One In Six Undercover Cops Harassed by Other Cops

By Julianne Hing Dec 04, 2009

One in six undercover NYPD police officers reported having gotten into scuffles with other police officers who mistakenly thought they were suspects, according to a new study released this week by the NYPD’s police commissioner, Ray Kelly. The hope, it seems, is that the study will provide a little context for all those friendly fire shootings of Black men like officers Omar Edwards and Christopher Ridley who–oops!–actually turned out to be cops themselves. Kelly said:

"We’re putting new training in place. We have officers who work in plainclothes go to roll call, so that officers working in uniform can identify officers, perhaps from another command who are working in plainclothes."

But the point here is not that cops need to be able to figure out faster whether or not the next guy on the street is another undercover cop before they start harassing them. The takeaway is that cops, a notoriously skittish and aggressive bunch, need to check themselves when they’re on the street period. Police officers need to treat men of color like human beings and not like automatic suspects who are terrifying and scary and begging to be shot. Or, how’s this. Cops of America (Johannes Mehserle, you can listen too): imagine every Black and Latino man you encounter on the street is carrying a badge that you can’t see. Maybe it’ll make you think twice before you pull out your gun to kill them.