Acting chief put on leave over racial slurs

Friday, October 16, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

FALMOUTH -- After acknowledging that he made racial slurs at a local fast-food restaurant earlier this week, Assistant City Police Chief Jim Hamilton has agreed to take a paid leave of absence, a city official said.

City officials will investigate a man's claims that Assistant Chief Hamilton and three other city representatives were at a fast-food restaurant Tuesday when they talked about how "they don't burn crosses in . . . yards, they just burn . . ."

The man also said the city representatives talked about how they don't think African-Americans and Caucasians should mix. The man making the claims is African-American. He is married to a Caucasian woman who works at the restaurant. She told him about the conversation, which she said she overheard.

The man relayed the conversation to City Manager Steven Hasson on Thursday morning. He later talked to Assistant Chief Hamilton, who has been serving as acting chief while Police Chief Greg Reis is on sick leave.

Assistant Chief Hamilton denied making the statement about crosses and burnings, Mr. Hasson said, but he acknowledged using racial slurs in a public place. That's when Mr. Hasson asked him to take a voluntary leave of absence and Assistant Chief Hamilton agreed.

Kentucky Enquirer efforts to reach Assistant Chief Hamilton were unsuccessful.

Because of the incident, city employees are scheduled for an Oct. 26 diversity training session. Falmouth has about 2,400 residents. The police department has 10 police officers, and the fire department consists of volunteers.

"We have zero tolerance for any kind of prejudice," Mr. Hasson said. "We want all of Northern Kentucky to know Falmouth is a place that welcomes everyone. If the allegations bear fruit, we will take additional action.

Assistant Chief Hamilton "was a standard bearer. I find this real disappointing."

Mr. Hasson noted that an investigation into claims against Assistant Chief Hamilton and the other city representatives -- Police Sgt. Chip Jones; Fire Chief Marty Hart, who also serves as a police officer; and volunteer firefighter Brad Crouch -- will continue.

Mr. Hasson already has had a chance to talk to Chief Hart, who has denied making any racial slurs.

Mayor Max Goldberg will have final say on any action taken.

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