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9 Black Officers Quit Union In Controversy Over Fired Officer

May 19, 1988

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Nine black police officers have quit their union to protest its staunch support of a white officer who was fired for making racist and sexist slurs.

″The PBA is not in my best interest,″ said Detective Bob Wright, 32, a 10-year veteran and union member for the past two years. ″The PBA always seems to revolve around racial issues.″

Six officers quit the Police Benevolent Association on Tuesday and three more canceled their $15 monthly dues payments Wednesday, police officials said.

Wright said his decision was prompted by dismay over the union’s backing of the fired officer and union President Bob Sheehan’s criticism last month of a stinging manuscript on race relations by Hillsborough County sheriff’s Maj. Arnie Myers, who is black.

The police union has lambasted last week’s firing of Officer Charles W. Glass by Mayor Sandy Freedman. Sheehan called the mayor’s action illegal and a violation of due process.

But Wright said he supports the mayor’s decision to fire Glass and favors her tough policy against discrimination.

″Being black, I like the policy. It was long overdue,″ he said.

In a letter to the mayor Tuesday, R. Jeffrey Stull, attorney for the police union, urged her to reinstate Glass.

The dispute between the police union and the mayor began Friday when Ms. Freedman fired Glass, 26, after he acknowledged to police investigators he made sexually and racially derogatory comments about Officer Vicky Thomas.

Police officials reprimanded Glass on April 28. But when the mayor learned about the incident, she intervened on the grounds Glass had violated her 1987 policy on discriminatory conduct, which calls for at least a 15-day suspension and possible dismissal.

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