ITHACA, N.Y. – An Ithaca police officer who was photographed in a grocery store wearing a hat that says “violence does solve problems” has apologized for wearing it while uniformed, according to a statement by Chief John Barber.
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Chief Barber said the officer admitted to wearing the hat while on break and said the officer has apologized to co-workers via email. The incident is being handled as a personnel matter, he said.
The phrase comes from CRAFT security company, which is run by the Chris Kyle Foundation and Family.
Barber released the following statement on Tuesday about the incident:
On the afternoon of Monday May 18th, 2015 I was sent a photo that was uploaded on Facebook depicting the back of an officer wearing an Ithaca Police polo shirt while wearing a ball cap with embroidered lettering on the back stating “violence does solve problems.” The officer wore this cap into a local supermarket and a citizen took a photo showing the back of the hat and shirt collar with embroidered letters of “Ithaca Police.”
These words associated with the Ithaca Police Department are not indicative of the Professionalism our department strives for each day, and I understand why some would find this alarming and offensive.
Upon receiving the photo, I asked my Deputy Chief of Professional Standards to conduct an inquiry to determine who was wearing the cap and the circumstances surrounding it. The photo was also circulated via IPD email to all of my police officers. Soon afterwards, I received a call from one of my officers who indicated he was the officer depicted in the photograph. He immediately took full responsibility and explained he was on lunch from training and before walking into the store put on a ball cap from his vehicle. The cap is a commemorative cap by the “CRAFT” company owned by the Chris Kyle Foundation and Family (American Sniper).
The officer articulated to me how sorry he was, clearly understanding the perspective he created and how negatively impactful and potentially damaging his actions were. Although not offering it as an excuse, he stated before going into the store he quickly grabbed the hat without thinking and in hindsight, understands that perception is a reality and the wearing of the cap while wearing an IPD uniform, was unprofessional and damaging to the IPD image.
In addition to taking responsibility for his actions, he sent out an apology to his fellow co-workers, and the incident was addressed swiftly as a personnel matter. This officer in question made a mistake and I believe him when he says, he is deeply embarassed, apologetic, and has learned a valuable lesson from this error in judgment. I am most certain he will never repeat it.
As your Chief of Police, my officers and I will continue to strive for excellence and represent what the public expects and deserves; Integrity & Professionalism, while serving the Ithaca community. We will learn from this and move forward.