A white Cincinnati police officer is under investigation after he was overheard calling a Black woman the n-word during an arrest at a nightclub.
According to an email obtained by The Cincinnati Enquirer, Officer Dennis Barnette was heard using the racial slur on footage captured on another officer’s body camera. He uttered the word while arresting a Black woman at the Brownstone Nightclub in the Roselawn section of the city.
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“This type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated inside the department,” Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac wrote to his boss, City Manager Patrick Duhaney.
In an email to city officials, Duhaney agreed with Isaac’s stance on Barnette’s actions.
“I share Chief Isaac’s concerns regarding this matter,” Duhaney said. “It is unacceptable and not in line with the standard of conduct we expect from city employees.”
On Thursday, the city’s Law and Public Safety Committee called a special meeting to discuss the incident and Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman called Barnette’s behavior “absolutely unacceptable,” but cautioned residents against judging the whole department because of Barnette.
Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard criticized Barnette on Facebook and argued he should be “relieved of his duties” so the police can show its commitment to Black residents.
“The behavior of Officer Dennis Barnette is reprehensible to say the least. His actions are why, in spite of police reform efforts and progress, the Black community remains distrustful of law enforcement,” Dennard said. “As we work to have a police department with the cultural competencies needed to truly protect and serve this entire city, what transpired continues to set us back.”
While the department continues its internal investigation, Barnette has been stripped of his police powers and relegated to desk duty.