Everyone acknowledges the NYPD needs more African-American officers, especially at the top, where numbers have not significantly increased in 30 years.
That’s why last year’s retirement of Chief of Department Philip Banks, the NYPD’s highest-ranking black officer, hit with a thud. Banks refused to accept a nominal promotion to first deputy, which he thought marginalized him. Some saw the promotion as racism because when Commissioner Bill Bratton ran the NYPD 20 years before, his first deputy had virtually unlimited power. But many NYPD officials viewed the resignation as immature; had Banks sucked it up until Bratton left, they said, he would’ve been first in line to succeed him,
Now, we have Officer Edwin Raymond, a smart and idealistic 30-year-old black cop whose actions raise a similar issue. According to The New York Times magazine, he scored eighth-highest on the sergeant’s exam and refuses to make low-level arrests he says are racially discriminatory. He and 11 other minority cops are suing the NYPD in federal court. According to the Times, he secretly recorded police officials over the past two years to show the NYPD’s practices contradict Bratton’s claim that quotas don’t exist. He also recorded three high-ranking interlocutors on the sergeant’s promotion board. Like Banks, he has sabotaged his career.
“He’s what is known as a ‘conscientious objector,’ ” says a top NYPD official who asked for anonymity because of pending litigation. “He doesn’t want to lock up people because they are minorities. He refuses to do police work.”
According to the recordings, Chief of Intelligence Thomas Galati, Chief of Housing police James Secreto and Deputy Commissioner Mike Julian were troubled by Raymond’s poor evaluations for his failure to make arrests.
“Is Raymond the catalyst that finally breaks the cult of quotas?” said an NYPD official familiar with his case who asked for anonymity to speak freely. “Or is he just another oxygen thief, hiding his indifference behind the mantle of heroic reformer? Is Raymond’s low activity a sign of indifference, or are his supervisors incapable of seeing that he cares and can correct conditions without summonses?”
Whatever the answers, Raymond’s promotion to sergeant was denied because of his poor arrest record.