NEW YORK (Sep. 20)
Precinct officers of the New York City police force reported today that non-Jewish policemen had started volunteering this morning to work during Rosh Hashanah to allow Jewish fellow-officers to be off during the High Holy Days which start tomorrow evening.
The volunteer offers were made in response to appeals sent out over the police teletype network by Msgr. Joseph Dunne, Roman Catholic chaplain of the police department’s Holy Name Society and relayed to policemen of all Christian denominations by delegates of the Policemen’s Benevolent Association, an organization of policemen with semi-union status.
Agreement to such “swaps” was the only concession made by Police Commissioner Stephen Kennedy in his order mobilizing the 24, 000-man police force because of security problems created by the visit to the United Nations of many heads of state of the Communist bloc including Soviet Premier Khrushchev.
A spokesman for the department said it was “hard to say” whether any substantial number of the city’s 1, 300 Jewish police officers would be able to arrange such “swaps” with non-Jewish policemen. The spokesmen declined to make any estimates, saying only that “we are working on the problem. “
Commissioner Kennedy made the concession after a stormy meeting with Mayor Robert F. Wagner yesterday and a two-hour meeting with members of the New York Board of Rabbis. The Mayor emerged from his 25-minute meeting with the Police Commissioner with a statement to reporters that Kennedy was “the police commissioner and I’m the Mayor and everybody in the city had better understand that, too.” The Commissioner brushed past reporters after the meeting without any comment.
The New York Board of Rabbis urged the Commissioner to give the Jewish policemen the customary time off for religious observance. The rabbis said, after the meeting, that the proposed “swaps” were unsatisfactory because those Jewish officers who could not make such shifts would have to be on duty during Rosh Hashanah,
Patrolman John Cassese, president of the Policemen’s Benevolent Association, said that “certainly there must be some way to get days off for 1,300 Jewish policemen on a force of 24, 000 men. We realize this is a crucial time and Commissioner Kennedy needs men but Christian officers are only too glad to substitute.”