Scranton Mayor and police chief react to officers fired for “racist behavior”

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Details are emerging from an internal investigation in the Scranton Police Department.

Mayor Paige Cognetti revealed two city police officers were terminated for alleged racist comments. Over the weekend, documents were released on social media depicting the messages. The city has not named the two officers yet.

A male and female officer were let go from the Scranton Police Department for the alleged racist messages. They were discovered in August of 2019. The messages were made in the years prior to that discovery.

“Disgusting, repulsive, and racist,” Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti said.

Those are the words Cognetti used to describe the communications between two former officers with the Scranton Police Department. It’s alleged that the officers used multiple racial slurs in messages with each other.

“My stomach churns just even thinking about it,” Cognetti said.

Those officers, one man and one woman, have not been publicly identified. Both were terminated in June at the conclusion of an internal investigation. Over the weekend, a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit against the city that is unrelated to the internal investigation shared information publicly on social media.

“The documents that were put on to social media that the plaintiff put onto social media were something that we had to give to his attorneys during discovery in August,” Cognetti said.

Eyewitness News asked Mayor Cognetti why the initial termination of the two officers was not made transparent to the public from the start of the investigation.

“Personnel issues are something that we don’t come out here and declare. When we terminate people we don’t go make big statements how we terminated people,” Cognetti said.

Scranton’s interim Police Chief Leonard Namiotka says his department has zero tolerance for “racist behavior.”

“The Scranton Police Department does not condone the acts of the people were investigated. We are not a racist organization. We will not tolerate any comments, anything derogatory against any individual. That’s not our practice, that’s not our procedures, and if it is found out it will be investigated to the fullest,” Namiotka said.

Eyewitness News is pushing for the names of those former officers to be released. Mayor Cognetti and Chief Namiotka also discussed with us the actions they have begun to take to end racial biases within the community.

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