Black school resource officer fired by Tampa police for using N-word

Elisha Fieldstadt
·3 min read

A Florida police officer, who was working as a school resource officer, has been fired after he was caught on body camera footage using the N-word and later admitted to his superiors that it wasn't the first time.

Tampa officer Delvin White was fired "for violations of policy that prohibit discriminatory conduct," according to a Wednesday statement from the Tampa Police Department. White, an eight-year department veteran, was most recently working as a school resource officer at Middleton High School.

The Tampa Police Benevolent Association said on Thursday it is fighting the department's firing of White, who is Black.

"We stand with the City of Tampa and the Tampa Police Department in their efforts to stamp out racism in every form and condemn any and all derogatory statements in or out of uniform," Tampa Police Benevolent Association spokesman Danny Alvarez said in a statement.

But "the facts in the Delvin White matter do not reflect an act or any intent that warrants the punishment he received for his alleged transgression," Alvarez said.

A body camera video released by the Tampa Police Department shows White driving around what appears to be a parking lot, making small talk with people standing around as he says goodnight. He indicated a game has just ended.

As he is leaving, he makes a phone call to a woman to tell her that he doesn't want steak when he gets home, but rather a tuna salad sandwich. When she reminds him that he cannot have bread, he amends his request to tuna salad and gluten free crackers.

He then asks the woman why she didn't call him three or four times like she usually does, and she says because he's usually so busy. At this point, he starts comparing his job to hers, saying it's a higher pressure job. He tells her he is responsible to make sure kids don't get shot and stabbed, and later repeats the statement to say his job is to ensure "some ghetto n----- don't get shot or stabbed."

The statement from the Tampa Police Department said that while White was under investigation, he told his supervisor that he had also used the N-word while making an arrest in November. He twice used the word while arresting an uncooperative male for trespassing, according to the statement and body camera video.

"Derogatory statements made by police officers jeopardize the trust that our department works to establish with our community," said Chief Brian Dugan. "Tampa Police officers are held to a higher standard and incidents like this negatively impact the entire law enforcement profession."

Violation of the policy on discriminatory conduct are "grounds for immediate dismissal," the statement said.

But Alvarez said the Tampa Police Benevolent Association will file a formal grievance in an effort to get White's job back.

"Officer White is a beloved and trusted member of the East Tampa community that he was raised in and that he protected every day," Alvarez said.

He added that, despite White's "misstep," the chief of police had been receiving messages from citizens and school officials to lend their support and express "their admiration for his character and contributions."