In a new lawsuit, a transit officer from the New York Police Department (NYPD) claims he was penalized for not targeting Hispanics and African-Americans while patrolling New York’s subways during the height of the city’s “stop-and-frisk” policy.
During an exclusive interview with the New York Daily News, Michael Birch, 44, revealed he secretly recorded a 2011 conversation with Capt. Constantin Tsachas while he was employed by District 34 in Brooklyn. In it, Tsachas and another officer (not named in the lawsuit) gave Birch a poor performance review because his reports weren’t adding up to support the idea that Black and Hispanic teens were the biggest perpetrators of hopping turnstiles.
Birch’s stops mostly caught women and White people committing the crime.
Birch told Tsachas he wasn’t targeting a certain group, but merely catching those breaking the law. The tape implied Tsachas wanted the 16-year veteran to keep his eyes open for minorities.
Thanks to the disturbing conversation, Birch believes he was withheld promotions, eventually leading him to file the lawsuit against the NYPD.
The New York Daily Post reports:
“You describe to me who’s committing the crimes, you’re fully aware of it and you’re not targeting those people,” Tsachas said on the tape, which was reviewed by the Daily News. “Almost half the people you see jumping turnstiles are females,” Tsachas griped. “If you were going to write a report on who’s jumping the turnstiles, you’d say half are females.”
“If these people (black and Hispanic teens) are not jumping over turnstiles, what am I going to do?” he argued.
Tsachas was not satisfied that the cop was making an effort to fight crime — and suggested Birch watch turnstiles while hiding.
“You’re like the fire department. You’re just waiting,” the captain said. “The proactive is not there . . . putting your hands on a limited amount of people and not the right people.”
A lieutenant, who is not a defendant in the suit, chimed in: “If you see a group of kids that meet that description, you’re not being racist and you’re not, what’s the word I’m looking for, stereotyping male blacks,” the lieutenant said. “I’m not saying you have to rip his coat and pants off.”
Birch’s lawyer Eric Sanders told the Daily News citizens’ civil rights were ignored in an effort to make money and uphold the legacy of higher-ups. Birch was transferred to the 79th Precinct in Bed-Stuy, a predominately Black area, where he reportedly has “had no performance problems.”
Birch isn’t the first officer to speak out against the NYPD’s questionable tactics. Throughout the duration of former police commissioner Ray Kelly’s stop-and-frisk policy, several officers claimed the system was being used to target minority youth and men.
And, a dozen Black and Hispanic officers filed a lawsuit against Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and the city last year, saying they were forced to make “discriminatory and unwarranted” arrests in their own neighborhoods. Officer Craig Matthews, a 17-year veteran who was recognized as the whistleblower and brought attention to illegal quotas in the Bronx, is expected to receive a $280,000 settlement from the city.
SOURCE: NY Daily News | VIDEO CREDIT: Inform