TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – This week Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan fired Officer Delvin White after White was caught on his body-worn camera using a racial slur.
White served as a resource officer at Middleton High School and had been with the department for 8 years.
In November, White was caught on his body-worn camera using the n-word twice, once during a private conversation with his wife, in which he uses the term to describe a group of people.
The second time was during the arrest of a 16 year old student. The student repeatedly used the word as well.
Dugan said White’s firing wasn’t an easy decision to come by.
“The fact that he’s a Black, African American officer using the n-word is an interesting dynamic,” Dugan said. “So we have a person in a position of authority, a law enforcement officer talking to a 16-year-old student, that’s not appropriate in my opinion.”
Some students at the school have started a petition to get White his job back. People in the community are supporting him as well.
“I had several people in the Black community reach out to me telling me and calling and saying that’s just the way we talk is what they would tell me,” Dugan said.
But Dugan says, the city’s policy, B1.2 that addresses discriminatory conduct, is clear. It says in part, employees are forbidden to use slurs or derogatory comments.
“I know I made the right decision based upon the policy, but that still doesn’t make it an easier decision,” Dugan said.
The chief adding, if one officer is held accountable for the use of the word, everyone has to, despite that officer’s race.
“If Brian Dugan, the chief of police referred to a group of people as ghetto n-words, when your chief of police is talking like that, what do you think would happen to me,” Dugan said.
Stillm the Police Benevolent Association is planning to lobby for White’s job back.
“As we go through this matter, we know that intent has a lot to do with it. Culture and community has a lot to do with it… an important part of distinction is the intent of the giver or the maker of the term and the receiver, what might be derogatory to me or to you might not be to somebody else.” White’s PBA representative Danny Alvarez said.
Alvarez said White is remorseful about using the word, but they don’t believe he should’ve been fired over it.