MANHATTAN - As one of the few non-prosecutors running to be District Attorney, Dan Quart is the only candidate ready on day one to reform the office and pull it out of a broken culture that rewards the “win records” of prosecutors over public safety or fairness. One week after the bodycam footage showed that Adam Toledo was unarmed, despite the prosecutor’s office saying that he had a gun, it’s only become clearer that the culture of prosecutor’s offices is in desperate need of change.
Reporting from Slate last summer showed how prosecutor’s offices, especially in New York, consistently rely on and protect lying NYPD officers to successfully secure a prosecution:
“Yet those best positioned to crack down on testilying, police chiefs and prosecutors, have done little or nothing to stop it in most of the country. Prosecutors rely on officer testimony, true or not, to secure convictions, and merely acknowledging the problem would require the government to admit that there is almost never real punishment for police perjury. [...]
“In New York City, prosecutors keep secret databases of unreliable police officers, though only two boroughs actually prohibit those officers from taking the stand. Without further reforms, however, this approach fails to address the underlying problem: Prosecutors are reluctant to accuse officers of lying in the first place, or to investigate an officer’s claims to learn if they align with reality. As a result, an officer who lies convincingly can evade the list indefinitely.”
In contrast to the five former prosecutors running, Quart spent years pressuring Cy Vance to release his list of officers with credibility issues. He also fought to successfully repeal 50-a, one of the worst police secrecy laws in the country. New Yorkers cannot trust their District Attorney to hold police accountable when the current culture of prosecutors’ offices rewards winning cases with dishonest testimony from NYPD officers over public safety and fairness.
As one former Manhattan assistant district attorney told the Mollen Commission (as reported in Slate): “Taking money is considered dirty, but perjury for the sake of an arrest is accepted. It’s become more casual.”
We have made progress on this issue, but not enough. Prosecutors still shield lying officers to clinch convictions. A former prosecutor who has spent their career in this environment is not equipped to implement much-needed reforms in the District Attorney’s office. Manhattanites are ready for a District Attorney who will always place fairness and public safety over career accomplishments and hold police who lie accountable. Quart is ready to do that.