When Edwin Raymond, decided almost a decade ago to call out the New York Police Department (NYPD) for their dubious arrests, policing, and ticketing practices, he set into motion a chain of events that would lead to a class action lawsuit, an Emmy-award winning documentary, and now, a newly-released memoir on the Haitian-American NYPD veteran’s experience blowing the whistle on the department’s illegal arrests quota system.
On Oct. 14, Brooklyn’s King’s Theatre hosted Inconvenient Conversations, a “book launch experience” celebrating the release of Raymond’s memoir “An Inconvenient Cop,” co-written with Jon Sternfeld, a New York Times best-selling author and ghostwriter. Hosted by Malik Yoba, the evening consisted of a panel discussion on police injustice, featuring author and activist Shaun King; author and social justice leader, Tamika Mallory; and New York City Public Advocate, Jumaane Willams. George Floyd’s brother, Terrence Floyd, also made an appearance.
Taking a detour from typical book releases and signings, Raymond transformed the event into a cultural experience by bringing to life excerpts from his memoir as theatrical scenes, followed by a brief discussion with Yoba about the interaction the scene brought to life.
The first scene highlighted an encounter where Raymond was policing the subways when one of his colleagues arrested a man who temporarily rested a half-drunk soda can near his foot, while waiting for a train with his pregnant wife.
“This is when I first understood what this numbers game, this pressure causes even good people to do,” Raymond said. “Regardless of where your politics are, your biases are, if you simply go along with that, you are contributing to the problem, and a lot of my colleagues, who are sitting right in here, they couldn’t see it.”
The scenes that followed after, all illuminated the difficult positions officers are forced to contend with while policing, including pressure to make arrests.
The scenes ranged from incidents where a police officer falsely filed a missings persons report to be able to arrest an underaged youth, to a heartfelt reenactment of a one-on-one with Raymond and a coworker discussing his initial apprehension to speak out about the practices he witnessed.
“When I first blew the whistle, I never expected support from cops. I was honestly ready for a lot. But, that’s the one thing I was ready for,” said Raymond. “Cops of all ranks, even chiefs, said ‘I can’t believe you have the heart to say something. Thank you.’”
In December 2015, Raymond was the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the city and police department. The suit, filed in the Southern District of New York court, alleged violation of their rights by “punishing and retaliating” against the officers for “speaking out against the quota.” Raymond and the officers were given “negative evaluations” and denied “upgrades and promotions” among other punitive actions. The claims in the case were dismissed in 2022, except for co-plaintiff, Pedro Serrano’s claim that he was retaliated against for testifying in a stop-and-frisk lawsuit; and co-plaintiff Sandy Gonzalez’s claim that then Police Commissioner William Bratton and the City of New York retaliated against him for complaining about policies like quotas.
In the years since, Raymond has become a fixture in the community, advocating for equitable policing and empowering justice minded officers. He continues to be a vocal critic of broken windows policy and a police culture driven by arrests and ticketing.
In 2021, he launched a campaign for City Council to represent the 40th Council District, which boasts one of the largest concentrations of Haitians in New York City, but lost the election to now councilwoman, Rita Joseph.
“It hits differently when you see the words on the page come alive in front of you,” Anjuli Andre, who attended the book launch, said. “We know these inequities exist, but to have it clear as day in front of you, it’s even more eye-opening and troubling.”
“An Inconvenient Cop” is available now at all major retailers.