- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Several San Francisco police officers can keep their jobs despite having exchanged racist and homophobic text messages with each other because investigators waited too long to take action, a Superior Court judge ruled this week.

Judge Ernest Goldsmith said in a decision published Monday that the state’s Peace Officer Bill of Rights prevents the city from disciplining officers after a one-year statute of limitations has expired.

Text messages sent between officers with the San Francisco Police Department were brought to the attention of investigators earlier this year after a federal corruption probe launched in early 2014 unearthed conversations between officers that had occurred more than two years earlier and were ripe with racist and otherwise inappropriate remarks, including the use of anti-gay epithets and references to blacks as “monkeys.”

Police Chief Greg Suhr had moved to take disciplinary action against the officers in question, but one filed a lawsuit in May, alleging the department had failed to take action before the statute of limitations had expired.

“It is not in the public interest to let police misconduct charges languish,” Judge Goldsmith said. “The public has a right to have accusations against police officers be promptly adjudicated.”

Three of the officers identified in the investigation had resigned from the force since landing in hot water, but have since been reinstated after learning about the statute of limitations, the San Francisco Gate reported.

Allison Berry Wilkinson, an attorney who represented one of the officers, told reporters that “the department cannot take any action against these officers for the exchange of text messages that occurred in 2011 and 2012.”

Chief Suhr, who pushed for the department to discipline the officers, said he plans to appeal with the help of Mayor Ed Lee.

“We’re confident in our position that we acted in a timely fashion and that the criminal case appropriately took precedent,” he said. “Anybody capable of the reprehensive texts that these guys sent should not be police officers, and we will work for that to be the case.”

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