November 17, 2019
New York

NYPD chief's son keeps job as cop despite getting busted for groping woman at Atlantic City casino

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A rookie cop whose dad is an NYPD chief avoided getting fired after an off-duty arrest for groping a woman at an Atlantic City casino, police sources told the Daily News.

The department’s handling of Officer Joseph Essig’s case raises questions among police sources who suspect high-ranking officers and those close to them are treated with kid gloves in discipline cases.

Just 15 months into his brand-new NYPD career — on Oct. 8, 2015 — Essig was arrested at Harrah’s Casino in Atlantic City on a felony charge of criminal sexual misconduct.

NYPD officer Joseph Essig arrives at his Massapequa, L.I., home on April 7, 2018. The cop remains on the job despite getting arrested for groping a woman in October 2015.

NYPD officer Joseph Essig arrives at his Massapequa, L.I., home on April 7, 2018. The cop remains on the job despite getting arrested for groping a woman in October 2015.

(Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)

New Jersey authorities downgraded the charge to a health code violation. Essig pleaded guilty, was ordered to stay away from the victim, and paid a $1,000 fine.

Officers facing similar charges with less than two years on the force are typically fired, say sources.

But Essig remains on the job. A police source said that’s “shocking.”

“Other probationary cops have been fired for way less,” said the source.

Essig’s dad is NYPD Assistant Chief James Essig. There’s no sign Chief Essig called in any chits for his son, said sources. But they had little doubt that Joseph Essig caught a big break when he was allowed to keep his job.

“People see the name and the case gets treated differently,” is how one source put it.

New Jersey authorities had video evidence backing their case. The video, obtained by The News, shows the woman reacting angrily, pointing her finger at him, then notifying another man, who shoves Essig.

Essig backed up and raised his hands as the other man yelled at him. After about a minute, Essig walked away.

The day of his arrest, Essig was suspended without pay from his assignment at the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica, Queens.

The NYPD did not publicize his arrest. For reasons not clear, the department only releases the names of officers arrested within the five boroughs.

Deputy Commissioner Phil Walzak, the NYPD’s top spokesman, did not address the question about alleged special treatment.

“The case was thoroughly reviewed and the officer in question was severely punished for his violation, in full accordance with department guidelines and regulations,” Walzak said in a statement.

Walzak wouldn’t say what the penalty was or where the officer is now assigned.

The NYPD two years ago reversed a 40-year-old practice of making available to the media summaries of departmental disciplinary proceedings, raising questions about the department’s promise to be more transparent.

In video obtained by the Daily News, a woman is seen angrily pointing her finger at Essig, then notifying another man, who shoves the rookie cop.


The department said releasing the information violated Section 50-a of the state’s civil rights law, which prohibits public disclosure of such summaries.

NYPD officials said by releasing the information, they’d been unwittingly violating the law for years. Critics, however, have accused police of an improper interpretation of the law and say they should resume releasing the summaries.

Mayor de Blasio gave the Essigs a shoutout in July 2014 when Joseph Essig and his brother, James, were sworn in as officers during a Police Academy ceremony.

De Blasio said the brothers were “carrying on the family tradition, times two. That’s something we appreciate.”

Joseph Essig, 25, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. His father referred questions to the NYPD’s press office.

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