NYPD anti-harassment official investigated for alleged racist online messages
James Kobel allegedly posted online as someone else, attacking Blacks, Puerto Ricans, Hasidic Jews and others.
An inquiry conducted by the New York City Council’s Oversight and Investigations Division has published a report that alleges that a high-ranking police official made racist rants online for years.
Deputy Inspector James F. Kobel has denied he is the author of the racist messages posted on an online chat board called The Rant. The site is where NYPD officers “secretly” complain about their jobs.
The author posted messages under the name Clouseau, the fictional name of bumbling Police Inspector Jacques Clouseau, a character featured in the Pink Panther films.
According to The New York Times, Clouseau posted hundreds of The Rant messages attacking Blacks, Puerto Ricans and Hasidic Jews with deep-seated dislike and in which he referred to former President Barack Obama as a “Muslim savage.” He also called Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark “ a gap-toothed wildebeest.”
Most ironically, Kobel was the head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Division within the NYPD.
He has been relieved of his command.
The inquiry resulted in a 13-page report by the Oversight and Investigations Division of New York City Council. The division is led by Councilman Ritchie Torres, who was recently elected to the House of Representatives, one of two Black gay men chosen by New York voters to serve there.
Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea said removing Kobel from his post was a “drastic step,” but one that was deemed necessary due to the nature of his work and the basis of the allegations.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Richard Esposito told The Times the investigation is still underway, but that “the evidence at this stage points at the police executive,” talking about Kobel.
According to the report, Kobel, 50, served in several senior positions on the force during his nearly 30-year career, and before his removal, he oversaw a unit responsible “for the prevention and investigation of employment and harassment claims.”
The accusations against the senior officer in such a sensitive role come after a summer of protests against police brutality and violence raged across the country.
The topic of nationwide police reform even became a talking point during the 2020 presidential debates between President Donald Trump and his challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.