A Fort Worth police officer who shared a meme on Facebook criticized by some community activists as racist has been terminated, the Fort Worth Police Department confirmed Thursday.
After an internal investigation, the department said Officer Roger Ballard, who served with the department for 18 years, received an indefinite suspension for violating departmental General Orders related to social media use. An indefinite suspension is equivalent to a termination.
"It makes me believe that Fort Worth is willing to work with the community to pick out the rotten apples that we all say exist on police force. So I'm happy they're willing to get rid of one of theirs," said Patrice Jones, a community activist who also is a member of Enough Is Enough.
She and other activists welcomed the department's decision.
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"Chief Kraus and his staff got it right. What the officer did was egregious, especially given the context of everything that has been going on in Fort Worth and I need not even mention the Atatiana Jefferson shooting," said long time activist and pastor Rev. Michael Bell.
"I am happy that he's fired, but I still say we've got more work to do in the community," said Donnell Ballard with United My Justice who led a small gathering outside of police headquarters.
The department initially released a statement last week saying they were made aware of a "racially insensitive and grossly inappropriate Facebook post, which surfaced on an officer's personal profile."
At a press conference last Friday held by United My Justice, group vice-president Cecil Collier said the meme shows a Black man lying in a casket with the caption "this is what happens when you resist the police."
Internal Affairs is continuing to investigate the extent of the involvement of a second officer.
"The Fort Worth Police Department holds every officer to a very high standard and any comment, post, or any communication which is racially insensitive and unprofessional will not be condoned in any manner. Our department will continue to hold accountable those who do not meet that standard," the department said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
"I believe it's a step in the right direction," said Jones.
At the same time, while she and other activist welcome the department's decision, she questions the wording used in the officer's indefinite suspension.
"I would have liked to seen the paper work read Roger Ballard terminated for the social media posts because that leads me to believe that eventually down the line when the smoke clears, he can be reinstated," said Jones.
"That's my concern, when all of this is done, will this termination be upheld?" questioned Bell.
Ballard will be able to appeal the suspension.
Fort Worth Police said according to civil service law, an officer who receives an indefinite suspension may file a written appeal to the civil service commission within 10 days to request an appeal of their dismissal.