PARK SLOPE — City Councilman Brad Lander told the head of the Park Slope police precinct that racial profiling is "unacceptable," following a report that the precinct's officers told a group of black teens to "get out of the neighborhood," he said.
"'Hanging out' is not a crime," Lander said in a statement released Thursday in response to DNAinfo's story that police were seen trailing a group of black teens in a patrol car as they walked down the street and told them to "get out of the neighborhood."
Lander said he called the 78th Precinct's commanding officer, Capt. Frank DiGiacomo, on Wednesday and that DiGiacomo "assured me that he shares my view that racial profiling is unacceptable, that reasonable suspicion is required before police stop anyone."
Lander added that DiGiacomo promised "that he will work with the officers in the 78th Precinct to make sure that everyone in our community — students, workers, guests, and residents — are treated with respect as they work to keep us all safe."
DiGiacomo told DNAinfo on Thursday that he's looking into the incident.
Witness Sara Bennett told the NYPD's 78th Precinct Community Council Tuesday night that she saw officers ordering a group of black teens walking along Ninth Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues about 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 22 to "get out of the neighborhood."
Bennett said she was outraged by the actions by the officers, who she said used the loudspeaker of their squad car to address them.
DiGiacomo confirmed at the meeting that his officers have been directed to disperse large groups of teens from the area in the wake of violent fights at Atlantic Center Mall and the Barclays Center, but said Tuesday that he was not familiar with the Sept. 22 incident, which was more than a mile away from the mall.
"if [teens] are not playing basketball, you’re not playing soccer, you’re not doing something productive in the neighborhood, I can see [officers] moving them,” DiGiacomo said at Tuesday night's meeting.
Bennett said she thought the teens she witnessed may have been students from the John Jay Educational Campus, on Seventh Avenue and 4th Street, where many students from outside Park Slope attend school. Lander addressed that in his statement.
"The students at John Jay Educational Campus are welcome in Park Slope, whether they live here or not. We have done a lot of work over the past few years to build stronger relationships between the schools and the surrounding community…We should not be telling them to move along through a patrol car bullhorn."
The councilman added that it's "appropriate" for police to monitor dismissals at any large school, but that "policing must be done with respect, without bias, and with attention to the requirements of constitutional policing."