Most of the time, when we think of racial profiling, we think of an incident in which white cops stop (and-frisk, search, or at times do something worse to) a black or Latino individual. The usual back-and-forth ensues: the victim claims he was racially profiled, and the NYPD says that its officers don’t engage in racial profiling.
Therefore it was fascinating to see a story in the Daily News this past week in which those charging the NYPD with bias—were themselves members of NYC’s Finest.
Three hate crime task force detectives — two black, one Pakistani — were going to door-to-door in the predominantly white Gravesend section of Brooklyn as they investigated a possible hate crime. The three, Faisal Khan, Stephon Garland, and Gregory Wilson were wearing suits at the time.
Next thing they know, according to the report, about 15 members of the Shomrim Jewish Community Patrol show up accusing them of impersonating police officers. Of course, the detectives dispute this. The situation escalates and eventually officers from the 61st Precinct arrive and demand to see the detectives’ identification.
The Daily News reports that a tense profanity-laced argument followed between the detectives and the white uniformed officers. This escalated into what almost became a physical fight and apparently both men had to be restrained.
In the end, Detective Garland felt “he was treated in a disrespectful manner because of the color of his skin,” the report states. Now the NYPD brass is investigating the confrontation to see if there were violations of department rules on either side.
Unfortunately, stories like this one echo other recent incidents, all of which would imply some sort of racial profiling going on, if at the least, sub-conscious on the part of the white officers:
- In May 2008, two white plainclothes officers ordered the department’s highest-ranking black uniformed cop — a three-star chief, Douglas Zeigler, head of the Community Affairs bureau — out of his car when he was off-duty in Queens.
- In May 2009, a white plainclothes officer shot and killed an off-duty black officer, Omar Edwards, who had his gun drawn and did not immediately identify himself. Nonetheless, some black officers questioned whether Officer Edwards was given enough time to identify himself before he was shot in East Harlem. They also noted the fatal shot (of three) was to his back.
The question remains: are plainclothes or off-duty officers and detectives of color subject to racial profiling? As Daily News’ Columnist Errol Louis has noted, you never see the headline ‘Black cop shoots white cop.’