his concerns, he began carrying around a digital sound recorder, secretly recording his colleagues and superiors.

He recorded precinct roll calls. He recorded his precinct commander and other supervisors. He recorded street encounters. He recorded small talk and stationhouse banter. In all, he surreptitiously collected hundreds of hours of cops talking about their jobs.

Made without the knowledge or approval of the NYPD, the tapes—made between June 1, 2008, and October 31, 2009, in the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant and obtained exclusively by the Voice—provide an unprecedented portrait of what it's like to work as a cop in this city.

They reveal that precinct bosses threaten street cops if they don't make their quotas of arrests and stop-and-frisks, but also tell them not to take certain robbery reports in order to manipulate crime statistics. The tapes also refer to command officers calling crime victims directly to intimidate them about their complaints.

As a result, the tapes show, the rank-and-file NYPD street cop experiences enormous pressure in a strange catch-22: He or she is expected to maintain high "activity"—including stop-and-frisks—but, paradoxically, to record fewer actual crimes.

This pressure was accompanied by paranoia—from the precinct commander to the lieutenants to the sergeants to the line officers—of violating any of the seemingly endless bureaucratic rules and regulations that would bring in outside supervision.



The NYPD Tapes, Part 2

Bed-Stuy Street Cops Ordered: Turn This Place Into A Ghost Town

By Graham Rayman, May 11, 2010

5,700 words

pdf version:

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In the summer of 2008, NYPD officers in Brooklyn's 81st Precinct embarked on an aggressive campaign to reduce crime by arresting citizens for doing no more than standing on certain street corners and building stoops.

This program emerges on the remarkable audio recordings the Voice began making public last week. Over a 17-month period ending in October 2009, police officer Adrian Schoolcraft secretly recorded conversations at Bedford-Stuyvesant's 81st Precinct, including 117 roll calls, during which superior officers like precinct commander Steven Mauriello can be heard instructing cops to arrest people for things like "blocking the sidewalk."

Supervisors told officers to make an arrest and "articulate" a charge later, or haul someone in with the intent of voiding the arrest at the end of a shift, or detain people for hours on minor charges like disorderly conduct—all for the purpose of getting citizens off the street. People were arrested for not showing identification, even if they were just a few feet from their homes. Mental health worker Rhonda Scott suffered two broken wrists during a 2008 arrest for not having her ID card while standing on her own stoop.

The precinct's campaign led to a 900 percent increase in stop-and-frisks in the neighborhood, which commanders demanded from officers in order to hit statistical quotas. It also resulted in several dozen gun arrests, hundreds of arrests on other charges, and thousands of summonses for things like disorderly conduct, trespassing, and loitering.

Defense attorneys and civil rights groups say Mauriello's instructions to his troops appear to have strained the limits of probable cause, and raise questions about the legality of the many arrests. The tactics, which are used in many other parts of the city, also caused an undercurrent of resentment among residents.

"The Police Department is using these numbers to portray themselves as being effective," says Marquez Claxton, a retired NYPD detective and the director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance, which studies police issues. "In portraying that illusion, they have pushed these illegal quotas which force police officers to engage in illegal acts."

And all of it—the questionable arrests, the campaign of aggression—occurred with the added pressure of severe shortages in manpower and patrol cars. The tapes show that the shortages got so bad that some days the most effective way to fight crime was just to pray for rain.



NYPD Tapes 3

A Detective Comes Forward About Downgraded Sexual Assaults

When even attempted rapes are being downgraded to misdemeanors, is the public safe?

By Graham Rayman, June 08, 2010

3,800 words

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          As a result of The Village Voice releasing audiotapes that capture NYPD superior officers encouraging street cops to manipulate crime statistics by downgrading crimes and intimidating crime victims, numerous current and former police officers have come forward to tell their own tales of questionable NYPD practices.

          But none is more alarming than the story being made public by retired NYPD Detective First Grade Harold Hernandez. Responding to the ongoing Voice series "NYPD Tapes," Hernandez reveals publicly for the first time that the downgrading of crimes to manipulate statistics allowed a man to commit six sexual assaults in a Washington Heights neighborhood in 2002 before he was finally caught after his seventh attack.



NYPD Tapes 4

The WhistleBlower, Adrian Schoolcraft

He wanted his bosses to know about NYPD misconduct. So they put him in a mental ward

By Graham Rayman, June 15, 2010

3,800 words

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Last Halloween, three weeks after he made allegations of misconduct in Brooklyn's 81st Precinct, Adrian Schoolcraft's career in the New York City Police Department ended in rather spectacular fashion.

On October 7, Schoolcraft had sat for three hours with an inspector, a lieutenant, and three sergeants with the Quality Assistance Division—the NYPD unit that monitors the accuracy of police reports—as they questioned him about his allegations that precinct bosses had refused to take criminal complaints and had downgraded crimes. They told him they would launch a substantial investigation.

After the meeting, Schoolcraft went about his normal work as a member of the 81st Precinct. Then, on the afternoon of October 31, he felt sick and went home about an hour early. Precinct supervisors appeared at his door hours later, claiming he had violated policy and demanding that he return to work.

One of his visitors was a deputy chief, who upbraided him while sitting on the edge of his bed. On orders from that deputy chief, Schoolcraft was then thrown to the floor, handcuffed, dragged from his Queens apartment, and taken against his will to a psychiatric ward at Jamaica Hospital. His forced hospitalization lasted six days. Police officers also removed papers from his home that documented his concerns about NYPD operations. Jamaica Hospital officials charged him $7,000 for his stay—and another $86 to obtain his own medical records.

Schoolcraft has been introduced to Voice readers as the Bed-Stuy cop who secretly taped 117 roll calls at the precinct, as well as many other conversations with his fellow cops. In our series, "The NYPD Tapes," the Voice has been making these recordings public, and they show a pattern of police downgrading crimes, intimidating crime victims, and enforcing quotas for writing tickets and performing "stop-and-frisks."

Schoolcraft also had his digital recorder rolling as his superior officers threw him to the ground and hauled him off to the mental ward. Those recordings reveal that he was rational throughout the encounter, and refused medical assistance that was then forced on him.

In addition, hospital records show that the medical staff was misled by an NYPD sergeant about the events of that day, causing doctors to treat him as a psychiatric patient. 



NYPD Tapes 5

Another Police Officer Secretly Tapes His Precinct—This Time In The Bronx

By Graham Rayman

published: August 25, 2010

5,300 words

pdf version:



At the same time NYPD whistleblower Adrian Schoolcraft was secretly recording his supervisors in a Brooklyn precinct, an officer named Adil Polanco was doing the same thing a borough away in the Bronx.

Polanco, short in stature and a native of the Dominican Republic, and Schoolcraft, a native of Texas, come from different backgrounds, but they have a lot in common, particularly the belief that the NYPD's obsession with numbers distorts a police officer's job. Polanco, who was also making recordings to document what he saw as wrongdoing in his precinct, tells the Voice that many of the same things that Schoolcraft observed in Brooklyn's 81st Precinct were also taking place in the 41st Precinct in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. He claims that supervisors constantly harangued cops to hit quotas for arrests, summonses, and stop-and-frisks, even when it meant harassing innocent civilians who were doing nothing wrong.

He claims that supervisors ordered officers to downgrade crime complaints and refuse to take complaints from civilians in order to manipulate crime statistics.

"It happened all the time," he says. "The reason was CompStat. They know what they are going to be asked for in CompStat, and they have to have a lower number—but not too low."

Polancoeven has a recording of quota pressure coming from an unlikely source: a police union delegate.

The Schoolcraft story was told in a four-part Voice series that began on May 5 ("The NYPD Tapes: Inside Bed-Stuy's 81st Precinct"). The series was based on digital recordings made by Schoolcraft of 117 roll calls in the Brooklyn stationhouse, which offered an unprecedented look inside the operations of a police precinct, and sparked a range of investigations and other events in the period since the articles ran.




The NYPD Tapes Series:

The Cliffs Notes Version

By Graham Rayman, May 13 2010

pdf versions:

web page:

print version:

800 words




This American Life - Adrian Schoolcraft Story.

(aired September 10, 2010)

NPR Blurb: Stories about people who have the right to remain silent... but choose not to exercise that right—including police officer Adrian Schoolcraft, who secretly recorded his supervisors telling officers to manipulate crime statistics and make illegal arrests. 





Transcript of This American Life episode about the NYPD

Highly readable transcript about the NYPD's routine rigging of crime data and the enormous pressure put on patrol cops to make the arrests, summons, and stop and frisk quotas demanded by top commanders at the NYPD -- and part of the story of Adrian Schoolcraft.  An excellent overview with rich detail including excerpts from the tapes Schoolcraft made and Ira Glass repeating and explaning the police jargon and shorthand.


 click here for the pdf




Web Sites Of Adrian Schoolcraft And His Attorneys




Media Stories About Adrian Schoolcraft And What Happened



 "NYPD Confidential" Offers Its Take on the Voice's "NYPD Tapes" Series

By Graham Rayman

 Mon., Jun. 21 2010

print version:

web page:

 520 words



Len Levitt, Veteran police reporter and author

"Adrian Schoolcraft: Enter the Times, Watch the NYPD Sweat"

Huffington Post, September 13, 2010



NYPD Tapes Reveal Brooklyn Police Quotas  (May 6, 2010)

            An NYPD officer made hundreds of hours worth of secret recordings at a Brooklyn precinct revealing that NYPD bosses recorded less crimes than what actually happened.

            The Village Voice received the audio files from Adrian Schoolcraft, who secretly carried around a digital recorder to back up claims that he made several years ago that the 81st Precinct located in Bedford-Stuyvesant underreported when filing in their crime statistics.

            The recordings also reveal that they didn't investigate certain crimes to artificially push the crime rate down. The NYPD didn't know that he made the recordings, which were made between June 1, 2008 and Oct. 31, 2009, said the Voice. According to the recordings exclusively obtained by the Voice, the bosses forced quotas on the officers but then told them that they shouldn't do specific robbery reports to artificially bring down crime rates.


More Coming......


Bonus:  Twenty Years Ago, The Mollen Commission


"Perjury And Falsifying Documents"


 Excerpts from Chapter 4, “Perjury and Falsifying Documents” (pages 36-
43; emphasis added) of: "The City of New York Commission to Investigate Allegations of Police
Corruption and the Anti-Corruption Procedures of the Police Department, Commission Report. July 1994."


If this seems familiar....