Group wants action taken against officer accused of racially charged comment

Rev. Fred Taylor
Rev. Fred Taylor

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - It has been seven months since a New Albany police officer was accused of making racially charged comments. On Sunday members of the Concerned Citizens of New Albany held a prayer rally attended by renowned civil rights activist Rev. Fred Taylor. The group feels disciplinary action should have been taken by now.

In January, during roll call, New Albany Police Officer Jack Messer reportedly said: "The worst thing we ever did was to give those people their civil rights," referring to African Americans.

The group Concerned Citizens of New Albany and other members of the community gathered at Griffin Street Recreational Center in New Albany.

Rev. Taylor got a few laughs during his remarks.

"For him to say that the civil rights ... given to black folks was the worst thing that ever happened - that white boy is out of his cotton-picking mind," Taylor said.

"We have no intentions of giving up," said Marcia Booker, a spokeswoman for Concerned Citizens of New Albany. "But, you feel let down after months and months go on and something that should have been corrected is not corrected," she continued.

Booker says the community is upset that action has not been taken against Messer. She said it has been long enough.

"We feel like the city of New Albany and the police department and also the Mayor did not respond quick enough," Concerned Citizens of New Albany Representative, Jenny Kane said.

The Police Merit Board is scheduled to meet in September to discuss the remarks Messer is accused of making and to determine whether Messer was working for his lawn care service while on sick leave from the department. The disciplinary hearing was scheduled for the first week in August, but was delayed because the Merit Board's attorney had an unexpected medical condition.

Booker would have liked to have seen someone else fill-in.

"It seems like there would be an associate or a fill-in," Booker said.

"I've taken some time off, due to doctor's advice and we're in a due process hearing and that due process will take place, of course," said Board Attorney Stan Faith. "There shouldn't be any question that we will complete that."

Meanwhile, Board President Robert Dusch says they're proceeding with caution.

"One of the reason[s] it [has] taken so long is that we want to be careful...cross all the t's dot all the i's," Dusch said. "We want to be fair to all parties concerned. The fact that the attorney has been on board the whole time. He's a critical part of the hearing process and that's why its slowed down for another month."

Members of Concerned Citizens of New Albany encouraged the community to join together to fight.

If the board finds Messer violated department policy, he could be disciplined or even fired.

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