Springfield, Illinois – James Foxx, who is a current Grandview Village Police Officer, after being fired from the Springfield Police Department for sending a black officer a racist text message, was awarded his job back, without back pay, by an arbitrator last month.
We’ve received documents from that arbitration hearing with sworn testimony of Officer James Foxx, Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow, other department brass members, and community leaders. We will be releasing the interviews directly to our readers.
In the early morning hours on February 4, 2020, Foxx had been assigned to Beat 800 in place of Officer Lawerence Williams, a black Springfield Police Officer, who was assigned to watch a house. Officer Foxx and Officer Williams were joking around on their Mobile Data Computer via chat. They were joking about about having to do each other’s work. At 2:22 a.m., Officer Foxx sent a message to Officer Williams saying, “I’m gonna send you a message via text so it’s secure.” After Officer Williams responded, “lol” he received a text from Foxx saying, “You’re making me feel like the 800’s house nigga.”
In the first arbitration interview, which was conducted by Steve Rahn, who is the Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Springfield, Officer Foxx told Rahn that after texting Officer Williams, he was approached by him at the end of their shift.
Foxx said, “Well, he (Officer Williams) had approached me in the garage after the fact. I was still doing reports sitting in the garage. Everyone was turning their cars in, turning their equipment, things like that. When he approached me he was laughing. He had a smile on his face. He was like, hey, man, I knew what that meant. You didn’t need to send that stuff, still laughing with a smile on his face, smacked the window, window seal of the car and walked away.”
Foxx said after his interaction with Williams in the parking garage, he sent an apology text message which said, “My bad man. Didn’t think youd take it that way. Weve had banter like this in the past and I didn’t think it was that serious.”
Although Foxx sent an apology text message to Officer Williams, the City has been questioning if Officer Foxx actually learned his lesson after asking him the following questions:
Attorney Rahn asked Foxx, “Do you believe that the use of the N word by a white person other than a direct quote is racist?” Fox responded with a simple, “no.”
Attorney Rahn also asked Foxx, “Do you believe the term “house nigga” is racist?” Foxx responded, “It depends on how it’s being used.”
Although Foxx claims Williams approached him with a smile on his face and laughing, Springfield Police Commander Andrew Dodd said he was approached with Officer Williams’ complaint by retired Sergeant Matthew Fricke as soon as he walked into the office to begin his morning shift. “Sergeant Fricke advised me that he was contacted by Lawrence Williams. He wanted to talk about an incident that happened the night before. They met at a gas station over on the west side of town called the Gas-N-Go. There was a text sent from Officer Foxx to Officer Williams that had racial and inappropriate nature and then Sergeant Fricke was able to show me a screenshot of that text.”
After speaking with Sergeant Fricke, Commander Dodd said he immediately went upstairs and spoke with Deputy Chief Don Mumaw and Assistant Chief Ken Scarlette. After meeting with them, it was decided immediately that an Internal Affairs investigation would be open regarding Foxx’s conduct.
“The screenshot that I was shown and given of the text exchange, information contained in there, it was a clear violation of our Rules of Conduct Number 5, Workplace Complaint, and then also for Rule 21 for unbecoming, because of the detriment it could do to the department,” said Commander Dodd.
Commander Dodd also revealed that he was included with final discipline talks regarding Officer Foxx. Dodd said he was surprised by Officer Foxx’s conduct because of all of the training and yearly training that the department officers go through and he “absolutely agreed” with the decision to terminate Officer Foxx’s employment with the Springfield Police Department.
“I want every member of the department to feel comfortable in the workplace, that they should be able to trust each other, especially with everything that we have to do, and I don’t want any members of the department to have to worry about another member using inappropriate language, especially those terms, and I don’t believe that they, certain members could trust Officer Foxx, and would take strong issues with that. So it looks very bad, and I think it’s very unfavorable on the department and the members to have kept him on. You know, the department needs to have trust inside of itself between officer and officer and also outside the department from members of the community we serve. It’s a diverse community in Springfield and they should not have to question any member of this department and their beliefs based on stuff that they send.”
Although an arbitrator awarded James Foxx’s job back with the Springfield Police Department, the City of Springfield tells us that they plan to appeal that decision with the courts.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW OFFICER FOXX AND COMMANDER DODD’S SWORN TESTIMONY FROM FOXX’S ARBITRATION HEARING
Stay tuned for further Arbitration Hearing documents.