Sexual harassment and misconduct are not just prevalent in Hollywood, women everywhere face this issue. In fact, even those working in the law enforcement agencies aren’t safe from being harassed by their powerful and influential superiors.
Unfortunately, Jazmia Inserillo witnessed this all first hand. However, she was one of the few female officers who took a stand against their alleged harassers and exposed the hostile environment in police precincts – even if it came at a big cost.
In 2006, Inserillo was a rookie cop when she met Lt. Jason Margolis, who had just taken over as her supervisor at a Queen precinct, reported the BuzzFeed News. At first, she thought he was just friendly, but her perception began to change when Margolis began making unwanted advances towards her. From lewd comments to inappropriate touching, the senior officer repeatedly harassed Inserillo, who was in her 20s at the time. He even telling her, “All you have to do is play the game and I will help you with whatever you want.”
The cop said her complaints to officers at her precinct and her union delegate went unheard, so she decided to make an official complaint to the NYPD’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity in 2011. Inserillo probably thought her problems would come to an end, but if anything, they got much worse.
“Don’t ever make a complaint. That was embedded in my head,” Inserillo told the publication. “This is the blue wall. Don’t ever bring the outside in. Your reputation will be ruined.”
Although she had learned Margolis had harassed several other women at her workplace, it didn’t reportedly deter her colleagues from bullying her. According to the publication, things got so bad that Inserillo one had to go to ER because she was having trouble breathing.
When she came back to work, the department ordered her to see a psychologist citing five instances where she failed to "control her emotional state.” The psychologist then recommended her to undergo outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse, even though the woman claimed she was not an alcoholic. Her other option was to receive a 30-day suspension without pay, which she ended up taking.
“Two officers who worked with Inserillo at the precinct told BuzzFeed News they had never seen or heard of any issues with Inserillo drinking, and three others who later testified at her disciplinary trial said the same thing,” reported BuzzFeed News. “Even Margolis, the lieutenant she complained about, told BuzzFeed News that he never noticed any problems with her use of alcohol.”
However, it did not end there. At the end of the month, Inserillo was not only told she was under investigation for refusing to follow an order but also faced an ultimatum to either undergo outpatient treatment or lose another month of pay.
This time around, she underwent the treatment.
Ironically, while she got punished for taking a stand against a superior officer, her alleged harasser, who claimed the NYPD forced him to retire in 2016 over his medical condition, only lost 10 vacation days and was transferred to another department.
“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 told BuzzFeed News, referring to the $110,000 settlement money the city agreed to pay Inserillo following her civil rights lawsuit against the NYPD. Neither the city nor Margolis admitted any wrongdoing, though he also agreed to pay her $2,500.
A few years later, Inserillo left NYPD.
“I decided that my heart wasn’t there anymore. It just wasn’t for me,” she said. “If I see something wrong, I say something, and in law enforcement they don’t like that.”
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters