Jeffery Feldewert, a 20-year veteran with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department who was fired in June over racist comments he made on Facebook, is now back on the job and has instead been given a ten-day suspension.
Feldewert was let go after he took to his personal Facebook page and wrote "typical hoodrat behavior" as a caption for a photo of a black man being arrested. The photo Feldewert posted was apparently a meme that read: "Black People. Because without them the evening news wouldn't be as much fun to watch."
Noticing the post, someone left Feldewert a comment on Facebook, expressing derision over the officer's comments, writing, "I don't know you, but I just want to say that you seem to be a disgusting and sad individual. Based on your picture/comment. I hope you are not a cop as well because you have a strong opinion about an entire race which I can only imagine clouds your judgment. SAD!"
Feldewert, 45, was let go on June 11, but he appealed the decision and has been reinstated as a police officer and given back his badge.
On Monday, Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman said the reason Feldewert was reinstated was because his firing put several of the prosecutions of arrests he was involved with in jeopardy.
According the Sun Sentinel, Feldman said in an email that Feldewert's actions did not merit his getting fired.
"While the city certainly does not condone Officer Feldewert's actions, nor are they in any way representative of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, the actual matter, evaluated with the officer's record, did not warrant termination," Feldman's email reads.
Instead of being fired, Feldewert has been suspended for ten days without pay. Broward County's chief public defender, Gordon Weekes, meanwhile, disagrees with the city's decision to reinstate Feldewert.
"I don't understand how any agency would condone that or any citizen would condone that," Weekes told Local 10.
He added, "If you express that type of hate, you should no longer be an officer."
For his part, Feldewert says his comment was all in jest, saying in an internal affairs interview that the Facebook comment was "meant to be funny."
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For the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, this was the second incident this year involving a racist act among its officers.
In March, Officers Jason Holding, James Wells, and Christopher Sousa were found to have sent text messages about "killing n***ers" and were named in a video of a mock movie trailer depicting Barack Obama as a thuggish villain. The cop who produced the video, Alex Alvarez, had resigned voluntarily last fall when an internal investigation into the video began.
The four cops became the focus of an internal investigation in October when Police Chief Franklin Adderley received an email tipping him off he had racist police officers on the force. The tipster, Alvarez's former fiancée, sent Adderley screenshots of the racist text exchanges among the four officers and gave testimony in a sworn statement that Alvarez had racist views toward black people. She also sent Adderley the video made by Alvarez that described President Obama with racial slurs and featured images of black people getting attacked by dogs and white people with guns.
Through the Fraternal Order of Police, the four officers began an appeals process to have their certifications reinstated. The Fraternal Order of Police also represented Feldewert in an appeals process to try to get him his job back. Feldewert is not connected to the Alvarez, Holding, Wells, and Sousa case.