Things That Matter

Latino Officer Is Second To Accuse a Former Police Chief of Racism and Religious Discrimination

Latino police officer A.J. Torres is the second to come forward citing racism and religious discrimination by former Sheffield Lake Police Chief Anthony Campo. 

Last year, Campo retired after being caught on camera attaching a KKK sign on a Black officer’s jacket.

Torres filed a discrimination complaint against Campo with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, alleging discrimination against him for being Latino and Catholic after being relentlessly taunted by the head of the department. 

At a news conference in Sheffield Lake Tuesday, Torres said, “I don’t put away my nationality and my heritage when I come to work, I shouldn’t have to hide my religion either.”

The police officer’s attorney, Ashlie Case Sletvold, explained that Campo committed several racist acts that aimed to shame Torres.

For one, Campo photoshopped Torres’ face on a picture of a hot sauce bottle, pinning it on a bulletin board at the police station. 

In another instance, Campo took issue with Torres’ devotion to his religion and charity. The complaint states that the former police chief obtained a photo of Torres with two children on a missionary trip, and added a caption that seemingly accused the officer of being a pedophile. 

Torres was hired in 2013 with the condition that he would be given Sundays off to observe Sabbath and time to travel to El Salvador every year with his church on mission trips. He also took time to work with the Open Hearts Foundation, where he gave police car rides to children.

Despite the agreement, Campo allegedly made Torres try to work on Sundays and even inserted a photo of his head onto a priest, writing, “You want me to work on a Sunday? Oh Hell No!”

Torres states, “My faith and my humanitarian work on my personal time make me a better police officer.” 

However, he alleges the city is not taking his complaint “more seriously,” as Sheffield Lake continues to stand because Campo’s behavior was “not so offensive to the reasonable person that it would materially affect the terms and consequences of employment.”

The city’s stance is both disappointing and confusing, especially considering that Torres isn’t even the first officer to accuse Campo of racism.

A June 2021 video shows Campo placing a “KKK” sign on a raincoat belonging to officer Keith Pool, the only Black officer at the department at that time. Campo then wore a KKK hat at the office, all leading up to his resignation.

Pool went on to file an employment discrimination complaint.

While Pool says Campo’s actions were “so demeaning” and felt like a “sledgehammer,” Torres has also made clear how hurtful the former police chief’s actions were. 

Lawyer Sletvoid says the city has responded in an “embarrassing and disgusting” way, and shows “how Mr. Campo got away with racial harassment for so long: City officials were never willing to hold him accountable.”

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