A police officer who said he was punished for complaining about arrest quotas got his lawsuit reinstated Thursday after an appeals court said his criticisms were covered by free speech protections.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s decision dismissing Officer Craig Matthews’s suit, the second time the case was thrown out and revived on appeal.
The NYPD has said it doesn’t have arrest or summons quotas. But Matthews says his Bronx precinct did have quotas, with supervisors keeping color-coded records of who met them and officers were punished when they fell short. Matthews said he was harassed when he objected, the suit said.
A trial court judge ruled last year that Matthews’ complaints were not constitutionally protected because he spoke as an NYPD employee in the course of doing his job, not as a citizen. Appeals judges disagreed, noting that the officer had no role in setting policy.
“Matthews’s speech to the precinct’s leadership in this case was not what he was ‘employed to do,’” the judges wrote. “He spoke as a citizen.”