The Lockport, New York police department is under scrutiny after a mug shot was released describing an African American suspect as a “dark negro.” It turns out that the software that the police department uses has the term “negro” in the dropdown menu options, and police can choose whether they want to call a suspect a “dark” or “light” negro. And it’s been that way for over 20 years with no one thinking to change it.
Police Chief Larry Eggert says some – not all officers – use the terms light and dark negro. It’s a choice, and it’s not the Lockport police department’s fault, he says. He claims that he did not realize that the word was considered an epithet, and believes that the blame lies with the software, which he says hasn’t been updated in “twenty-some” years.
Eggert doesn’t seem to understand why people are getting upset or feel offended by the term, but “If it bothers people that much we’re going to take it out, it’s not used as an inflammatory word, as a racially divisive term, it isn’t any of that, it was in the drop down menu that a well-meaning officer picked because he thought that’s what the person looked like,” be said.
Chief Eggert says “negro” will be removed from the department’s database by the end of the week.
Lockport Police will also do diversity training in the next couple of weeks to explain to officers why the word “negro” is not acceptable to use.
Hopefully Eggert will sit at the front of the class so the material sinks in.