Five Ohio deputies have been implicated in sending racist text messages to one another after an anonymous tip was sent to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. After an investigation it was revealed the deputies had allegedly sent racist texts to one another between 2011 and 2013 on their personal cellphones.
Hundreds of pages of racially insensitive texts were discovered.
Because the messages were sent on the officer’s private phones, it’s unclear if the deputies will be fired.
Two officer’s, Capt. Thomas Flanders and Detective Michael Sollenberger, are on indefinite suspension. The other three officers remained unnamed and have not been suspended. Both the Sheriff’s department and the NAACP are investigating the matter.
The WHIO reported Sheriff Phil Plummer saying:
The deputies were in shock they were caught, ‘but did not apologize.’
While the texts were exchanged on personal cellphones the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department code of ethics states:
I WILL keep my private life unsoiled as an example to all. I WILL never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities, or friendship to influence my decisions.
If the officers are found to have sent the text messages, they could be fired for violating the code of ethics they signed.
Some examples of the vile texts (Warning: These are insensitive and disturbing):
What do apples and n*ggers have in common? They both hang on trees.
I hate n*ggers. That is all.
We stopped at a Walmart in Birmingham, there are a lot of Black people in Alabama. It’s all Martin Luther Kings fault.
This is obviously conduct unbecoming of an officer. It puts their involvement with cases involving African-Americans into question of whether they acted without a racial bias.
But that won’t stop racists from defending the officers.
Check out these comments from the Daytona Daily News Facebook page:
What these racists fail to realize is that officers who hold a racial bias are dangerous to communities. Freedom of speech only protects a person from being imprisoned by their government, the First Amendment does not protect hate speech and any employer can fire an employee for representing their agency badly.
Jason Matthews, an employment attorney, said:
It is possible that somebody could lose their job because of the messages, but I think a lot of it depends on the position that they hold. It also depends on whether they’re a private sector or public sector employee, whether they have certain protections, such as a collective bargaining agreement or personnel policies that would protect them from being terminated.
The news of these texts comes at a very racially sensitive time in this country after a spotlight has been placed on police who target minorities unfairly.
Derrick Foward, the local NAACP president, said:
We cannot tolerate anybody who harbors hate, and they are supposed to be out here protecting us.
While right media reports that we are living in a post-racial America, this is a sad reminder that racism is still alive and well and exists in people of power.