NYPD Officer Releases Audio Of Captain Commanding Him To ‘Target’ Black Men


Back in January, the New York Daily News ran a story about how NYPD officer Michael Birch was suing his superiors after they punished him for refusing to practice illegal racial profiling tactics and meet illegal quotas. In the story, Birch referenced a number of conversations in which his captain scolded him for not stopping enough black and Hispanic men. Now Birch has provided an audio recording of one of those conversations to Gawker, and it’s as bad as you’d expect.

In the secretly recorded conversation, Birch’s commanding officer can be heard berating him for not stopping enough “male blacks” while working the subway beat and attempting to writer “TABS” and “pop” people. (A tab is a summons for a transit violation; someone gets “popped” if they’re stopped for some petty infraction and it turns out they have a warrant out for their arrest.) The C.O. makes Birch affirm that black and Hispanic men commit the most crimes, then asks him why he’s not “targeting” them. Birch says “I target everybody,” and the captain reacts with disbelief that he only saw “two male blacks” jump the turnstile that year.

Throughout the clip, the captain’s implications are that 1.) black and Hispanic men commit most of the crimes in New York, therefore it’s acceptable for the police to target them, and 2.) any officer with a low proportion of black and Hispanic stops and/or arrests must be practicing some sort of reverse racism.

Commanding Officer: Who commits the crimes in the city?

Birch: Who commits the crimes? Well, it’s mostly teenagers, anywhere between the ages of 15 and 19, mostly male blacks and Hispanics.

OK. Who are you stopping?

Everybody. I stop everybody.

Fifty-four TABs up to 8/20. Twenty-five of those are female. Half.

Like I said, I stop everybody. I’m not targeting anybody.

You just told me who the bad guys are.

Yeah, I know that. But there’s also other people who are committing violations as well. I’m not saying that there’s not violations being made.

The male blacks, that you told me commit the crimes—

Plenty of people that I write summonses to are male blacks and male Hispanics.

You stopped two male blacks.

Not for the whole year. You’re telling me for the whole year I only stopped two male blacks on summonses?

8/20. From January 1st to August 20th. Fifty-four TABs: two male blacks, seven Hispanics, seven other, ten white, three Asian. So where are you targeting the perps that you just told me?

Like I said, if I don’t see a perp jumping over the turnstile, what am I supposed to do to him?

These people are not going to pop.

How do I know that? A female Hispanic that I stopped in Sheepshead Bay did pop, actually, for a warrant, and I arrested her. Female Hispanic. The Hispanics that we’re supposed to be going after. That are committing the crimes. The people that I—

Did you think that she was going to pop?

Did I think she was going to pop? I didn’t put no thought into it. If you come up for a collar, I’m taking you in.

Here’s what I see. You just described to me who’s committing the crimes. You’re fully aware of it. But you’re not targeting those people.

I am. I’m targeting everybody.

Two male blacks.

Whoever is out there. If I—

So you only saw two male blacks jump the turnstile?

If you’re saying that’s what’s in front of you, then yes, that’s all I saw, is two male blacks for the whole year jumping the turnstile. If you’re saying that’s what’s in front of you, I’m not disputing that. If that’s what I got there.

That is what you have. That is not disputed here.

I’m saying, we’re also talking Hispanics as well. I stopped a lot of Hispanics, too.

Seven male Hispanics. But more than half are female.

And like I said, everybody’s committing violations in front of me.

The identity of the commanding officer in the recording has yet to be independently confirmed, but Birch says it’s Constantin Tsachas, then captain of the transit bureau’s 32nd district. Tsachas, who has since been promoted to deputy inspector, is named in Birch’s lawsuit, along with “NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton; former commissioner Ray Kelly, who led the department at the time that Birch made his recording; and Joseph Fox, chief of the NYPD Transit Bureau.”

Of course, the pending lawsuit against Tsachas didn’t do shit to stop his promotion. In June, amid a storm of controversy surrounding said promotion, Bratton said the following about him: “I have full faith and support in him. This department does not engage in quotas and does not push its officers for activity that’s inappropriate.”

Sounds like something a racial profiler would say.


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