Nov 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Black officer whose chief left KKK note files complaint

Sheffield Police Department video of the police chief leaving a Ku Klux Klan note in a Black police officer's raincoat

Surveillance video images of then Sheffield Lake Police Chief Anthony Campo and police officer Keith Pool. Photo: Sheffield Police Department

A Black police officer who received a Ku Klux Klan note from his white boss filed a discrimination complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission on Thursday.

Why it matters: Sheffield Lake police officer Keith Pool alleged in the complaint against his employer that former chief Anthony Campo "harassed" him on an "ongoing basis" because he's Black and that other superior officers knew about it "but did not stop him."

  • He also alleges that Campo used racial slurs against him and created racially offensive images mocking him and "the only Latino officer in the division," sharing them with other staff members and posting on a department bulletin board.
  • The 57-year-old Pool became Sheffield Lake’s first Black officer in 2020.

The big picture: After surveillance video emerged of him leaving a KKK note in Pool's raincoat in July, Campo retired from his position in the city, some 25 miles west of Cleveland — which last year declared racism a public health crisis. Campo maintained it was a "joke," per CNN.

  • Speaking for the first time about the incident on Thursday, Pool said at a news conference that he just looked at the police chief and said in response to the note: "Are you serious?"
  • "What else can you say to the chief of police, who had done something so heinous and so awful to the first Black officer ever? It's not understandable," he added.
  • Pool also accuses Campo of wearing a "pointy Ku Klux Klan hat" he made in front of him and other employees.

Of note: Pool's lawyers have also filed a petition to the Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday in an attempt to obtain the full release of Campo's records with the Sheffield Lake Police Department.

What they're saying: Sheffield Lake Mayor Dennis Bring told WKYC when video of the raincoat incident emerged that he had met with Pool to apologize.

  • "There's no one word to explain how disgusting this is," Bring said.
  • Campo told Channel 5, "It was just a joke that got out of hand. I hired that officer on the force ... and I helped to save his job after he was in danger of being let go by another department due to age restrictions."
  • Bring and representatives for the City of Sheffield Lake did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment. Campo could not immediately be reached for comment.
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