Two months after an officer in Vincent, Alabama sent a coworker a text message containing racially charged language, the city council moved Thursday to temporarily disband the police department.
An unnamed officer allegedly sent a “pregnant slave” joke via text message to a colleague in June, according to AL.com.
Text messages exchanged in June caused an uproar when they were made public in late July.
Vincent’s mayor James Latimer stated the city couldn’t remove police personnel who had exchanged racist text messages because of legal concerns. As a result, the city abolished its entire police force.
“Based on our personnel policies, we cannot terminate them,” Latimer said.
According to Latimer and the city attorney, a city employee has to receive two written complaints and a verbal warning before being terminated.
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In the session, Latimer said that dissolving the police department was “the only way” the city could stop paying the officers, explaining that the officers would then be laid off and not fired for cause. He added the text message issue had uncovered a “flaw” in the personnel policy and the policy would need to be amended.
The ordinance abolishing the Vincent Police Department was amended to add the word “temporarily” at the request of Council Member Corey Abrams.
The dissolution of the police department will become official five days after the ordinance is finalized, which should happen Friday, Latimer said. He said the city plans to contract dedicated police services with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office for the next year at least, with the expectation that it would reestablish its own police force in the future.
According to Crime Grade, Vincent, Alabama is in the 40th percentile for safety, meaning 60% of cities are safer and 40% of cities are more dangerous. Vincent’s crime rate is slightly higher than the average US city.
“Your chance of being a victim of crime in Vincent may be as high as 1 in 24 in the south neighborhoods, or as low as 1 in 47 in the east part of the city,” according to the outlet.