County fires officer over ‘racially sensitive’ texts on Facebook

Filed under DAYTONA BEACH

BY JAMES HARPER
DAYTONA TIMES

Todd Snipes, the Volusia County beach patrol officer who posted racially sensitive notes about Trayvon Martin on Facebook, has been fired.

Todd Snipes

Todd Snipes

“As a result of your actions, when you or another officer in the department make an arrest of a minority, members of that community may assume that the arrest are a product of bias, rather than well-founded protective law enforcement,” George Recktenwald, director of the Department of Public Protection for Volusia County, stated in a memo to Snipes, which was obtained by the Daytona Times.

“The racial nature of these text messages to other workers and subordinates may also create a hostile work environment and manifest a racially discriminating hostility to subordinates and co-workers,” Recktenwald added.

Snipes had posted on his Facebook page, after the George Zimmerman verdict last month, “another thug gone,” referring to the 17-year-old Martin, who was shot and killed by Zimmerman in February 2012.

Slater, Durham relieved
Daytona Beach/Volusia County NAACP President Cynthia Slater told the Daytona Times this week the county did the right thing in termination Snipes’ employment. He had worked with the county for 25 years.

“The message is quite clear that there is no room for bigots and racists in county government (or in any other workplace environment). I commend county officials for making the decision,” Slater said.

Dr. L. Ronald Durham, president of the Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance, said also was relieved.

“It is intolerable for a law enforcement officer to harbor a racist mentality and purport to be a community servant who should be concerned about all of its citizens and visiting guests,” Durham noted.

“Removing this attitude from the ranks and file of law enforcement is critical to people feeling comfortable with the protection and service an officer should provide. Our community is the better after this action,” stated Durham.

Didn’t understand gravity
Snipes originally received notice of intent to dismiss on Aug. 2 from Recktenwald.

In the memo Recktenwald sent to Snipes, it was revealed that Snipes, along with his attorney Jason Harr met with Recktenwald, Deputy Director Terry Sanders, Division Director Mark Swanson, and Assistant County Attorney Nancye Jones.

“Although you said you were sorry for your actions, you did not offer any meaningful plan to repair the damage your actions have caused. Your expression of remorse was not in any way proportionate to this damage,” wrote Recktenwald.

The reason Snipes was fired, Recktenwald said, was because his response to his actions “failed to demonstrate that you understood the gravity of your actions and the potential impact to the community.”

Snipes can file appeal
On July 14 and 15, Snipes was found to have been involved in a series of “offensive text messages/pictures while on duty with the Beach Safety Ocean Rescue Division.”

“You sent inappropriate text messages and commented on other inappropriate texts while on duty. The racial content of these text messages is not only unprofessional, but disturbing coming from a supervisor of Volusia County Beach Safety,” wrote Recktenwald.

Recktenwald said he had made it clear when he became department director that there would be zero tolerance regarding behavior that could damage the reputation of the department.

Snipes had 10 working days from receipt of notification to appeal the firing through the county’s personnel board.

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