A probe conducted by the City Council’s Oversight and Investigations Division accuses NYPD Deputy Inspector James Francis Kobel, utilizing the alias “Clouseau,” of anonymously posting over 500 recently deleted inflammatory comments in a police blog. They’re alleged to be racist, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamo-phobic, anti-Semitic and sexist. On Thursday, Nov. 5, he was relieved of his command of the Equal Employment Opportunity Division and placed on modified assignment pending the inquiry’s outcome.
“I am unfamiliar with any of these posts,” he claimed. “I’m unfamiliar with ‘Clouseau.’ I don’t post on the Rant.”
A 13-page report revealed their discoveries. Councilperson Ritchie Torres oversees the division. Ever since the Council started its investigation the posts have been taken down and the profile deleted. For over 20 years, the Rant has been an online chat board for “bigots with badges.” From summer 2019 to earlier this fall, “Clouseau” shared hundreds of posts on the Rant, various ones with ethnic or racial overtones. He referred to former President Barack Obama as a “Muslim savage” and called Bronx district attorney, Darcel Clark, who is Black, “a gap-toothed wildebeest.”
Assemblyman Charles Barron said both he and his wife City Councilwoman Inez Barron were also targeted in the vile ranting.
“That is a drastic step, but we thought it was the appropriate step due to the nature of his given assignment as well as the allegations and what we have learned thus far,” the police commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, said. He added that the comments posted by “Clouseau” were “utterly disgusting.”
Richard Esposito, the deputy commissioner of public information, noted that “the evidence at this stage points at the police executive,” referring to Inspector Kobel.
The inquiry turned up more evidence that pointed to Inspector Kobel, such as an email on his personal computer from the Rant message board that acknowledged his screen name was “Clouseau.” Investigators also found other evidence on his cellphone, including a photo of the Pink Panther character Inspector Clouseau.
Councilperson Richie Torres said his investigative team utilized social media findings, uncovering traces, determining that Inspector Kobel and “Clouseau” share “a number of specific professional and personal characteristics.”
And the “shocking invective” posts caught an investigators attention because they “revealed substantial biographical details about himself, leaving a trail for the investigator to follow.” He was “as confident as I could be” that the two people were the same man because the commonalities were “too coincidental to be a coincidence.”
“The NYPD knew of the existence of Law Enforcement Rant and it did nothing to uncover the identities of those officers,” said Torres. “It speaks to the complacency and casual bigotry of the old boys network at the NYPD. The most hateful person was put in charge of fighting hate in the police department. That’s a profound failure of due diligence on the part of NYPD leadership. It turns out the equal employment opportunity officer is an equal opportunity bigot.”
Self-proclaimed elected activist, Assemblyman Charles Barron, stated: “This is a clear indication of the systemic racism in the NYPD. For a deputy inspector to be ranting this racist nonsense from that high a position says that it probably permeates the entire department. He should be fired, and that’s why we said the police department needs to be dismantled. We should have Black community control over the police in our neighborhoods.”