The city of Vincent, Ala. disbanded its entire police force after uncovering a text message containing a joke about a slave allegedly sent by one of its officers.
Last week, Vincent Mayor James Latimore told AL.com that he and the city council “passed a resolution with intent to pass an ordinance to disband the police department.”
City Councilman Corey Abrams would not comment on the specifics of the council’s decision-making, only telling AL.com “I’m still emotional about it.”
The decision did come after a screenshot of a text conversation allegedly involving one of the department’s officers surfaced.
The screenshot, which spread on social media included the opening line “What do y’all call a pregnant slave?”
An unidentified recipient responded with “?” and then “??”
The first texter then answered: “BOGO Buy one, get one free”
During the meeting to discuss the controversy Abrams reportedly said, “This has torn this community apart. It doesn’t matter what color we are as long as we do right by people.”
Last week, Latimore said “appropriate action has been taken” against the officer who allegedly sent the text, though the mayor did not name the officer or anyone else involved.
In addition to disbanding the police department, the council also fired Police Chief James Srygley and Assistant Chief John L. Goss.
AL.com reported the city’s website had only listed three employees on its police department page: Srygley, Goss and Lee Carden. The website no longer appears to list any employee details.
As of the 2020 census results, the city of Vincent only had a population of 1,982 people.
With the plan to disband its police force, law enforcement responsibilities will, for now, rest with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
“The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office was recently notified by the Vincent City Council and Mayor regarding the recent allegations of misconduct within the Vincent Police Department and we equally condemn these actions,” Shelby County Sheriff Joe Samaniego said on Friday. “Sheriff Samaniego stands with the City of Vincent in providing emergency law enforcement related services for the citizens during this time.”
“All communication and correspondence relating to this matter should be directed to the City of Vincent, and not to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office,” the office added. “The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is currently handling all law enforcement emergency calls for service within the City of Vincent. If you have a law enforcement related emergency, please call 911.