A black Florida cop who was terminated after body camera footage recorded him using the N-word multiple times has been reinstated. According to Tampa Bay Times, Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan relieved officer Delvin White of his duties in March after the department became aware he had used the racial slur a number of times on two different occasions in November last year.
But Tampa’s Civil Service Board on Monday determined White’s punishment was too severe though they clarified Dugan’s decision to fire him was justified.
The reinstated officer was working at the Middleton High School as a school resource officer at the time of his termination. He is also said to be a popular figure in the school and is admired by students and teachers.
White’s reinstatement by a 3-0 board vote took immediate effect though it did not come with back pay. “I do not want to see the city lose an employee like that who obviously does his job above and beyond — a difficult job in, let’s face it, very difficult circumstances,” a member of the board said. “It’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
White is said to have used the racial slur while he was on the phone with his wife. That conversation was private. The other instance was while he was apprehending a Black Middleton student who had not complied with orders to leave the school. The student also resisted arrest.
Explaining the basis for White’s termination, the city’s police chief and its representatives argued the officer’s actions contravened a city policy that bans its employees from using racial slurs, Tampa Bay Times reported. Per the manual, any employee determined to have used that language will be dismissed immediately “in the absence of extenuating circumstances.”
Those advocating for White’s reinstatement argued that even though the Black officer deserved to be punished, firing him was a bit harsh, particularly when he had a good professional track record and also selflessly mentored students at the school.
“This isn’t about racism, this is about professionalism,” Dugan explained during Monday’s hearing. “Officer White isn’t playing golf with his frat brothers, he’s not playing poker, he’s wearing the uniform of a Tampa Police Department officer and speaking to a student that way.”
White admitted he erred and his “choice of words” was “poor.” Referring to the arrest incident involving the Black student, White explained he used the racial slur in the heat of the moment and he was trying to connect with the student. He also clarified the intent wasn’t to use it for its true meaning.
The police chief said he won’t take issue with the board’s vote though he believes his decision to fire White was just. “Clearly he has a passion for the students and they have a passion for him, and that will be taken into account,” Dugan said.
Following the decision, White expressed his desire to go back to Middleton or continue working as a school resource officer.