Civil Liberties

New NYPD Training Urges Officers to Avoid Racial Profiling and Comments Like 'He's Irish, but I've Never Seen Him Drunk'

Training materials also suggest that imitating the speech patterns of other races or ethnicities may "appear disingenuous and possibly racist."


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The New York City Police Department (NYPD) isn't exactly known for cultural sensitivity. But the department has a bold new plan to curb racial and ethnic bias among its officers: Show them some Powerpoint slides. If a federal judge approves, the new NYPD training materials will instruct cadets "not to engage in racial profiling," not to "use terms or words that devalue groups of people," and not to tell "ethnic, racial, or sexist jokes." 

Surely, it's only a matter of time now before bigotry in the NYPD ranks is eradicated. 

And there's more: the training materials will instruct cadets "not to imitate speech patterns of other racial, ethnic and class groups when communicating cross culturally" because doing so may "appear disingenuous, artificial, and possibly racist." They also note that racial profiling is against the law, against NYPD policy, and a violation of "fundamental democratic precepts and freedoms." 

It is offensive. It violates your responsibility to treat people equally. It diverts us from catching real criminals. It alienates us from people who need us, and hurts our ability to do our job. You can probably think of other reasons not to do it, but the point is that you will not do it.

While simply ordering people to be open-minded seems unlikely to work, it's interesting to note that 1) cops imitating the speech patterns of people from other races or cultures is a significant enough problem to warrant specific instruction and 2) avoiding racial profiling is a novel concept for the NYPD.

Until 2013, when a federal judge declared the NYPD's "stop and frisk" program unconstitutional, racial profiling was basically official departmental practice. An analysis from the New York Civil Liberties Union showed 86 percent of those deemed "suspicious" enough to stop and frisk were black of Hispanic individuals. The vast majority of stop-and-frisk cases (88 percent) turned up no evidence of any crime.

Another new NYPD training tip: "Avoid expressing stereotypical assumptions that spotlight minorities or other groups, or that set them apart from others." For example, it suggests, would-be officers should avoid saying things like, "for a woman cop, she did a good job," "he's Latino, but he works hard," "she's black, but she really knows her stuff," "he's gay, but he'll leave you alone," "he's Colombian but not involved with drugs," "she's Italian, but I don't think her family has any mob connections," and "he's Irish, but I've never seen him drunk."