In an interview with The New York Times, Oscar Smith, 48, that his application was originally denied by a captain because of the old stereotype that “black guys couldn’t swim”. In addition to that comment, Smith’s complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission includes even more incidents where Smith believes racial bias occurred.
“The joke with them was, ‘What black guy can swim? How did this guy pass the test,” Smith told Marla Diamond of WCBS 880.
After 7 years, Smith retired in May 2013, because he pretty much had enough. “I just couldn’t deal with it anymore, and it was time for me to leave,” Smith told the Times. Smith’s attorney, Norman Siegel, adds, “Oscar Smith’s situation raises serious questions about racial stereotyping in the N.Y.P.D.”
Smith also says his co-workers routinely called him gay because of his appearance. “I’m a surfer. I’ve got painted toenails, toe rings, stuff like that,” Smith said. According to Smith, he isn’t gay, but was still offended by the taunts.
The NYPD has thus far declined to comment on the allegations, but a spokesperson confirmed the unit currently has no blacks among its 29 divers.