Fort Worth police suspended “themed” dress days in the 911 call center after a few employees wore Black Lives Matter attire to protest a supervisor’s email critical of baseball players for kneeling during the national anthem.
Three civilian employees filed complaints, the department said.
The workers, who answer 911 calls about everything from car crashes to murders, typically wear uniforms but on weekends were allowed to dress in different "themes" as a morale booster.
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On July 22, as Major League Baseball was kicking off its delayed season, Capt. Tyson Cheek sent an email to communications employees about what to wear the following weekend.
"I guess since baseball is starting this weekend we can do 'wear your baseball-themed stuff,'” Cheek wrote. “But the players kneeling during the national anthem even in baseball is depressing my sports appetite, so wear your baseball gear if you got it or first-responder stuff."
Several employees objected to the comments about the players' actions depressing his appetite.
They also contacted Pastor Kyev Tatum, a well-known activist.
"Capt. Cheek decided to politicize the department by making what we believe are offensive comments about the Black Lives Matter movement,” Tatum said.
Cheek apologized in another email the next day after a few employees indicated they were offended.
"Whoa to everyone for a second,” he wrote. “First of all, I should never have mentioned what is actually a political theme and opinion in my email. I apologize ... It was stupid of me to have included it in my commentary. "
Tatum said he doesn’t believe Cheek’s apology was sincere.
"’I'm sorry but I'm not sorry’ does not count as an apology,” Tatum said.
Then, that weekend, instead of wearing baseball clothing, several 911 workers wore Black Lives Matter attire in protest.
Cheek sent a third email on July 26.
"A few of you over this weekend have taken it upon yourselves to ignore both the apology I delivered and the rest of the message,” he said. “I intend to speak to each of the people that decided a police communications center was the appropriate place to wear BLM attire and sort this out. This starts immediately.”
Tatum said it's perfectly appropriate for 911 employees to wear BLM attire and doesn’t see it as political at all.
In response to questions from NBC 5, the department confirmed three employees filed formal complaints with the city’s human resources department, which referred the matter back to the department’s chain of command.
Cheek met with his supervisor, a deputy chief, “who handled the incident,” according to the police statement.
The department said it had no further comment.