HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – A noose was found dangling in the headquarters of a suburban police department that prides itself on its diversity, the police chief said.
The noose was spotted in a locker room Friday morning, said Chief Joseph Wing, who called in Nassau County police to help investigate what he called a "horrific and intolerable" incident with racist overtones. Nooses are reviled by many as symbols of lynchings in the Old South.
About half of Hempstead's 107 police officers are minorities, most of them black, said Wing, who is of Asian and European descent. The department recently displayed a banner noting its participation in a countywide effort to recruit minorities and women as police officers.
"It's astonishing to hear something like this is happening in Nassau County in 2007, especially in Hempstead Village," said John Nedd, president of the Nassau County Guardian Association, a black police officers' group.
Corey Pegues, a New York City police captain and the president of the Long Island chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, said members believed the noose may have been directed at a high-ranking Hempstead police official who is black.