Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mayor Bloomberg defends NYPD's controversial English-only policy

Responding to a Daily News story about an officer reprimanded for speaking a single Spanish sentence to a colleague, Bloomberg said the ban on other languages is a 'life and death' issue.
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Mayor Bloomberg said all officers need to be able to understand the same commands instantly "when lives are on the line." Critics say the wide-reaching policy should not extend to everyday conversation between officers, however.

Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News

Mayor Bloomberg said all officers need to be able to understand the same commands instantly "when lives are on the line." Critics say the wide-reaching policy should not extend to everyday conversation between officers, however.

Calling it a “life and death” issue, Mayor Bloomberg on Monday defended the NYPD’s English-only policy as crucial to running the largest and most diverse police force in the nation.
“I don’t see how you can ever run any company or any organization unless everybody speaks the same language,” said Bloomberg, who routinely ends his news conferences in Spanish.
Hizzoner was responding to a Daily News story Monday that exposed the controversial policy so strict that one cop was cited for uttering one sentence in Spanish.
“In America, in New York, I think it’s fair to say that a majority of people speak English and so that’s the language that we have to communicate in,” Bloomberg said.
“This is life and death . . . Everybody has to be able to understand the same commands instantly and go in the direction they’re ordered to go when lives are on the line.”
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who frequently boasts about the diversity in the police department, said he’s “proud” that more than a quarter of NYPD officers are Hispanic.
But that doesn’t mean they should should go around speaking Spanish, he said.
“Suppose you are a citizen and you walk into a police station and you find the police officers speaking Gaelic,” said Kelly. “It would be somewhat unsettling, right?”
But critics say Kelly and Bloomberg are missing the point.
RELATED: NYPD OFFICER REPRIMANDED FOR SPEAKING SPANISH
“We’re talking about conversations between officers. Not emergencies,” said Anthony Miranda, chairman of the National Latino Officers Association.
Miranda is a former NYPD sergeant who retired in 2002.
The News report Monday highlighted Officer Jessenia Guzman, who was issued an order of reprimand last month for speaking Spanish while on duty at an upper West Side precinct.
Department brass have also begun informing management trainees in the Police Academy to begin enforcing the strict policy across the agency.
“I find being told that I can’t speak the language my grandmother taught me degrading,” said one officer of Puerto Rican descent.
The crackdown on speaking other languages comes as the NYPD seeks to attract immigrants and minorities, particularly since Kelly took over in 2002.
In the past several years, non-English speakers have accounted for one in five Police Academy recruits, according to the NYPD.
After English, the second most-common language is Spanish.
Other languages include Farsi, Finnish and Igbo, which is spoken in Nigeria.
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Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bloomberg-backs-nypd-english-only-policy-article-1.1381498#ixzz2XEkFfbKb
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