There’s a long-standing argument surrounding the premise that racial profiling and racism in American police departments are systemic. While there are officers and civilians who are willing to discuss the prevalence of both phenomena, some refuse to acknowledge they exist perhaps for fear of a growing perception that bad cops outnumber the good.

Michael Birch, an NYPD officer,  is suing the department on the grounds that he was punished for whistleblowing. Birch spoke out regarding a system involving what he describes as an “illegal quota” which is a practice designed to racially profile black males and inflate officers’ arrest rate for this demographic.

Birch has leaked an audiotape revealing his supervisor telling him to target black males suggesting that they are more likely to “pop”, meaning the person has a warrant out for their arrest.

The audio begins with the Captain asking Birch

“who commits the crime in the city”.

Birch describes the usual suspect as

“mostly teenagers anywhere between the ages of 15 and 19, mostly male blacks and Hispanics.”

The Captain suggests that Birch’s record of arrests does not reflect enough black males stating that from January 1st to August 20th of 2015, Birch only arrested “two male blacks, seven Hispanic, seven other, ten white, three Asian.” The Captain can clearly be heard asking

“so where are you targeting the perps that you just told me?”

For many, this is merely an affirmation of what was already known. For others, the audiotape won’t be sufficient evidence proving the practice of racial profiling. I fall into the former category and I am willing to admit that although this is disgusting, it is not a new discovery and that’s exactly where the problem lies.



PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.

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