By Joaquin Sapien
Week after week, racist posts appear on Thee Rant, a blog for current or former New York City police officers: African Americans are called “apes;” a retired officer says one of the blessings of retirement is not having to work the Puerto Rican Day parade, with its “old obese tatted up women stuffed into outfits that they purchased or shoplifted at the local Kmart store; a Middle Eastern cab driver berated by an officer is termed a “third worlder” who should have his “head split open.”
And week after week, the department’s top officials are, at once, embarrassed and powerless.
“It’s very disturbing stuff. Outrageous stuff,” said Stephen Davis, the chief spokesman for the NYPD. “We see it. It’s a problem.”
At the heart of the problem are the limits the department faces in what it can do.
“Monitoring these things is challenging,” Davis said. “There are privacy issues involved. We can’t go and peel back email names and tags and try to find out who these people are.”
The issue of the blog, started by former NYPD officer Ed Polstein in 1999, has gained notoriety most recently after a white South Carolina police officer shot a black man to death. Shortly after a video of the officer appearing to shoot the fleeing man in the back went viral on the Internet, Thee Rant blew up with comments.