Aug. 19 (UPI) — The members of an Alabama city council voted Thursday to “temporarily” disband its three-officer police department, which it couldn’t fire after racist texts from one of the officers were revealed.
The Vincent City Council voted unanimously on an ordinance that would temporarily abolish the department, which will take effect next week, The Birmingham News reported.
Vincent is a small city of about 2,000 people located around 35 miles southeast of Birmingham.
The decision came after one of the officers allegedly sent a text message with racist language and a joke involving slavery and pregnant women to a colleague in June. The officer has not been identified.
Vincent has been functioning without any active police officers since an emergency city council meeting was held earlier this month and city leaders voted to suspend its police chief and assistant police chief with pay, CNN reported.
The third officer resigned that evening and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office has been providing emergency law enforcement response services to the city since then.
The Vincent City Council had also sought to terminate the officers that day but were told they could not by the city’s attorney Bill Justice because of a policy that requires two written complaints and a verbal warning before an employee can be fired.
Mayor James Latimer was asked by a member of the public during a public comment portion before the vote whether the police officers could return to the city if the police department is ever recreated.
“Part of disbanding the police department solves that problem,” Latimer responded.
Latimer responded in the affirmative when asked by AL.com if disbanding the police department was the only way to remove the allegedly problematic police officers.
“We can bring the police department back; we can go with Shelby County for a year and then bring the police department back once we’ve had time to interview people to find the right people to build positions,” Latimore said.
Corey Abrams, a member of the city council, motioned before the vote to add the word “temporarily” to the ordinance to give the city time to reconstruct its personnel policies and build a new police department.