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NYPD's Language Policy Unfair To Latino Officers, Group Claims

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A group on Tuesday urged the city's police department to roll back a policy requiring English to be the only language spoken while officers are on duty. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

A group representing Latino NYPD officers says it could be something as simple as saying "hola" instead of hello inside one of the city's precincts. They say officers are being reprimanded for violating what they call a discriminatory department policy that requires speaking English only while officers are on duty.

"We are talking about conversations between officers while they are in the precinct, while they are in sector cars, while they are working: A common practice for any other officer to talk to each other in any other language that is comfortable to themselves," said Anthony Miranda of the National Latino Officers Association.

They point to a specific incident involving an officer at the 24th precinct, who received a memo reminding her to speak only in English, after her supervisors cited her for speaking Spanish to a fellow officer while on duty.

"We're talking about casual talking, like you and I are talking, why would you be reprimanded for that?" said Claudius DeFrancesco of the National Latino Officers Association.

According to the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, "A rule requiring that employees speak only English on the job may violate (federal law) unless an employer shows that the requirement is necessary for conducting business."

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the NYPD complies with the law and that employees are notified of the policy. He calls it common sense.

"If you walk into a police station and you hear people speaking a language among themselves other than English, it certainly could be at the very least disconcerting, and not necessarily a signal that you're there to assist," Kelly said.

The National Latino Officers Association says it's aware of nine cases in which Latina officers have been cited for violating the policy. They claim English-only reprimands are being used as retaliation for other discrimination complaints.

It's calling on any other officers who feel like they were unfairly reprimanded to come forward.

Kelly says there have been no reprimands and that the NYPD has only sent memos reminding members of the department of the requirement to speak English on the job.

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