An NYPD officer who says she spoke briefly in Spanish to a co-worker who mentioned getting coffee as she walked by was written up for breaking a department rule that requires all department business to be conducted in English, according to a report.
An internal memo obtained by the Daily News says NYPD officers must "speak English while they are conducting business for the department unless speaking a foreign language is a necessary component to performing their duties and responsibilities."
Exceptions would include communicating with victims who don't speak English, for example.
Jessenia Guzman, a 13-year veteran of the force, said she didn't think twice about the single-sentence Spanish response she made to her co-worker May 14 until her supervisor called her into an office several hours later and issued a written reprimand for violating the department's English-only workplace policy, the News reported.
The reprimand said Guzman was "required to communicate department business in the language of English," according to the News.
The 40-year-old officer said she grew up in the Bronx but has ties to the Dominican Republic, so the Spanish comment was nothing more than a reflexive response.
"It was just natural," Guzman told the paper. "She walked by. She was going to get coffee. She said something. I responded. That was it."
The English-only workplace policy has been in place for years, but the News reports the department has stepped up enforcement as of late, including it in police academy executive training and other classes.
The NYPD stood by its policy, saying it helps oversee personnel and streamline communications in emergency situations.
"We're a 24/7 operation," NYPD spokeswoman Kim Royster told the News. "We should be speaking one voice, which is English."
According to the paper, the policy is limited to official business and does not include breaks, personal calls or "a cursory greeting to a co-worker."
NYPD officers are required to be able to speak English, but many are bi- or multilingual. More than 50 languages are spoken by people who work for the department, and a third of the force is Latino.