Black NYC Cops Get Profiled When They’re Off Duty

December 24, 2014 | Rhett Jones

As tensions between citizens, protestors and the NYPD continue, a new report says that even cops fall victim to a system that many say intentionally targets minorities. Many blacks cops have stated that they were racially profiled by other cops when out of uniform. Reuters reports:

Reuters interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. All but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling, which refers to using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.

The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping. The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had guns pulled on them.

Retired officer Desmond Blaize gives an example of harassment that he faced as a citizen when he was jogging through a wealthy Prospect Park neighborhood:

“I had my ID on me so it didn’t escalate,” said Blaize, who has sued the department alleging he was racially harassed on the job. “But what’s suspicious about a jogger? In jogging clothes?”

Meanwhile Harold Thomas, a decorated detective who recently retired, is suing the department over a much more extreme episode in which he had his head smashed against the hood of his car before being placed into cuffs. The conflicting details of that case make it unclear what could possibly call for such force.

Even Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former police captain, says that he was stigmatized and retaliated against for speaking out. “There’s no real outlet to report the abuse,” he says. Internal affairs investigations to tend to leak names of anonymous complaints so there is an inherent self-censorship for many cops.

All but one member of the NYPD that Reuters spoke with said that when they had made complaints they were either dismissed or found themselves being retaliated against.

“Now if you want to get into the essence of why certain groups are stopped more than others,” said former LAPD chief Bernard Parks, himself an African American, “then you only need to go to the crime reports and see which ethnic groups are listed more as suspects. That’s the crime data the officers are living with.” Statistically however, Reuters points out that nearly 90% of African Americans who are stopped by the NYPD are “found not to be engaged in any crime.”

(Photo: @dtanist)