Update: Kentucky police officer suspended over racist texts

Local News

Courtesy: Owensboro Police Department


OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – Owensboro Police Chief Ealum has released a statement regarding Officer Steven Phillips’ suspension.

Chief Ealum says Ofc. Phillips reported the incident that involved racially insensitive text messages he sent to an ex-girlfriend.

An investigation began shortly after he reported it.

The statement can be found below:

Officer Phillips self-reported an incident that involved racially insensitive text messages he sent to an ex-girlfriend. Based upon the information I received from Officer Phillips, I initiated an investigation and directed our Professional Standards Lieutenant to, not only, investigate Phillips’ conduct in this incident but to review his work performance and complaint history to ensure he was policing our community fairly and consistently. After a review of his citation and arrest history, it was determined there was not any disparity in the performance of his duties. Likewise, there had not been any external complaints filed against Officer Phillips in his 3 year career with the Owensboro Police Department.

Officer Phillips waived his right to a hearing and accepted responsibility for his decision to send the inappropriate text messages. He accepted the recommended punishment of 26 days of unpaid leave.

Police officers are in a position of trust; therefore, we are rightfully held to a higher standard and should strive to be above reproach in our private and professional lives. The members of the Owensboro Police Department are dedicated professionals who make sacrifices daily to protect and serve this great community. We will continue to hold each other accountable because that is what the people who live, work and play in this community deserve.

Original Story

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky police officer has been suspended largely without pay after he admitted to sending racist text messages to an ex-girlfriend.

According to the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer , Officer Steven Phillips was suspended 26 days beginning July 3 under a complaint opened by Police Chief Art Ealum in May.

Phillips, who is white, signed a June 28 document accepting the suspension. The documents were obtained through a public records request. The messages described as “racist texts” weren’t provided.

Ealum, who is African American, said Phillips reported the messages and provided a letter from his ex-girlfriend’s attorney about them.

Ealum said an investigation found no complaints of Phillips making racist comments in the community and nothing suggested racial disparity in how Phillips arrested people.

Phillips will receive some pay for mandatory K-9 training.


Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, http://www.messenger-inquirer.com

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(This story was originally published on July 15, 2019)

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