Southern Brooklyn

Cop Who Forced Rabbi To Break Sabbath Transferred

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The 61st Precinct police officer responsible for forcing an Orthodox man to violate Jewish law has been transferred out of the borough; meanwhile, the Deputy Inspector continues outreach to prove his officers respect the area’s residents and their beliefs.

Though the officer has been transferred, the case is still under investigation, and officers at the 61st Precinct have told Sheepshead Bites that, in the weeks following the incident, Deputy Inspector Mastrokostas has repeatedly stressed cultural sensitivity to his officers.

Mastrokostas also addressed the issue at the most recent Community Council meeting, saying that the officers under his command receive regular training on the customs of the district’s residents, and are undergoing additional instruction following the incident. [video above]

“What happened here was an isolated incident. I’m here now almost three years and this is the first incident like this that’s ever happened,” Mastrokostas said at the December 7 meeting. “The one thing that we always teach our officers is to be culturally sensitive to everybody out here.”

The unnamed cop is now patrolling northern Manhattan neighborhoods, after igniting controversy when he stopped Rabbi Shalom Emer for a jaywalking charge on November 28. Emer was not carrying identification, but the rabbi said the officer refused to walk with him the short distance to his home to get the information. Instead, the officer insisted he write his name down; writing during Sabbath is a violation of Jewish law.

“I think it is appropriate that this police officer was transferred out of a precinct with one of the lowest crime rates in the city, to a precinct with one of the highest,” Councilman David Greenfield said in a statement. “Surely, at his new precinct, he will make good use of his crime-fighting skills.”

The councilman said the offense was the only jaywalking summons issued in that precinct this year.

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