Orlando police are conducting an internal investigation into claims by a police officer that he received a racist message over his personal pager several weeks ago, and that the message could have come from other Orlando officers.
The allegation surfaced June 2 in a meeting among some of Orlando's highest officials, including Mayor Buddy Dyer, commissioners Ernest Page and Daisy Lynum, police chief Michael McCoy and OPD internal-affairs chief Alfred Williams.
According to Page, Orlando's senior black commissioner, the officer, who is black, received a message saying the sender would "not back you up, nigger." It was unclear what the message meant, or the motivation behind it.
Page, who coordinated last week's meeting, called the claim "sufficiently egregious" to launch a full investigation. "Some police officers are very upset about this," Page said. "This could cause a morale problem."
McCoy, who became chief less than a year ago, said the officer who received the message previously complained about a hostile work environment. That allegation prompted his supervisor to start an investigation, which was winding its way through city hall (including the Human Resources Office) when the page in question surfaced.
"There are two different issues here," said McCoy, who called the police officer's short work history with the city "spotted."
Page, however, was concerned that police administrators were obfuscating the issue. The hostile work environment allegation "is not really why we are here," he said at the meeting.
McCoy stressed that he wanted to be more forthcoming about the claims, but said state law prevents him from providing too many details (such as the officer's name) until the investigation is closed. Any officer using racial slurs would suffer "the most severe of consequences," he said. "You can read between the lines what that means."
A police spokesman said the results of the investigation will be made public in a few weeks.