“English, mother**ker, do you speak it?”
— Jules, “Pulp Fiction”
Just in case you thought the lunacy over language spoken in the U.S. was unidirectional, a story out of New York should set the record straight. The players in this morality tale are Jessenia Guzman, a veteran of the NYPD with a bloodline to the Dominican Republic, and an arcane workplace rule.
Guzman was in the station house on Friday catching up on paper work. She passed a colleague in the hall on her way to get some coffee and the two exchanged pleasantries.
Another several hours would pass before Guzman received word to report to supervisor’s office, where she was informed she had violated standard procedure. Her dereliction? Speaking Spanish while on the job.
Understandably, Guzman gave no thought to the conversation, the substance of which was so trivial that she couldn’t even remember her words when she summoned to her supervisor’s office several hours later.
She was told that she was receiving an official reprimand because she had spoken Spanish while on the job.
Guzman was issued a “memo of reprimand,” which explained that the “policy is in place to allow proper supervision of personnel.”
The Daily News notes that one in three NYPD officers is Hispanic, but rules — the department insists — are rules. “We’re a 24/7 operation,” said NYPD spokeswoman, Inspector Kim Royster. “We should be speaking one voice, which is English.”
According to a 2009 NYPD internal newsletter, department employees are required to “speak English while they are conducting business for the department unless speaking a foreign language is a necessary component to performing their duties and responsibilities.”
Anthony Miranda, chairman of the National Latino Officers, told the paper that situations like this used to be something officers joked about but added the humor is wearing thin.
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