A small town in Alabama decided this week to disband its three police forces after one of them sent a racist text message that later circulated on social media.
Pending an investigation into the text message, the Vincent, Alabama City Council suspended the police chief and deputy chief at a meeting Thursday and proposed disbanding the department, the department said on Saturday. the mayor, James Latimer. After that decision, the remaining member of the department resigned, the mayor said.
After the suspensions and resignation, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said in A declaration Friday that he was handling emergency calls from law enforcement for the city. The statement added that sheriff’s office officials also “condemn” the allegations of misconduct.
The town, located about 30 miles southeast of Birmingham, has a population of just under 2,000, 392 of whom are black, according to census figures.
“It tore this community apart,” City Council member Corey Abrams said at the meeting, according to AL.com, which reported on the text message this week. Mr. Latimer said Deputy Chief John L. Goss sent the message, an offensive remark about slavery.
The Reverend Kenneth Dukes, president of the Shelby County branch of the NAACP, said the text was just the “tip of the iceberg” and reflected unresolved community concerns about racism in the community.
“I think now the council, with the mayor, sees that it’s totally unacceptable and people have said, ‘No more,'” he said.
Mr Latimer said Police Chief James Srygley and Chief Goss were suspended with pay when the council met on Thursday. One officer, Lee Carden, resigned. The council approved a resolution to pursue the firing of the chief and deputy chief, the mayor said.
Chiefs Srygley and Goss and Officer Carden could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
The board also agreed to write an ordinance to disband the police department and work with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to contract law enforcement coverage.
Reverend Dukes said his organization plans to meet with members of the community in the coming weeks to hear feedback ahead of the next city council meeting on August 16. He said he appreciated the city’s quick response to the text message allegation and was waiting to see if the chief and deputy chief would be fired in accordance with Council’s recommendation.
“I think right now we’re happy with the result and I hope everyone will move on, once it’s confirmed,” he said.
McKenna Oxenden contributed to this article.
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