Bratton Says Comments on Hiring Black Cops Taken ‘Out of Context’

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Police Commission Bill Bratton today defended his comments about the difficulty of recruiting black men to serve in the NYPD—but said his comments on the impact of stop-and-frisk on hiring was taken out of context.

“Stop-and-frisk is not preventing people from coming on the job. It’s not something that prohibits them,” Mr. Bratton said today at an unrelated news conference in the Bronx.

Mr. Bratton’s made his comments the day after the British newspaper The Guardian posted an article based on him saying that it’s difficult to hire more African-American males “because so many of them have spent time in jail.” The article went on to say Mr. Bratton had blamed the “unfortunate consequences” of an increase in stop, question and frisk.

But today Mr. Bratton said being stopped and frisk would have no impact on whether someone could become a cop. (The vast majority of those stopped at the height of the program, and today, are not charged with a crime. The vast majority of those stopped are also black.)

“What it might do, however, is because of a negative interaction with a New York City police officer, why would they want to become a New York City cop, when they felt they’d been inappropriately dealt with by stop, question and frisk?” Mr. Bratton asked today.

In remarks later in the day on NY1’s Inside City Hall, Mr. Bratton went further, noting that in 2009 the department added a question to its application asking whether the would-be officer had ever been stopped. Mr. Bratton said he removed it.

“I took that off when I became police commissioner,” he said.

Asked why other departments, like school safety agents, have a higher rate of black employees, Mr. Bratton noted there were different requirements, namely two years of college. Would he change that?

“Not at all. I created it,” he said during the press conference, noting it cut down on corruption in the ranks.

Mr. Bratton said he was not quite misquoted by the Guardian, but that the newspaper had taken him out of context. He made his comments to reporter Donna Ladd, whom he praised for writing two in-depth articles that he said showed the NYPD, “warts and all.” But the third article—”the one you all jumped on,” Mr. Bratton told the press—was written by another reporter, who had taken quotes from Ms. Ladd’s prior stories.

“The third reporter basically had a focus to create a controversial article which she certainly did,” Mr. Bratton said, saying the story gave his quotes “a totally different context.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Bratton thanked the Guadian for letting him discuss the department’s efforts to recruit more black officers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the commissioner was breaking down barriers.

“I think it’s gonna be an even more representative department, because every kind of New Yorker is gonna wanna be part of the NYPD,” he said.

Bratton Says Comments on Hiring Black Cops Taken ‘Out of Context’