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San Jose police officer fired over ‘disgusting’ text messages

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A San Jose, California, police officer was fired after an investigation revealed he had sent “disgusting text messages that demonstrated racial bias,” San Jose Chief of Police Anthony Mata said in a release Friday.

It was discovered that the former officer, Mark McNamara — who had been working for the police department for six years, according to the release — had allegedly sent a number of racist text messages during an internal affairs investigation for an unrelated criminal investigation into an officer-related shooting at a La Victoria Taqueria in Downtown San José on March 27, 2022, that McNamara was also involved in.

Mata said that when the text messages were discovered, a separate investigation into McNamara was launched “immediately.”

“I hate black people,” one of the texts McNamara sent said, according to documents released by police. In another message, McNamara identifies himself as white.

He also used variations of the N-word multiple times, according to the set of messages police released.

A current employee of the police force who was found to be on the receiving end of some of McNamara’s messages “engaged in other concerning dialogue with the former officer,” Mata said in the release. That unnamed employee has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

“There is zero tolerance for even a single expression of racial bias at the San José Police Department,” Mata said in the statement, adding that “the messages were found due to the expansion of our Internal Affairs Unit’s efforts to thoroughly investigate all questionable conduct and is why we have made investments in a new early warning system.”

Mata said this is the “promised accountability” resulting from his department being “proactive and transparent” in all investigations.

“If any employee’s racial bias rears its ugly head, rest assured that I will take immediate action to ensure they are not part of this organization,” Mata said. “I am extremely proud of the 99.9% of officers whose achievements and dedication to this community are unmatched and I will not let the actions of a few officers cloud the extraordinary work being done in our city every day.”

“There is nothing more sickening than a person in power abusing their position,” Mayor Matt Mahan said in the statement. “I will sleep better tonight knowing that this individual is no longer carrying a badge and gun.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if McNamara was represented by counsel. Contact information for McNamara could not immediately be found on a public database.

In a statement Saturday, San Jose Police Officers’ Association president Steve Slack called the alleged behavior “beyond unacceptable” and said “we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”

“This incident represents the actions of an individual. It is not a reflection of those of us who serve with honor and who treat every member of our community with the respect and dignity they deserve,” the statement said. “If these allegations are true, then this individual must face the sternest consequences possible.”

McNamara is no longer represented by the association.

“He quit the force and as such he forfeits his membership in the union,” association spokesperson Tom Saggau said.


Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.