The recording was provided to the New York Daily News for a story released in January, but the actual audio was not released to the public until now. Although the full recording is 36 minutes long, only a two-minute excerpt has been released.
That recording can be heard here:
New York transit officer Michael Birch said the recording took place in August 2012 during a performance evaluation.
“The conversation just turned completely weird to me,” Birch said. “Because he’s basically telling me it’s OK to racially profile.”
Birch is speaking with then-captain Constantin Tsachas in the recording, who was recently promoted to deputy inspector. An unidentified lieutenant can also be heard during one exchange.
The most damning text from the interview is transcribed below:
Commanding Officer: Who commits the crimes in the city?
Birch: Who commits the crimes? Well, it’s mostly teenagers, anywhere between the ages of 15 and 19, mostly male blacks and Hispanics.
OK. Who are you stopping?
Everybody. I stop everybody.
Fifty-four TABs up to 8/20. Twenty-five of those are female. Half.
Like I said, I stop everybody. I’m not targeting anybody.
You just told me who the bad guys are.
Yeah, I know that. But there’s also other people who are committing violations as well. I’m not saying that there’s not violations being made.
The male blacks, that you told me commit the crimes—
Plenty of people that I write summonses to are male blacks and male Hispanics.
You stopped two male blacks.
Not for the whole year. You’re telling me for the whole year I only stopped two male blacks on summonses?
8/20. From January 1st to August 20th. Fifty-four TABs: two male blacks, seven Hispanics, seven other, ten white, three Asian. So where are you targeting the perps that you just told me?
Like I said, if I don’t see a perp jumping over the turnstile, what am I supposed to do to him?
These people are not going to pop.
How do I know that? A female Hispanic that I stopped in Sheepshead Bay did pop, actually, for a warrant, and I arrested her. Female Hispanic. The Hispanics that we’re supposed to be going after. That are committing the crimes. The people that I—
Did you think that she was going to pop?
Did I think she was going to pop? I didn’t put no thought into it. If you come up for a collar, I’m taking you in.
Here’s what I see. You just described to me who’s committing the crimes. You’re fully aware of it. But you’re not targeting those people.
I am. I’m targeting everybody.
Two male blacks.
Whoever is out there. If I—
So you only saw two male blacks jump the turnstile?
If you’re saying that’s what’s in front of you, then yes, that’s all I saw, is two male blacks for the whole year jumping the turnstile. If you’re saying that’s what’s in front of you, I’m not disputing that. If that’s what I got there.
That is what you have. That is not disputed here.
I’m saying, we’re also talking Hispanics as well. I stopped a lot of Hispanics, too.
Seven male Hispanics. But more than half are female.
And like I said, everybody’s committing violations in front of me.
Birch also filed a federal lawsuit against the city and NYPD officers last January, saying that he was punished for giving his concerns about what he saw as an illegal quota system. Birch claims that he was denied overtime and given less desirable assignments as a result of his “poor performance.”
“It’s very hard to have a job where the whole public is against you, including your bosses. And when you actually try to do something right, they don’t care,” Birch said. “I can’t wait to get away from this place.”
Birch’s case was dismissed by a judge, but he has since appealed to a higher court. He has also joined other officers with the “NYPD 12” in a class-action suit that accuses the NYPD of implementing an illegal quota system that disproportionately targets minorities.