HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton University has fired nine of its police officers for allegedly sharing “misogynistic, racist and other offensive remarks” on social media, according to a statement from the school.
The university’s media relations team confirmed the nine Hampton University Police Department officers were fired for alleged “egregious violations of the university’s code of conduct” to 10 On Your Side in an email on Thursday afternoon.
Two of the nine spoke off camera Friday, but only about background details, and would not talk about the nature of the messages on advice from their attorney.
According to those officers, the group includes 4 African-American males, one African-American female, and four Caucasian males. Their seniority ranged from rookie to 14 years, and were ranked from officer to supervisor.
“After a full investigation, it was determined that the officers shared misogynistic, racist and other offensive remarks via social media,” the email said. “The university has a zero tolerance for such behavior.”
However the officers disputed that the messages were on social media, and said they were shared only through direct texts or group texts.
While Hampton University has yet to respond to a request for additional information, such as the types of remarks the police officers allegedly made on social media, on Thursday evening 10 On Your Side obtained a copy of a termination letter an officer received.
In it, Ronald Davis, Deputy Chief of Hampton University Police, said a select group of multiple officers/supervisors of the department entered into an agreement to initiate the third annual “Meme Wars.”
After the nine firings, the department is left with just 12 officers heading into the new school year that begins next month, according to the officers who spoke with us.
“The ‘Meme Wars’ is described as a jovial release of photographs and captions designed to levy insults at others in the group as well as persons outside the group,” Davis wrote.
The officers said the messages were exchanged during a particularly busy week in June when they worked as much as 100 hours.
This story is breaking. Check back with 10 On Your Side for an update.