Owensboro Police Officer suspended over racist texts

Owensboro Police Officer suspended over racist texts

OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - An Ownesboro Police Officer has been suspended for 26 work days.

Documents provided to us from police show Officer Steven Phillips admitted to misconduct, and accepts his suspension without pay.

“I have to make sure I separate my personal feelings as an African-American male in regards to some of the statements that were made and I have to make my decision based upon Art Ealum Police Chief and not Art Ealum the person," the Chief stated. "So, in that regard, it was difficult.”

The paperwork shows there was an internal investigation that revealed Phillips sent racists text messages. OPD’s Professional Standards Unit also examined the officer’s 3-year record with the department and did not find any internal or external complaints against him.

“Looked at his arrest record, his citation record, and there was no disparity on how he patrolled this community,” Chief Ealum added.

Police say Phillips showed a letter to them from his ex-girlfriend’s attorney that indicated the messages were inappropriate.

Phillips’ suspension started July 3.

Phillips is a K-9 officer who joined the department in 2016.

To maintain his certification, he is required to train a minimum of 16 hours per month which will be allowed. He will also continue to care for the dog during this time.

His ex-girlfriend, nor her attorney, are named in the documents obtained.

Chief Ealum also tells 14 News he reached out to various peers who he trusts and respects for input before deciding the consequence.

“But to hold that against him for the rest of their career, I’m not that kind of person,” Chief Ealum said.

Officer Steven Phillips
Officer Steven Phillips (Source: Owensboro Police)

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