I tried to overlook this story, but I just couldn’t. It points to a real problem in the New York City Police department. A white police officer was disciplined for acting “in a discourteous manner” when he confronted a black motorist who turned out to be one of the highest-ranking commanders in the New York City Police Department. Chief Douglas Zeigler, the head of the NYPD’s Community Affairs Bureau and the highest uniformed black officer on the force, was off duty and sitting in his department-issued sport utility vehicle on a street in the borough of Queens on May 2 when two white police officers approached. According to police spokesman Paul Browne, the encounter turned testy, and one of the officers tried to wrest open Zeigler’s door, even after the three-star chief had identified himself. “He dealt with the chief in a discourteous manner, which is unacceptable,” Browne said.
The details surrounding why the officers decided to question Zeigler were not disclosed. The New York Daily News reported Saturday that Zeigler was parked near a fire hydrant and that one of the plainclothed officers spotted Zeigler’s service weapon inside the vehicle. Browne said he could not confirm whether the officers saw a gun. The News said the officer was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on modified duty Friday. Zeigler has headed the Community Affairs Bureau since January 2006. His wife, Neldra Zeigler, is the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for equal employment opportunity.
The incident was reported as police are being criticized for stopping and frisking record numbers of pedestrians — about 145,000 in the first quarter of this year. The majority were black or Hispanic. I know that many will say that the cops are just doing their jobs, but I beg to differ. There are many decent and hardworking policemen who would never intentionally violate the civil rights of anyone, but there is a seedy undercurrent in the police department that will do just that. Too many blacks have been pulled over or given a hard time by cops for no other reason than for the color of their skin.
I am not sure what was the nature of the altercation between Ziegler and the cops, but you would think that after he identified himself, the cop would have backed off. I guess he never thought in a million years that a black man could have that name or, quite possibly, be in such a position, though many blacks occupy high levels in police departments across the country. The investigation into this matter should be made public. I can guarantee that many blacks in New York City and other cities have had similar encounters with white police. The bottom line is that this speaks to a huge problem in the NYPD that needs to be address. Too many people have made assertions of being profiled and roughed up by the New York’s finest for it to be ignored. Just my thoughts, you be the judge….