Officer accused of making racist remarks under investigation

Nicole Yates
Nicole Yates
Jack Messer
Jack Messer

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) – The chief of the New Albany Police has confirmed the department has opened an investigation regarding a letter sent to them which questions the actions of a NAPD officer during his sick leave. The investigation centers around Officer Jack Messer, a 27 year veteran of the force.

In January, Messer was accused of making a racial comment about African Americans, saying:

"The worst thing we ever did was to give those people their civil rights."

According to the police department, because of the accusations against Messer they ordered the whole department to take a sensitivity training class.

Lt. Colonel Mike Lawrence said NAPD officers were given seven opportunities in May to take the course. According to Lawrence, Messer did not, saying at one point he was on sick leave, then came back to work, and then went back on sick leave, the day before he was supposed to make-up the training session. Nicole Yates, president of the New Albany-Floyd County NAACP, said she is not shocked Messer has not taken the course yet.

"He is not taking this serious," said Yates. "He doesn't want to take the training. He doesn't want to apologize or anything of that nature and he continuously plays games."

Yates said she received an initial complaint over remarks Messer reportedly made against African Americans in January.

During our interview for this story, Yates gave WAVE 3 a copy of an open records request she made through the city attorney's office requesting documents concerning complaints made by Messer's co-workers. In those documents, there was a letter that questioned whether Messer was working for a lawn care service for two days during his sick leave. NAPD Chief Greg Crabtree confirmed the department received that letter. Crabtree said it is under investigation and wouldn't go into detail.

We attempted to contact Messer at his home and by email to get his side of the story, but he has not returned our request. As for Yates, she said, "At this point Jack has some explaining to do".

Messer will be given another chance to make-up the training once he is back from sick leave. Lawrence said one other officer missed the training, which he added it is not unusual.

As for the Police Merit Board's investigation, a meeting is set for July to decide whether charges will be brought against Messer. If that happens, a hearing is scheduled in August.

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