Monday, June 24, 2013

NYPD officer reprimanded for briefly speaking Spanish under little-known department rule

Police Officer Jessenia Guzman said she was written up after speaking a single Spanish sentence. The NYPD has defended the policy. Comments (31)
Updated: Monday, June 24, 2013, 2:00 AM




































Officer Jessenia Guzman said the person who spoke to her in Spanish was not reprimanded. Guzman has filed two federal equal employment opportunity complaints against the lieutenant who cited her.

Barry Williams for New York Daily News

Officer Jessenia Guzman said the person who spoke to her in Spanish was not reprimanded. Guzman has filed two federal equal employment opportunity complaints against the lieutenant who cited her.

NOTE TO COPS: No se habla español aqui!
An NYPD officer was issued a “memo of reprimand” after she was caught speaking Spanish while on duty — a violation of an English-only workplace rule for city cops, the Daily News has learned.
Police Officer Jessenia Guzman, a Bronx native with a bloodline to the Dominican Republic, says she was written up on May 14 for uttering a single sentence in Spanish. Guzman, 40, was working the switchboard at the 24th Precinct stationhouse on the upper West Side when she ran afoul of the little-known rule.
“It was just natural,” Guzman said, recalling the brief interaction with a colleague. “She walked by. She was going to get coffee. She said something. I responded (in Spanish). That was it.”
It seemed so inconsequential that she said she doesn’t even remember what the brief exchange was about.
Hours later, Guzman was called into a supervisor’s office and given the reprimand. It said she was “required to communicate department business in the language of English,” according to a copy obtained by The News.
“This policy is in place to allow proper supervision of personnel,” the memo signed by Lt. Richard Khalaf read.
The NYPD — which routinely touts the diversity of its force — defended the policy on Sunday.
“We’re a 24/7 operation,” said Inspector Kim Royster, an NYPD spokeswoman. “We should be speaking one voice, which is English.”
One in three NYPD officers is Hispanic. Police officials say there’s been a surge in foreign-born recruits in recent years, with one in five coming from countries outside the United States. More than 50 languages are spoken by NYPD employees.
The English-only reprimand will remain in Guzman’s personnel file for the remainder of her NYPD career. She’s been on the force 13 years.
National Latino Officers Association Director Anthony Miranda is concerned the policy could be used to unfairly target members of minority groups.

James Keivom/New York Daily News

National Latino Officers Association Director Anthony Miranda is concerned the policy could be used to unfairly target members of minority groups.

Members of the department have to “speak English while they are conducting business for the department unless speaking a foreign language is a necessary component to performing their duties and responsibilities,” according to a 2009 NYPD internal newsletter obtained by The News.
The restriction also doesn’t extend to breaks, personal calls or other “common-sense type situations such as a cursory greeting to a co-worker.”
Although the policy is at least four years old, the NYPD appears to have only recently begun enforcing it.
Several Police Academy executive training classes — required for officers advancing to high-ranking management positions — were told about the policy last month and instructed to begin enforcing it, a law enforcement source said.
“It used to be a joke, when white supervisors went around and said, ‘Hey, speak English,’ ” said Anthony Miranda, chairman of the National Latino Officers Association and a retired NYPD officer. “Now they’ve made it a rule.”
He’s particularly concerned that the policy will allow supervisors to unfairly target minority-group officers they don’t like.
In Officer Guzman’s case, she was written up for speaking Spanish, while the woman who spoke to her — also in Spanish — was not. Guzman has filed two federal equal employment opportunity complaints against the lieutenant who cited her for speaking Spanish.
The commanding officer of the 30th Precinct in Harlem has made it clear that cops must speak English on the job, said Linda Cronin, general counsel for the National Latino Officers Association.
“No speaking Spanish,” the precinct supervisor ordered at roll call, according to Cronin.
One of her clients — a Harlem cop who does not want to be identified — has been repeatedly threatened with disciplinary action for speaking Spanish. That officer uses Spanish only “reflexively” after spending a day in the field interacting with the community, Cronin said.
“When it’s good for the department, they can speak Spanish,” the lawyer said. “When it’s not convenient, you’ll be disciplined.”
Post a Comment »
Post a Comment