A police oversight agency in Chicago has recommended firing an officer who made “an offensive racial remark” about Barack Obama during preparations for his visit to the city last year. While the oversight agency has not publicly disclosed what the remark was, the Washington Post, citing an official familiar with the investigation, reports that the officer referred to the president as a “nigger.”
The remark was made “while on duty in front of a group of officers,” said one of the officers who filed a complaint with the Independent Police Review Authority. In an advisory letter to Eddie Johnson, the Chicago police superintendent, Sharon Fairley, head of the IPRA, confirmed that her agency had investigated the complaint and verified the allegations. Fairley also noted that several CPD officers questioned during the investigation were less than cooperative.
“During this investigation, it appears that several officers interviewed were not as forthcoming as they should be,” Fairley wrote. “I believe that the department should bring these individuals together to remind them of their duty to be truthful.”
“Several department members were present when the remark was uttered, and reacted in such a way to indicate that they overheard the remark. Moreover, when interviewed, the department member who made the remark identified several other officers who had witnessed the incident. However, ten out of twelve District 12 Department members [nine officers and one sergeant], when interviewed by IPRA about the incident claimed that they were either not present when the remark was uttered or did not hear the remark,” she wrote. “This is troubling.”
In addition to informing IPRA of the offensive remark, the complaining officer provided a photograph of a drawing of the president, posted on a bulletin board at the District 12 station. The drawing appears to be a lumpen black oval, vaguely shaped like a face, with the caption, “President Obama.”
“The complainant found the drawing offensive, as do I,” Fairley wrote. None of the officers interviewed were willing to say where the drawing came from. “The Chicago Police Department has zero tolerance for racism or misconduct and racial biases are already prohibited by CPD’s general orders – period,” a CPD spokesman, Frank Giancamilli, said in a statement.
“Superintendent Johnson has made it a top priority to establish a culture of accountability at every level of the police department, from top command staff to the rank and file. Holding each other accountable is a central piece to rebuilding the trust between the department and communities we serve.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Fairley, a former federal prosecutor, in December; recently, the mayor has said he plans to disband the IPRA, which is frequently criticized for not responding swiftly enough to police abuses.