NYPD Officer Risks Job to Speak Out Against 'Stop-and-Frisk' Targeting of People of Color
The New York City Police Department’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” program was a major issue for voters going to the polls in the city’s mayoral election. The issue drew widespread attention in August when U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin found “stop-and-frisk” unconstitutional, saying police had relied on a "policy of indirect racial profiling" that led officers to routinely stop "blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white." While she did not halt use of the tactic, Scheindlin appointed a federal court monitor to oversee a series of reforms.
In a dramatic development last week, those reforms were put on hold. On Thursday, an appeals court stayed the changes, effectively allowing police officers to continue using “stop-and-frisk.”
Democracy Now! gets reaction from a police officer who has spoken out about problems with the program he and thousands of others are asked to carry out. Adhyl Polanco became critical of the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” policy when his superiors told officers to meet a quota of stops, or face punishment. Polanco made audio recordings of the quotas being described during meetings in his precinct, and brought his concerns to authorities, but he said he was ignored. He then took his audio tapes to the media, including the Village Voice, where reporter Graham Rayman wrote a series called "The NYPD Tapes," featuring several police officers like him. For several years, Polanco was suspended with pay. He has returned to work on the police force, where he has been put on modified assignment.
"You cannot treat the whole Black and Latino community as if they are all about to commit a crime," Polanco says. "I’ll handcuff anybody who’s committing a crime. But when you take a male black [and say]: 'Cuff him, he doesn't look like he belongs here.’ Cuff him for what?"