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Police officers explain how they’re encouraged to act in racist ways

“When you put any type of numbers on a police officer to perform, we are going to go to the most vulnerable.”

Some people are still skeptical that police really do have a race problem, despite all the data showing that black people are disproportionately likely to be shot and killed by police.

These skeptics might want to know that even some police officers are admitting they have a problem. In a recent investigation, several New York City police officers clearly described the issue to WNBC in New York:

As the officers describe it, the big problem is they are constantly encouraged to arrest and ticket as many people as possible to look like they’re doing their jobs. As a result, they target the most vulnerable communities.

“When you put any type of numbers on a police officer to perform, we are going to go to the most vulnerable,” Adhyl Polanco, a New York City police officer, said. “We’re going to [the] LGBT community, we’re going to the black community, we’re going to go to those people that have no boat, that have no power.”

This isn’t a new allegation for the New York City Police Department. A court previously shut down the agency’s “stop-and-frisk” policy because it disproportionately targeted minority communities.

But it isn’t something that’s exclusive to New York City. In Ferguson, Missouri, for one, a Justice Department investigation found cops were pressured by the city government to raise as much revenue as possible by ticketing residents. Since police were most active in neighborhoods that are predominantly black, these residents were targeted at hugely disproportionate rates: Ferguson is about 67 percent African-American, but from 2012 to 2014, 85 percent of people stopped, 90 percent of people who received a citation, and 93 percent of people arrested were black.

This is one of the key reasons there are such huge racial disparities in law enforcement. It’s not just that individual officers hold subconscious racial biases — although they do. It’s also that the criminal justice system deploys officers in a way that’s racially biased.


Watch: Why recording the police is so important

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