L.A. Police Official Resigns Over Racist Emails

| by Nik Bonopartis
Police officers in Los AngelesPolice officers in Los Angeles

One of the top-ranking officials from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office resigned May 1 after it was revealed he'd sent emails mocking minorities and women.

Tom Angel, who was chief of staff to Sheriff Jim McDonnell, initially tried to weather the criticism leveled at him after the Los Angeles Times published a series of emails Angel sent while in his previous position with the Burbank Police Department.

McDonnell originally said he didn't plan to discipline Angel, and Angel issued a public apology he hoped would end the controversy that had been brewing since the emails were published. The department would view the scandal as a "learning opportunity," McDonnell told the Times, but he stopped short of saying he'd fire Angel despite calling the emails "deeply troubling."

But after critics piled on and more voices joined the chorus demanding Angel lose his job, Angel quietly resigned with an announcement on a Sunday afternoon, a traditionally slow news day.

Most of the emails were jokes and chain letters forwarded by the police official.

"I took my Biology exam last Friday," one email read. "I was asked to name two things commonly found in cells. Apparently, 'Blacks' and 'Mexicans' were NOT the correct answers."

Another email included a long list of reasons why Muslims "are so quick to commit suicide." Among the reasons the email included were "no nude women," "no beer," "no bacon," "[towels] for hats," and being unable to "wash off the smell of donkey."

"It is inflammatory, it is insulting," the Muslim Public Affairs Council's Salam al-Marayati told KABC. "And for somebody that is doing that - using public money as a chief executive in a police department on a government Listserv - I think it's preposterous, it's despicable."

McDonnell pledged to meet with community groups to "share thoughts and ideas about improving our understanding of the varied cultures and orientations," and said he'd institute sensitivity training for his officers. Additionally, he said his office would begin random audits of department email.

Haroon Manjlai, a spokesman for the greater L.A. chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the Times that Angel's resignation was the right decision.

“Hopefully now, if incidents like these happen again, the precedent is to step down or be dismissed,” Manjlai said. “It promotes zero tolerance when it comes to any kind of xenophobic or insensitive behavior to any community.”

Sources: Los Angeles Times [2]. KABC / Photo credit: Chris Yarzab/Wikimedia Commons

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