A school district suspended a police officer as it investigates his distribution of a "Ghetto Handbook" and the three-month lapse before top district officials were informed of it.So, six officers were named as authors but only one was suspended? Does anyone think their co-worker would have included their names as authors without their foreknowledge? And does the attribution to "the entire day shift" mean that racist jokes and attitudes are common among HISD police?
The eight-page booklet, subtitled "Wucha dun did now?", was handed out to about 15 Houston Independent School District police officers at a May meeting, district spokesman Terry Abbott said. Officials declined to identify the officer who handed them out, but said he had been ordered to attend diversity training.
A supervisor immediately collected the booklets, Abbott said, but district officials said they didn't learn about the incident until someone complained to the district's Equal Employment Opportunity Office in mid-August.
"This publication was completely reprehensible and HISD condemns it in the strongest possible terms," Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra said in a written statement Thursday.
He said he has "mounted a very aggressive investigation."
District Police Chief Charles Wiley had no comment, Abbott said.
The booklet billed itself as a guide to Ebonics, teaching the reader to speak "as if you just came out of the hood." It included definitions such as "foty: a 40-ounce bottle of beer"; "aks: to ask a question"; and "hoodrat: scummy girl."
The booklet names six district officers "and the entire day shift patrol" as contributors. Abbott said a preliminary investigation has cleared those officers of involvement.
Last year, almost 30 percent of the district's 202,000 students were black and almost 60 percent were Hispanic.
One hesitates to attribute racist attitudes by an individual to an entire department, but this much can certainly be said: At least six officers allegedly participated and possibly the entire day shift knew. They clearly believed their fellow officers would think their Ebonics guide was funny, to the extent that they distributed it at an official meeting. The supervisor who removed the materials did not report the event up the ladder. Though a joke, the incident raises troubling questions about field officers' attitudes and management competence, as noted at Blackprof, especially since
These officers are charged to serve and protect a school district that is nearly 90% Black and Brown. Yet such a glaring case of institutional racism barely makes national news and as far as I know, no officers were fired or disciplined beyond this singular suspension. In a fair and balanced world the entire HISD would be investigated so that we might root out any residual racist behavior.At a minimum, to me, the delay before the supervisor reported the incident indicates that he and many HISD police tolerate such attitudes in the ranks and consider them relatively harmless. It sounds like the case may evidence a wider cultural cancer among HISD police, not just an isolated, "insensitive" officer.
Tolerating widespread disdain for minority youth they're charged to protect will inevitably infect how HISD police interact with students in subtle and not so subtle ways, helping discredit law enforcement with minority students at an early age. From the AP story it sounds like HISD hasn't yet come to grips with how harmful that could be.
In other Harris County youth news, the Commissioners Court extended the curfew for kids under 17 from midnight till 6 a.m. in Harris County - it does not apply in Houston proper. This has turned into a steady source of revenue for the county, generating 2,500 tickets in the last three years. Related: Early reports are the nearly everyone at schools in Harris County the next day had read the commissioners court minutes and were all scared out of their pants. Man, I'm glad they did that! Now Harris County parents KNOW they don't have to worry about their teenagers being out late - after all, there's a law! (/sarcasm) Seriously, I hate this crap: Infantilize kids and they'll inevitably live up to those expectations. Kids' curfews should be set by parents, not the government. The government should ban bad conduct and punish when they misbehave, not just because they left the house after Saturday Night Live was over.