Crime + Punishment


Documentary Films | 2018 | 110 minutes

Stranger Says:

Are you aware of the number of people in prison for crimes they did not commit, or else crimes that are so minor that white people would not even be arrested for them? Would you be shocked to learn that all of them are people of color? Would you be shocked to learn that the New York City Police Department continued to demand that officers arrest a certain number of people per day, even when the officers had found no criminals, and even after the courts specifically prohibited NYPD from having these quotas? This documentary tells the stories of such “criminals,” and also the good officers trying to fight against the quotas scandal. Their stories are intercut with gorgeous bird’s-eye views of the city’s exteriors in various seasons.

SIFF Says:

In 2010, the state of New York banned policing quotas as a method of collecting summons and propping up arrests numbers. But as Stephen Maing’s telling and outright blood-boiling documentary reveals, the practice is still commonplace in the NYPD. Police quotas are a set number of arrests and summons officers must meet for the month less they face severe punishment from the department. But when there simply aren’t enough crimes to fit the quotas, the result is countless arrests and summon--overwhelmingly in communities of color--that are routinely dismissed in court. With unprecedented access and hidden camera footage, Maing follows the “NYPD 12,” a dozen minority officers who filed a Class A lawsuit against the NYPD for their unofficial quota practices and its clearly racist underpinnings. But it’s an uphill battle against the department—the NYPD can punish their officers internally, particularly those of color, with virtual impunity, and these consequences rose to cruelty after the 12 spoke on a televised interview; for example, officer Felicia Whitley, five months pregnant at the time and suffering early contractions, had her commanding officer attempt to revoke her medical leave. Revealing, infuriating, and downright relentless, this film still inspires hope as good officers refuse to give up the fight against a corrupt monolith of a system.

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Film Credits
Stephen Maing
SIFF 2018