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NYPD Raps

After a series of high-profile run-ins with hip-hop musicians, the NYPD is circulating an internal list identifying their cars. Is it "rapper profiling"?

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Three weeks ago, a spreadsheet appeared on the front desk of an NYPD station house detailing the make, mode, color, and license plate numbers of vehicles owned by nine members of the hip-hop world. Many of those fingered have had run-ins with the law, including Earl Simmons (a.k.a. DMX), Keith Elam (a.k.a. Guru), Fredrick Cuffie (a.k.a. 60 Second Assassin), and, of course, Sean Combs. Hot 97's Ernesto Shaw (a.k.a. D.J. Clue) made it on without even that excuse.

After Jay-Z was arrested for illegal gun possession on April 13, a source in his camp told the Post that the police were out to get him: "It's rapper profiling," the source said. "The D.A.'s office lost one last month," referring to Sean "Puffy" Combs's acquittal. "I think they're desperate to nail a rapper." Mayor Giuliani denied this, declaring that the NYPD merely "criminally profile." But according to a police document obtained by New York, the NYPDis doing everything it can to keep tabs on rappers.

Three weeks ago, a spreadsheet detailing the make, model, color, and license-plate numbers of vehicles owned by nine members of the hip-hop world appeared on the front desk of an NYPD station house. It even includes the dates that their registrations expire. Many of those fingered have had run-ins with the law, including Earl Simmons (a.k.a. DMX), Keith Elam (a.k.a. Guru), Fredrick Cuffie (a.k.a. 60 Second Assassin), and, of course, Combs. Hot 97's Ernesto Shaw (a.k.a. D.J. Clue) made it on without even that excuse.

While the document was not produced by police headquarters, according to a source in the department, the information it contained was disseminated to precincts citywide by the police Intelligence Division. "A supervisor got back from a meeting and gave the list to an officer to type up," reports the source. "They felt like the Lil' Kim shootout was the last straw, and that we needed this for our own protection." Distributing data to the rank and file for safety purposes is common practice, but the possibility that this list could be utilized for "rapper profiling" is hard to ignore -- even for the cops themselves. "It sure sounds like profiling to me," said one Traffic Task Force officer.

"Police are authorized to stop people based on individualized suspicion, not race or association," says the ACLU's Donna Lieberman. The Reverend Al Sharpton went even further: "They may say this is a list to alert officers, but I think it is a target list."

Cops think this might be a case of One Police Plaza zeal that defeats good police work. "The list is idiotic," says one patrolman. "One day, an officer is going to stop one of these people, see a gun in his waistband, and have a valid arrest. Then the defendant will use this piece of paper as his defense, and a legitimate arrest will be screwed up by some desk jockey."

The NYPD did not respond to repeated calls for comment.


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