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Alabama Police Department Dissolved After Officer Sent A Racist Text Message

The police chief and the assistant police chief were also suspended as a result of the controversy.

In continuing bouts of ignorance across the country, an Alabama police department has come under scrutiny after a racist text message sent by one of its three officers surfaced on social media.

According to NPR, the police chief and the assistant police chief were suspended, then the city council voted to dissolve the entire department. The city of Vincent, Alabama and Mayor James Latimer called the move “a reversible decision,” as the remaining third member of the crew, Officer Lee Carden, subsequently resigned.

The greater Shelby County Sheriff’s Office took over to respond to emergency calls during the span of a year, Mayor Latimer said.

In a population with less than 2,000 residents, 85% of whom are white and 12% of whom are Black, the text message, which features a screenshot where someone identified as “752” writes about slavery in an unsavory manner, reported al.com.

Two days after the text message first surfaced, the internal investigation conducted by Mayor Latimer had led to the city’s police chief James Srygley and Assistant chief John L. Goss being suspended. The council then moved to disband the police department entirely.

Officer Carden submitted his resignation via text message hours after the city council vote.

Srygley and Goss did not respond with any comment.

Latimer told NPR that the measure to dissolve the agency is only temporary.

“It gives us some breathing time and time to make sure we do the right thing,” Latimer said.

This move gives the mayor and city a chance to “recruit and rebuild” the police force, as well as hire a private firm to investigate the actions of the officers. “There is little more to the decision than just this one incident,” Mayor Latimer added, without going into further detail.

Rev. Kenneth Dukes, president of the Shelby County branch of the NAACP, shared to NPR how the actions taken by the mayor and city was encouraging to the Black community in Vincent. “I’ve been a civil rights activist for a long time and I never experienced the power and magnitude of people coming together like that,” said Dukes, who was at the council meeting last Thursday.

“The Black community isn’t just going to go back in the corner,” Dukes said. “They’re tired of being disrespected, so they’ll continue to come together to speak out. I think the entire city of Vincent will improve and get better when every citizen stands together to speak out against racism, disrespect, and inequality.”

In a statement made last Friday, the sheriff’s office said it condemned the allegations of misconduct and stood with the decision to disband the police force while remaining vigilant in providing emergency law enforcement services for citizens of Vincent.