An Ohio police chief from a Cleveland suburb has retired after being caught on surveillance video placing a note saying ‘Ku Klux Klan’ and a raincoat displayed like a KKK robe and hood on a black officer’s desk.
Anthony Campo, 61, stepped down shortly after Sheffield Lake Mayor Dennis Bring confronted him on Tuesday.
Bring learned what happened from the city law director after the police union representing the black officer filed a harassment complaint.
The video from the Sheffield Lake police station, which did not include sound, shows Campo last Friday standing at a printer, then carrying a small note with ‘Ku Klux Klan’ typed on it and putting it on the yellow police raincoat deliberately spread on the officer’s desk.
A note saying ‘Ku Klux Klan’ is laying atop a raincoat arranged to resemble a KKK robe and hood on a black police officer’s desk at the Sheffield Lake Police Department in Ohio
Sheffield Lake Police Chief Anthony Campo, 61, retired early after being caught on video placing the KKK note on the officer’s desk
When the officer enters the room and sees the display, he looks in the direction of Campo’s office. Video then shows the two talking briefly.
The officer removes the note from the coat, but then puts it back when two of his colleagues, both white, arrive.
Mayor Bring said Campo, who is white, later told him it was supposed to be a prank. Bring called it ’embarrassing and disgusting.’
The mayor detailed his exchange with Campo to WKYC, saying that when he arrived in his office to confront him, the chief asked with a smile if he would be fired.
Bring said he gave Campo 10 minutes to hand in his badge and keys to his police cruiser, and clear the premises the office. During the tense conversation, the mayor said he asked the disgraced police chief whether he was ‘psychologically OK.’
Bring also revealed that besides printing the KKK note, Campo made a cone-shaped hat out of a newspaper and put in on his own head.
Video from June 25 shows Campo, seen in an orange shirt, printing the note and placing it on the police raincoat
The target of the prank, who has been with the department for just nine months, was away from his desk at the time
Campo was a Sheffield Lake police officer for 33 years and chief for the last eight, earning an annual salary of more than $86,000. The black officer has been with the department for just nine months.
Bring said he and the officer cried during a conversation about what happened.
‘I apologized to him,’ Bring told cleveland.com. ‘This is not a mistake. This is something so egregious I can’t describe it.’
The black officer is seen looking in the direction of Campo’s office after noticing the racist display on his desk
The chief and the officer talk briefly in the video, which has no audio
Other officers later arrive at the station and talk to their colleague about the note
Campo dismissed the incident to a local newspaper as some ‘off-color comments’ and ‘police station antics.’
Campo also defended his record with the department, which he described as ‘spotless’ and ‘unblemished,’ as The Chronicle reported.
In an interview with WKYC, Campo doubled down that the note was meant to be a ‘joke,’ and said that he has great respect for the officer and was the one who hired him. He also stressed that he was not fired but retired.
The town mayor said he does not believe Campo realizes the severity of his misconduct.
‘Shame on him,’ Bring said.