When a black police officer takes off his uniform, he becomes the target of the same racial profiling that has sparked tensions this year, culminating in massive protests against police brutality and the execution-style murders of two NYPD officers on Dec. 20.
In interviews with 25 black NYPD officers, both active duty and retired, Reuters found that all but one had been racially profiled off-duty, including being pulled over without cause and being pulled aside for stop-and-frisk while shopping. Five claimed that a gun had been pulled on them.
Retired officer Demond Blaize recalled being confronted by officers while jogging in Prospect Park in Brooklyn."I had my ID on me so it didn’t escalate," Blaize told Reuters."But what’s suspicious about a jogger? In jogging clothes?"
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The officers said the profiling had happened only with white officers. A third had filed complaints, which they said were either ignored or resulted in retaliation, like being denied promotions. The NYPD declined to comment for the story, including disclosing details about complaints filed by officers.
Complaints from the public, meanwhile, were found to be proportional to the demographics of the police force; some of the officers acknowledged to Reuters that they too had had allegations of false arrest and excessive force filed against them.
Data from the city's comptroller's office shows that since 2000, claims of misconduct by officers have risen 214 percent, Reuters noted.
All of the officers agreed that the arrest of Eric Garner, who was placed in a chokehold after resisting officers trying to detain him for allegedly selling cigarettes, could have been handled differently. But even if they'd been the officers at the scene, the result may not have changed: "That could have been any one of us," a Queens officer told Reuters.