The Irvington, New Jersey Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the circumstances in which four of its officers appear in a controversial rap video.
The rapper cop at the center of the controversy told PIX 11 News he’s getting a bad rap over the video which critics claim embodies all the bad stereotypes of a 90s gangster rap video. Police brass say it strikes the wrong note.
You wouldn’t know it from the video that the guys on screen are decorated police officers. It features Hip Hop artist Gat The Great, otherwise known as officer Maurice Gattison, whose also President of the Irvington police union. He and three fellow off-duty officers spout homophobic slurs rap about alcoholics,gay bashing and violence. At one point, Gat calls himself “a felon for life” and warns other rappers they may have to meet his Smith and Wesson, which he points to the camera.
The Irvington Police Department has raised questions about the video. Police Director Joseph Santiago questions “whether or not the behavior creates a negative impression upon the department and upsets our ability to enforce the law.”
The video, posted on You Tube, has caught the attention of Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith who is upset over the language used. “The concerns that were raised were more about whether it was appropriate to talk about gender choices, and sexual preferences.”
As for Officer Gattison, he now has a lawyer and insists he’s done nothing wrong, and claims, “In no way did I intend to be perceived as homophobic or anything like that. Basically its me adapting to a rap culture.”
The controversy has reignited debate about what a police officer can and cannot say. Some Irvington residents weighed in on the question of whether or not officers have the same freedom of speech rights as the rest of us, whether they are on duty or off. Most felt police officers should be held to a higher standard and should be conscious of the language they use all the time.
Gattison and is fellow rapper officers will remain on the job during the internal investigation that is expected to take about a month. I spoke to the rapper cop on the phone tonight and he told me he regretted the video has stirred so much controversy and expressed the fear he would be “persecuted” because of it.