A Black police officer in Tampa, Florida was fired this week for using the n-word. Delvin White, who worked as a school resource officer at Middleton High School, was allegedly captured on his body camera using the slur on two occasions.
White’s union, the Tampa Police Benevolent Association, says it will fight for his job.
“We, including Officer White, believe he should have been punished because we all agree no officer should speak that way, but the punishment does not fit the allegations,” said union spokesperson Danny Alvarez in an interview Wednesday. “Officer White has an incredible record of contributing not only to his community but to the TPD, and to lose him over this would be a travesty.”
White reportedly called a student the n-word while he was arresting him. Nearly half of Middleton’s students are Black, compared to just one in five district wide.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said he has received dozens of messages supporting White from people who want him remaining on the job. However, Dugan also said it was “troubling” that a school resource officer would use that language with a student.
“I look at a school resource officer as equivalent to a teacher,” he said. “Would you want a teacher to talk to your son in that manner?”
According to a report from the Tampa Bay Times, Middleton High math teacher and softball coach Kristina Ravenel wrote Chief Dugan in support of White, saying, “In my six years at Middleton, he is the only officer that I have known who supports all of our students regardless of the situation.”
White also reportedly used the n-word when referring to himself, as well as when speaking in general about students at his school while on the phone with his wife. That instance was captured on his body-worn camera. He referred to the teens as “ghetto n-words.”
The Black officer audaciously told his superior officer that he used the n-word not as derogatory, but as “commonly used in today’s society as a means of shared culture and experiences among the African American community.”
White has been with Tampa’s police department for eight years and has been an student resource officer at Middleton High School since 2018. His union is appealing his dismissal.