Posted April 14, 2008 – The Ohio state trooper who donned a Klan costume while on duty the day before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day says he was only clowning around, like comedian Dave Chappelle. But his superiors felt it was a joke that went too far.
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Craig Franklin, who had been an Ohio Highway patrolman for the past 12 years, was photographed Jan. 20 with white cloth on his shoulders, a white paper cone hat and paper mask – while in full uniform with police radio, gun and holster, The Associated Press reported. His fellow trooper, Eric Wlodarsky, took the cell phone picture and transmitted it.
Franklin has been suspended without pay, while Wlodarsky has been demoted, according to AP.
Highway Patrol investigators began looking into the troopers’ actions after getting an anonymous letter with two photos of Franklin in his homemade Klan attire. Franklin, and Wlodarsky, who were working a post in Sandusk, discussed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a dispatcher. The holiday was the next day. None of the 13 troopers assigned to the Sandusky post are African American, according to AP.
“Obviously, we're extremely disappointed," patrol spokesman Lt. Shawn Davis told reporters. "This kind of conduct cannot and will not be tolerated."
Following a hearing in late March, Wlodarsky was demoted from sergeant to trooper, transferred to another post and must attend a diversity awareness class, AP reports.
Franklin was suspended for five days without pay and must participate in diversity awareness training, AP reported, citing patrol documents.
A third trooper received a one-day suspension for receiving the picture via a text message and failing to report it. He also forwarded the photo to a subordinate, according to AP.
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