New York City Police Officer Adhyl Polanco, who is Black, showed that members of the NYPD in fact are capable of seeing the current turmoil and anger in the city through the eyes of the outraged Black community.
During an interview on Democracy Now, Polanco asked how his NYPD colleagues could find fault with Mayor Bill de Blasio for expressing his fears for his biracial son, Dante.
“How can a parent who has a Black child, how can a parent who has seen millions of kids being stopped by stop and frisk — and you know the statistic of that — how can the parents of Black kids see kids get killed by police over and over, how can parents see kids be summoned illegally, being arrested in their own building for trespassing, and being the treatment they get from the police department — not from all officers because not all officers are the same — how can you not responsibly have that conversation with your son?” he asked. “I have to have the conversation, and I’m a police officer.”
Polanco was reacting to the move by more than a thousand officers at the weekend funeral for slain cop Rafael Ramos to turn their backs on de Blasio. The officers said they considered the mayor siding with the enemy because he appeared to be sympathetic to the concerns of protesters angry about the killing of Black men.
Though Ramos’ family said they welcomed de Blasio at the funeral, the officers decided to disrespect the man who is essentially their boss.
“How come we cannot honor what they are calling for?” Polanco asked in his interview with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman. “Mayor de Blasio came to the police department that had a lot of issues before he got to this police department. Mayor de Blasio came with the attitude that I can fix this police department, but this police department has a culture that is going to make whoever tries to change that culture, like, impossible, including the mayor.”
“It’s absolutely wrong to turn their backs on the mayor, this is not what we’re made of,” Polanco added. “This does not represent the police department, this does not represent how, when a family calls for peace and unity, you’re going to have a 100 officers doing the absolute opposite.”
Polanco became known to the public a few years ago when he informed the department’s Internal Affairs bureau that his supervisors in the Bronx were forcing him to meet ticket quotas and fudge numbers to make the precinct look better — and was rewarded for his efforts by being suspended by the department. He also testified against the department in the stop-and-frisk trial in federal court last year, which resulted in the policy being declared an unconstitutional violation of the rights of Black and Hispanic New Yorkers.
What has so upset New York officers is de Blasio’s comments in the aftermath of a Staten Island grand jury deciding not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo in Eric Garner’s death.
Mayor de Blasio said in a shaky voice, “I couldn’t help but immediately think what it would mean to me to lose Dante. Things would never be the same again.”
De Blasio explained that every night he has to worry about his teen son’s safety despite the fact that he is a “law-abiding young man.”
He said that every time Dante leaves home he and his wife, Chirlane McCray, who is a Black woman, have to hope Dante is safe “not just from painful realities of crime and violence” but hope that he, and other Black men across the nation, will also be safe from “the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors. That’s the reality.”
“Black lives matter is a phrase that should never have to be said,” he continued. “It should be self-evident…but our history requires us to say it.”
In the Democracy Now interview, Polanco told Goodman that the head of the police union, Patrick Lynch, who has led the opposition to de Blasio, was wrong to say de Blasio had blood on his hands because the mayor had warned his biracial son that police might treat him differently. Lynch was implying that the mayor’s words had inspired Ismaaiyl Brinsley to kill Ramos and Wenjian Liu.
As other Black officers in New York have also indicated, Polanco said he had been abused by officers when he was out of uniform because many officers have “that mentality that Patrick Lynch and many other officers don’t want to hear about.”
“They don’t have to speak to their kids,” he explained. “If my kids and Patrick Lynch’s son walked the streets right now, chances are, the conversation I have to have with my son, he won’t have to have. As an officer, I’ve been thrown against the wall. As an officer, I’ve been shown no respect.”
“Not by this administration because we cannot say this administration is doing it, but by 12 years of dictatorship that we have by [Mayor Michael Bloomberg] and [NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly].”
Polanco said the protesters weren’t angry at all police.
“People are protesting against bad policies that have been in this country many, many, many years,” he insisted. “I think these protests were there before [two NYPD officers were assassinated]. I think the issues we have to resolve, we cannot deny that they’ve been there before the officers were dead.”