NY Police Department Labels Asian American Cops ‘Y’ For Yellow, Internal Documents Reveal

Editor’s Note: An earlier draft of this story mistakenly labeled the Nassau County Police Department as the NYPD. They are separate police departments and we apologize for the confusion.

A police department in New York has reportedly been using “Y” for “yellow” for demographic labeling of its Asian American police officers, documents on diversity revealed.

Based on a spreadsheet provided to the New York Civil Liberties Union by the Nassau County Police Department, police officers are labeled into five categories: B, H, Y, W and I in certain documents

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The “I” stands for Indian, which is used for Native American police personnel.

The Nassau County Police Department’s derogatory categorization method has been used for about 25 years, according to NBC New York.

NYCLU had earlier asked the department for its data on diversity, which is included in the new online database on New York police departments called Behind the Badge.

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The website, which features policies and data collected from more than 15,600 pages of documents gathered from seven of the largest departments across the state of New York, was launched last week.

“These derogatory denotations don’t only represent slurs against members of the department, they also raise questions about the way the police department thinks about Asian-Americans and the communities they are sworn to protect,” NYCLU lead policy counsel Michael Sisitzky was quoted as saying.

In response to the discovery, Nassau County Detective Lieutenant Richard LeBrun said the department would “immediately” modify the demographic labels they use, saying, “Asian Americans and Native Americans will be properly identified in the revisions to this IT system.”

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He also explained that the categorization methods were due to an old computer program.

“In this particular situation, this computer program was developed over a quarter century ago and in no way has the use of these letters reflected any bias toward our Asian American or Native American residents,” LeBrun told NBC.

NYCLU also concluded that departments have very few rules in place to govern how police operate in New York.

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Other anomalies NYCLU discovered after rummaging through tens of thousands of pages include the following:

Rochester police officers have reportedly been using cellphone capture devices in secret even if they didn’t have legal clearance.

White Plains police can turn their body cameras on or off as they please.

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Suffolk police are instructed to ask people for their country of birth when stopped.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/ Sullynyflhi (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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