Here we go: Bill Bratton is demanding a “retraction and correction” of the Guardian story that quoted him saying, “We have a significant population gap among African American males because so many of them have spent time in jail and, as such, we can’t hire them,” while discussing why the NYPD has a disproportionately low percentage of black officers. Bratton does not deny saying this, and in fact stands by his claim that the NYPD does not hire black officers because so many black men have been to jail. But he says that he was nonetheless misrepresented.
Specifically, he takes issue with The Guardian writing that he blames the department’s trouble hiring black officers on stop-and-frisk, the policy of detaining any suspicious person that targeted young men of color. Bratton says that his statement was misinterpreted, and apparently he meant that stop-and-frisk is only one part of why. Fair enough. Perhaps he was misrepresented a little bit. But the outrageous part was the part about how he said a lot of black men are criminals, which he was not misrepresented on, and stands by.
“These are facts and I always deal with facts,” he told the Daily News.
But like I wrote yesterday, his facts, while technically correct, fail to see the bigger picture. The reason that the NYPD has such a hard time hiring black people is because the NYPD targets black people for arrest. There wouldn’t be so many black people with criminal records if they weren’t stopped-and-frisked or pulled over or charged with low-level crimes like weed possession or disenfranchised from participating in legal economies and on and on. If the NYPD stopped targeting black people, they would have a larger pool to recruit from both because there would be fewer people with criminal records and because there wouldn’t be such rampant distrust and resentment toward the police that discourages black people from wanting to join. This really shouldn’t be so difficult to understand, but Bratton just can’t see it.
So he can demand his retraction and continue to bitch about how the media (especially the liberal media) twists his words and hates the police and wants society to burn or whatever. But his clarification of his controversial statement is “it’s an unfortunate fact that in the male black population, a very significant percentage of them, more so than whites or other minority candidates, because of convictions, prison records, are never going to be hired by a police department. That’s a reality. That’s not a byproduct of stop-and-frisk.” And that’s a reality too. The reality is that Commissioner Bratton is out of touch with reality.