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Suspensions Over Klan-Themed Party

January 11, 2000

HOUSTON (AP) _ Four white state troopers who donned Ku Klux Klan-style hoods at a 1989 birthday party for a black officer have been suspended, officials said Tuesday.

Two other white employees also were suspended for making racist comments more recently, said Col. Dudley Thomas, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

All six were suspended with pay pending the outcome of investigations into the alleged acts.

Former DPS trooper Darron Anderson complained he was traumatized emotionally by the party held at the DPS office in Livingston. He was fired in November after being indicted for allegedly burning his own truck in a botched scheme to collect insurance.

Earlier this month, he produced 11-year-old photos showing officers standing behind him wearing white hoods marked ``KKK.″

For that incident, DPS officials suspended Trooper Larry Pitts, Trooper Ricky Thigpen, Cpl. Bobby Perry, and Cpl. Paul Hearne.

Thomas said that two other officers who took part will be suspended once they are identified. Two of the troopers at the party have since retired.

``As has been said several times during the past week, there is no room in our agency for this type of behavior and it will not be tolerated,″ Thomas told reporters Tuesday.

In the more recent incidents, Sgt. Darryl Wright was suspended for allegedly making a racist comment to a deputy at the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office.

A communications operator in the Houston DPS office, Janie Braune, was also accused of a making racist remarks while in uniform, Thomas said.

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