By Sallie James
A Boca Raton police sergeant accused of using the N-word, making racially insensitive jokes and lying under oath has been fired.
Jeremy Codling, 40, who was hired in May 2005, was let go in early March for conduct unbecoming a police officer, unlawful harassment, hostile and demeaning jokes and being untruthful under oath, according to internal affairs documents.
The discipline stems from a complaint filed by Officer Carl Desir, who is black, regarding racially offensive comments made by Codling in May and December 2015 when the two were members of the Special Weapons and Tactics team, according to the investigation.
The report says Codling’s co-workers affirmed that the white police sergeant had a history of making comments involving race that had targeted blacks, Jews and Hispanics.
Desir said he filed his complaint after learning that a recently hired black officer who had worked for Codling had quit unexpectedly. That officer told Desir that Codling may have had a bias against him because he was black, the report said. Desir said that scenario spurred him to step forward.
Desir’s complaint stemmed from a May 2015 incident when a fellow SWAT team member wondered aloud if he could take an old tarp from a storage area and Codling responded, “I thought black people were the ones who were always stealing things.”
Desir said he replied by calling Codling a racist, because “the ongoing blatant disrespect Codling showed for me in that moment, as well as all black people, infuriated me,” the report stated.
Codling told investigators he didn’t make racist comments to Desir and said he was “shocked” that he didn’t notice Desir was upset during the SWAT session in May 2015.
In another incident, Codling urged a fellow officer to answer his phone with the words: “What’s up, my n-----?”
“Never say that word around me again,” an angry Desir told Codling after overhearing the comment.
According to the report, Codling made further racist comments in a text thread about a “white Jewish [man] and a black male,” stating that the black man had to be the Jewish man’s chauffeur.
Codling also texted a meme of a white man with the words, “What’s black and never works? Decaffeinated coffee, you bastard!” the internal affairs report said.
“I remember saying to Sgt. Codling that if he ever gets accused of being racist, I will be the first person to stand up and support that person’s case,” Desir wrote in a letter to the Boca Raton Police Services Department.
Desir added, “I believed Codling’s inherent disdain for black people could affect his behavior with or around black people as it was apparent in my encounters with him.”
The department released the following statement about Codling’s termination:
“The city and the Police Services Department recognize that our effectiveness in community policing is based on trust. In addition to maintaining formal and informal discussions with the diverse groups within our city, all officers in the Police Services Department have completed training in Fair and Impartial Policing. This employment action demonstrates the city’s commitment to address any conduct which might undermine the confidence of the people we serve.”