For two decades, New York City police officers have gone to an online chat board called the Rant to complain about their jobs, sometimes using blatantly racist and misogynistic language. Even by the website’s vitriolic standards, recent posts by a user who calls himself “Clouseau” have been especially disturbing, the New York Times reports. Since last year, “Clouseau” posted hundreds of messages on the Rant, many of which attacked Blacks, Puerto Ricans, Hasidic Jews and others 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.” City investigators have amassed evidence that “Clouseau” is a high-ranking police official assigned to an office responsible for combating workplace harassment in the Police Department.
The inquiry was conducted by the City Council’s Oversight and Investigations Division. The official, Deputy Inspector James Kobel, denied writing racist messages. The posts have been taken down since the Council began its inquiry, and the profile deleted. On Thursday, Kobel was relieved of his command of the Equal Employment Opportunity Division and placed on modified assignment pending completion of the department inquiry. “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,” said Police Commissioner, Dermot Shea, said. He called comments posted by “Clouseau” “utterly disgusting.” Current and former co-workers said Kobel is quiet, low-key and strait-laced. The inquiry turned up evidence pointing to Kobel, including an email on his personal computer from the Rant that acknowledged his screen name was “Clouseau.” Defenders of Kobel, 50, say he is being framed by someone unhappy with the outcome of one of the thousands of internal harassment investigations he conducted in recent years.