The Chief
August 1, 2002

PBA Appoints Black Officer to No. 3 Post

By Mark Daly

For the first time in its history, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association has named a black officer to its five member governing board.

Mubarak Abdul-Jabbar, 46, a 19-year veteran transit officer, has been picked to replace John Loud, the union's second vice president, once Mr. Loud retires this summer. PBA President Patrick J. Lynch announced the impending move at a July 23 executive board meeting.

Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is the financial secretary for the union's transit division and the only black officer on the 27 member executive board, which includes the five top officers. He will serve out the remainder of Mr. Loud 's term, which ends next June.

Mr. Lynch said he chose Mr. Abdul-Jabbar because of his long experience, which includes 14 years on patrol and nearly 18 years as a union official.

Mr. Abdul-Jabbar said he hoped his selection would signal to minority officers that "there's no forbidden ground" in the union. For many years, he acknowledged, black officers turned to fraternal organizations for support instead of their unions.

Today, groups such as 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, the Guardians' association and Latino Officers' Association continue to be more outspoken than the PBA in criticizing what leaders in each group view as the latent racism of NYPD brass.

The PBA came in for serious criticism during the investigation of the police torture of Abner Louima in a stationhouse bathroom when prosecutors accused some union officials of conspiring to cover up the assault. When Mr. Louima sued the city and the Police Department, he also named the PBA as a defendant. The union paid $1.63 million to settle the case.

There's little question where Mr. Abdul-Jabbar stands in the debate over the PBA's role in the department today. "I think the majority of officers, minority officers, feel they can turn to the union now," he said. "Unfortunately, there's a minority who perpetuate the image that you can't really trust the union. Every man has his perception. You just have to look at the facts."

Mr. Abdul-Jabbar joined the Transit Authority Police Department in 1983, and a year later began his service as a union delegate and trustee.

'I had more problems not from being a black officer, but from being a Muslim officer," recalled Mr. Abdul-Jabbar, who converted to Islam in his late teens. "You see, during the '80s, a lot of the supervisors liked to drink beer. They would say you can't trust a man who doesn't drink."

He continued, "These things have largely gone away, but to say it's 100 percent eradicated, I'd be wrong if I said that. If society as a whole has ills, you take those with you when you enter the department."

Following the merger of the transit and housing police into the NYPD in 1995, Mr. Abdul-Jabbar was appointed to fill the term of a PBA delegate in the transit division. In 1999, he became the first black officer to win election to the PBA executive board.

He pointed out that he was one of a handful of candidates that year who survived a challenge from the slate of officers headed by Mr. Lynch, "I didn't know much about him, " Mr. Abdul-Jabbar said. "Pat has proved to be a quality guy."

While Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is the only black officer on the board, there are approximately 30 black members among the union's 400 stationhouse delegates.

In the NYPD as a whole, 14 percent of the approximately 39,000 officers are black, 64 percent are white, and 19 percent are Hispanic, according to department figures from June 30. The figures do not include recruits in the current Police Academy class.