One Police Plaza

Promoting African-American Officers: It's Not Always So Easy

February 29, 2016

Everyone acknowledges the NYPD needs more African-American officers — especially at the top, Their numbers have not significantly increased in the past 30 years.

That’s why last year’s retirement of Chief of Department Philip Banks, the NYPD’s highest ranking black officer, hit with such a thud. Banks refused to accept a nominal promotion to First Deputy, which he felt marginalized him. Some saw his promotion as racism because, when Police Commissioner Bill Bratton ran the department 20 years before, his First Deputy, John Timoney, had had virtually unlimited power. Many department officials, on the other hand, viewed Banks’s resignation as immaturity. Had Banks sucked it up until Police Commissioner Bill Bratton departed, they said, he would have been first in line to succeed him,

Now, we have the story of police Officer Edwin Raymond, a smart, idealistic young black cop, whose actions raise similar issues. According to an article in the NY Times magazine of Feb. 21, headlined “A Black Officer’s Fight Against the NYPD,” Raymond, who scored eighth-highest on the sergeant’s exam, refused to make low-level arrests, which he says are racially discriminatory.

Like Banks, he has sabotaged his career.

“He’s what is known as a ‘conscientious objector,’ says a top department official who asked for anonymity because of the pending litigation. “He doesn’t want to lock up people because they are minorities. He refuses to do police work.”

With 11 other minority cops, Raymond is suing the department in federal court. According to the Times article, he secretly recorded a dozen police officials over the past two years to show that the NYPD’s practices contradict Bratton’s claim that quotas do not exist. He also secretly recorded the three high-ranking interlocutors on the sergeant’s promotion board: Chief of Intelligence Thomas Galati, Chief of Housing James Secreto, and Deputy Commissioner Mike Julian.

“Raymond is not the first police officer to record his commanders,” the article maintains. “Adrian Schoolcraft, who became the primary stop-and-frisk whistleblower, was forcibly admitted into a psychiatric ward for six days after objecting to police practices in 2009.”

Schoolcraft, however, was less a whistleblower than a malingerer. He was taken to the psychiatric ward of Jamaica Hospital, not because of whistleblowing, but because of leaving his post without permission. The department’s over-the-top retaliation led to the media’s exaltation of him. In the end, Schoolcraft fooled a lot of people, including this reporter.

According to the article, Raymond “cultivated a friendship” with Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain and founder of the organization, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. Adams testified in the Stop and Frisk suit against the department, and so bedeviled previous administrations that former police commissioner Ray Kelly brought him up departmental charges and tried, unsuccessfully, to take away his pension. Adams did not return phone calls or emails from NYPD Confidential, concerning his relationship with Raymond.

According to the secret recordings, Julian, Galati and Secreto 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 person familiar with his case. “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?

“He says arrests and summonses are not the only definition of work and can be counter-productive to reducing community disorder. He says he speaks with turnstile jumpers and gives warnings to first offenders. He started a program (PLOT) to help at-risk teens in Flatbush.

"He must have some interest in breaking the cycle of inner city violence.” 

Whatever the answers to these questions, Raymond’s promotion was denied because of his poor arrest record.

Copyright © 2016 Leonard Levitt