Four Fort Lauderdale police officers have formally been let go from the force after exchanging racist text messages between themselves and creating a video with racial bias.
Three of the officers, Jason Holding, James Wells and Christopher Sousa, were fired following an extensive internal affairs investigation that began in October 2014, Chief Frank Adderley said at a news conference. A fourth officer, Alex Alvarez, resigned.
The offensive material includes images of President Barack Obama and fellow Fort Lauderdale Police officers, along with a racially charged video made by Alvarez using iMovie.
“Based on the investigation, they felt, in their words, that it was a joke,” Adderley said. While their actions aren’t illegal, the officers were officially terminated due to department misconduct; including conduct unbecoming of a police officer and engaging in conduct prejudicial to the good of the order of the police department.
“I’m very disappointed, disgusted and shocked by this incident,” Mayor Jack Seiler said. “The inappropriate racist behavior exhibited by those involved is unacceptable and reprehensible. It violates the trust we place in our law enforcement officers; it damages the bond we have established with our community; and it undermines the standards to which each and every City employee is held accountable.”
In response to this transgression, the department has created a human diversity class that every officer will attend on a yearly basis, and they will be evaluating their screening process for newly hired employees.