(UPDATED) NYPD: ‘We should be speaking one voice, which is English’
UPDATE: Police Commissioner Ray Kelly responded today to a story in the Daily News regarding a police officer who was censured for speaking Spanish.
Kelly insisted the story did not accurately convey the full situation, by suggesting that officers are never supposed to speak other languages, even with the public when on patrol.
“The concept, which I don’t think was fully explained in the article, [is] that employees speaking to each other should not be using a non-English language,” Kelly said.
Kelly offered up an example, suggesting citizens entering a precinct house with some need or inquiry might feel awkward encountering officers speaking Gaelic among themselves.
“We’re there to serve citizens,” Kelly said. “Obviously if someone needs assistance, needs translation, needs interpretation, we certainly want that to happen and we’re very proud of the fact that 26 percent of our department is Latino.”
Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Paul Browne also used the Gaelic example, noting “there’s a lot of Irish” in the NYPD.
However, Browne said, the NYPD “absolutely” condones and even encourages speaking other languages with members of the public when on patrol.
“We recruit for that,” Browne said.
Kelly referred to English as “the official language of our country.”
According to Kelly, the law has been on the books for a while. He said he was not sure if it was established as a byproduct of officers fraternizing in their native tongues.
Browne mentioned that the officer in the Daily News article had “other issues with the Department.”
Metro’s original story is below.
An NYPD officer was reprimanded for speaking Spanish on the job, the Daily News reported.
Police Officer Jessenia Guzman, born and raised in the Bronx but of Dominican descent, told the Daily News that she was working the switchboard at the 24th Precinct stationhouse when a colleague walked by and said something, and she responded in Spanish.
Her supervisor reportedly reprimanded her a few hours later with a formal notice that said she was “required to communicate department business in the language of English.”
The NYPD reportedly defended the practice to the Daily News on Sunday.
“We’re a 24/7 operation,” Inspector Kim Royster, right hand to Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Paul Browne, told the Daily News. “We should be speaking one voice, which is English.”
According to the Daily News, one in three NYPD officers is Hispanic. According to census data, Hispanic and Latino New Yorkers make up More than a quarter of the total population.
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