EXCLUSIVE: NYPD cop claims he was punished for not stopping enough black, Hispanic teens in subways
An NYPD cop claims in a federal lawsuit that he was punished by supervisors for not stopping enough black and Hispanic teens in the subways.
Michael Birch, 44, was a transit cop in District 34 in Brooklyn when he secretly recorded a sit-down with his commanding officer and a lieutenant after he had received a poor evaluation in 2011.
Birch was reminded by Capt. Constantin Tsachas that most of the crimes in the subway system were being committed by black and Hispanic teens, while most of the cop’s stops were of women and whites.
“You describe to me who’s committing the crimes, you’re fully aware of it and you’re not targeting those people,” Tsachas said on the tape, which was reviewed by the Daily News.
He said Birch’s police stops only reflected part of the picture.
“Almost half the people you see jumping turnstiles are females,” Tsachas griped. “If you were going to write a report on who’s jumping the turnstiles, you’d say half are females.”
Birch, a 16-year veteran of the force, insisted he was not targeting any specific group and simply stopped whoever he observed committing fare evasion.
“If these people (black and Hispanic teens) are not jumping over turnstiles, what am I going to do?” he argued.
Tsachas was not satisfied that the cop was making an effort to fight crime — and suggested Birch watch turnstiles while hiding.
“You’re like the fire department. You’re just waiting,” the captain said. “The proactive is not there . . . putting your hands on a limited amount of people and not the right people.”
A lieutenant, who is not a defendant in the suit, chimed in: “If you see a group of kids that meet that description, you’re not being racist and you’re not, what’s the word I’m looking for, stereotyping male blacks,” the lieutenant said. “I’m not saying you have to rip his coat and pants off.”
The suit alleges Birch was deprived of overtime, given undesirable assignments and had his work monitored as a result of not meeting the performance measures which the suit contends is a code word for illegal quotas.
“The powers that be are more concerned about their personal legacies than the civil rights of the citizens,” Birch’s lawyer Eric Sanders told The News.
The Birch tapes occurred during the administration of former NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, when several other cops also stepped forward to complain about quotas for arrests, summonses and stop-and-frisks. A Manhattan federal judge found Kelly’s stop-and-frisk strategy was being illegally carried out, which led to the appointment of a court-appointed monitor.
An NYPD spokesman deferred to the city Law Department for comment. A Law Department spokesman said all of Birch’s allegations will be reviewed.
Sanders noted Birch was transferred to the 79th Precinct in Bed-Stuy where, “miraculously, he has had no performance problems.”