A group of Hispanic police officers in Bridgeport, Conn., is demanding that an assistant chief resign after he allegedly allowed a college professor to repeatedly use an ethnic slur during a lecture to officers.
Assistant Police Chief James Nardozzi asked a graduate faculty member of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York to conduct ethics training sessions to police officers last month. The Bridgeport Police Hispanic Society accuses Nardozzi of doing nothing while the professor repeatedly used the ethnic slur referring to Hispanics as "spic," The Connecticut Post reported.
Juan Santiago Jr., president of the officers group, said that as the department's second highest-ranking officer, Nardozzi should have spoken out. More than 100 of the roughly 427-member department are Hispanic, he said.
"Right now we're not asking for an apology," Santiago said. "We want him to resign or for the administration to fire him. How could (Nardozzi) not say anything?"
The professor, William McDonald, in an e-mail to news site Buzzfeed on Thursday, said the racist accusations are untrue and are a ploy to get Nardozzi fired for reining in overtime costs at the Bridgeport Police Department.
“The allegations are completely ridiculous as any of the more than 80 participants can attest,” McDonald wrote.
McDonald said he used the word "spic" while talking about racial profiling and harassing issues with the East Haven police in Connecticut.
“In one lecture, while discussing the recent scandal in the East Haven Police Department as an example of unethical decision making, I used the word ‘spic’ to stress and exaggerate the thought process of the individuals involved in the egregious abuse of basic human rights. At the end of that discussion I apologized to the participants for using the term and explained my purpose."
McDonald said he’s being made a scapegoat and the real issue is the "attack aimed at Dr. Nardozzi, through me, for difficult decisions he has had to make regarding overtime payments to police officers."
But the Hispanic police group is not buying it.
Santiago Jr. sent a letter to Mayor Bill Finch accusing McDonald of admitting he is a racist in a separate ethics training session. In that session, according to The Connecticut Post, McDonald is accused of saying there was a decrease in inner-city crime during and after the Vietnam War because large number of African-Americans were killed in that war and did not then procreate.
The mayor said he is taking the accusations seriously.
“It has been brought to my attention that there was language used by a non-city employee conducting a police training class that was offensive to many of the officers present,” Finch told Greenwich Time newspaper. “This is a very serious allegation, and it goes without saying that my administration does not condone offensive language of any kind. With that said, I will refrain from further comment until all the facts have been presented.”
Bridgeport's police chief has not commented on the matter.
Nardozzi was appointed the No. 2 cop at the department in November 2012, specifically to rein in the overtime costs by Bridgeport police, according to The Post. The 427-person department was projected to be $2 million over the current $5.4 million overtime budget in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
Nardozzi monitors overtime daily, requires more detailed explanations as to why police officers are working overtime, and is also working on implementing a new computer systems to monitor overtime in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.