Deputy Inspector James Kobel of the workplace discrimination office of the New York City police department has resigned rather than face a 30-day suspension for posting “vile, racist” messages on a message board where police air their grievances.
Kobel, a 28-year veteran of the department, saw that he would probably be fired for some fairly shocking references to people of color. He referred to the female Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark as a “gap-tooth wildebeest,” Barack Obama as a “Muslim savage,” and Mayor de Blasio’s mixed-race son as “brillohead.”
Commissioner Dermot Shea called the postings “abhorrent” and “utterly disgusting.” Kobel, the commanding officer of the Equal Employment Opportunity Division, could be fired after an internal investigation, Shea said.
Kobel, 50, previously did not respond to an email sent to his department address seeking comment. No one answered a home telephone number listed for him. He denied being “Clouseau” in an interview with The New York Times, which first reported on the allegations.
“Nonetheless, despite my denial, it will likely end my career,” Kobel told the Times. “Where do I go to get my reputation back?”
Playing the victim is a clever strategy, but it appears from the evidence that’s been published that they got him dead to rights.
The allegations against Kobel were detailed in a report that a City Council oversight panel will make public. City Council investigators linked the messages to Kobel by matching information in the “Clouseau” messages to publicly available details about Kobel’s life and career, including: that both allegedly joined the NYPD at the same time, held the rank of captain or higher in 2019; both allegedly where on the job in February 2020; both allegedly served in the NYPD Housing Bureau under former Chief Joanne Jaffe; both allegedly had fathers who died in the same year at the same age after serving in the NYPD; both of their mothers allegedly died on the same day; and both are allegedly the youngest of seven children and have at least two brothers who were NYPD officers, among other shared specific personal and family characteristics.
The website where the messages appeared has not been named, but Governor Andrew Cuomo is demanding that something be done about it.
The day after allegations were made public, Cuomo said it is “almost incredible” that the blog has been up, by some estimates for years, and was so widespread and yet no one has done a thing, calling it “one of the most disgusting, disturbing, discriminatory, vile blogs that you can find on the internet.”
Cuomo called the allegations “disturbing on so many levels, I can’t even begin to tell you.” The governor went on to say the blog is disturbing to read because it suggests “racism, discrimination and abuse of power that has gone on for too long.”
As if morale isn’t low enough already, now the witch hunt is on to find the racists. You can bet the bar will be set very low for not tolerating intolerant speech.
What speech will be considered out of bounds? The “I know it when I see it” standard for hate speech is unacceptable. Insulting someone for the way they look should not be considered anything except personal opinion. Hurting someone’s feelings should not cost anyone their job.
Police should be held to a higher standard, of course, but even the cops have rights. This witch hunt won’t do anything except further demonize the police.