The president of the local NAACP chapter called Friday for an investigation into the police department’s handling of a black police officer who boasted of targeting “‘white folks” when writing tickets near Columbus State University.
“I am a little bit upset that the police department would keep a police officer on the force that expressed such racist views,” said NAACP President Nate Sanderson. “We need answers. We need an investigation to see how much of this behavior the city has condoned and not brought to the forefront.
”They’ve really put the city in a quandary,” he said. “As an organization, we are concerned about racism as a practice and we have to call it out and stand up against it every time we see it.”
The police officer Sanderson referred to is Jeff Foxx, who made the comments on March 5, 2007, according to reports obtained under Georgia’s Open Records Act. He was having a personal cell phone conversation while on patrol on University Avenue. He remarks were recorded by a dashboard camera.
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“I’m hooking these white folks up with tickets,” he sad while pursuing a truck driven by a white woman who he eventually stopped. He was given a one-day suspension and sensitivity training.
Foxx also has been identified as the officer who falsely accused Chief Ricky Boren of using the “N” word in reference to Marshal Greg Countryman. Foxx resigned last week after failing a polygraph test as part of an investigation ordered by Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.
Foxx worked 18 years in public safety, first with the Muscogee Sheriff’s Department, then the police department. He had multiple suspensions dating back to 2001 for a variety of infractions from lying during an investigation to failure to report to work.
Sanderson said if Foxx was allowed to get away with such discriminatory behavior, then other officers could be as well.
“I’m concerned that we would have a police department that would condone racism like that or think that it’s OK for a one-day suspension or whatever sensitivity training that he went through,” Sanderson said.
Sanderson said those stopped and cited by Foxx should get a review.
“Now, shouldn’t the citizens of this community — especially the white citizens that have been arrested by him, or given a traffic violation by him — shouldn’t (those cases) be reviewed to see if any of his views played into that?” Sanderson asked.
Tomlinson said she was aware of the NCAAP’s call to look into other cases.
“If there were other officers we would know for several reasons,” Tomlinson said. “One, we get complaints from the public and others in law enforcement. We also conduct reviews, evaluations and third-party audits.”
Tomlinson said specific complaints would be investigated, but she would not call for a wholesale review.
“Someone must come forward with a specific complaint — the name of an officer, the time or a location,” she said. “There are thousands and thousands of stops every year, you can’t just make the assertion if there was one, there must be another.”
Boren said his department is regularly reviewing tapes.
“We already have a process in place to review tapes,” he said. “We also look at tapes any time there is a complaint.”
Senior Editor Chuck Williams contributed to this report.