NYPD Officers Catherine Guzman & Mariana Diaz Fighting Punishment for Tossing Football with Young Bronx Boy
The New York Police Department has long tried, often with great difficulty, to foster improved relations between its officers and the communities they are paid to protect and serve. And so it was with great chagrin that I read four NYPD officers have been disciplined for tossing around a football with a young boy in a Bronx housing project a couple of months ago.
According to the New York Daily News, Deputy Chief James McNamara, commanding officer of the Bronx Housing Bureau, saw the cops tossing the ball to the kid at Webster Houses on a steamy July 4th afternoon and lambasted them on the spot. “He was irate and berated us in front of everyone,” officer Catherine Guzman, a 17-year NYPD veteran, told the Daily News. “He said, ‘What are you doing? Do you realize you are on overtime?'”
Two of the four reprimanded officers accepted their punishment; their act of community outreach will cost them two vacation days each. But Guzman and fellow officer Mariana Diaz are fighting their punishments, an act that could result in more severe sanction if they are found guilty. They’re charged with failing to “remain alert, to wit: throwing and catching a football… while maintaining a foot post.”
“I don’t think throwing a football to a 7-year-old is misconduct,” Guzman told the Daily News. “It was the Fourth of July, it was 96 degrees out and we were interacting with the community. Everybody was happy.”
“There’s a lot of negativity toward police,” added Officer Diaz. “I want kids in the community to look at us in a positive way.”
Eric Sanders, the two officers’ attorney, told the Daily News that the NYPD needs to reevaluate its concept of community policing.
“I think the Police Department prefers its officers to be an occupying force rather than interacting with the community it serves,” he said.
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