Black Police Officer Caught Saying The N-Word On His Bodycam Video

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A black police officer was caught saying the N-word on his bodycam video, but he says he had a good reason for using the forbidden word. However, not everyone agreed. Was he right? You decide.

Delvin White
Middleton High School (Photo Credit: Google Maps)

Delvin White, a black officer with the Tampa Police Department in Florida who worked as a school resource officer at Middleton High School, has been fired for “violations of policy that prohibit discriminatory conduct” after being caught using the N-word on several occasions, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Officer White, an eight-year veteran of the department, reportedly used the N-word multiple times, including while on the phone and again directly to a person during an arrest. His actions during the phone call were discovered during a random audit of bodycam video, police said. After the discovery, White admitted to using the N-word during an arrest the same month, according to a disposition letter released by police.

Delvin White
Officer Delvin White (Photo Credit: Tampa PBA/Facebook)

The officer was recorded saying the slur in reference to a “group of persons” while he was on the phone and also while he was driving home from an off-duty assignment, The Blaze reported. He later uttered the N-word again while speaking to his wife on the phone. In addition, the officer’s bodycam video showed him using the N-word twice while arresting a suspect for trespassing. According to Daily Mail, White also used the word “ghetto” to reference a group of people.

When confronted about his actions, Officer White defended his behavior, telling his superiors that he didn’t use the N-word in a derogatory fashion. Instead, he alleged that he was using the word as it is “commonly used in today’s society as a means of shared culture and experiences among the African American community,” according to the disposition letter.

Middleton High School (Photo Credit: Google Maps)

It was confirmed by Tampa police spokesman Eddy Durkin that Officer White is black. According to district demographic data, almost half of the students at Middleton High School, where White worked as a resource officer, are black, compared to only one in five students across Hillsborough County Public Schools.

Does the context of expressing “shared culture and experiences among the African American community” matter when it comes to the use of the N-word? The Tampa Police Department doesn’t think so.

“Derogatory statements made by police officers jeopardize the trust that our department works to establish with our community,” Chief Brian Dugan said in a statement. “Tampa Police officers are held to a higher standard, and incidents like this negatively impact the entire law enforcement profession.”

The Tampa Police Benevolent Association also released a statement. (Photo Credit: Facebook)

The Tampa Police Benevolent Association (PBA) said in a statement, however, that it is backing Officer Delvin White.

“We stand with the City of Tampa and the Tampa Police Department in their efforts to stamp out racism in every form and condemn any and all derogatory statements in or out of uniform,” the statement said before adding, “The facts in the Delvin White matter do not reflect an act or any intent that warrants the punishment he received for his alleged transgression.”

The PBA continued, “Officer White is a beloved and trusted member of the East Tampa community that he was raised in and that he protected every day. Despite his misstep, throughout the investigation, private citizens and other individuals associated with his school contacted the Chief of Police lending their support and reflecting their admiration for his character and contributions. The PBA will file a formal grievance on Officer White’s behalf with the hope and expectation of getting this valued Officer back to work.”

Similar to the difference in the opinions expressed by the Tampa Police Department and the Tampa Police Benevolent Association, the public also seemingly had mixed reactions. While one social media user said they “cannot imagine any words that should cost him his career,” another chimed in to say this is an example of “equal rights for people of color” that the Black Lives Matter movement claims to champion.

Reactions to the termination of Officer Delvin White were mixed. (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Indeed, if a caucasian officer used the N-word while arresting a person of color, most would agree that they should be fired. If Officer Delvin White is to be treated the same as his white counterparts, wouldn’t that mean he should be terminated as well? If reinstated, this could open a huge can of worms. After all, wouldn’t others, who were let go from their jobs for the same reason, be able to claim wrongful termination?

Are we to have different work rules based on an employee’s skin color? Does context and skin color matter when deciding whether certain words and actions are appropriate? You decide. This is often the conundrum with “zero tolerance” policies. Where the policy is black and white — no pun intended — real-life situations are often a shade of grey that require discernment.