Police Chief Anthony Campo of the Sheffield Lake Police Department resigned from his post on Tuesday after surveillance footage captured him leaving the note on a Black officer’s desk, according to the city mayor.
Surveillance footage captured on 25 June showed the 33-year police veteran walking into a room with a piece of paper that said, “Ku Klux Klan.”
Mr Campo then walked up to a desk and placed the note on a yellow jacket that was laid out to resemble the infamous hood and robe that’s connected with the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group.
Sheffield Lake Mayor Dennis Bring said he was made aware of the incident soon after it happened.
“I said, ‘I don’t want to even hear about it,” Mr Bring said when describing his conversation with the police chief to WKYC. “I said, ‘You’ve already have admitted to it.’ And I said, ‘You’ve got 10 minutes to get out of this office.’ I said, ‘I want your keys, badge and that’s it. Get out.’”
The mayor also met with the officer who was targeted by the police chief with the hateful message.
“It took us 10 minutes to even talk to each other because we were both very emotional,” the mayor said. “And I apologised to him. We talked about the situation and he told me a little bit more. I was just flabbergasted. There’s no one word to explain how disgusting this is.”
Footage showed the officer walking into the office where the note was left and exchanging words with several officers while viewing what was left on his desk, though it was not clear what was said.
Mr Campo has claimed that the note was an off-colour joke that was “overblown”.
“That’s all it was,” Mr Campo told The Morning Journal. “I had a joking back and forth banter with that officer since I hired him.”
He also apparently offered an apology following the incident.
“He thought this was just a joke,” Mr Bring said. “How can you possibly think that you can put something on somebody’s jacket like that, and especially if they were African American, and think this is a joke? This is the most egregious and offensive thing you could possibly do. And it’s embarrassing and disgusting.”
Since the incident, the officer involved has retained a lawyer. But it was not yet clear if he intended to bring a lawsuit against the former police chief following the incident.
Mr Bring said he would back the officer if he decided to file a lawsuit.
The former police chief served with the department for more than three decades – with eight of those last years being him in the leadership position.