Matthew Guariglia is Affiliated Scholar at the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, Senior Policy Analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and coeditor of
“They Needed Me as Much as I Needed Them”: Black Patrolmen and Resistance to Police Brutality, 1900–1913
2023. "“They Needed Me as Much as I Needed Them”: Black Patrolmen and Resistance to Police Brutality, 1900–1913", Police and the Empire City: Race and the Origins of Modern Policing in New York, Matthew Guariglia
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African American New Yorkers, observing the recruitment of immigrant police officers, demanded the appointment of Black police. They did this as a response to decades of disproportionate arrests of Black men and women in the city and police brutality, and argued that a respectable Black officer would be better aware of disrespectable members of the community. The NYPD had needed immigrant officers for their language and cultural knowledge in a way they thought they did not need Black officers—but after a decade of activism Samuel Battle, the first Black NYPD officer, was appointed in 1911. Working only in majority Black neighborhoods, Battle himself understood the parallel with ethnic policing, claiming that he felt as if white officers needed his assistance to patrol San Juan Hill and Harlem.