A high-ranking official with the New York Police Department has been suspended without pay and is now the subject of an internal disciplinary process after a string of racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic posts, the NYPD confirmed.
Late last year, an investigation by the City Council connected Deputy Inspector James Francis Kobel to a user under the name “Clouseau.” Under that identity, he routinely posted offensive messages on a public law enforcement message board attacking Black people, Muslims, the Hasidic Jewish community and others with extremely derogatory language, according to a draft report from the New York City Council Oversight and Investigations Division.
Kobel was the commanding officer of the police department’s Office of Equal Employment and Opportunity, which is responsible for investigating employment and harassment claims.
In November, he was relieved of his command and placed on modified duty after the City Council investigation but will now face a 30-day suspension without pay, the department said. He has also filed for retirement from the police force, the NYPD confirmed to CNN.
“Deputy Inspector Kobel has served the City of New York and the NYPD honorably for nearly 29 years,” Chris Monahan, President of the Captains Endowment Association said in a statement. “Given the current political climate and anti-police sentiment, DI Kobel did not see it as possible to get a fair administrative trial and decided to avail himself of the opportunity to file for retirement.”
Even if he goes through the disciplinary process and is dismissed, Kobel can still be eligible for his pension benefits, according to the NYPD.
CNN reached out to Kobel for comment.
Kobel said he was unfamiliar with ‘Clouseau’
“Clouseau” posted to “Law Enforcement Rant,” a public internet messaging board where police officers often vent their job grievances, between July 2019 and September 2020.
The user used disparaging language to refer to elected officials, including former President Barack Obama and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, who is a Black woman, the report claimed.
He allegedly used slurs to describe two NYPD officers, who are women of color. And he insulted Eric Garner, who died in 2014 after an NYPD officer put him in a chokehold, along with this mother, the report said.
He also attacked athletes in the NFL for kneeling in protest of police brutality, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Hasidic Jewish community as Covid-19 cases increased in New York in March.
Kobel has told The New York Times that he did not post on the “Rant” and was unfamiliar with “Clouseau.”
But investigators said they were able to identify him by matching information provided in the posts with publicly available personal information about Kobel.
Both “Clouseau” and Kobel joined the NYPD at the same time, held the rank of captain or higher in 2019 and were on the job in February 2020,” the report said. The authors also wrote that the two had served in the NYPD Housing Bureau under the same former chief. And details that “Clouseau” shared — such as when his parents died, where his in-laws live, where he proposed to his wife and how many parishioners of his church died in the 9/11 attacks — corresponded to information about Kobel.
“The Rant” was shutdown last month.
Calls for resignation
The disturbing comments Kobel is alleged to have made came to light as law enforcement departments around the nation face scrutiny for explicit and implicit racism within their ranks and grapple with calls to increase accountability.
City Councilman and Congressman-elect Ritchie Torres, who oversaw the report, called for Kobel to resign in November.
“The virulent bigotry of Deputy Inspector James Kobel has no place in the NYPD, much less in the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity,” Torres said in a statement to CNN. “The shocking nature of his misconduct calls for nothing less than termination.”
Monahan said in a statement to CNN at the time that Kobel is a “dedicated professional” who adamantly denies these allegations.
“Unfortunately, he has conducted thousands of internal investigations over the last several years,” Monahan said. “Clearly, he has angered some people along the way. In any event, he looks forward to being fully exonerated when all the facts come out.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the department interviewed Kobel the day it received the allegation.
“Within the two weeks, where we are in the investigation now, we thought it was prudent to relieve the deputy inspector of his current assignment, pending the outcome,” Shea said. “That is a drastic step, but we thought it was the appropriate step due to the nature of his assignment, as well as the allegations and what we have learned thus far.”
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