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  Members of NYPD's Gang Unit are called on for their hip-hop expertise ...



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 New York Police Gang Unit Targets Hip-Hop Community






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"It's a culture that cops find very offensive," Mazziotti said of hardcore hip-hop. "I tell my 16-year-old daughter I don't want her listening to it. She'll have a hard time memorizing the Pledge of Allegiance, but she'll know all these rap lyrics by heart. Frankly, it's tough for cops to have objectivity about it. It's the total antithesis of what most cops believe."

MTV News showed Mazziotti several recent lyrics, such as Jadakiss' "Why put you in the verse when I can put you in the coroner van?" and 50 Cent's "We ridin' 'round with guns the size of Lil' Bow Wow/ What you know about AK's and AR-15s?"

"To them, that's a badge of honor, but when you've seen the ugly side of what they're praising, when you've seen the reality, that's what's offensive," Mazziotti said. "As cops we've been there to notify families at 3 a.m. that their loved one was just murdered. These guys want to glamorize guns and the drug trade, but there's a lot of innocent people whose lives are ruined, little kids getting killed in random shootings, and for them to glorify that lifestyle, it's just repulsive to most cops."

This general distaste for rap music helps explain how the story of a hip-hop unit took wing. The disconnect between police culture and the world of hip-hop meant that criminal investigators who found ties between rap figures and crimes needed a map to navigate that world. It's not easy to find detectives who understand the nuances of the 50 Cent-Murder Inc. beef when most cops are more apt to be listening to the Stones or Sinatra or Sean Hannity in their cars. Where could they find such expertise?

The NYPD learned that within its Intelligence Division it had several younger officers who were well-versed in hip-hop. The recent unsolved shooting at Violator Management in Chelsea — no one present in the offices would cooperate with the police — was an example of when such expertise comes into play.

  "Jay-Z In Police Custody"
MTV News RealVideo report
"OK, it's the 13th Squad that caught that case," Burns said. "If I'm the detective in the one-three and I'm a little bit older, maybe I don't know the hip-hop world, [so] then I'll call up the Gang Unit and say, 'Hey, who's 50 Cent?' or 'Who's this guy? Who's that guy?' These officers in the Gang Unit are a little younger and they'll know. It's just like I would pick up my phone and call my son, 'Who's this guy Jay-Z? Who's Ja Rule?' That's the extent of it."

As for Parker's allegations that it goes further than that, one skeptical source familiar with the inner workings of the Intelligence Division said, "Derrick's got his own shtick. He's retired now, so he can go around saying whatever he wants."

Numerous law enforcement experts interviewed by MTV News said that given the massive pressures of counterterrorism and New York's worst budgetary crisis in 30 years, the department's scarce resources would never be allocated toward a standing rap music investigation.

"Terrorism is kicking everyone's ass right now," said one detective who asked to remain anonymous. "There's been a massive priority shift to fight terrorism."

Said another officer, "To take our strapped resources and put them into some kind of hip-hop task force is just ludicrous."

If there is, as the NYPD insists, no hip-hop squad, then what about all rappers getting pulled over and searched following routine traffic infractions? The truth, several police officers said candidly, is that to most cops, the flashy cars popular with hip-hop celebrities (tricked-out Hummers and Escalades festooned with $10,000 rims and dashboard TV sets) are likely mistaken for drug-dealer rides.

"Do you really think that some guys riding around in an RMP (radio motor patrol) know that so-and-so is a rapper with videos on MTV?" asked one detective. "They just see a flashy car making an illegal lane change. Get real. They don't have the first clue who most of these rappers are anyway."

While the debate on the NYPD's disposition toward the hip-hop world goes on, some rap stars interviewed by MTV News placed the responsibility for the controversy squarely on the shoulders of hip-hop artists themselves.


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