On Friday, the chief of police in San Francisco moved to dismiss at least seven officers who violated Department policy by sending racist, homophobic and “White Power” texts.
San Francisco police chief Greg Suhr said Friday that the texts, sent by the officers in 2011 and 2012, “are of such despicable thinking that those responsible clearly fall below the minimum standards required to be a police officer,” according to The New York Times.
The investigation opened in 2011, after the FBI began opened a case against dirty cop, SFPD Sergeant Ian Furminger. Based on this Federal investigation (which the SFPD administration was not allowed to take part in), the FBI turned over documents to SFPD including the incendiary text messages, after which 14 officers became the focus of an investigation, reports KRON.
Furminger was convicted in December 2014 of stealing money and property from suspects and was sentenced to 41 months in prison, reports The Times.
The messages — including one that said, simply, “White Power,” also had content disparaging Mexicans, Filipinos and homosexuals, this in a city with a vocal, sizable and powerful gay and lesbian population.
“Cross burning lowers blood pressure!” Furminger wrote, according to court documents. He also sent texts insulting Latinos, the documents said.
In response, the other officers texted such responses as “White Power,” prosecutors said. Other texts, including jokes about one of the others being gay, were received on officers’ phones, prosecutors said.
The police department launched an extensive investigation, Suhr said in the statement, and found eight officers showed “such extreme bias (racist and/or homophobic content)” and “such despicable thinking” that they were suspended “and their cases have been forwarded to the Police Commission with the singular recommendation of termination.” The eighth officer, Michael Robison, has already resigned from the department.
Of course lawyers for the officers said that the texts did not represent their clients true interests and simply meant to blow off steam in their high-pressure jobs.
But Jeff Adachi, San Francisco’s public defender, wasn’t buying it. “The characterization of these hateful statements as innocent banter is dead wrong,” Mr. Adachi said Friday, according to the NY Times. “This casual dehumanization leads to real-life suffering and injustice. It foments a toxic environment in which citizens fear and distrust the police, brutality reigns, and good officers are less effective.”
Prosecutor Adachi also called for the city to require all officers to undergo racial bias training and to require those who witness a colleague engaging in racial bias to report it to supervisors or face discipline, reports the Times.
The officers involved in the texting scandal had been on the force for as long as 23 years, and several had worked in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods.