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In Red Oak, the Cops Say Their Department Is a Cesspool of Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia

The City of Red Oak, about 15 minutes due south of Dallas, never really explained why Police Chief Craig Rudolph abruptly resigned this summer after six years on the job. Officials did, however, immediately appoint a special committee to review potential cases of racial profiling and race relations within the department in order to "identify any potential deficiencies in the department and recommend any necessary remedies."

The police officers who worked under Rudolph are much less hesitant to discuss specifics. Eight current and former officers filed a federal lawsuit against Rudolph and the city on Thursday portraying the former chief as a racist, misogynistic, homophobic asshole who made their time at the department miserable.

Among other things, the officers say that Rudolph:

-refused to hire female officers because he thought they'd have sex with their male colleagues while on duty;

-singled out black recruits for additional testing and subjected them to more stringent requirements;

-responded to officers' concerns about unsanitary conditions in the city detention center by saying "They are in jail, fuck 'em";

-often referred to black suspects as "nigger";

-replied that he had "stuck [his] foot in his mouth" after he told several officers, "I don't know which is worse, your kid showing up with a nigger or being a faggot";

-fired at least two officers, Ryan Payne and James Groom, for complaining that they had not been properly trained on the use of a new model of gun acquired by the department.

-kept calling Afghan civilians "towel heads" when discussing one officer's military tour in Afghanistan;

-referred to cases in which a black person is killed as "misdemeanor murder."

When officers complained to city officials, they say they were harassed and ostracized and that, once Red Oak opened an official investigation, they were "subjected to intensive and intrusive interrogations" and polygraphs probing their personal lives. Those officers who are still with the department "continue to be harassed, intimidated, ridiculed and retaliated against by City officials."

(Update on November 12: In a prepared statement sent out Friday evening, Red Oak City Manager Todd Fuller declined to address any specific allegations but said the city has, "over the past summer, taken unprecedented and aggressive pro-active steps to address concerns raised by some police officers and community members concerning race relations with the community and within the police department. Many of the concerns within the department have been directly addressed and corrected." The full statement is below.)

Garland Wolf, formerly a lieutenant in the Midlothian Police Department, has since been hired as Red Oak's police chief. He has promised to begin "addressing a lot of issues that have been identified" and establish a clear direction and structure. "Just from what I have seen in the last couple of days and nothing against my predecessor, but I think that there might have been a little lack of vision."

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

Red Oak Police Lawsuit

Statement from Red Oak City Manager Todd Fuller:

While we clearly cannot comment as to litigation, the Red Oak City Council and City Manager have, over the past summer, taken unprecedented and aggressive pro-active steps to address concerns raised by some police officers and community members concerning race relations with the community and within the police department. Many of the concerns within the department have been directly addressed and corrected.

Our new interim police chief is already making strides in continuing to improve all aspects of internal operations and departmental issues. The Department continues to improve community outreach and departmental operations. Additionally, the city council has established an independent panel of minority relations professionals and community members that is studying issues such as minority recruitment and retention of officers, community-minority relations, and improving racial profiling data and reporting requirements.

"The purpose of this committee," said Fuller "is to identify any potential deficiencies in the department and recommend any necessary remedies."

The committee has been tasked to determine if there are any specific instances where racial profiling may have occurred or been suspected. Additionally, it is reviewing interracial relations within the department, minority community outreach efforts, as well as the recruiting and retention of a diverse police force. At the end of the committee's work, a final report will be produced to identify any potential issues and recommend any necessary remedies.

"We are determined to address any outstanding issues quickly and in a transparent manner based on both the chief and the committee's recommendations," said Fuller.

The committee is comprised of six members including three leading professional experts in the areas of racial profiling, race relations and law enforcement. Dr. Alex del Carmen an expert on racial profiling policies, analysis and procedures; Dr. Robert L, Bing, a criminologist specializing in research on race and race relations; and Royce West Jr., an attorney, whose area of expertise is on racial profiling and race relations.

We cannot comment on the specific litigation that has been filed at this time. It will be turned over to our legal counsel for review and to determine the appropriate response in the case.


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