Officer Murashea Bovell, a 12-year-veteran of the Mount Vernon Police Department, is suing the department for what he believes is a campaign of retaliation. 

Bovell filed an internal harassment complaint with the city in December 2017, saying officers had cooperated with drug dealers, allowed them to sell drugs, and only arrested their customers to keep arrest numbers up.

Since then on two separate occasions at Roll Call meetings on August 7 and 8, Bovell recorded Sergeant Michael Kushnir referencing "rats," when talking about those who speak out about the department, while handing out memo books and radios, according to WNYC.

“412 South Second, there's rats. Not like the rats here at headquarters,” Sergeant Kushnir said drawing laughter from his fellow officers. "It’s been so chaotic here, even the snitches don't know who… [inaudible].”

While those in charge have so far refused to comment on the specific allegations in Bovell’s case, some say the allegations and evidence are damning.

"Not only is the officer facing isolation from his colleagues when he’s been outed as a rat, he’s also facing a possibility of physical danger because his colleagues could fail to give him back up,” said Marnie Blit, executive director of the New York City Commission to Combat Police Corruption to Gothamist. “So other officers seeing he is outed is not going to want to report misconduct because they’d fear the same treatment.”

Bovell's coworkers knew the danger of speaking out against the department and understand the danger he has placed himself into.

“If you say anything against another officer, they label you as a rat. That’s why a lot of people don’t say anything,” said one patrol officer, who requested anonymity to Gothamist. "People won’t give him back up. Even if his life is in danger they’ll be slow to respond."

Last month, the department issued an internal operations order which banned unauthorized recordings, according to WNYC.