Documentary Reflection for Crime & Punishment
During a class-action lawsuit over illegal police quotas, Stephen Maing’s documentary, “Crime & Punishment,” chronicles the efforts and struggles of black and Latino whistleblower cops and also the young people of color they are pressured to arrest in New York City. The film examines the United States’ most influential department of local law enforcement through the brave endeavors of a group of active-duty officers and one private detective. They jeopardize their careers to bring light to corrupt policing practices that have tormented the city’s streets for many years.
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Sandy Gonzales, a 12-year NYPD veteran, felt intimidated by Commissioner Bill Bratton shortly after the public learned of questionable data produced by his South Bronx precinct. The findings from Gonzalez were made in a July deposition as part of an open-ended discrimination lawsuit filed by numerous officers over alleged arrest quotas. Gonzalez stated that Bratton knew he had filed an internal complaint in 2015 that felonies were being systematically demoted within the 40th Precinct among stressing reductions in crime. New York City did the right thing in banning the use of arrest quotas in police departments. However, this ban is ignored as many cops, such as Gonzalez, are being pressured to make more arrests and summons.
Manuel Gomez is featured in the documentary as a private investigator with a military and law enforcement background. The film captures his plans to justify Pedro Hernandez. Hernandez is a young man who was wrongfully charged with a shooting and held on Rikers Island. Director Stephen Maing sheds light on how abusive policing, the cash bail system, and political paralysis connect to develop a trap of injustice and corruption that often captures many innocents. Gomez
believes and fights for the notion that the departments do put pressure on officers to meet arrest quotas in low-income
communities’ home to many people of color. This pressure drives many police officers to wrongful arrests for petty offenses. As a private investigator, Gomez sets his mission to looks for cases that seem to reveal police wrongdoing.
Edwin Raymond is a member of NYPD 12. A group of 12 New York City officers sued the NYPD over the department’s quota-based policing claim. According to Raymond, policing through quotas continues the racial discrimination at the hands of the police department. The NYPD 12 is supported now by Justice League NYC and other community partners. Justice League NYC is a multidisciplinary task force of leaders brought together to bring social justice. It is a community-led campaign that embraces nonviolent principles.
Edwin Raymond also secretly recorded NYPD officials while talking about filling arrest quotas to shed light on what the NYPD calls a racist practice. On one occasion, at a meeting with NYPD executives during a hearing to explain his side of the story to his record as a police officer, Raymond recorded his iPhone’s entire interaction, which was in his suit jacket’s breast pocket. The documentary follows Raymond and other NYPD officers for four years about the “real lives and struggles of black and Latin NYPD officers” set in the middle of the NYPD 12 case over illegal police quotas.
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The city of New York then filed a motion to dismiss the NYPD 12’s class-action lawsuit. These same 12 cops began to experience discrimination in the workplace by their superiors. They were falsely being accused of recording everything and being put on the worst shifts. Some were placed on street corners where nothing happens. Others were set to midnight shifts. Fearing punishment, one of the officers considered leaving the lawsuit. He felt that there was no need for it or the interview at NBC studios. However, after speaking with Edwin Raymond, he was convinced in the power of public outreach. Many of the same officers also began receiving low-performance reviews. They are rated on a five-point scale with half intervals. Raymond explains that “anything below a three can ruin your career.”
The NYPD departments state that they try to use the broken windows theory of policing, which states that cleaning up the visible signs of disorder like graffiti, loitering, and prostitution would prevent a more severe crime. However, they veil racist arrests and target typically black and Latin communities but claim they are only going to areas that report more criminal activity. The criminal justice system is flawed here because many of these new cops are not being trained to de-escalate situations. They are trained to fight and aggravate; they want respect but are met with resentment. This frustrates many of them and causes their unchecked anger issues to flare up in the worst moments and may cause others’ lives. Police officers need more psychological training on how to deal with people in anger or shock. I am hopeful that the system will reform and get better, as I know many others feel the same as I do and will be the change we so desperately need.
Cook, C. (Producer), & Maing, S. (Director). (2018). Crime & Punishment [Motion picture]. United States: Hulu
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