If you’re wondering why there’s a lack of Black officers on the NYPD Chief Bill Bratton has an answer. Bratton says it’s hard to hire Black applicants because “so many” of them have criminal records.
Coincidentally, the NYPD carries itself like a street gang in many ways, which would make them either the students or the teachers of criminal behavior. The force has a storied history of breaking the law, racial profiling, brutality, false arrests, intimidation, and further corruption — but that probably has nothing to do with the number of Black men behind bars.
Reports the Guardian:
While increasing numbers of Hispanics and Asians, especially men, are joining the NYPD, the future looks bleaker for black applicants. One number in particular is jarring: black males make up only 6.86% of the 2015 police academy recruit class that will graduate this month, with black females just under 4%, for a total of 10.86%, while black residents total about 22% of the city’s population.
For comparison, black recruits totaled 7.3 % in 1970 at the end of the Civil Rights Movement, almost all of whom were men.
Commissioner William Bratton is blunt about probable causes. “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,” he said in a 20 May interview. Because many black men have been convicted of a felony, they are automatically disqualified.
A complicating factor is what Bratton calls the “unfortunate consequences” of an explosion in “stop, question and frisk” stops in the last decade that caught many young men of color in a summons net.
Those summonses are not automatic disqualifications. However, after passing the exam, a candidate moves to the more subjective background investigation, which includes criminal records. A pot arrest without indications of gang activity might not disqualify a candidate, but a series of summonses could. As a result, Bratton is concerned that the “population pool is much smaller than it might ordinarily have been”.
Bratton is often blamed for New York’s stop-and-frisk era – 4.4m stops; 92% non-white from 2002 until 2012. The controversial policy was struck down in 2013 by a federal judge, who called the practice blatant racial profiling. Bratton wasn’t in New York then, though: he left his first NYPD commissioner’s stint in 1996 and returned in 2014, immediately dropping the city’s defense of the practice. Instead, he embraced targeted quality-of-life stops of suspected violent criminals, rather than the random pursuit of high numbers of summonses.
Bratton, however, did embrace broken windows policing, including “quality of life” arrests of many low-level criminals, arguably planting seeds for that decade-long “stop and frisk” crusade that Benitez calls “humiliation, maybe even emasculation, of a segment of society”.
The cycle of racism in a justice system that preys upon Black men, regardless of guilt or innocence, is a topic Bratton either doesn’t fully understand, or is overlooking. Nonetheless, he attempted to clarify the earlier comments at a press conference. “The quotes are accurate, but the context in which they’re presented gives the quote a totally different context.”
Bratton also said that “stop-and-frisk” didn’t hurt the hiring process.“It’s not something that prohibits them,” he said of potential applicants.“What it might do, however, because of a negative interaction with a New York City police officer – why would they want to become a New York City cop when they feel that they’ve been inappropriately dealt with in stop, question and frisk?”
Keeping his statements in mind, perhaps the NYPD’s reputation is the real problem.