BY JAMES HARPER
Former Volusia County Beach Patrol officer Todd Snipes along with his attorney Jason Harr appealed his firing before a county personnel board on Nov. 5 and the board ruled in their favor.
In a 3-2 vote, they state that the officer had committed a personnel violation but the offense warranted a level of discipline below termination, according to Volusia County spokesman Dave Byron.
Byron told the Daytona Times Wednesday the board’s recommendation will go to County Manager Jim Dinneen for final action.
Dinneen can accept, reject or modify the board’s recommendation. Dinneen has 10 days from receipt of the written report from the county’s personnel division to make a decision, Byron said.
Beach Safety Director Mark 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.
Slater: No slap on hand
Upon learning of the personnel board’s vote, NAACP President Cynthia Slater said she hopes the county manager upholds the firing of Snipes.
“He was fired for unprofessional and unethical behavior. As an employee who serves the public, the punishment for his inappropriate conduct for sending racist emails should be far more than a written reprimand or slap on the hand,” she said.
“If Snipes is reinstated, it will send a message to others that it is okay to post racist and hateful messages. County officials should not yield to Snipes supporters. They must support their original decision to terminate Snipes and let citizens know that there is zero tolerance – no place for racism within county government,” she added.
Durham: Stand by decision
Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance President Dr. L. Ronald Durham called on Dinneen to stand by decision already made to terminate the employment of Snipes as a Volusia County Beach Patrol officer.
“Because of the actions of Snipes while on the job, it brings into question the judgment of someone when faced with making a critical decision involving a minority in his position as a public servant to this community,” Durham said.
The press release said the NAACP and the Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance will be scrutinizing any decisions made by Dinneen, and have called for a meeting to discuss their concerns with him. Additionally, they have called on the clergy and NAACP on the west side of the county to join them.
Created as a joke
Snipes received notice of his dismissal on Aug. 9 from George Recktenwald, director of the county’s Department of Public Protection.
According to an investigation report pertaining to the allegations made against Snipes he said “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.
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.