The Norman Citizens Advisory Board says its members are mostly satisfied with the Norman Police Department's investigation into an officer's "extremely inappropriate" movie reference in an email to the department.
Two days after calling an emergency meeting, the Citizens Advisory Board released a Friday statement outlining its members' responses and recommendations to the NPD regarding the department's investigation. The nine-member board has multiple duties in relation to the NPD that include reviewing the department's internal investigations and meeting with NPD's Internal Affairs monthly.
The NPD has been investigating Officer Jacob McDonough since early May for his response to a department-wide email chain about the city's mask policy. On May 5, McDonough responded to the internal NPD email thread with an image from the movie "Django Unchained," referencing a scene in which men in white hoods holding flaming torches complain about the fit of their hoods.
The Black Wall Street Times first reported the incident Monday after receiving copies of emails from McDonough and his supervisors, who appeared to quickly shut down the email thread after McDonough sent the "Django Unchained" image. The ACLU of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State Conference NAACP have both called for an independent investigation into McDonough's record.
The Citizens Advisory Board wrote Friday that the board's job is not to determine "if an officer is racist or not" or to decide on disciplinary action, but the board believes the NPD's investigative process complied with department policy.
"While NCAB members felt as if the officer sent an extremely inappropriate & race filled meme from the movie ‘Django Unchained’, the investigative process conducted by NPD has been expeditious and in accordance with policy," the board's Friday statement reads.
The board confirmed that after McDonough sent the image on May 5, supervisors quickly cut off the email thread, and NPD Chief Kevin Foster requested an Internal Affairs investigation within 40 minutes.
Internal Affairs notified McDonough of the investigation by May 7, and had interviewed the officer by May 12, according to the board, which wrote Friday that NPD followed all the correct protocols for conducting an investigation.
While the board found that overall, the NPD "responded in accordance to policy and due process was followed," the body also raised one concern in its Friday statement.
The NPD began its internal investigation process quickly, but the board suggested Friday that the department should have notified both the public and the Citizens Advisory Board sooner after the investigation started. While the Foster requested the investigation May 5, the public did not learn about it until The Black Wall Street Times' story was published on May 18.
According to the NPD, the department is required to confidentially notify the subject of an investigation about a complaint against them, but is not authorized to notify anyone else.
"While NPD understands NCAB’s disappointment with not being notified of the investigation on May 7, NPD Policy and the [Norman Fraternal Order of Police] Contract prohibited such notification," the department said in a statement Friday.
According to the NPD, the investigation is now in the disciplinary stage (the department did not provide any further specifics Friday). While the Citizens Advisory Board cannot make decisions on disciplinary actions, the board can offer comment and suggestions to the chief about "policy, procedures and rules."
According to its statement, while the board did recommend that maybe McDonough should have been suspended with pay during the investigation, the board is also recommending that McDonough attend trainings about racial intelligence and implicit bias, spend hours with community groups or be placed on probation.
"We are hopeful that NPD will consider the above recommendations when determining McDonough’s disciplinary action," board chair Stacy Bruce said in a statement. "