Police Commissioner Bill Bratton now says he will lift the number of black cops on the job after getting into hot water for telling the Guardian that there are so few black cops in the NYPD “because so many of them have spent time in jail.”
He told radio station AM-970 he expects to see double the number of black enrollees in the Police Academy over the next year and that he fully intends to make sure they have the proper support to see through the process.
“We are really committed to increasing minority representation — not just blacks, women,” said Bratton, reports the Daily News.
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The numbers of black men in the current academy class is abysmally low.
BY THE NUMBERS
“We just need to do a better job of keeping (African-Americans) in the process, and working harder to recruit them into the process," he continued. "And I’m comfortable we can do that.”
Bratton was under scrunity after making cringeworthy comments to the Guardian in an article published on Tuesday.
“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,” hetold the newspaper. Bratton has since backtracked and said his remarks were taken out of context.
The New York City Police Department won’t look at an applicant for police work if he or she has a felony criminal record.
Bratton complicated the entire mess by acknowledging that part of the reason “so many” have been in jail is because ofthe “unfortunate consequences” of an explosion in “stop, question and frisk”arrests on minor infractions.
He insisted on NY1 Wednesday night that summonses and misdemeanors don't disqualify job appplicants from being hired -- only felonies -- but admitted the policy may have turned young men of color off to considering a law enforcement career.
Bratton's critics are demanding that he fix the problems caused by Stop and Frisk, which has been shown to disproportionately target men of color, giving them summonses for misdemeanors. Some of them are minor offenses that City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is fighting to decriminalize.
“This is a teachable moment that affirms that 'broken windows' policing destroys lives and opportunities,” says Public Advocate Letitia James.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is calling for change.
Adams is a former cop, co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, and former president of the Grand Council of Guardians, an advocacy group for black cops.
“There is a solution to this diversity problem, and it comes in the form of our City’s great Triple-A division of policing, including our school safety agents, traffic enforcement agents, and the Health and Hospitals Corporation police officers,” he tells Metro.
“Unfortunately, we don’t allow them to take the NYPD exam if they don’t have two years of college experience, even if they have served honorably for more than two years on their respective forces.
“Expanding access to exams for these officers with two years or more of experience will help improve diversity because overwhelmingly these agencies are more diverse than the city they serve,” he says.
“I have discussed this proposal with City Hall and One Police Plaza, and I believe the time is now to act. This moment has revealed an opportunity for New York’s Finest to live up to their moniker. Let’s promote these officers to the big leagues of New York City policing, paving a pathway to greater diversity, public safety, and opportunity.”
But Noel Leader, also a co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, says Bratton’s comments are “very revealing of his mindset” and he believes Bratton has no interest in hiring blacks.
“I’m outraged. I’m offended, but it’s typical of him,” he says.
He notes that 70 percent of Department of Correction and 80 percent of school safety officers are black and that those positions pay far less than a cop’s salary.
“There’s never been a time in the history of the NYPD that they’ve had an open-door policy to African-Americans, and it has nothing to do with criminal backgrounds,” Leader says in a Daily News Op-Ed.
Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, is defending Bratton.
“I know Commissioner Bratton well enough to say that I don’t see him as a racist guy by any means. I just don’t believe he articulated whatever it was he was trying to explain correctly,” Mullins wrote in The News.
Adams adds: “Black men want to serve and protect their communities … We need a diverse police force that our communities can be proud of, one that creates role models through a reflection of true courtesy, professionalism and respect.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio has defended Bratton against critics like Leader and said the commissioner is committed to ruling out racism and expanding diversity.
Brooklyn-born John A. Oswald is editor-at-large of Metro.US. Follow him on the Twitters -- @nyc_oz.