The Correct Response: Charged With Filing False Police Report

New York Times

By Jan Ransom

July 6, 2020

“When Amy Cooper, a white woman, called 911 from an isolated patch in Central Park where she was standing with her unleashed dog on Memorial Day, she said an “African-American man” was threatening her life, emphasizing his race to the operator.

Moments before Ms. Cooper made the call, the man, Christian Cooper, an avid bird-watcher, had asked her to leash her dog, and she had refused.

On Monday, Ms. Cooper was charged with filing a false report, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, the latest fallout from an encounter that resonated across the country and provoked intense discussions about how Black people are harmed when sham reports to the police are made about them by white people.”

To the extent that this woman was arguably deploying racial stereotypes and weaponizing them, it will make people think twice,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor and a retired federal judge. “It is a big deal.”

Lucy Lang, a former Manhattan prosecutor and the director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that filing a false report was “a very troubling crime.”

Adding race to the equation, she added, created “just an absolute recipe for a tragic disaster.

In a separate move meant to address the problem of Black people being falsely reported to the police, New York state lawmakers approved legislation last month that allows people “a private right of action” if they believe someone called a police officer on them because of their race, gender, nationality or other protected class.”


So, here’s the question:

Would strict imposition of criminal penalties and civil liability provide adequate and effective deterrence to filing racially motivated false reports and making racist 911 police calls?