What Happens When a Cop Bucks the System?

Unknown-1I was a troublemaker when I was a police officer in Minneapolis. I know a little about what happens when a cop bucks the system. I was lucky, the organizational “bullet” missed me. I walked away with a graduate education and a chief’s job at age 30.

I avoided the career-wrecking machinations of the police subculture. I found it was a lot easier reforming the police from the top than from the bottom.

I resonated with the following article from “The Gothamist.” It covers a story that appeared last Sunday in “The New York Times Magazine” entitled: “A Black Officer’s Fight Against the NYPD.”

What these articles reveal is a very negative aspect of the police subculture. One that has the potential of continuing to subvert creativity and excellence in policing. Only a few years ago, the same issues where raised by an intelligent white police officer, Adrian Schoolcraft who is, unfortunately, no longer in police work as is Baltimore whistle-blower  [See more about whistle-blowers Schoolcraft, Michael Woods, Jr., and Joe Crystal].

Interestingly, all of these officers were considered to be leadership material within their agencies; Woods and Crystal had already been promoted to sergeant and detective. I don’t know how often this happens everyday in policing, but even to happen infrequently is a terrible loss that has untold ramifications down through a police organizations — “You are not to challenge ‘the system!'”

The questions these challenges raise are important ones for a police service that needs to move forward, seek college-trained officers, find new and better ways of doing things, and celebrate diversity.

The following is story of why police remain arrested in their development and unable to creatively move forward, control their use of deadly force, restore trust, defend the Constitution, and work closely with those whom they serve.


 


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Officer Raymond (2nd from right) receiving an award at his police academy graduation.

“Broken Windows is insatiable: If the idea is to prevent big crimes by attacking little crimes, as the city gets safer, you still have to keep coming up with little crimes to prosecute. Cops have fought the NYPD over quotas before. But a galling story in this week’s New York Times Magazine shows how Commissioner Bill Bratton’s department has punished an exemplary black officer who refuses to make bogus arrests.

“Officer Edwin Raymond began recording his interactions with his superiors in 2014 because despite being a model cop, he was given low marks because he wasn’t generating enough ‘activity.’

“Lt. Wei Long, then in his first month at District 32, confronted Raymond about his relatively low ‘activity.’ Like other supervisors featured in the early recordings, he expressed sympathy for Raymond, admitting that the ‘department is all about numbers’ and even acknowledging that this ‘sucks.’ Raymond challenged Long, as he did many of his superiors. ‘This is people’s lives,’ he tells a captain on one of the tapes. ‘It’s not a game.’

“But in an NYPD where less than 7% of senior members are black, it wasn’t just Raymond’s refusal to chase numbers that prevented his promotion. The Times published another recorded conversation Raymond has with a superior who likes and supports him, Sergeant Martin Campbell, who is also black.     


     “What is the issue with me?’’ he asked Campbell. ‘‘Just the activity, the quota?’’

     Campbell laughed. ‘‘What do you think, bro?’’

     ‘‘Man,’’ Raymond said.

     ‘‘Honestly, what do you think?’’

     ‘‘But it has to be more,’’ Raymond said, “because technically, when it comes to numbers—”     

     ‘‘No, no, no,’’ Campbell said. ‘‘There’s not more. That’s it.’’


 

“And yet that wasn’t it — at least, Raymond didn’t think so. There were other officers in the district, not many, but some, whose numbers were even lower than his.

     ‘‘You really want me to tell you what I think it is?’’ Campbell asked.

     ‘‘Of course, because I need to understand this.’’

     ‘‘You’re a young black man with dreads. Very smart, very intelligent, have a loud say, meaning      your words is loud. You understand what I’m saying by that?’’

     ‘‘Yeah.’’

     ‘‘I never seen anything like this, bro,’’ Campbell said.


 

“By late 2015, Raymond had joined a lawsuit other police officers of color had filed against the department for violating a law against quotas.

“But he also had the eighth highest score on the sergeant’s exam [given to over 6,000 candidates], and was tapped to participate in seminars and brainstorming sessions to improve the department. In December he met with a group of NYPD brass, including Deputy Commissioner of Personnel, Michael Julian, to argue the case for his promotion.

“’I want to hire a thousand of you,’ [Julian] said. He hadn’t conjured that exact number out of thin air. Julian, who is white, had recently been assigned the task of coordinating the recruitment of 1,000 black officers. That summer, the 57 black men and 25 black women who graduated from the academy represented less than 10 percent of the graduating class — the lowest percentage of black graduates in 20 years.

Along with the other executives at the hearing, Julian had already reviewed Raymond’s documents. He noted that Raymond had called in sick only once in seven years. ‘You don’t get sick,’ he said, his voice rising with enthusiasm. ‘There’s a lot of good about you.’

“Raymond was again denied the promotion, and was reassigned to an area where two other plaintiffs in the lawsuit had been sent.

“‘An officer who hides in a room, peeking through a hole in a vent, is more supervisor material than me,’ Raymond later told the Times, referring to transit cops who ambush teenage farebeaters (often young men of color) instead of helping those in need on the subway. ‘This is the system, and it needs to change.’

“The NYPD didn’t comment on Raymond’s case for the article. Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton have denied the existence of quotas, even after cops refused to abide by them en masse last year.

“’In 2015, the NYPD recorded more than a million fewer enforcement encounters compared with the highs of the previous decade,’ Bratton wrote in a Daily News op-ed last month. ‘If it ever were driven by numbers and quotas, today’s NYPD is not.’

Read the entire New York Times Magazine story and see if you believe that.