Posted on August 17, 2022

After a Police Officer Sent a Racist Text, a Town Dissolved Its Police Department

Juliana Kim and Emma Bowman, NPR, August 8, 2022

An Alabama police department was disbanded last week after a racist text message sent by one of its three officers surfaced on social media.

The police chief and the assistant police chief were suspended, city of Vincent Mayor James Latimer confirmed to NPR. Then, the city council voted to dissolve the entire department — a move the mayor is calling “a reversible decision.” The remaining officer subsequently resigned, Latimer said.

The city will be relying on the greater Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to respond to emergency calls during the span of a year, according to the mayor.

Vincent is about a 45-minute drive from Birmingham. Less than 2,000 residents live there, 85% of whom are white and 12% of whom are Black.

In the text message, a screenshot shows someone identified as “752” writing a racist message about slavery to an unidentified recipient, reported

Soon after the text message first surfaced, the city’s police chief, James Srygley, told that an internal investigation had been conducted and that “appropriate disciplinary action has been taken.”

Two days later, Latimer announced at a city council meeting that he had suspended Srygley and Assistant chief John L. Goss, according to The council then moved to pass a resolution to disband the police department entirely. {snip}


Rev. Kenneth Dukes, who is the president of the Shelby County branch of the NAACP, told NPR he was encouraged by how the Black community in Vincent unified around the issue and spoke out to city leaders.


“The Black community isn’t just going to go back in the corner,” Dukes said. “They’re tired of being disrespected, so they’ll continue to come together to speak out. I think the entire city of Vincent will improve and get better when every citizen stands together to speak out against racism, disrespect and inequality.”