NYPD Anti-Harassment Chief Faces Probe on Racism Allegation

The New York Police Department’s anti-discrimination chief faces a probe and possible ouster amid accusations he is the long-time publisher of racist rants on a pro-law-enforcement social media platform.

James Kobel, 50, a deputy inspector and commander of the department’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, has been removed from that assignment while internal affairs conducts an investigation, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. If Kobel is found to be the individual sending the posts under the name “Clouseau,” he’ll be fired, Shea said. The officer has denied the allegations.

“It’s almost incredible that this went on for so long, was so widespread, so many police involved,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters Friday. He described the posts as “vile,” “disgusting” and likely to “inflame the current tension between the NYPD and the community.”

Christopher Monahan, president of the Captains Endowment Association, the union that represents Kobel, described him as a dedicated professional who looks forward to being exonerated. “He has conducted thousands of investigations over the last several years,” Monahan said. “Clearly, he has angered some people along the way.”

The investigation into the online messages began with the City Council, which found “substantial evidence” of the poster’s identity, including several biographical details among the postings that referred to life experiences consistent with Kobel. The council will investigate how the department allowed such online conduct to continue, Speaker Corey Johnson said.

Councilman Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat who is gay and Black and headed the probe, said bigotry “has no place in the NYPD, much less in the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity,”

Messages on the public online board known as “Law Enforcement Rant” included racist descriptions of Dante de Blasio, the mayor’s son who is Black, and former President Barack Obama. Under the moniker of “Clouseau,” hundreds of messages attacked Black people, Puerto Ricans, Hasidic Jews and others, according to the report.

“This vile, racist language is an attack on every New Yorker and an insult to our city’s values,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a Twitter message. “This is under investigation, and if it’s true, he will be fired. End of story.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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