Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office calls a series of thousands of racist texts sent between jail guards that were made public on Friday, offensive and appalling.
The texts, printed first in the San Jose Mercury News, allegedly include images of a Nazi swastika and a lynching. Sheriff Laurie Smith says several guards are under investigation in connection to the text messages and she says if what she's seen is true, those involved do not deserve to wear a badge.
At a Friday morning news conference, community leaders called for a complete overhaul of the jail, asking for federal oversight and an audit of complaints. The news comes just one day after the sheriff had already promised more oversight for jail inmates after a series of complaints and an inmate death in which guards were implicated.
One text written by Lance Scimera, Head of Correctional Officers Union, uses a slur against a Jewish man, then suggests lampshades could be made from his “hide”. Another, talks about shooting deaths by police. One text reads, “Cops have already killed 550 people in 2015,” prompting the response, "If they're black, it doesn't count."
Sheriff Smith says she’s outraged.
“We’ve seen these text messages for several months and we began an investigation when they first came to our attention. They’re appalling, they’re horrible. When we look at them, they’re almost difficult to read and we have thousands of text messages.
The sheriff says they hired an outside firm to investigate. They're also working with the FBI and the National Institute of Corrections. Several guards remain on paid administrative leave, but depending on the outcome of the investigation, they could be terminated.