SHEFFIELD LAKE, Ohio — Last Friday at the Sheffield Lake Police department, Police Chief Anthony Campo stood at the department’s copier and printed out a small note. He then placed it on the raincoat set aside for a black officer, just before he entered the room.
The note read “Ku Klux Klan,” the name of the nation’s most notorious white supremacy group.
“I said I didn’t even want to hear about it,” Sheffield Lake Mayor Dennis Bring said describing his conversation with Campo. “I said ‘You got ten minutes to get out of your office. You already have admitted to it. I want your keys and badge. That’s it. Get out.’”
Bring said he was first made aware of the incident by the union representing the police. He said he immediately placed the chief on administrative leave while awaiting to review the video. The camera inside the station’s booking area recorded the incident without audio.
“I asked him [chief] if he was psychologically okay and and he said, ‘Absolutely,’” “He also made a cone out of a newspaper and put it on himself and he said ‘You will have to wear this.”
That incident is not on video.
Bring met with the officer today to apologize for the chief’s actions.
“It took us 10 minutes to even talk to each other because we were both so emotional,” he said. “I apologized. 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.”
Chief for eight years and with the city for more than 30, Campo told 3News late this afternoon in an interview on the phone that he was not fired -- but retired -- and that he has great respect for the officer, whom he hired. He says the incident is being “overblown” – and that it was part of off-color humor.
Campo said he didn’t believe the officer targeted with the note complained, but someone else did. He said some people in the 14-member department were out to get him for past disciplinary actions taken against them.
The mayor said there are no excuses for the former chief’s actions.
“He knows what he did,” he said. “He’s playing it off. I don’t think he fathoms how bad this is. Shame on him. I hope he gets what he deserves.”
The city did not identify the officer involved. But the mayor says the officer involved is declining to speak and has retained a lawyer for possible action.
The mayor said he’s talked to most of staff at city hall and told them the city of Sheffield Lake won’t tolerate any racism.
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