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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The Civil Rights Division of the United States Justice Department has contacted the City of Fort Lauderdale, requesting a meeting next week to discuss the racist behavior of four officers now at the center of a national scandal.
Three of the officers were fired Friday. Those officers were Jason Holding, James Wells, and Christopher Sousa. The fourth, Alex Alvarez, resigned in advance of being fired.
The officers were found to have been passing racist and homophobic text messages between them. Fort Lauderdale Police say Alvarez had also produced a video, which depicted blacks as being “savages” and portrayed President Obama with gold teeth. The video also uses the N-word to refer to Obama.
The video and text messages were turned over to the police last October by Alvarez’s former fiancé. Alvarez, who had been with the department for two years, resigned shortly thereafter. The others were fired on Friday.
During an interview Sunday morning with CBS4 News, Police Chief Frank Adderley disclosed, he was contacted by federal agents on Saturday. The agents are expected to focus their attention on whether the officer’s racist views affected how they carried out their duties. As part of that investigation, the FBI could end up reviewing hundreds of arrests made by those four officers during the years they were on the street.
“We’ll be meeting this week with the FBI Civil Rights Division and I’m pretty sure they are very interested in what [the officers’] activity has been since they’ve been on our department,” Adderley said. “That’s something the FBI will come back later after they make their evaluations and tell us.”
Adderley then added, “We welcome the FBI to come in.”
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler agreed with Adderley and said the city would cooperate fully with federal investigators. He said he realizes the community’s confidence in the police has been shaken by these revelations of racism in the police force.
“This is about restoring the trust, as I said on Friday, this breaks the bonds that we have with our community,” Seiler said. “ And we want to make sure we restore the bonds and restore the trust.”