San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr has recommended the firing of seven officers who sent or received text messages that spoke of lynching African-Americans and burning crosses.
Suhr said Friday he has asked a police oversight committee to approve dismissing the suspended officers, who are accused of sending racist and homophobic text messages. Six others face disciplinary actions that include reassignment to positions that don’t have contact with the public. Another officer tied to the investigation has resigned.
The text messages, sent in 2011 and 2012, “are of such despicable thinking that those responsible clearly fall below the minimum standards required to be a police officer,” Suhr said in a statement.
But the officers, who were not identified, violated department policy to varying degrees, Suhr said.
Lawyers for the officers deny the texts represent their clients’ opinions, but were naïve banter to cope with stressful jobs.
One of the messages simply said “White Power,” while others contained denigrating comments about gays, Hispanics and Filipinos. They were sent or received by as many as 14 officers in the department, the police said.
Two officers who sent inflammatory texts were reassigned and will have their cases considered by the police commission, which can hand down penalties up to termination.
The remaining four officers did not send text messages that included “hate speech,” said Suhr, who will decide how to punish them. He can suspend an officer without pay for up to 10 days.
Authorities say the texts were discovered by federal authorities investigating a former police sergeant, who was convicted of corruption and sentenced to more than three years in prison.
District Attorney George Gascon said his office will review all cases going back 10 years that were linked to the officers either by writing a report, submitting evidence or testifying in court.
The officers embroiled in the scandal have been on the force as long as 23 years. Several worked in minority neighborhoods.