New York – The New York City Police Department announced that its highest-ranking Latino officer and first deputy police commissioner will retire at the end of October, sparking speculation as to the reason why and outrage among Latino police officers who are alleging he is being pushed off the force.
Rafael Pineiro, 65, joined the agency in 1970 and has served as its No. 2 official since 2010. After the election of current Mayor Bill de Blasio, Pineiro was touted as a candidate for commissioner, but the incoming mayor selected William Bratton instead.
The newspaper cited an anonymous high-ranking police official who claimed that Pineiro was shocked by the announcement. "He was forced out," the source told the Times.
“This is the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month and what they do is force the highest ranking Hispanic member of the police department out of his job,” Anthony Miranda, the chairman of the National Latino Officers Association (NLOA) told Fox News Latino in an interview Tuesday. “There is not a justifiable reason to force this man from his job.”
The group released a scathing condemnation of the retirement in which they blamed de Blasio and Bratton for forcing Pineiro to retire. "2014 Hispanic Heritage Month will be a time of mourning knowing that regardless of his professional and academic accomplishments, the force’s highest ranking Latino officer was let go so quickly," the group said in its statement.
Pineiro moved to the U.S. from Cuba with his family when he was 12. He received a bachelor’s in science from the New York Institute of Technology and then a master’s in public administration from New York University.
He graduated from Brooklyn Law School, completed a John B. Fellowship at Harvard University, and was part of the first class of the Police Management Institute at Columbia University, according to the city’s website.
During his time in the NYPD, Pineiro saw the police department go from having only 1 percent of the force being Latino to its current level of about 25 percent.
"With stop, question and frisk issues of profiling, I think having a Hispanic who understands what's going on in the community would actually benefit the citizens of this city," Dennis Gonzales, president of the NYPD's Hispanic Society, told the New York Daily News last fall when Pineiro was being vetted for the commissioner job.
While the reason for Pineiro's retirement is not yet known, the NLOA’s Miranda said the move makes the NYPD much less diverse and warned Mayor de Blasio that it will greatly hurt him in his political career.
“You have to hold the mayor accountable because Latinos came out in droves to vote for him,” Miranda said. “This will guarantee that he is a one-term mayor.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.