White sergeant fired over comments about black officer

AP News
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Posted: Nov 10, 2015 10:09 PM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A white police sergeant who had a black officer handle a suspicious package with a powdery substance on it and said it wouldn't be a big deal if the officer got sick has been fired.

A panel that reviews misconduct allegations against police officers voted 2-1 to dismiss Providence Sgt. David Marchant, a 21-year veteran of the police force.

The December incident involved a package found at Brown University with a white dust-like substance on it, according to documents from the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights hearing released on Tuesday. Packages and letters containing powdery substances have concerned law enforcement officials greatly since anthrax-tainted letters were sent to media outlets and offices in 2001 and at least five people died.

When Marchant was asked if he followed proper protocols he said he had a black patrolman, Khari Bass, handle the package and if Bass got sick it wouldn't be a problem because "he's a black guy anyway."

"How I handled it was OK because I had the one black officer open the package," Marchant said, according to the hearing documents.

Marchant insisted he was joking. Bass said he found the comments insensitive and insulting.

The panel said Marchant violated police department rules, failed to treat Bass with respect and brought discredit upon the police force.