- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - All 450 employees of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office in southwest Ohio were given diversity training after two employees were fired and another three were placed on leave for sending racist text messages.

Monday’s diversity training was the first time all employees were brought together for such an exercise in 10 years, The Dayton Daily News (https://bit.ly/1ON0KRh ) reported.

Capt. Thomas Flanders and Detective Michael Sollenberger, both white officers, were fired in February for allegedly sending racially insensitive text messages that disparaged black co-workers, President Obama and others. Flanders and Sollenberger have denied the charges.

Two deputies and a sergeant were suspended between three and 30 days in connection to the incident, which occurred between November 2011 and January 2013.

The department has a morality clause that officials say the officers violated.

The Dayton Unit NAACP received the texts from an anonymous source and conducted their own investigation to ensure the authenticity of the messages before going public.

Sheriff Phil Plummer said the firings sparked conversation that led to the training.

“That created conflict internally, within the department, as well as with the community,” Plummer said. “So we said, let’s train on this, let’s get everybody trained, and let’s respect each other.”

Integrity Development Corp., a Cincinnati-based firm that specializes in diversity solutions for businesses, conducted the training. Local police chiefs and other county employees are welcome to join the training, which will continue for three weeks.

Plummer said he is keeping an open dialogue between police and local leaders on the issue.

“We have great community leaders, faith-based leaders, that we’re working with through our impact group,” Plummer said. “We sit down and we have dialogue and discussion.”

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Information from: Dayton Daily News, https://www.daytondailynews.com


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