Chicago, IL — Most people reading this article know what it is like to have the blue and red lights pop up in your rear view mirror. The last thing going through your mind at this point is the feeling of ‘being protected.’ This feeling comes from the fact that the overwhelming majority of the time a driver sees police lights in their mirror is because they have been targeted for revenue collection—often the result of a quota system—and they are about to be given a ticket, or worse.
Police, we are told, are here to keep us safe and protect us from the bad guys. However, public safety all too often takes a back seat to revenue collection. Time and time again, the Free Thought Project has exposed quota schemes in which officers were punished for not writing enough tickets or making enough arrests.
The most recent ticket writing and arrest scheme to be exposed comes out of Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago police department is one of the most notoriously corrupt departments in the country which is why it should come as no surprise the cop who exposed the illegal quota system was retaliated against.
Chicago Police lieutenant Franklin Paz, Jr., 48, has since filed a lawsuit against the department after he was demoted and reassigned to an entry-level position for exposing the department’s illegal arrest quota. Paz was in charge of a “platoon” of cops in a special unit called the Community Safety Team. As the lawsuit illustrates, however, the team was not at all concerned with safety, nor did they care about community.
The quota system, according to the lawsuit, was run by Deputy Chief Michael Barz who urged Paz and other lieutenants to increase the number of arrests, traffic stops, and tickets — regardless of actual criminal activity. In other words, cops were told to act like mafia goons and constantly shake down and harass citizens within the community.
“The use of numbers and statistics, particularly traffic stops, became the primary basis that Barz used to evaluate the work that the officers under his command were doing,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also said Barz “expected” officers assigned to the new team to “generate specific amounts of police activity per shift they worked.” According to CBS 2, there are more than 1,000 officers assigned to the CST, which means tens of thousands of citizens were harassed by them on a daily basis.
The CST, according to Paz was made up of former SWAT team members, gang unit officers, gun and saturation teams. These cops with tactical training in kicking in doors and holding people at gunpoint were then unleashed on the community and forced to stop entirely innocent people to keep their numbers up.
Barz “demanded certain numbers relating to police activity, regardless of the criminal or traffic activity justifying police intervention,” according to the lawsuit.
“In other words,” the lawsuit said, “regardless of the criminal activity occurring that day, his officers were required to make the same number of stops.”
As CBS 2 points out, because police quotas are illegal in Illinois, Paz believed Barz was pressuring officers to “engage in illegal activity” that could lead to the profiling of residents. State statute says a police agency cannot require an officer issue a specific number of citations within a certain period of time.
“By demanding a certain number of stops without regard to the criminal activity justifying those stops, Barz was effectively requiring officers to engage in unlawful profiling, seizures of people that were not justified by probable cause, and violations of the civil rights of persons they encountered
When Paz attempted to confront Barz about the illegal policing, according to the lawsuit, Barz said, “F*** community policing, I need activity”, and on another occasion, threatened to “blow up the entire platoon” and “dump” everyone from the unit if they did not comply.
On top of harassing, arresting, and ticketing innocent residents of Chicago, the CST team was killing them too. In August, a massive protest broke out after cops shot a man in Englewood. Because CST cops aren’t required to wear body cameras, it was the cops’ word against the citizens who witnessed it, and they disagreed.
Showing how the system is set up to get rid of the good cops and reward the bad ones, despite running an illegal quota scam and harassing innocent people, Barz was promoted to Deputy Chief in September.
Today, I promoted Commander Michael Barz to Deputy Chief of the Community Safety Team. His hard work and leadership has not gone unnoticed since we launched CST in July. He'll continue to lead these enhanced efforts to serve residents and strengthen community bonds. pic.twitter.com/XWZeoS2sKo
— Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown (@ChiefDavidBrown) September 18, 2020
“Instead of focusing on the community safety, the new unit instead has become dedicated to making pointless traffic stops, often with no basis, so that Barz and the CPD can brag about their ‘activity,’” said a statement from Torreya Hamilton and Thomas Needham, Paz’s attorneys.
“The police strategy is against Illinois law, which explicitly prohibits police quotas,” the attorneys said. “It is also unproductive and pointless, resulting in thousands of annoyed and embarrassed Chicago motorists who are being stopped for no reason, thereby having their rights violated.”