CREDIT: Douglas Healey/ AP
Hispanic police officers in Bridgeport, Connecticut are demanding the resignation of an assistant police chief who allegedly stood by as a college professor repeatedly used racial slurs during his lectures last month.
The officers felt uncomfortable when John Jay College Of Criminal Justice Professor William McDonald reportedly used a derogatory term for Hispanics during several ethics training sessions. Instead of asking for an apology from Assistant Police Chief James Nardozzi– who invited McDonald to speak– the officers are demanding that Nardozzi resign for not stopping the incendiary remarks.
Juan Santiago Jr., president of the Bridgeport Police Hispanic Society, was not present at the lecture, but wrote on behalf of the officers, “Sergeant (Roberto) Melendez endured the degradation of Hispanics, waiting for Assistant Chief Nardozzi. … giving him the benefit of the doubt to see if Assistant Chief Nardozzi would step up and denounce the use of this hateful, offensive, racist word, but shockingly, he did not.”
In a statement to Buzzfeed, McDonald wrote, “In one lecture, while discussing the recent scandal in the East Haven Police Department as an example of unethical decision making I used the word ‘Spic’ to stress and exaggerate the thought process of the individuals involved in the egregious abuse of basic human rights. At the end of that discussion I apologized to the participants for using the term and explained my purpose.”
The Bridgeport police force consists of 100 officers of Hispanic origin out of a force of 427 officers.
Professor McDonald blames the blow up over his lecture on officers trying to oust Nardozzi, who was hired last year to put a stop to overtime abuse. McDonald indicated that he is a proponent of human rights, saying, “[I] come from a mixed-race family, and am the father of an adopted 8-year-old Afro-Caribbean child.”
This isn’t the first time that Bridgeport police officers have dealt with racial discrimination. As far back as 1978, Black and Hispanic police officers claimed intentional racial discrimination and free speech violations within the police department. In 2005, a district court ruled that the police department has a “long history of foot-dragging and non-enforcement of its racial, ethnic and sexual slur and harassment policies.” In 2011, both Police Chief Joseph Gaudett and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch called for the resignation of a police officer who sent a racially insensitive email.