NYPD Officer Reported Sexual Harassment Then She Was Forced Into Rehab

Jazmia Inserillo was a rookie New York Police Department officer in her early twenties when a new supervisor took over at her precinct in Queens.

The first time she met Lt. Jason Margolis, a hulking figure with big eyes and sagging cheeks, he seemed friendly enough. He liked to be on a first-name basis with his officers.

But that friendliness quickly morphed into something darker. He started touching Inserillo inappropriately, she said, massaging her shoulders and putting his hand on her leg when they were alone. Only a couple months on the job, she said, he drove her to his house and asked her to come inside, telling her not to worry — his wife was out of town.

The young officer knew the rule, of the precinct and the department as a whole:

“Don’t ever make a complaint. That was embedded in my head,” Inserillo said. “This is the blue wall. Don’t ever bring the outside in. Your reputation will be ruined.”

So for five more years, Margolis’s behavior persisted.

“This is the blue wall. Don’t ever bring the outside in. Your reputation will be ruined.”
He ran his hands across her back claiming he needed to check that she was wearing her bulletproof vest. “If you play the game, I’ll take care of you,” Inserillo said he told her.

She tried to go up the chain of command, alerting her precinct’s commanding officer and then her union delegate. Nothing changed.

Finally, she decided to make a complaint to the NYPD’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, which is tasked with investigating claims of harassment and discrimination.

That’s when the bad situation became a disaster.

Within months of filing her complaint, Inserillo was being investigated herself. She was ordered into a three-month alcohol treatment program, even though she says she has at most a few drinks a year, and there have never been any complaints to indicate otherwise. When she refused to go, she was suspended and risked losing her job. Her commanders were punishing her, Inserillo believed, for speaking out.

Over the past six months, BuzzFeed News has used a secret trove of internal documents to show that the department’s disciplinary process is uneven and unaccountable. Records and interviews reveal that, largely in secret, minor infractions have led to investigations, suspensions, and the loss of careers. Meanwhile, officers who commit serious offenses, from stealing from the department to lying under oath to beating innocent civilians, are sometimes allowed to keep their jobs. None of the punishments are made public.

But Inserillo’s story — and a review of hundreds of pages of internal records and court documents — underscores a further consequence of this unequal system: Those who speak up about misconduct sometimes say they are punished most severely of all.

Numerous officers who raised concerns about department practices said they were given “highway therapy,” an unofficial name for transferring an officer to a precinct far from their homes. An ongoing lawsuit brought by 12 officers alleges they were passed over for promotions and given poor evaluations after raising concerns about illegal arrest and ticket quotas. An officer who complained about racial and sexual discrimination was secretly surveilled, her phone records were subpoenaed, and she now faces potentially serious punishment for misplacing a parking placard and other low-level charges. (BuzzFeed News recently sued for access to the disciplinary trial transcripts from this officer’s case.)

“If you fight with them, they’re never going to surrender,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a former NYPD officer and a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. If higher-ups want to make your life hell, “there’s a rule violation in every breath you take.”

Citing a state law that limits the public’s access to officers’ personnel records, the department did not comment on Officer Inserillo’s experience, but pointed out that in January 2018, the department changed the way it handled sexual harassment, including expanding training and hiring analysts to look for patterns in formal complaints.

Got a tip? You can email [email protected]. To learn how to reach us securely, go to tips.buzzfeed.com.
“The NYPD thoroughly investigates all complaints it receives, and offers several reporting options for NYPD employees, including anonymous reporting,” said Phil Walzak, NYPD deputy commissioner, in a statement.

The department also recently announced that a panel of three outside experts will review its disciplinary process to ensure it is administered effectively and fairly.

When reached at his home, former police lieutenant Margolis, who said he was forced to retire in 2016 over a separate dispute with the department over his medical condition, denied all the accusations Inserillo and another officer had made against him.

“They lied. They wanted to get paid and they did. It’s not the first time it happened and it won’t be the last,” he said. He denied ever driving Inserillo to his house alone, rubbing her shoulders, or acting inappropriately. He said he had a good relationship with Inserillo — and her husband, too, with whom he talked about their shared interest in science fiction — before she filed a complaint and ruined his career.

He said he never used connections to try and harm Inserillo or avoid punishment. “I knew people, but [it] didn’t seem to really matter,” he said.

Like so many women whose stories have emerged during the #MeToo era, Inserillo’s life and career were turned upside down after speaking out about a powerful man — in this case, an officer who bragged about his connections to top brass. He lost 10 vacation days and was transferred to another precinct, while she lost a month of pay, was forced into a treatment program, and ultimately quit the department.

For full story visit: https://www.buzzfeed.com/kendalltaggart/this-nypd-officer-reported-sexual-harassment-then-she-was?utm_term=.rw9GjnmbMn#.pnj8E30VX3

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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