Police officers in San Francisco who were found to have exchanged racist and homophobic text messages will not be punished for their actions because the police department was too slow to take action against them, a judge ruled Monday.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports the messages, in which officers used slurs against blacks and gays, were discovered during a 2014 federal investigation into a sergeant and several officers, though lawyers for the officers say the department originally found out about the messages in December 2012. In spring 2015, the chief of police in San Francisco fired eight officers and disciplined a half dozen others over the messages.
Judge Ernest Goldsmith ruled that because the police department didn’t take action against the officers within the one-year statue of limitations for personnel investigations set by the state’s Peace Officer Bill of Rights, they could not be reprimanded. The Chronicle reports they will be allowed to keep their jobs.
“It is not in the public interest to let police misconduct charges languish,” the judge said. “The public has a right to have accusations against police officers be promptly adjudicated.”
According to NBC Bay Area, the city and police department plan to appeal the decision. “The fact that San Francisco is forced to retain police officers that demonstrated explicit racism will have ramifications for the reputation of the department, the fair administration of justice, and the trust of the community SFPD serves,” said District Attorney George Gascon.