Police chief: Chesterfield officer with white supremacist group ties will never wear uniform again

Posted at 4:44 PM, Mar 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-22 17:10:07-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Chesterfield County Police Chief Col. Jeffrey Katz said the department is in the process of terminating an officer officials said has "ties to a known white supremacist organization."

Katz said the department would "honor that person’s due process rights," but that the department "will have a decision" made as soon as that process is completed.

"It’s safe to say you will never see him in a Chesterfield Police uniform doing the duties of a Chesterfield Police officer,” Katz added.

Katz said the call was made to remove him from his position once the department validated the information from a third party.

WTVR CBS 6 previously reported the officer, who served as a School Resource Officer at L.C. Bird High School, was suspended and recommended for termination over claims of ties to the white supremacist group Identity Evropa.

That group is "interested in preserving Western culture," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Identity Evropa members helped organize the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, the SPLC added.

Katz made the announcement during a stunning news conference in which he revealed another officer had just been arrested for soliciting a sexual encounter with a task force officer posing as a minor online.

“Our personnel and our community is reeling with sadness, frustration and anger,” Katz said. "Nevertheless, you should that know we are committed to addressing breaches of the public trust openly and transparently and with the level of resolve and decisiveness that reflect the will of those we serve without exception..."

BONUS: Watch the complete news conference, which was streamed LIVE on the WTVR CBS 6 Facebook page. 

Katz said earlier this week that there was "absolutely no place for intolerance or prejudicial behavior in public service, and we will not tolerate affiliations which even remotely lend themselves to predispositions of bias."

L.C. Bird High School Principal Adrienne Blanton sent the following email to parents:

"This individual was not an employee of Chesterfield County Public Schools. However, the alleged behavior, if proven accurate, is abhorrent and is not reflective of the ideals or values that we expect demonstrated within our school community"

"The Chesterfield Police Department has shared with our school division that they have developed a plan to ensure that we have continued support for our school safety efforts. Two school resource officers will rotate at our school to assist with coverage for the foreseeable future.

We stand in support of our school community, and will continue to work to create an inclusive learning environment for all students."

LC Bird 12th grade student Camryn Wilson said Monday afternoon she wasn't aware the school resource officer was suspended.

"It's hurtful to figure out somebody working for our school feels that way and is working towards something like that. As a school -- as a community -- we shouldn’t really entertain stuff like that especially for somebody that’s working for us that’s keeping us safe," Wilson said. "You don’t really know what people do behind closed doors."

Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, explained the  history behind known hate groups seeking power.

"Groups that want to promote a particular message, in this case of hate and divisiveness, are trying to make sure that they have positions of influence," Zur said. "Hate groups have a lot of strategies infiltrating institutions."

Zur expected Col. Katz and other police departments to re-examine their entire staffs in light of the accusations.

"The police department needs to spend some time looking in the mirror thinking about, if proven true, how was this is something that was able to slip through the cracks," he explained.

The fact that the accused officer was positioned so close to children worried Zur.

"I think there’s some additional concern around this being a school resource officer -- having influence where they are around young people and having some power over children in this situation," he said.

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