Officer Being Investigated in Norman by Department
NORMAN—The police chief in this university town said Tuesday he is investigating the actions of an officer who sent an image from the movie, “Django Unchained,” of Ku Klux Klan members wearing hoods and carrying torches in an e-mail discussion of the department’s wear and maintenance of face masks.
The Black Wall Street Times first published copies of a May 5 police department internal e-mail from an officer that contains a reference to the movie scene.
Chief Kevin Foster said Officer Jacob McDonough could be fired for sending the image on May 5 to about 250 Norman Police Department workers.
Officer McDonough has worked for the department since Feb. 2018.
He is not on leave at this point.
Chief Foster said he was “very offended” and “couldn’t believe an officer had sent that out.”
The current police chief replaced Norman’s first Black chief of police.
“This is the judgement of one officer sending a photo out like that,” he said at a news conference outside the police station. “Regardless of what he was thinking, the inappropriateness of it and how it offends people is still there.”
Officer McDonough apologized and said he “did not mean any disrespect at all,” according to a portion of the e-mail discussion provided by the police department.
The officer sent the image during a discussion about department-issued face masks.
Chief Foster noted that some officers were having trouble with the masks and raised concerns about “breathing and fitting right and staying on in the field.”
“When I got it, I immediately sent it to Internal Affairs for a follow-up investigation,” the police chief commented.
“They are following up and being very thorough to ensure that this was an isolated incident.”
In the e-mail discussion, a lieutenant tells Officer McDonough, “I really hope you didn’t mean that the way it looks because that’s MORE than inappropriate. I’d say this is a fantastic time to stop this e-mail thread and if you have an issue to contact your direct supervisor.”
Officer McDonough apologizes to the lieutenant, who replies, “You have to think before you send things. You might make that apology to the entire group.”
Mayor Breea Clark said that she supported the internal investigation.
“I am aware of internal e-mails between Norman Police officers that compare the department’s efforts to comply with the new safety measure of required masks with a scene from a popular movie that includes racist imagery,” Mayor Clark said.
“Norman prides itself on being the most inclusive community in Oklahoma, and I am confident this matter will be investigated thoroughly and that appropriate corrective action will be taken,” the mayor continued.
“In addition to the formal investigation that is being done internally, I will also request that the chairman of the Norman Citizens Advisory Board convene a special meeting to review the incident and provide Chief Foster with feedback.
“When it is safe to do so, I plan to host a community listening session that will focus on personally hearing resident concerns and focusing on how we can better communicate with cultural sensitivity.”