After the massacre at the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando on June 12, many politicians and advocates have emphasized homophobia and the need for gun control. In Yonkers, community leaders planned a special tribute to the victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre.
Hostility and discrimination against the gay community are well-established facts. On occasion, these negative attitudes lead to hostile, verbal and physical acts against gay individuals with little or no apparent motivation except an intense dislike.
What does a community do when their own Deputy Police Commissioner displays a homophobic nature? What does a community do when the Acting Police Commissioner covers up the homophobic actions with a false report, of an incident that he witnesses firsthand?
For a Deputy Police Commissioner to call someone homophobic epithets and threaten them with body harm should terrify every politician and citizen. It should not just be a Mount Vernon concern, but a national concern. A Deputy Police Commissioner is also empowered to carry a gun that allows him to use deadly physical force. When that same Deputy Police Commissioner owns a carting company and has the control of the police department, it gives him an unfair advantage over the other carting companies.
You would think with the national response to the outrage over the domestic terrorism that took place in Orlando, that Mt. Vernon, Westchester County, New York State and federal officials would step up to the plate of accountability. You would think they would show the LGBT community that the elected officials of Mt. Vernon do not tolerate any appointed official who would discriminate or use homophobic epithets against anyone in the Mt. Vernon community or anyone who might visit. Their silence has shown they failed in their responsibility to the people. Their silence can be seen as approval or agreement with this sort of behavior.
As a national organization of law enforcement professionals, our organization Blacks In Law Enforcement of America, has demanded the immediate resignation of the Deputy Police Commissioner Joe Spiezio, who made the insulting homophobic comments. Not to mention the Acting Police Commissioner Ronald Fatigate refusing to discipline that individual and then making false statements to cover up the egregious act.
Police Departments have a strict code of conduct and ethic policies that they follow and Mt. Vernon should not be any different. A Deputy Commissioner’s actions in public can not and should not be exempt from any policies.
The sad thing about this episode, other than the City Council, all the other elected officials have been silent in condemning the actions of the management in the Mt. Vernon Police Department. Even Mayor Richard Thomas has refused to publicly address the statements of his Deputy Police Commissioner.
Many reports address the issues facing LGBT individuals and communities. Profiling, discrimination, and harassment at the hands of law enforcement officers are known assurances. The first step in President Obama’s 21st Century Policing model is transparency and accountability. What is transparent is the mayor’s accountability is to his trusted adviser he appointed as Deputy Police Commissioner and not the residents of Mt. Vernon as he would like us to believe.
The failure of Mayor Thomas and other elected officials to address this publicly and reassure the LGBT community that Mt. Vernon is fair in dealing and that they are accountable for their actions of their appointees and law enforcement personal, falls short of implementing the recommendations outlined in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.