ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A St. Louis County police dispatcher has been accused of uttering a racial slur while referring to a Black police sergeant on duty Saturday evening, 5 On Your Side has learned.
St. Louis County Police Department chief Mary Barton sent the following statement:
"A racial slur was used on the police radio by a professional staff member serving as a dispatcher. That individual was immediately removed from the radio and relieved of duty. An internal investigation into the matter has been opened. As I have said in past, discrimination, by word or deed, shall not be tolerated by any of us in the St. Louis County Police Department. We have, and will continue, to hold one another accountable.”
The St. Louis County Police Association issued a statement condemning the dispatcher’s actions.
“We are aware of the racist language that was broadcast over the police radio this evening. We are appalled. There is no place in modern society for these racist epithets. Chief Barton needs to take swift action and terminate the employee from the police department. We have a history of speaking out in these situations and will continue to do so.”
The police union also denounced a trainer who uttered racial slurs while teaching a course at the police academy in 2020.
Other members of the department are condemning the dispatcher’s actions, too.
Lt. Keith Wildhaber, who leads the Diversity and Inclusion Unit sent a statement to 5 On Your Side.
It read, “This type of language is disgusting and has no place in our department or in society. Immediate and decisive action must be taken by department leadership. We cannot continue to deny there is systemic racism and discrimination in our department. It’s time to dismantle it.”
Chief Barton came under fire in the summer of 2020 after telling the St. Louis County Council she did not believe there was systemic racism in the department.
“I think to say that there’s systemic racism in the police department is overly broad and probably not accurate,” she said at the time.
The Ethical Society of Police, a membership organization which represents primarily Black officers,
"ESOP is aware of the racist words broadcasted on the radio today from a dispatcher and we are appalled. As an organization, we have continuously asked the current and former Chief to address the racism within the department. Although Chief Barton has stated systemic racism doesn't exist, there can be no other glaring example of racism than the type that was heard today. Chief Barton must take swift and strong action in this moment and terminate the employee without hesitation. Along with Teneo, we've addressed many of these issues already and while we are still awaiting some type of action, incidents like this continue to happen."
This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.