Gawker has posted an audio recording provided to them by an NYPD officer who’s suing the department for retaliating against his whistleblowing on an illegal quota system that pressured officers to profile Black men. New York transit officer Michael Birch had his original case dismissed, so he has filed an appeal with a higher court. The supervisor pressuring Birch on the tape recorded during an August 2012 performance evaluation is reportedly NYPD Capt. Constantin Tsachas.
“The conversation just turned completely weird to me, because he’s basically telling me it’s OK to racially profile,” said Birch, who went into the meeting expecting a routine evaluation. “Two male Blacks … so you’re telling me you only saw two male Blacks jump the turnstile?” Tsachas can be heard criticizing Birch in the recording for only stopping two Black men out of 54 people.
One might speculate that Tsachas thought he was speaking to a White officer, given Birch’s persona.
“I was shocked. I was not only shocked, I was mad. My last name is Birch. I look white. They didn’t realize I was a Puerto Rican kid, and they’re just saying this to me like it’s OK. It’s OK, we’re amongst friends,” said Birch.
John Scola, Birch’s attorney who also represents a group of 12 NYPD officers of color who sued the city over alleged policing quotas, is fighting a larger trend disproportionately affecting minority New Yorkers.
“The targeting of minorities by the NYPD has caused so many problems throughout our city yet the NYPD continues to promote officers who engage in these activities,” Scola said.
Birch has come to the realization that enough is enough.
“I don’t want to be stopped because I’m Puerto Rican,” he added. “I want to get stopped because I did something wrong…It’s very hard to have a job where the whole public is against you, including your bosses. And when you actually try to do something right, they don’t care,” said Birch. “I can’t wait to get away from this place.”