Cynthia Nixon, a candidate for New York governor, called out the New York Police Department for its treatment of an officer who reported her supervisor for sexual harassment.
As detailed in a recent BuzzFeed News investigation, former officer Jazmia Inserillo said she was punished and her career was derailed because she spoke up.
“What happened to Jazmia Inserillo is horrifying, and beyond unacceptable,” said Lauren Hitt, a spokesperson for Nixon. “No woman should be treated that way in the workplace, let alone one who is willing to risk their life to serve and protect our city. Unfortunately, this culture exists in far too many governments and workplaces across the country.”
Nixon’s comments follow those of several public officials who expressed outrage about the officer’s experience.
The department substantiated Officer Inserillo’s claim that her supervisor had touched her inappropriately. But after making her complaint she was suspended without pay for a month and forced into several months of alcohol treatment, despite little evidence that she ever abused alcohol or drank regularly. She said she was also shunned by her colleagues. Meanwhile, the supervisor’s punishment was losing 10 vacation days and a transfer to another precinct. He denied all allegations when he spoke to BuzzFeed News.
Inserillo’s story is part of an ongoing BuzzFeed News investigation into discipline at the NYPD. A trove of internal documents showed that the department has forced some officers off the job over minor infractions, while in other cases, officers who commit serious offenses, such as lying on the stand or beating innocent civilians, were allowed to keep their jobs.
The department does not usually release information about how officers are punished, citing a state law that restricts the public’s access to police personnel records.
Dan Quart, a state lawmaker and criminal defense attorney, said Inserillo’s story underscores the need to change that state law.
"The NYPD's disciplinary system is veiled in total secrecy to the detriment of both the public and fellow law enforcement officials. Officer Inserillo showed bravery and persistence in the face of threats to her jobs, and as reported, sometimes her life. The NYPD must have transparent systems and protocols in place to help prevent this type of failure from occurring again,” said Quart, who cosponsored legislation in the last session to repeal the state law. The legislation did not pass.
Commissioner James O'Neill has said he supports amending the state law to allow for greater transparency about disciplinary proceedings.
In January, the commissioner, who was not running the department when Inserillo was disciplined in 2014, launched a review of all processes for investigating sexual harassment on the job. The department said that review includes examining the treatment of people who file a complaint, and how those people can be better protected from retribution.
A panel of three outside experts, chaired by Mary Jo White, formerly the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and United States Attorney in Manhattan, began reviewing the department’s disciplinary process last month. Their report will be made public in about three months.