N.J. Police Investigated For Gangsta-Style Rap Videos

Maurice Gattison, police officer and rapperIn the news business, it's often said that three examples make a trend. If so, it's hard to know what to make of the flurry of police officers under investigation for making racy rap videos. The latest case involves a New Jersey police officer -- also the president of the local police union -- who reportedly made "gangsta"-style rap music videos under the name "Gat The Great."

Narcotics officer Maurice Gattison, pictured, raps in the videos, flanked by three friends, all decorated township officers, The Star-Ledger reports. The videos are now restricted on YouTube, but in the clips posted on the Star-Ledger, Gattison repeatedly uses a gay slur, and refers to himself as a "felon for life." At one point he appears with a gun on his hip, while his buddy waves a medieval mace.

Free Speech Or Improper Conduct?

It's standard fare for a rap video -- but still not standard behavior for law enforcement. The department is currently conducting an internal investigation, but the video has already ignited a debate over free speech, and what cops can do in their off-duty hours. Gattison, for one, doesn't understand the controversy, explaining to The Star-Ledger that he's been rapping since he was a teenager. "I could see if I was targeting somebody, but it's just lyrical exercise," he said.

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He added that his colleagues all knew about his pastime, and the temporary department head, Capt. Dwayne Mitchell, even invited him to perform at the department's Christmas party last year.

UPDATE: March 13 -- Gattison is in fact bewildered by the controversy, telling the Star-Ledger in a follow-up article that he doesn't think his "singing a song" is newsworthy. He never intended to be homophobic, he explained. His use of a gay slur was simply "me adapting to the rap culture."

"If I was at a karaoke night and singing a Tupac song would it come under question then?" he asked the paper.

Wayne Fisher, the former deputy director of the state division of criminal justice, agrees. "If they had taken part in a Shakespearean play, and the character talked about murdering people, would there be outrage?" he asked The Star-Ledger. Others aren't so laissez-faire about Gattison's hobby. Joseph Santiago, the police director, stated that officers could be disciplined for off-duty behavior if it "creates the impression that its members may not be able to fairly enforce the law." Mayor Wayne Smith was more blunt, telling The Star-Ledger that there would "corrective action."

Getting Fired For A Hobby

Scores of individuals have been disciplined and even fired in the past few years for things they've done in their free time, because the Internet has made so much of it visible. Educators and police officers seem to end up in hot water most often, because their reputations and values are so critical to their work.

Last month, for example, a Bronx junior high school principal came under fire when his old rap videos surfaced, where he cavorted with busty babes under the name "El Siki." Last November, a Dallas police lieutenant was placed on leave after allegedly producing an expletive-filled rap video under the name "Lucille Baller." Last week, a police department in the Catskills, N.Y., investigated two officers for appearing in a rap video that extolled the virtues of drug use.

But why rap videos have become the controversial hobby of choice appears to be just another mystery of the universe.

This story has been updated to include comment from Maurice Gattison.

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crazy ray

Clearly a conflict of interest. Any person arrested by this fellow could claim he was anti-gay or in favor of felony from the videos. True or not, it would be enough for a defense lawyer to use to get his client off. Look at OJ. All the evidence in the world but tthey portayed Mark Furman as a racist and OJ walked free. As Ceasar's wife, a cop has to be above suspicion.

March 14 2013 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do not think the 1st ammendment had any clause or exception for certain kinds of workers. Since he is employed by the government, they must respect his first ammendment rights. Major Jack#ss and Director Sc#mbag I do not like the crap that comes out of your pompous daily.

March 14 2013 at 8:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow .... that's really aN OFFENSIVE comment by the writer "But why rap videos have become the controversial hobby of choice appears to be just another mystery of the universe."

You can bet , and I would say rightly so in my opinion,, that a cop rapping and using the " n " word would certainly be fired.... but tis okay to use an equally derogatory word about gay people? Registering my complaint with Huffington and , yep, Ill be going to a different site for news now. UNBELIEVABLY OFFENSIVE.

March 13 2013 at 5:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I think its more about his image and how it represents the department. I can't say rap or its type of lyrical content is the issue but the fact how he represents himself to the public as a public offical of the police department is what got him in trouble really.They do agree to not tarnish or undermine the department with their conduct.

March 13 2013 at 4:54 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

good as rap is not music or song it is talking only

March 13 2013 at 3:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Hitmanblues's comment

Not very smart are you? It's pretty obvious in your attempt at making a sentence and the fact you obviously have never sat at a studio mix board or compiled 40 bars while panning and looping.

March 13 2013 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Shull.

It's very simple why rap is looked down on...Because the main purpose of rap is to bring down otherwise happy people and make them feel paranoid and forget to see the Beauty in this world and only look at the disgusting,vile,unhealthy and unrealistic view of 'Hate and subjugation and war".

March 13 2013 at 12:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bob Shull.'s comment

Bob I see it is obvious you do not know anything about rap or hip hop your statement kinda makes you seem like a white guy in his fifties. Am I close?Hip hop and rap are 2 different types of music both created to express a thought or idealology. Rap has become more of the music for the unintelligent or the simple minded usually regulated to bragging about personal possessions, sexual conquest, or violent feelings. Hip hop is a form of music that allows the emcee to use the language to paint vivd images for the mind with twists of similies or metaphoric expression. Both have roots in political, self expression, and reality. I do admitt rap which has now filled the radio waves is pretty crappy as far as content and skill, but that is also due to dumbing down of our country through things like facebook, twitter, and the left deciding it is better to have people do nothing and give them everything then to create jobs and oppurtunities for these same people to learn how to take care of themselves. All and all though rap does not have anything to do with paranoia or seeing beauty. It is simply pushed now that talent is not needed as society has become so stupid they need child like thinking to function. Thank the left and the moron in chief for pushing that cycle of doom upon our own social iq.

March 13 2013 at 5:01 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sekinu2's comment

Neat. I never knew there was a difference. I have never liked the "smoke a blunt, then 5-0" kind of rap, but some others, maybe it was hip hop, were interesting. Never understood why any of it needed to be filled with the glorification of illegal acts, or so much hatred. But I am intrigued by how anyone can keep up that quick paced rhythm, for so long.

March 13 2013 at 10:00 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down

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