Two of the officers are fighting the discipline raps they received for tossing around a football with a young boy at a Bronx housing project – charging oversensitivity from police brass jeopardizes community relations. Hit the jump to read the rest of the story.
Even before the NYPD was embroiled in a dustup over dirty dancing, four cops got caught up in a Fourth of July football-throwing fiasco, the Daily News has learned.
“I don’t think throwing a football to a 7-year-old boy is misconduct,” said Officer Catherine Guzman, a 17-year veteran of the force. “It was the Fourth of July, it was 96 degrees out and we were interacting with the community.
“Everybody was happy,” she added.
That is, everybody except Deputy Chief James McNamara, the commanding officer of the Bronx Housing Bureau. He witnessed the football tossing and gave the cops a dressing-down worthy of Vince Lombardi.
“He was irate and berated us in front of everyone,” Guzman recalled. “He said, ‘What are you doing? Do you realize you are on overtime?’”
News of the football caper comes on the heels of controversy over cops videotaped dancing and gyrating during the annual West Indian American Day Carnival Parade. Police officials are reviewing the tape of the Labor Day weekend incident, which shows cops happily grinding their hips into the backsides of scantily clad dancers at the Brooklyn parade.
The four officers involved in the 2010 football-throwing incident at the Webster Houses were slapped with command disciplines, and two accepted a penalty of two vacation days.
But Guzman and Officer Mariana Diaz are appealing the ruling and taking their case to the department trial room.
Both face significantly stiffer penalties if they are found guilty of charges that they “did fail and neglect to remain alert, to wit: throwing and catching a football with three uniformed members of service…while maintaining a foot post.”
Their lawyer, Eric Sanders, said the NYPD needs to rethink its definition of community policing.
“I think the Police Department prefers its officers to be an occupying force rather than interacting with the community it serves,” Sanders said.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not respond to a request for comment.
Diaz said she’s taking a stand on principle.
“There’s a lot of negativity toward police,” she said. “I want kids in the community to look at us in a positive way.”