BY JAMES HARPER
Former Volusia County Beach Patrol officer Todd Snipes will appeal his firing before a personnel board on Nov. 5, Volusia County Spokesman Dave Byron told the Daytona Times this week.
Local NAACP leaders and members of the area’s Black clergy plan to attend and are hoping the county board will uphold the decision to fire Snipes who sent “offensive’’ text messages and pictures while on duty.
Snipes received notice of his dismissal on Aug. 9 from George Recktenwald, director of the county’s Department of Public Protection.
Slater: We’ll be there
When Daytona Beach/Volusia NAACP President Cynthia Slater first heard Snipes was requesting a hearing, she told the Daytona Times that “under the merit system rules, he has a right to an appeals process.”
In an interview this week, Slater said, “We will be in the audience during this process. It is my hope that the county upholds their decision to terminate Snipes.
Snipes’ behavior in making racial posts during one of the most sensitive times in America showed exactly where his heart is. His actions were inexcusable.”
Clergy Alliance responds
Dr. L. Ronald Durham, president of the area’s Black Clergy Alliance, echoed Slater’s remarks.
“The county of Volusia did the right thing in removing Todd Snipes from his position as an employee, whose responsibility it was to serve all the residents with an unbiased public opinion about them based on race,” Durham stated.
“The county leadership now needs to stick to the decisions made, and in so doing, not attach any stigma or stain to itself, to further alienate and divide the community.’’
He said nothing positive could be the result of returning Snipes to a publically held position within the county.
“Indeed, what this would do is serve to inflame and enrage those citizens who remain committed to building bridges that united us, rather than making incendiary statements that continue to divide us,” Durham added.
He noted that members of the Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance, which represents hundreds of minorities in Volusia County, will be watching the hearings and “will take appropriate actions should they be warranted.”
Support for Snipes
Greg Gimbert, a childhood friend of Snipes, who started a Support Todd Snipes Facebook page, said in an interview this week that if the personnel board were smart they would give him his job back.
“He was fired for having a personal opinion, which is protected speech. I think the county will pay a huge financial cost for it later – politicians will lose their jobs. We can’t have hate crimes go one way,” Gimbert said. He has planned no actions in support of Snipes before the hearing because “I want to cause no harm.”
Jason Harr is Snipes’ attorney.
Created as a joke
Snipes said in information obtained by the Times “that he did not find offensive the pictures he texted or that were texted to him, but he did admit others in the public might find them offensive and racist.
Snipes said it was never his intention for the posts he sent to be seen by anyone other than the persons he chose to text and said they were created as a joke.
In spite of his actions, Snipes said he still believes the public would trust him to be impartial and fair with minority groups.
What Snipes sent
Beach Safety Director Swanson received information on July 16 that Snipes had sent derogatory racial texts and picture messages to several individuals relating to the George Zimmerman case.
The person who told on Snipes shared with Swanson the Facebook posting Snipes had posted on July 14, 2013. The posting read, “Another thug gone! Pull up your pants and act respectful. Bye Bye thug, rip,’’ a response to the George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial.
Zimmerman was acquitted on July 13 in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Swanson determined that the images sent by Snipes were profane and inappropriate for one of his employees to be transmitting.
Snipes said he was aware of the county’s social media policy, which he signed on Jan. 12 of this year.
In a letter from Recktenwald to Snipes on Aug. 9, the director stated that “given the serious nature of this misconduct, gross lack of judgment, the negative light in which you cast your division, consequential damages that have affected you colleagues, organization and community and consistent with the recommendations of your supervisors within your chain of command, I am proceeding with my intended action to dismiss you.”