(From The Chief)
NYPD Slow to Curb Bigotry? A Federal lawsuit alleging that a former NYPD contractor repeatedly sent anti-Muslim and anti-Arab e-mail messages to an Egyptian-born NYPD analyst raises some troubling questions about the department's slow response.
U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones recently rejected the claim by the ex-contractor, Bruce Tefft, that his posts were protected speech under the First Amendment, permitting the unidentified analyst, an undercover officer at the NYPD's Cyber Unit, to proceed with his suit.
That officer, who for the past decade has worked for the NYPD Intelligence Division, charged that Mr. Tefft's toxic e-mails included the statement, "a good Muslim ... can't be a good American" and, "Has the U.S. threatened to vaporize Mecca? Excellent idea, if true." He also accused Mr. Tefft of telling employees in the Intelligence Division that they should not trust him because "Muslims have no place in law enforcement."
The lawsuit claims that these e-mail messages were sent from mid-2002 through the end of 2005, and among those who received them were the chief of the Intelligence Division, Deputy Commissioner David Cohen, who like Mr. Tefft is a former CIA official. The NYPD has said it terminated its contract with Mr. Tefft's firm, Orion, in 2003, after the analyst protested, but the messages continued being sent until his 2006 employment discrimination complaint.
The NYPD has claimed Deputy Commissioner Cohen was not aware of the e-mails until the analyst complained, contrary to what is charged in the suit.
If, in fact, he was receiving them from the outset, it raises questions about why the contract with Mr. Tefft's firm was not immediately terminated. The analyst also charged that other supervisors in the NYPD were unsympathetic to his complaints, and that one Lieutenant told him, "All Arabs are animals."
The Counter-Terrorism Division should not be a place where the kind of virulent racism expressed in Mr. Tefft's e-mails is condoned or echoed. Such behavior is un-American, and also violates everything that city government and the Police Department are supposed to represent.