ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The St. Louis County Police Department is making headlines for the wrong reasons. Over the weekend, a police dispatcher was overheard on the radio referring to a black officer in the north county precinct with an expletive and the n-word.
But the department says it has taken care of the civilian employee who made the racist comment.
“A racial slur was used on the police radio by a professional staff member serving as a dispatcher,” Sgt. Benjamin Granda, St. Louis County police spokesman, said in a statement. “That individual was immediately removed from the radio and relieved of duty.”
Granda says an internal investigation has been opened. The employee who was relieved of duty was not an officer but a civilian working dispatch. Our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch say the employee is St. Louis County Police Chief Mary Barton’s brother-in-law.
“As I have said in past, discrimination by word or deed shall not be tolerated by any of us in the St. Louis County Police Department,” Barton said. “We have and will continue, to hold one another accountable.”
Chief Barton has recused herself from the investigation, according to the department.
The St. Louis County NAACP issued a statement Sunday calling for the dispatcher’s dismissal.
“We are calling for the swift termination of the St. Louis County police dispatcher involved in hate speech activity while on duty. Administrative leave is not enough. We are tired of false promises of corrective action within the department. It’s time to do the right thing.”
Sgt. Granda says while the employee has been relieved of his duties, he is still a member of the department because a process has to happen first.
“I am appalled by the dispatcher’s language and by the worldview it reflects,” St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said. “It merits unequivocally strong action.”