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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — Fort Lauderdale Police announced the termination and resignation of officers, they said, were involved in a “racially biased” video and messages.
Officials announced the termination of Fort Lauderdale Police officers Chris Sousa, James Wells and Jason Holding. The fourth officer, Alex Alvarez, resigned.
All this after one of the officers allegedly created a video that was “racially biased” and the others exchanged racist text messages among themselves, according to Chief Frank Adderley.
He also said there was a Ku Klux Klan(KKK) hood seen in the video which also takes shots at President Barack Obama with large gold teeth.
“The officers were terminated due to a sustained department misconduct,” said Adderley. “There is zero tolerance for this type of behavior within the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. All of the officers were immediately removed from having any contact with the public.”
“It is inappropriate and it is racist,” said City Mayor Jack Seiler.
The officers, according to Adderley, had worked predominantly with people in an African American neighborhoods in the past.
The investigation started after the ex-fiance of one of the officer’s came forward in October 2014.
“She said she had personally seen it herself and felt it was inappropriate,” said Adderley.
The woman spoke by phone with CBS 4’s Carey Codd on Friday and said she stood by her decision to turn over the video and text messages.
“We cant have people like this protecting us,” the woman said.
Dozens of pages of text messages were released on Friday and a number of the messages referenced violence towards black people. One text said the officers were coming to a visit and officer, drinking beer and killing black people. And it didn’t stop there.
According to the investigative report, “The messages criticized their coworkers’ grammar, appearance, work ethic and referred to an entire shift as lazy (expletives)….The officers also exchanged text messages that included derogatory comments towards Hispanics and homosexuals.”
“It is extremely unfortunate that these acts of racism and hate ever took place and that these Fort Lauderdale employees acted in this manner,” said City Manager Lee Feldman.
One of the officers had recently been disciplined for mishandling property of a person who had been arrested, according to Adderley.
The issue is the latest in a series of troubles for Fort Lauderdale. First, the controversy over feeding the homeless. Then a police officer was caught on video slapping a homeless man and now the racist video and texts. Mayor Seiler admitted the city has taken some hits. But he doesn’t see an broader problem within a police department of more than 500 officers.
“That is not a reflection in my mind of a problem within the police department,” Seiler said. “It’s a reflection of a few bad apples in a bunch.”
Jasmen Rogers is with the group Dream Defenders. She believes the video and text messages show there is a breakdown between the police department and the African American community.
“Yeah, they’re fired but now you’ve traumatized a whole community that they were policing,” she said. “So what are you going to do now?”
The Fraternal Order Of Police (FOP) released a statement on the issue Friday saying,
“The Fraternal Order of Police is a multicultural organization which does not tolerate racism. Our officers take great pride in our commitment to diversity. Our dedicated officers have positive relationships with residents in every community we serve.”
“Everyone is entitled to due process and these officers have the right to a fair review of the facts. I cannot comment on the specifics of this case as I have not had the opportunity to review the file.”
In response to the incident, Adderley said the City of Fort Lauderdale created a human diversity class that every officer has to attend on an annual basis. They said they will also evaluate the process of screening newly hired employees.