Newspaper Reports South Florida Police Chief Circulated Racist Emails

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A south Florida police chief is currently facing allegations that he circulated racist e-mails among the police department from his office account.

The South Florida Times reported that an e-mail sent in July from the account of Wilton Manors Police Chief Richard Perez entitled “Mom’s memory,” attempted to poke fun at President Obama’s biracial background by implying that his father was an animal. Other e-mails reportedly contained racial slurs, photos of nude women and offensive comments directed at Blacks, the president, Democrats, and homeless people.

Wilton Manor personnel policy prohibits using city equipment for the distribution of offensive material. A 2007 internal memo issued by Perez states that “e-mails that use abusive or insulting language towards members of the department are unacceptable and shall not be tolerated.”

Perez became the first Hispanic police chief in Wilton Manors in 2005 and the first Hispanic captain of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in 2008. He also taught ethics courses at the police academy.

In a 2009 interview, Perez recalled an encounter with a white Floridian who made racist comments to him and spoke about the president’s historic election.

"I think it's wide open now. Women, Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans – if they can do the job, give them a shot," he said.

Since the publication of the Times report, Perez has been removed from the scheduled faculty at Broward College where the police academy is located.

“We have no tolerance for disrespect towards any member of the community,” Linda Wood, dean of the Institute of Public Safety and the director of the Police Academy, said in an e-mail to the Times.

Wilton Manors city officials plan an investigation into the matter. So far, the chief has made no public comment about the questionable e-mail.