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FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – At a meeting earlier this week the Fort Lauderdale Police Department dropped a bombshell. The racist video and racist text messages exchanged by four police officers would not cause those officers to lose their law enforcement certifications.
CBS4 News dug into the topic and found that it all boils down to whether or not what the officers did is on a list of moral character violations.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which handles law enforcement certification, shared a list with CBS4 News on Thursday. It does not appear there is anything in the state statute that fits what these officers are accused of doing.
After seeing the video created by Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Alex Alvarez and a series of racist text messages shared by Alvarez, Officer Christopher Sousa, Officer Jason Holding and Officer James Wells, many in the community assumed that in addition to no longer working for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, the officers would probably be stripped of their law enforcement certifications. But the community learned at a citizens police review board meeting Monday that was not the case.
Community activist Roosevelt Walters is incredulous.
“If this doesn’t rise to that occasion, I don’t know what would,” he told CBS4’s Carey Codd.
Walters said he also cannot understand why the City of Fort Lauderdale hasn’t sent the internal affairs documents to FDLE to let them review the case and see the allegations about the video and texts for themselves.
“If they haven’t got the paperwork, what do we expect them to do?” Walter said.
Mayor Jack Seiler said the police department has every intention of sharing the details of their internal affairs investigation with FDLE. But he believes that no matter the outcome, this video and the texts mean those four officers have very little chance of being hired anywhere.
“There is no application in this case but I will tell you that if you’re a mayor, if you’re a police chief, if you’re a city manager and you look at the actions of these officers, they will not be working for your department,” Seiler said.
But Seiler does see a hole in the law.
“There ought to be something in the state law that says these gentlemen are ineligible to serve when they express beliefs and thoughts and prejudices that they expressed in this case,” Seiler said.
For Roosevelt Walters, it’s simple. If police officers espouse hate towards those different from them, they lose the right to protect and serve.
“We cannot have officers out here supposedly protecting us, who hate us,” Walters said.
An FDLE spokesperson told CBS4 News that they will review any documents they receive from Fort Lauderdale police but that if the offense is not covered by this list of moral character violations, the officers will likely not face punishment.
FDLE said at this point there are no disciplinary cases on any of the four Fort Lauderdale police officers involved in this matter.