Lawmakers Want Cops To Live In 5 Boroughs After Facebook West Indian Day Controversy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Several elected officials from Brooklyn are calling for a law requiring NYPD officers to live within the five boroughs of New York City.

The elected leaders including Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and Rep. Yvette Clarke say they are outraged by reports that police officers posted offensive remarks on a Facebook page about patrol duty at the annual West Indian Day Parade.

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“We’re still convinced that the overwhelming majority of officers are decent individuals, but the racial intolerance that has festered in this department has reached an extreme level, and it is necessary that we take steps to remedy the situation,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries contends that that officers would be more likely to respect New York City’s racial and cultural diversity if they were required to live in the city.  He said several other U.S. cities have police residency rules, and that he will introduce an NYPD residency requirement in the state legislature.

Councilwoman Letitia James spoke in support of Assemblyman Jeffries.

“The reality is that when police officers live in communities, they respect the community. They have an understanding of the people that they are purporting to serve,” she said.

However, Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, issued a statement Sunday evening in opposition to the proposal.

“The first priority in hiring police officers should be to find individuals of the highest quality and then to pay them a salary that is competitive.  About 60 percent of New York City police officers live within the five boroughs and most have to work a second job or must have their spouse work in order to afford to live in the city they protect,” he said.

“Residency requirements did not work in the past and we will oppose such a requirement for the future,” Lynch added.

NYPD officers are now required to live in the city or in one of six surrounding counties.

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The Facebook group was titled “No More West Indian Day Detail.” The Parade celebrates the culture of the Caribbean islands and is one of the city’s largest outdoors events. Food carts with spicy dishes and fresh fruit crowd a stately parkway and dancers shimmy wearing revealing feathered costumes.

But it’s often surrounded by violence. Following the parade this year, a woman was shot to death while sitting on her stoop with her daughter, as police exchanged gunfire nearby with an armed man who’d opened fire on another person moments before. And others were shot to death during celebrations in 2003 and 2005.

“Maybe next year they should hold it on Riker’s Island,” one of the Facebook posts read, referring to the city’s main jail.

Among the frustrations aired about regulating the crowded, loud, often-violent event were comments where some called the parade, held in a predominantly black neighborhood, “ghetto training,” and a “scheduled riot.”

In other comments, the participants were referred to as savages.

At least 20 such comments made on the page may have come from police officers, New York Police Department officials said this week.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the department can discipline behavior determined to be unbecoming of a police officer or detrimental to the service — and that includes online outbursts.

“It is disturbing when anyone denigrates a community with hateful speech. It is unacceptable when police officers do it,” Kelly said in a statement.

But the posts, however embarrassing or outrageous, also raise a First Amendment issue about whether officers should watch what they say, online and off.

Government employees must be able to express their opinions, said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Unlike private employees, governmental employees like police officers and firefighters are protected under the First Amendment that says the government can’t restrict free speech.

“That comes into play not only when we like what they have to say, but also when they say obnoxious, disgusting and hateful things,” she said.

Police officers are naturally guarded, and don’t often talk about the job, at least not publicly. Thee Rant, an online forum where writers air angry and occasionally bigoted grievances about the nation’s largest department and the city it serves, is anonymous.

But in the Facebook group, comments with names and photos names were posted in arguably the most public of online forums. Some used the NYPD shield as their profile image. Even some of those who wrote in cautioned about being too explicit, and warned that the department was watching. None of the people whose names were associated with the posts replied to attempts to contact them for comment.

The PBA has long urged members to avoid social networks. In a union magazine column called “Tweeting all cops: Stay off those social networking sites,” treasurer Joseph Alejandro said technology simply presents problems for police that it doesn’t for civilians.

“Using these technologies can present a real risk to police officers’ careers because information posted on them can easily be misrepresented and used against an officer,” he wrote.

Police departments around the country prohibit officers to make any statements that have anything to do with work, said Maria Haberfeld, a professor of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. The officers know this when they join, and, like the military, they should abide by the rules, she said. If the posts were from officers, then they violated the rules.

“It’s a very political profession,” she said. “It’s a public profession. It’s not just seen as one officer doing it; it’s seen as coming from the department.”

The Facebook group, which had more than a thousand supporters, has been taken offline, but copies of the posts were made public by lawyers who used the remarks in the trial of a Brooklyn man who was arrested before last year’s parade. The majority of the posts centered on concern about violence at the parade, frustration about what they said was unchecked lawlessness , while other city parades staged in more notable locales, like Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, were policed more fervently.

“Why doesn’t NYPD brass utilize crowd control techniques like they do at Times Square on New Year’s? I know it won’t stop the guns, but it can control the crowds,” one writer suggested.

The police department has said not specifically addressed concerns made in the post other than the statement issued by Kelly noting the entire matter was under investigation.

Even within the group’s posts were messages urging caution: “Please keep it focused. This is not a racist rant. This is about us, the cops,” one post read.

Lawyers with the Brooklyn Defender Services, a nonprofit public defender service, used the posts to argue the officer who arrested Tyronne Johnson in 2010 in the early morning hours before the rowdy parade may have been biased. The officer, who is African-American, was a member of the Facebook group, but didn’t post anything.

Johnson was acquitted last month.

Should NYPD officers be required to live in the five boroughs? Sound off in our comments section below…

(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Meme Meyagi

    what is done about 7 million mooslime terrorists living in usa?

  • Tommy C

    They are animals and criminals in the making . How many people were shoot after the parade ? Enough with the PC .The majority of them belong back in the jungle . To hell with the so-called lawmakers , pull your heads out of your asses. Keep lowering the hiring standards and prettty soon the animals will have a badge and a gun. Then what are you going to do………….Move to a all-white crime free oasis.

  • Jimmy

    Pay them enough to live in the city first.

    • John Justive

      PAY THEM ENOUGH! Are you kidding. They are paid more than anyone else. A typicat cop with only five years on the job takes home on his W-2 over $100,000.

  • Kleetis J. MacAnurney

    It’s a fact that the West Indian Day parade has been a day of carnage for many, many years. If this fact offends some people, then those people should work hard to enact the positive changes that are necessary to insure a happy, safe environment at the annual event. Until that happens, don’t shoot the messengers…The truth hurts…

  • EasterBunny

    Eskimos run the most of the tabloids (including the NY Times who uncovered this). Gotta take it where it comes from.

    ……Did I say Eskimos? Meant to say Antarticans. Sorry about that.

    • John Justive

      From wherever it comes from, it still is what it is.

  • Lawn-Guy Land

    Quite the opposite… City cops should NEVER be allowed to live in the city.

    – First, we suburbanites need YOUR cops to protect US during their off-hours.

    – Second, we need YOUR cops to staff OUR volunteer fire departments.

    – Third, living in the suburbs makes us REAL Americans. We’re BETTER than you, so we’re more entitled to your cops than you are. (And keep those subsidies coming, too.)

    • edgwoood

      AMEN!!!!!! TO THAT

  • niivnchk
  • Dale Auburn

    “About 60 percent of New York City police officers live within the five boroughs and most have to work a second job or must have their spouse work in order to afford to live in the city they protect….”

    In most married couples, BOTH spouses work outside the home. Why should cops be any different from us mere mortals?

    • Mitt Romney Sucks

      Agreed. I would think for most jobs and relationships BOTH spouses work outside the home.

      • Tom

        So you’re doing crappy, they should be crappy too? That’s what I call sharing the wealth!

        • Mitt Romney Sucks

          not at all I may not be rich but I am living in better conditions than the average American. What we are saying is that what makes a cops job so different than the average Americans that their spouse might have to work. Check the stats this 2011 most households have two people working.

    • John Justive

      What kind of life style are the they accustomed to that over a hundred thousand dollars a year while still at entry level after five years is not enough? And by the way, both spouses working is the 21st Century American norm. This is not your grandfather’s America. This is the second Gilded Age of America.

  • The Realist

    Having cops and other City employees live in NYC defeats the purpose of giving suburbanites ABSOLUTE PRIORITY for City jobs.

  • Neil Mooney

    If they want them to live in the city then start them with a $60-80k salary like any other college graduates would expect! With all of Bloombergs money-making schemes (at the expense and discomfort of the cities citizens) it’s unfathomable that he cant pay our police and fire depts. a decent wage. BTW,,I dreamed of being a policeman as a kid, but when they called with an opening at the Academy I had to decline. I was afraid I’d have to live in my Moms basement for the rest of my life!!

    • BC

      You obviously have no idea what kind of salaries police officers pull in. Granted, their starting salary is low, but considering no college degree is required, what do you expect? Their salary increases after 5 years and they have a lucrative pension waiting for them after 20 years on the job.

    • John Justive

      You really need to check out the PBA web site and see what they people take home. You don’t look at the “salary” you need to look at thw W-2s. They are not underpaid. By the way, a community college diploma is not a collage graduate. Nor for that matter is a diploma mill diploma.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Mayor Bloomberg is behind this investigation Ray Kelly is a brain dead puppy.How can you trust a guy like Bloomberg who is interested in other mens rectums

    • Anonymous

      So you can read between the lines. I have known this all along.
      His main other men’s rectums is the former Mayor Koch.

  • Ted Ball

    when you act like savages you get called savages, these cops should just refuse the extra duty and let the organizers figure out how to handle the safty issues

    • ed

      I agree 100% leave them alone surrounded and there will be lots fewer…if they dont like go back to their drug infested island

      • Vik

        So now because they can’t admit the truth that this parade gets out of hand with violence, vulgarity, guns everywhere, disrespect for one’s neighbor, authority and SELF, now they want to skirt around that issue by announcing that cops should be forced to live within the 5 borough so that they can sit on their stoop and watch for themselves what goes on during this parade. Two suggestions: CONTROL YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD AND THE PUNKS AND GROUPS OF ILLREPUTE that live and go to this parade and the cops should be allowed to just say no to working that parade. Since the local politicans are now up in arms because of the some 1st amendment speech but it’s OK for white folk and cops to be called harsh names, do us all a favor and go hire your own security to work this parade. You don’t like the NYPD so much then don’t expect them to be there.

        • Anti Vik

          Why are you making this a race issue, nobody mentioned whites or blacks so why bring it up. Regardless racist remarks were made by cops if we have cops that make racist remarks who’s to say that this doesn’t influence there actions. Nobody called cops or “white folk” harsh names so why would you say that. Its the cop’s job to uphold the law, they have no right to complain about the danger of a situation when they themselves decided to be cops, its there job. If they dont like it than they can quit, same thing with any job.

          And check the history no cops have ever even been harmed at this event.

  • pete

    People shot & killed 3 of the last 9 years, and its the police who are the problem? That doesn’t include the stabbings and shootings where people didn’t die, or were slightly off the parade route.

    People shot during “celebrations”.

  • Rudy G.made money as Mayor

    The photo that comes with this article of the cop doing
    the grind says it all,the idea of a NYPD cop as an officer
    of the law is becoming mute.
    In anyway cops are Human and come in all “styles” just as anyone else.

  • utterone

    The FB page is only an issue because the truth is being spoken. I’ve known many cops, including blacks and Hispanics, who HATE that parade detail.

    No one wants to hear the TRUTH, especially when it’s about minorities. If it were a page about the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, I guarantee it wouldn’t be an issue. Of course there is no comparison on those parades but that’s not the point.

    • Broham

      It doesn’t matter if they hate the parade its their job to do it, so they need to shut up and do their job. Its one thing to complain about it but its a another thing to start disrespecting their culture and calling it a ghetto scheduled riot

      • EasterBunny


  • Ellen

    How come freedom of speech goes for everyone except the cops. Kind of hypocritical isn’t it.

  • J

    The U.S. Constitution overrides what the NYPD says when people join plain and simple.


      Did you ever work for a law enforcement agency?

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