An Ohio police chief retired last week after surveillance video showed him placing a note that read “Ku Klux Klan” on the raincoat of a Black police officer.
Anthony Campo retired as the chief of the Sheffield Lake Police Department after Mayor Dennis Bring placed him on administrative leave pending a review of the video.
“The chief was standing in his office,” Bring said. “He made a joke, ‘Am I gonna get fired over this?’ And I looked at the law director, and I handed him his paper, and he says, ‘After 30 years, this is what I get?’ I said, ‘You have 10 minutes to get out of your office.’”
A few minutes later, Campo said he wanted to retire effective immediately and the city accepted his resignation.
In the brief video, Campo can be seen printing out the words “Ku Klux Klan” on the department’s copy machine and then placing the paper on a yellow raincoat. The jacket seemed to have its hood up and was folded to look like one of the racist group’s trademark hoods.
A few seconds later, a Black officer comes into the area and sees the paper and jacket.
Campo told WKYC in a phone interview the note was meant to be part of an off-color joke. He said the incident is being “overblown” and he has great respect for the officer, whom he hired, according to the news station.
“He thought this was just a joke,” Bring said to Cleveland.com. “How can you possibly think that you can put something on somebody’s jacket like that, and especially if they were African American, and think this is a joke? This is the most egregious and offensive thing you could possibly do. And it’s embarrassing and disgusting.”
Campo served as chief of the department for eight years but had been with the police force for 33. The Black officer, who was not named, has only been on the force for nine months.
Bring said he also met with the officer following the incident to apologize for Campo’s actions.
“It took us 10 minutes to even talk to each other because we were both very emotional,” he said. “And I apologized to him. We talked about the situation and he told me a little bit more. I was just flabbergasted. There’s no one word to explain how disgusting this is.”