Farrell, Pennsylvania, Police Chief Thomas Burke was sworn in on Nov. 16, but is already in hot water for sending out an email in which he used the N-word while promoting a book drive fundraiser (video below).
The email stated: "Good Morning. Please click and review. Even $1.00 will be greatly appreciated. Them [Town of] Sharon [n-word] gotta learn how to read,” notes Erie News Now.
Burke was the Chief of Police in Sharon until 2007, but he is not scheduled to assume that position in Farrell until January 2016. Burke sent the email in April while he was working as the head of security for a local steel mill.
"It was not acceptable in my eyes," Farrell Councilwoman Stephanie Sheffield, who is African-American, told Erie News Now. "I was very hurt and upset. And I just feel that it was a very negative response for our area here in Sharon and Farrell.
" ... I spoke with him this morning, and I immediately said, 'Dismissal.' He came and knocked on my door this morning with an apology letter and how he is very familiar with our community and our area with some of the issues that we have going on here. And that he does use the N-word very often because that's just the way it is in our area. He should not stand in that position if he's going to use the N-word."
Burke refused to comment to Erie News Now, but publicly apologized on Nov. 23, WKBN reports.
“To everybody here, to everybody out there, my deepest," Burke said, according to WKBN. "I cannot tell you, from the bottom of my heart, I am truly sorry. I apologize deeply.”
“As the mayor of Farrell and as an African-American, I stand behind Mr. Burke as police chief for the City of Farrell,” Farrell Mayor Olive McKeithan said.
“Until you get to know a man’s character, you can’t judge him by one off-the-cuff remark, or else we would have to judge all white people as equally guilty,” McKeithan added. “I have spoken with Mr. Burke and consider the matter as closed.”
McKeithan said that Burke will not be disciplined, but the email is going to be addressed during a future community meeting organized by local leaders and the local NAACP chapter.