By Sam Bojarski

He became a police officer to change the New York Police Department (NYPD) from within. Now, about four years after filing a lawsuit challenging quota-based policing, Haitian-American and Flatbush native Edwin Raymond is running to represent New York City’s 40th Council District. 

“At a time when mistrust in the department is at an all-time high, I will continue to take a stand. And this is why I’ve decided to run for New York City Council here in the 40th District,” Raymond said while announcing his campaign on June 25. 

Edwin Raymond addresses supporters and the media at a press conference. Photo by Sam Bojarski

Raymond made the announcement at a press conference, held on the corner of Ocean and Parkside avenues. Actor and Flatbush native Michael K. Williams also addressed the media and a throng of supporters gathered outside the southeast entrance to Prospect Park. 

Williams credited Raymond for the courage he has shown, “by calling out the ills and the wrongs that he has seen personally working in the NYPD.” 

He added that “the time has come for us to make our voice count and to make it matter.” 

Councilmember Mathieu Eugene, also a Haitian American, currently represents District 40. While Eugene has not declared his candidacy for next June’s election, eight candidates have filed paperwork for the District 40 race, according to information published by the city’s Campaign Finance Board

Raymond and the 11 other officers who filed the discrimination lawsuit have become known as the NYPD 12. The lawsuit alleges that an NYPD quota system unfairly targets minority communities. The city continues to fight the lawsuit, and the NYPD has denied the use of illegal quotas. 

During the press conference, Raymond highlighted his understanding of the need for police reform, based on his 12 years of experience as an officer. He advocated for defunding the NYPD and redirecting money to other areas, like education and health. 

“I’m running for teachers that need more resources. I’m running for hospitals that need more funding. I’m running for communities that need more opportunities,” he added. 

“With several local races underway, our city’s leadership is going to drastically change in 2021. As our community’s needs continue to evolve, we have seen residents of diverse cultural and professional backgrounds declare their candidacy for public office. Lt. Edwin Raymond, a longtime friend with a similar upbringing in Brooklyn by immigrant parents and commitment to public service, is running to represent the neighboring 40th Council District. Edwin entered law enforcement to be on the frontlines, not only protecting his community but working on better policing methods and criminal justice reform,” said Council Member Farah N. Louis, who represents the 45th District.

“I am proud of all he has accomplished over the years to help dismantle systemic racism within the NYPD. I look forward to working alongside whomever the residents of the 40th Council District decide to be their advocate in City Hall,” Louis added, in a statement.

For years, Raymond has been an advocate and mentor for youth in Brooklyn. He is a co-founder of Preparing Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT), a mentoring program for at-risk youth. 

Edwin Raymond (center), surrounded by supporters and campaign staff, during his June 25 campaign announcement. Photo by Sam Bojarski

Raymond has supported other youth-focused initiatives in Brooklyn. Three years ago, Tyrell Morant of East New York started a basketball program that paired teenagers in the community with police officers, in order to forge relationships between the two groups. 

“When Edwin heard about it, he jumped fully on board and was actively a part of getting police officers to come and participate, actually having conversations with the teenagers about different things that they can do to improve their education (and) relationships,” Morant said. 

“He’s always been a guiding figure as I continue my own journey in the public space,” Morant also said of Raymond.

The son of Haitian immigrants, Raymond said he has been representing the people of the 40th Council District for years, by exposing the pressure and quotas within the NYPD that he says have negatively impacted policing. He also said that moving toward more organic, community-based policing has produced less negative interactions between police and community members.

“The numbers the department likes to brag about today, they didn’t come from thin air, they came from having their arms bent. They came from officers like myself and the 11 others in the lawsuit, by exposing the issues,” said Raymond. 

Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America fellow. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at sam@haitiantimes.com or on Twitter @sambojarski.

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