Chico City Council Member Accuses Police Officer of Racism

Nov 11, 2013 8:13 PM

A Chico Police Officer is facing allegations of racism, and the person pointing the finger is Councilman Randall Stone. Stone is calling for an investigation into the officer's performance history with the department. Stone says November 4, amid contract negotiations between the city and the police department, Officer Todd Boothe posted a message on Stone's public Facebook page, calling him a derogatory name, and also calling him "incompetent." When Stone clicked on Boothe's Facebook page, he says he was able to view several pictures, posting many years ago, that were how he describes as "racist." One of the pictures depicts President Obama as a native, with a bone through his nose, and the other shows the president with wearing make-up to look like The Joker, and with the word "Socialism," across the bottom. Stone says public posts like these could translate into a threat to the police department, and could put other officers' lives in danger. He says, "I do not tolerate racism. I don't tolerate it within my own job, I don't tolerate it within my police department. When it rises to the level of a police officer engaging in racial commentary, we've got a larger issue." The larger issue, according to Stone, is public perception. Says Stone, "If the perception exists that we have racism that exists in the department, that makes other officers unsafe, and that's where a racist comment rises to the level of being dangerous, and must be investigated."
Stone has sent an email to Police Chief Kirk Trostle, asking for an investigation into Boothe's personnel and performance records. He insists this is not an issue of free speech, citing 1968's Pickering Vs. the Board of Education, in which the U.S. Supreme Court determined that statements by public employees made pursuant to their employment have no 1st Amendment protection.
Stone says, as a member of the Police Community Advisory Board, it was his responsibility to make the issue public, instead of bringing the issue to the Chief of Police privately. He says, "Racism is so incendiary, and so erodes the public trust, that this must be publicly rooted, and eliminated. It turns out it is not entirely a free speech issue because a comment that is even arguably racist becomes a significant impact to the employers' mission, and in law enforcement, for a police officer to make an allegation like that, it impacts the employer and fairness of reasonable behavior." Boothe declined comment, and the Chico Officer's Association said it had not had time to investigate the allegations, but added that the union does not support racism in any fashion. Calls to Chico Police Chief Kirk Trostle were unreturned Monday.


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