Alabama Town Disbands Police Force After Racist Text Message Surfaces

from the racists-in-Alabama???-oh-my-word dept

Were you ever so terrible at your job that your entire place of employment was put out of business?

Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that none of you are that inept or unprofessional. But it only takes one bad apple to result in the tossing of the whole bunch, provided that the barrel of law enforcement apples is small enough.

Vincent, Alabama (until recently) was home to a small police force. One officer, who has yet to be named, sent out a text message pretty much everyone (including the overseers of the town of 2,000) found to be racist. published a screenshot of the text.

If you can’t read/see the image, here’s a direct quote of the text exchange between Vincent police officers:

What do y’all call a pregnant slave?



Buy one, get one free.

Simplistic. Stupid. Unfunny. And not all that unexpected. Police work is biased. Law enforcement agencies don’t seem to have a problem keeping racists employed.

The bare minimum of accountability was performed by the head of the police department.

“Appropriate disciplinary action has been taken” against a Vincent police officer who sent a text message containing a racist joke, said Police Chief James Srygley.

LOL NO, said Vincent city officials. This is bad. And this is worse than something that can be handled by nothing more than a statement claiming some sort of discipline has been deployed by the police chief.

Nope. Something more drastic needed to be done. And kudos to Vincent officials for doing it. The Vincent Police Department is no longer, as The Guardian reports. The small scale scandal managed to ensnare two-thirds of the police department. One of those apparently involved in the text message exchange was Chief Srygley.

[O]n Thursday, Srygley himself was identified as one of the officers who was terminated.

It appears Chief Srygley was not speaking about himself in his original statement. Another officer, the assistant police chief, was also terminated. All that was left was a single, now-unsupervised officer.

It was at that point, city leaders decided to pull the trigger. It voted to disband the department.

Good call. Even in a three-person department, leaders need to be leaders. And even if this seems far less racist than other incidents involving officers in larger departments, the fact is it apparently involved the small department’s two most senior officers.

Ignoring this in favor of keeping a small PD intact would have sent the message that officers are free to act reprehensibly provided they work for agencies that can’t afford to lose them. But calling the whole thing off sends the opposite — and far more correct — message: no one, no matter how essential to day-to-day government business is exempt from accountability.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Alabama Town Disbands Police Force After Racist Text Message Surfaces”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:


Modern racism isn’t the old caste system of yore, with it’s roots in obtaining the cheap labor needed to produce low-margin goods in economies of scale.

Today’s racist is a frustrated person who cannot understand why s/he doesn’t have the life they want and feel disempowered by the changing world around them. They cast about for something, anything, to make them feel even the tiniest smidge of powerful and superior. The feelings are petty and childish, so the actions are petty and childish.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

A better response than larger cities have managed

The department small as it was was disbanded and not a thing of value was lost.

For one of them to make a ‘joke’ that heinous it was pretty clear they had no business being given any sort of power and the fact that the department head merely responded with a vague ‘appropriate disciplinary action was taken’ sends a pretty strong message of doing the bare minimum to brush it under the rug so good on the city for realizing the department needed to be sacked and following through on it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Wyrm (profile) says:


To be honest, such a radical response would be difficult in a large city.

But certainly, strong action is needed. Maybe not disbanding entire police departments, but firing any chief that doesn’t take strong action against racism, abuse of authority, excessive use of force…
Way too often, police doesn’t have a “bad apple” problem, despite all their whining. They have a “spoiled barrel” problem after years of removing “good apples” to spare the feelings of the bad ones.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: I agree.

I can’t imagine anything similar happen where I live in New York City because if such a thing were to be exposed (and I can guarantee over 9000% that cops here either feel this way or protect those who do), they would be backed by the various police unions. It’s bad enough that we have a cop as a mayor; I’m really happy that this AL town did the right thing because I can’t imagine for a second something like this happening here. Hell, I don’t think John Lennon could have imagined it happening here!

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You don’t fire the offenders, you reorganize their departments so that their positions become redundant, and then you trim the excess positions.

Well, yes…but police unions are nothing like a labor union.

Try this on for size; there are states whose deal with the union renders the city completely powerless visavi the police. They have the nuclear option – reducing the budget – but even that is of limited value since civil forfeiture laws mean the police can fund themselves through what is essentially highway robbery.

It should come as no surprise that a branch of government which has managed to get SCOTUS to give them qualified immunity and an outright disavowal of their actual job role – “To Serve And Protect” – is similarly protected from job redundancy reorganizations.

Naughty Autie says:


Because the only slaves in the US were black slaves, I guess. In the UK, it wouldn’t have been a problem because although we have our own history of having enslaved native Africans, our own ancestors were enslaved by the Romans, so the history of slavery here hits both sides of that particular debate.

LostInLoDOS (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Correct. Majority. Mostly east and south east. I’ve seen numbers guessed between 55% and 80%.
But also native Americans and, in the far west, Asians, mostly Chinese.
And there WERE white slaves as well.
All of that is just slaves.

Then we had indentured service. Where racial percentages are inverted and there was nothing any more kind in indentureship over slavery. You literally become property there too.

It’s a very sad point in our history all around.

Anonymous Coward says:

What concerns me here is this… what happens next?

If you look at the LinkedIn profiles of those two officers, where do they land next? What does the town do next for policing services?

I kind of suspect we’ll see all three officers hired by the next town over, the town who will then be tasked with providing policing for this town.

LostInLoDOS (profile) says:

Uh, now what

I just hope, for the residents there, they have some contingencies in place with this.
Because you can guarandamntee nobody from surrounding communities is going to cross jurisdictional lines to help.

Bad police, the minority, are a serious problem. But this is a rather extreme (without contextual reference) reaction to a bad cop.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:


Bad police, the minority, are a serious problem. But this is a rather extreme (without contextual reference) reaction to a bad cop.

It really isn’t. If the local PD consists of four people, all of whom are Klansmen then my reaction would be to kill it with fire.

Going without law enforcement is not ideal. But it’s still less bad than going with “law enforcement” handled by the SA.

And I say this being the sort of white middle-aged middle class part of the demographic likely to be the last one on Niemöller’s lamentation list.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

jara98210 (profile) says:

How do I download and install IJ scan utility?

From the list of software listed, find and click on the IJ Scan Utility, IJ Scan Utility2, (depending which is available for your model) for your device, then choose the Download button beside said option. Once the download is complete, double-click the downloaded file. A disk image will be placed on the desktop.In order to begin the setup process for your printer through the official site, you can follow the steps below in the described way. Get started with the Canon printer setup process now. [][1].Offer,Initial Check Items (Cleaning / Deep Cleaning) Before running Cleaning or Deep Cleaning, check that the printer power is on, and open the cover of the site.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...