A police officer in a Brooklyn precinct, one Adrian Schoolcraft, became gravely concerned about how the public was being served. To document his concerns, he began carrying around a digital sound recorder, secretly recording his colleagues and superiors. In excerpts, the 81st Precinct commander, a lieutenant and a sergeant talked about the constant pressure from bosses to push cops to "get their numbers." Precinct supervisors talk about a specific "numbers" quota, warn cops to pick up their numbers, or else, and complain about outside inspections. In one roll call, a supervisor tells officers to stop drawing penises in each other's memo books and drawing graffiti on the walls. There's also an extended speech on the virtues of personal hygiene. The pressure for "numbers" (summonses, arrests, stop and frisks and community visits) was worst at the end of each month and the end of each quarter because that's when individual officers had to file their activity reports. In other words, stay away from cops after the 25th of the month.

Schoolcraft recorded precinct roll calls. He recorded his precinct commander and other supervisors. He recorded street encounters. He recorded small talk and stationhouse banter. In all, he surreptitiously collected hundreds of hours of cops talking about their jobs.

Made without the knowledge or approval of the NYPD, the tapes—made between June 1, 2008, and October 31, 2009, in the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant and obtained exclusively by the Voice—provide an unprecedented portrait of what it's like to work as a cop in this city.

They reveal that precinct bosses threaten street cops if they don't make their quotas of arrests and stop-and-frisks, but also tell them not to take certain robbery reports in order to manipulate crime statistics. The tapes also refer to command officers calling crime victims directly to intimidate them about their complaints.

As a result, the tapes show, the rank-and-file NYPD street cop experiences enormous pressure in a strange catch-22: He or she is expected to maintain high "activity"—including stop-and-frisks—but, paradoxically, to record fewer actual crimes.

Here are two pieces, one below, one following, that I posted last year in which I claimed that being a cop, in and of itself, is a kind of psychiatric disorder:


A renowned Harvard Law professor, an African-American Harvard Law professor, one Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested two nights ago entering his own home. The white police sergeant, one James Crowley is trying to not apologize for the mistake, claiming that it was understandable somehow that under the circumstances, he was doing his duty to protect citizens.

Right. Except that after they realized that it in fact was Professor Gates' home, they still handcuffed him and booked him and held him in custody for four hours because they didn't like his attitude! The charges of “loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space” were subsequently dropped.

I've already written and posted and reposted my article entitled "SAY IT: RACISM IS A PSYCHIATRIC DISORDER!" so many times that I will only link to it this time. But now I would like to get even more offensive to the baby souls who blindly love blind authority and live with intense fear of the Other: "SAY IT: BEING A COP IS A PSYCHIATRIC DISORDER!"

Come on: SAY IT!

First of all, tell me which experience you have more often - whatever race you are - feeling really comforted by the presence of police nearby, or feeling intimidated and maybe even harassed? Be honest, even if it's only to yourself.

Personally, I have never committed a crime. I haven't even gotten a traffic ticket in 20 years. Yet, when I see a cop, I feel uncomfortable. I see a person, almost always a man, with a gun and a wooden stick in a militaristic uniform, a man who has chosen a profession, not even drafted, but chosen a career in which the job description includes the possibility of having to kill someone. I think, what does that guy do with that level of aggressive intent inside of him if no crime is being committed in his proximity? Does he offer to help you find a parking spot when you're late to pick up your kids at school? Does he remind you to buckle up for safety or cross at the green, not in between? HA! More often, he gleefully gives you a $100 ticket to go with his "Come on, make my day!" attitude if you dare think about protesting the unfairness of the letter of the law sometimes.

I remember watching The Three Stooges back in childhood, hosted by "Officer Joe Bolton," a kindly-looking actor in a policeman's uniform. My earliest impressions of cops were based on TV fantasies about dedicated cops who loved good people and hated only nefarious criminals. I loved cop shows back then. But I grew up and saw the docudrama "Serpico" (I even met the real Serpico at a lecture in college) and I realized that benign cops were the exception, not the rule. Baretta, Starsky & Hutch, I loved those down-to-earth, uncorruptable working class heroes. (I was thrilled that Paul Michael Glaser directed the pilot of my TV series, City Rock this past December.) But they're not real, folks.

Just to round this out, although I have never committed a crime, I have been the victim of crimes, several, in fact - break-ins and robberies of cars and property over the years, and once, a mugging in which I was jumped from behind by two men, in front of my own home, beaten, knocked unconscious and brought bleeding to a hospital. In that last one, unlike in shows like Law and Order or CSI, no cops even showed up to talk to me for FIVE DAYS!! The cops were on the scene when I was taken to the hospital, but it took them FIVE DAYS to come and pretend to investigate. I even told them I thought I might know who did it, and they basically shrugged, just as they did every time my car was vandalized.

So, scream if you want, whoever wants to, but think about it. That's all I ask. That's all I ever ask.


And don't waste on-line space writing to me about a good cop you know, or about exceptions. There are always exceptions... except when you don't have the change for the meter and you have to urgently run into a coffee shop to pee!

Officer Joe: "Don't worry, Sir, I'll watch your car for you while you run in to take care of nature's business."

Thanks, Officer Joe!

(Yeah, right!) NYUK! NYUK! NYUK!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just read this article on the Huff Post today "Tasered Man Bursts into Flames In Australia"
The comments, especially the one by "AndyWright68", should be added to this blog entry.


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