NYPD Black and Blue

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

With increased hostility to the police from alienated minorities and the poor, the New York Police Department in the late 60’s had to improve relations between them and the communities they served.

How do we move forward when we’re stuck in reverse?

We are now living in the future we looked forward to in 1968, a time when racial tensions blew up into riots expressing long simmering injustices,  a time of deep division between the people and those who had taken an oath to protect and serve them, a time when we thought we had finally addressed America’s race and police problem.

The findings of the Kerner Commission Report (formed by LBJ in 1968 to explain the riots that had erupted in our cities each summer since 1964)   were meant to strengthen the relationship between minorities and police and made recommendations to improve the situation for the future.

Cool It

When it came to injustice we were supposed to Cool It.

Like a vintage re-run on Hulu we’ve viewed too many times, the story playing out before us today is painfully familiar.

A New York City is torn by racial strife and angry protests, a public gripped by fear, anger and frayed nerves as the gulf between cops and African-Americans grow wider and a mayor who is the subject of police animosity.

It feels like it’s 1968 all over again.

Back then when cops were “pigs,” cities burned, protesters demanded change in policing as we knew it, while  a bitter debate about how American police forces treated non white citizens was escalating.

NYPD Blue

During that tumultuous time, the NYPD faced unprecedented tension and political battles.

They had a major public relations crisis.

Your Friend The Policeman

 

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

As the current NYPD relationship with their community frays, they might want to take a page from this promotional comic book published in 1968 in an attempt to building community relations and improve their image.

Reacting to public outcry that too many minorities were not being treated by cops in a fair way and hoping to repair their tarnished image, the NYPD began a publicity campaign to  strengthen the relationship between minorities and police which included publishing a sugar-coated promotional comic book called “Your Friend the Policeman.”

Since kids have long looked to comic book superheroes for a sense of justice and order, why not paint the troubled NYPD with the patina of a superhero,  champions of the oppressed with an unwavering commitment to truth justice and the American Way!

Distrust could be replaced by respect and awe as we came to believe in these men in blue as they  battle evil, fight thugs, save lives, and protect the modern metropolis of N.Y.C.

New York Gotham  City 1968

 

police NYPD1 SWScan02546

Following the adventures of 3 racially and ethnically mixed NYC kids, the comic book illustrates how much the police  helps the residents of NYC, demonstrating all the ways in which the benevolent police department  goes all out to make N.Y. a better, safer city for everyone.

police NYPD 2 SWScan02546

“Your Friend the Policeman” was distributed by NYPD to introduce the policeman to kids and recruit teenagers in 1968 . The Kerner Report released that year confirmed that too many minorities were not being treated by cops in a fair way and called for more racial diversity especially in the police forces. The comic book is notable for inclusion of African Americans as police officers.

Naturally  “Your Friend the Policeman”   adheres strictly to the comic book code enacted by the Comics Code Authority in 1954:

“In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds. Crime shall never be presented in such a way as to promote  distrust in the forces of law and justice. ”

 

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

Vintage Comic Book “Your Friend the Policeman” produced by the New York Police Department 1968

 

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

The Kerner Report challenged the longstanding impediments to blacks and Latinos in police work and confirmed what many already knew “For Negroes, police have come to symbolize white power and white oppression.”  Furthermore a housing department survey found that police bias was the single biggest obstacle to a healthy relationship between blacks and city authorities. Mayor Lindsay was selected by LBJ to be Vice Chairman of the Kerner Commission and he had a profound impact on its policy recommendations.

As Champions of the oppressed, it was important to show the NYPD  were reaching out and recruiting minorities, proving the policeman really is your friend.

A Better Relationship

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

Vintage Comic Book “Your Friend the Policeman” produced by the New York Police Department 1968

A good friend, the policeman was there to listen to you.

Like superheroes the NYPD  serve the powerless and fight to maintain order in his city.

But the powerless felt powerless to be heard.

Mayor John  Lindsay strongly believed police cannot be policed by those they work with everyday and introduced bold initiatives in police practice such as the appointment of a Civilian Complaint Review Board.

In order to instill public confidence that investigations of civilian complaints were handled fairly it made sense that the board itself should have civilian representation.

The first steps in creating the Civilian Complaint Review Board had been taken in 1950 when a coalition of 18 organizations lobbied the city to deal with police misconduct in general and “police misconduct in their relations with Puerto Ricans and Negroes specifically.”

In response to their demands the NYPD established the “Civilian Complaints Review Board” in 1953 as a committee of 3 deputy police commissioner to investigate civilian complaints. No civilians sat on the board.

 

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

Vintage Comic Book “Your Friend the Policeman” produced by the New York Police Department 1968

In 1966 with complaints of increasing police brutality against minorities increased, Lindsay proposed a civilian review board.

Like Mayor Bill De Blasio, who has come under a barrage of criticism with police officials blasting him for what they believe is an “anti-police state” Mayor John  Lindsay came under blistering attack by the police unions, demanding to “Dump Lindsay.”

John Cassese the president of the Police Benevolence Association at the time, was anything but benevolent to Lindsay and  vehemently opposed a civilian on the board famously saying “I’m sick and tired of giving in to minority groups with their whims and their gripes and shouting.”

Despite that, the mayor appointed 4 candidates and for the first time in the city’s history, people outside the department oversaw the investigation of complaints against public officers.

The Police staged protests, firmly opposing the possibility of outside scrutiny into the way officers conduct business.
Resorting to fear mongering, the police unions conducted a huge public relations campaign that eventually defeated the review board in a referendum that year.

With the board voted down, it returned to its previous all police make up.

It would take until 1987 for the city council to create a board with one private citizen. In 1993 after extensive debate and public comment, Mayor David Dinkins created the Civilian Complaint Review Board in its current all civilian form.

 

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

Vintage Comic Book “Your Friend the Policeman” produced by the New York Police Department 1968

 

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

Despite profound changes in the dept over the past 2 decades including legal victories on behalf of blacks and Latino officers and a series of publicity campaigns to recruit racial minorities the NYPD continues to be divided by politics of race and class.

 

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

Vintage Comic Book “Your Friend the Policeman” produced by the New York Police Department 1968

 

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

Vintage Comic Book “Your Friend the Policeman” produced by the New York Police Department 1968

 

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

Vintage Comic Book “Your Friend the Policeman” produced by the New York Police Department 1968

l

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

Vintage Comic Book “Your Friend the Policeman” produced by the New York Police Department 1968

 

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

Vintage Comic Book “Your Friend the Policeman” produced by the New York Police Department 1968

 

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

Vintage Comic Book “Your Friend the Policeman” produced by the New York Police Department 1968

 

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

Vintage Comic Book “Your Friend the Policeman” produced by the New York Police Department 1968

 

Vintage Comic Book "Your Friend the Policeman" produced by the New York Police Department 1968

Vintage Comic Book “Your Friend the Policeman” produced by the New York Police Department 1968

.

So we learn that just  like Superman  the NY Police officer  is a powerful force for good  vowing to spend his day fighting crime and injustice and helping those in need.

Postscript

But what has happened to the commitment to truth, justice and the American Way?

Police NYPD Violence Continues

(Top clockwise) An unarmed Sean Bell was shot 50 times by police, 1999 slaying of unarmed Amadou Diallo in a hail of 41 bullets in the Bronx, 1997 Police officers brutalized Abner Louima on the bathroom of a Brooklyn Station House, 2014 Police chokehold leads to the death of Eric Garner.

The 1960s were to have served as a wake up call to many Americans concerning police and race. Somehow we fell back to sleep.

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 You Might Also Enjoy

A Primer on Police and White Privilege

 

Advertisements

7 comments

  1. Fascinating. The police scientist looks like Clark Kent, a cop shoots the gun out of a bad guy’s hand, and the police academy class is all male. I don’t see many people with black hair and brown eyes, either. If I remember correctly, one of the good things that happened when women police officers began serving was that some people noticed that WPOs were skilled at handling “domestic calls” and defusing crisis situations with applied psychology — which included using common courtesy.
    I’m old, I’m white, and I’m female. Sometimes I go for a walk wearing a black hoodie, but no police officer has ever stopped me and made me empty my pockets onto the sidewalk. I’m pretty sure that if I ever forgot to fasten my seatbelt, and my car was stopped, the police would not smash my passenger window, drag my (white and white-haired) husband out of the car and taser him. (I’ve seen that video too many times.) I’d probably get the benefit of the doubt, and they’d probably call me “Ma’am” as long as I responded with courtesy and respect.
    I want to live in a country where all parents — not just white ones — can tell their children that “the policeman is your friend.” How do we make that happen?

    Like

  2. In the twenty or thirty years, the police in this country have more and more become militarized. If we could change that and get the cops to walking the beat in the communities they are supposed to protect. I think things would change. Too often it has become an us vs. them mentality for the police.

    Like

  3. Pingback: NYPD Black and Blue | astound me: D.A. Królak

  4. Pingback: police murder suspect that ran from them in Baltimore City by Got Haggis? - Page 48 - TribalWar Forums

  5. Pingback: A Primer on Police and White Privilege | Envisioning The American Dream

  6. Bill lombard

    It’s all negative comments from the elitists , how about this?, go to a community police meeting held every month in the pct, join the aux police and get a feel for what it’s really like, do a ride along and get to know the cops. It’s easy to throw rocks from afar or play keyboard warrior

    Like

  7. Pingback: THE INFORMATION #960 SEPTEMBER 29, 2017 | dimenno

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: