Chief resigns for slur: Thomas Burke Police Chief

Published: November 29, 2015

Chief resigns for slur: Thomas Burke Police Chief, A Pennsylvania police chief who used a racial slur in a fundraising email unrelated to his police job has stepped down- before his newly minted department even began operating.

Burke, who is white, was sworn in as the city’s new police chief on Nov. 17. He was to start the job on Tuesday so the department would be up and running by Jan. 1 to replace the services of a regional department.

Burke was police chief in the nearby city of Sharon until retiring in 2007. He used the slur in question in April when he was helping support a reading-related fundraiser sponsored by the parent-teacher organization of an elementary school there.

Burke made the comment on the email before forwarding it to about 40 people. He used the slur when saying black people in Sharon “gotta learn how to read.”

Burke acknowledged making the remark during a public apology Monday, saying he was “truly sorry.”

McKeithan, who like roughly half of the city’s 5,000 residents is black, initially said she supported keeping Burke as chief.

“I have known and worked with him for many years and respect and admire his dedication to the community,” McKeithan wrote in the previous statement of support. “Until you get to know a man’s character, you can’t judge him by one off-the-cuff remark, or else would we not have to judge all white people as equally guilty?”

The mayor told the newspaper she asked for Burke’s resignation after consulting with other officials.

“I asked him if he would step down because I thought it would be best for the community,” she said. “He said, ‘yes.'”

Burke did not return a call to the newspaper and The Associated Press could not immediately locate a working phone number for him Saturday.

Farrell, a city about 65 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, has been patrolled by a regional department that is disbanding.


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