NYPD Civilian Review Chair Wants Cops to Stop Using Foul Language on the Job


Richard Emery

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has remained in the news steadily over the last several months for a string of alleged police brutality cases caught on tape, including most prominently the death of Eric Garner in police custody.

The new-ish chairman of the NYPD's Civilian Complaints Review Board appears to be trying to take a broken windows sort of approach to police oversight, like his friend Bill Bratton. The Staten Island Advance reports:

"Our own investigators… they're exonerating police officers who use terribly foul and insulting language during the course of either an arrest or a confrontation because it is supposedly a stressful situation.

"To me that does not fly, and I have a problem with that," said Richard Emery, the civil rights attorney and longtime friend of NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, who was appointed to chair the civilian panel in July.

"I understand that it's real life and that people get emotional, and that it's hard to prevent them from getting emotional, but at the same time I don't think it's something that should be sanctioned as appropriate."

In September (PDF), only 3.9 percent of complaints against the NYPD were primarily for offensive language, with 16.8 percent for "discourtesy." The largest number of complaints, 634, or 45.4 percent, fell under "abuse of authority," followed by use of force complaints, which numbered 474 or one in three.

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  1. This is what regulatory capture looks like.

  2. You know, if we’re going to live in a world where we have stupid, capricious, and arbitrary rules anyway… I kinda like the idea of making cops have to say stuff like “ding dong heck” instead of the bad words.

    Make them wear cameras to ensure compliance.

  3. “STOP RESISTING, please.”




  4. Richard Emery is a piece of shit, lowlife, mother-fucking, sister-tonguing, brother-banging, father-sucking, uncle-blowing, aunt-raping, penguin-sodomizing, cum-guzzling, pet-molesting son of a diseased whorecamel that should be drowned in an kiddie pool full of his children’s blood.

    See? Isn’t that so much worse than being choked to death?

    NYPD? Here’s that blank check you wanted.

  5. My only issue with cops using unprofessional and ‘offensive’ language on the job is that it’s only part of a larger problem, and exposes their contempt for the people they ‘serve.’ And just like so many things that cops do, it only goes one way. They can call you every foul name there is and you have no recourse. But if you try to do that to them, they have the power to arrest you and possibly destroy your life.

    1. This sums it up nicely.

  6. I had an ex-girlfriend from boarding school who Zsa Zsa’d a cop for calling her a bitch in front of her son.


    When they arrested her, I understand she was on the phone trying to complain to the police captain about the officer’s behavior.

    Cops who unnecessarily escalate shit are stupid. They have to approach every car like the driver is armed and trying to kill them, but then they needlessly risk escalating any situation by the stupid shit they say?

    Any NYPD that don’t like the rules should quit their pensions and go get a job somewhere else.

    1. Cops who unnecessarily escalate shit are stupid.

      Not only are they stupid, they are inherently bad at their job.

    2. They intentionally escalate situations because they are always looking for an excuse to use violence. Using violence to get your way is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. It’s an identity.

  7. So they can still beat the shit out of people, but now they have to say beating the poop out of them instead?

  8. The weapon was quite polite before and after it was discharged.

  9. wait. don’t all professionals refer to their employers and customers as dirtbags?

  10. Who gives a fuck what the pigs say while they’re discharging weapons into random fucking people and animals? This asshole can go fuck himself if he actually thinks people are going to buy this red herring bullshit and forget about all the brutality.

    1. I don’t think it’s one or the other. The use of foul language to those who you’re supposed to “serve and protect”, and the people who pay the taxes that pay your salary, tends to foster the us vs. them mentality that leads to police violence. Obviously, address the violence primarily, but if I am running a restaurant, the fact that I don’t want my waitstaff shooting or beating my customers doesn’t mean that I have to tolerate them cussing them out. I think if our food service people can comply with both those requirements, our law enforcement personnel can too.

      1. In a restaurant your customers have a choice. You can’t force them to buy your products whether they want them or not. So you have an incentive to be nice to them.

        Government has no such incentive.

      2. Our own investigators… they’re exonerating police officers who use terribly foul and insulting language during the course of either an arrest or a confrontation because it is supposedly a stressful situation.

        This is a red herring. He doesn’t mention the violence, the rights violations, the terrorizing, just the naughty language. If your waiters are cussing at customers and beating the shit out of them, you are going to concentrate on the beating first, then worry about the soft skills. If you took on the language first while ignoring the beatings, you would be accused of trying to distract people from the beatings, and rightly so.

  11. Sticks and stones may break your bones but words are just as hurtful, said nobody ever who’s actually been on the receiving end of a physical beating rather than a literary beatdown.

  12. I think it is a meaningful reform simply in that it reminds the police who works for who. I have seen some training on violent encounters that essentially takes the position that you should use foul language DURING AN ALREADY VIOLENT CONFRONTATION because, in the author’s opinion, those people who are going to have it out with a cop are conditioned only to listen to people who talk like that. Sounds like garbage, but fine, let them have that. But when the “civilian” hasn’t initiated violence, it’s inappropriate to cuss out the person who pays your bills.

    Last summer, my son, a newly minted driver, was maneuvering around some sort of police activity when he heard a cop yell something like, “Hey, asshole! Come back here! I am going to beat you!” My son, polite guy that he is, stopped and did a “Who, me?” and the cop said, “No, not you, you’re fine.”

    So, two observations: first of all, maybe there was an implied “or” in the cop’s comment, but I think if someone demands that someone stop or return to them so they can be beaten, you have every right to ignore that person. He’s a fool at best, a lunatic at worst. Second, my son was driving to Chick Fil A. If one of their employees was using language like that to a customer, they’d be fired on the spot, but this hero gets to keep his job. Some would even say cussing at people is part of the job! That’s …um…figged up?

    1. Cops don’t serve us. They serve the public. The public being everyone except any actual members of the public they encounter.

  13. Not discounting all the other abuses but they should have to treat people with respect. If they are allowed to swear at people it is a starting point for escalation and violence. Most employees are not allowed to use foul language on the job, cops shouldn’t either.

  14. I agree that this is a positive and meaningful reform attempt. Certainly other abuses are more serious, but foul language seems to set the tone of a lot of these encounters.

  15. Foul language is the icing on the abuse cake, but it is a reform that will help the “optics” for people not receiving a beating. Last time I was in a cop shop (to get fingerprinted for my CC) the first words out of the desk sergeant’s mouth were, “What the fuck do you want?”. I’ll tell you that really helped me feel all warm and cozy towards the fat blue line.

  16. This is sidestepping the real problems, however I do think that – hypothetically – if police started to refrain from foul/abusive language on-duty, that would have a positive (however small) effect on other abuses. If you know you can’t even talk impolitely to someone, you’re going to be less inclined to beat them.

    Again, though – I agree this is red herring from the comissioners buddy, that ignores the much more severe abuses. Lipstick on a pig, as they say (pun intended).

  17. There is nothing wrong with the rule to be nice.

    Dalton: Don’t worry about it; all you have to do is follow 3 simple rules: One, never underestimate your opponent..expect the unexpected; Two, take it outside, never start anything inside the bar unless it’s absolutely necessary; and Three…be nice.
    Hank: [Incredulously] Come on!!
    Dalton: If somebody gets in your face and calls you a cocksucker I want you to be nice
    Hank: [With resignation] Ok
    Dalton: Ask him to walk, be nice, if he won’t walk, walk him, but be nice, If you can’t walk him, one of the others will help you and you will both be nice…I want you to remember, that it’s the job, it’s nothing personal.
    Steve: Being called a cocksucker isn’t personal?
    Dalton: No, it’s two nouns combined to elicit a prescribed response
    Steve: What if somebody calls my Mama a whore?
    Dalton: Is she?
    [everybody snickers]
    Dalton: I want you to be nice.. until it’s time..to not be nice
    Bouncer: So, uh, how are we supposed to know when that is?
    Dalton: You won’t..I’ll let you know…You are the bouncers I am the Cooler; All you have to do is watch my back and each others….and take out the trash

  18. If my choices are between getting a tongue-lashing from Officer Friendly or getting stomped to death/choked to death/shot to death/tased to death/law enforced to death, I think I’ll take the tongue-lashing.

  19. Using foul language isn’t being violent, but the average schmoe like me is acculturated to associate some overmuscled lout (with a badge or without) using increasing amounts of it at high volume to be a reliable precursor to violence.

    It is a tactic of intimidation, and it often works. Isn’t that why the military’s drill instructors used it for so long?

    I imagine it works less often on hardened crims who have been in and out of the joint. Then again, would that type consider polite cops to be total wusses?

    Kevin R

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