An Ohio police chief retired this week after an incident in which he left a “Ku Klux Klan” sign on a Black officer’s desk.
Anthony Campo retired as the chief of the Sheffield Lake Police Department on Tuesday after Mayor Dennis Bring put him on administrative leave upon learning about the incident, according to Cleveland.com.
The incident that led Campo to leave the force after 33 years happened last Friday.
Surveillance video shows Campo printing out the words “Ku Klux Klan” on the department’s copier and placing it on a yellow raincoat folded to look like one of the racist group’s trademark hoods.
The officer who was targeted by Campo has not been named, but he reported the incident to the police union, who contacted Bring on Tuesday, according to Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO.
Because Bring had not yet seen the video when learning about the complaint, he decided to put Campo on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
That is, until the mayor spoke with his soon-to-be former chief.
“The chief was standing in his office,” Bring said. “He made a joke, ‘Am I gonna get fired over this?’ And I looked at the law director, and I handed him his paper, and he says, ‘After 30 years, this is what I get?’ I said, ‘You have 10 minutes to get out of your office.’”
A few minutes later, Campo said he wanted to retire effective immediately and the city accepted his resignation.
“My view of it is that it was an extremely poor decision of somebody who thought this was a complete joke and didn’t have the understanding of the magnitude of what he has done,” Bring said. “I don’t care, and somebody’s made a comment in this day and age it doesn’t matter this day and age, or if it was 40 years ago, that is the most inappropriate thing you can do to an African American. I don’t care; that was just totally offensive.”
Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS contacted Campo, who claimed he meant no ill will to the targeted officer.
“It was just a joke that got out of hand,” Campo said. “I hired that officer on the force, he’s excellent with children, and I helped to save his job after he was in danger of being let go by another department due to age restrictions.”
Bring said the incident shocked him so much that he personally apologised to the city staff and had an emotional, tearful conversation with the targeted officer, who Bring said expressed his desire to stay with the department, according to the Lorain County Morning Journal.
“It took us 10 minutes to even talk to each other because we were both so emotional,” Bring told WKYC TV. “I apologised. We talked about it and as we did, he told me more about it. I was flabbergasted. There’s no one word to explain how disgusting this is.”