25 Jun 2013

Latino officers question NYPD's 'English-only' policy

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Latino officers question NYPD’s ‘English-only’ policy

Sandra Bookman
Posted June 25, 2013 5:34 PM
(Web produced by Jennifer Matarese, Eyewitness News)

NEW YORK (WABC) — The NYPD is under fire for a policy some say is racist.

It’s not written anywhere, but according to some officers, the department has an “English-only” policy and officers have been reprimanded for violating that policy.

“This policy which the NYPD implemented is clearly targeted toward officers who have filed complaints of discrimination and is clearly issued as retaliation against Latino officers,” said Anthony Miranda, of the National Latino Officers Association.

There are some serious accusations by the National Latino Officers Association over the NYPD’s “English-only” workplace rule.

It’s a policy the department insists is in place to allow proper supervision, but that critics call it a “racist throwback.”

“While the police department is in the process of changing and having diversity, they are latching onto the old policies of discrimination and try to enforce them at this time,” Miranda said.

Miranda claims at least eight female officers have filed complaints about “English-only” reprimands, including most recently Officer Jessenia Guzman at the 24th Precinct on the Upper West Side.

She claims a lieutenant placed the letter of reprimand in her file after she responded to a coworker’s brief personal comment in Spanish. Guzman had previously filed EEOC complaints against that same lieutenant.

“We have identified the 24 as allocation where police officers have been told they cannot speak any other language but English,” said Emmanuel Gonzalez, of the NY Chapter LOA.

Despite the growing diversity of the city’s population, even within the NYPD one in three officers is now Hispanic, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly defends the “English-only” rule as common sense.

“It is logical, you walk into a police station and you hear people speaking a language among themselves other than English, it certainly could be at the very least disconcerting and not necessarily a signal that you are there to assist,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.