Four police officers have been canned for sending “discriminatory and offensive” messages about gay and disabled people to one another on the app WhatsApp.
The officers, whose names have not been released, belonged to the Leicestershire Police Department in the U.K. They exchanged nearly 100 messages between 2013 and 2014.
The messages, which were sent in a closed chat group set up by one of the officers, included childish phrases like “big gay bear” and “big gay purple head” and made jokes about people with disabilities being raped and other things officers of the law, or anyone for that matter, really shouldn’t be joking about.
In a hearing this week, disciplinary panel chairman Miran Uddin called the messages “abhorrent,” adding that the words written by one officer in particular “would raise nothing but abhorrence in the mind of a reasonable member of the public.”
But the lawyers representing the four officers, Nick Yeo and Matthew Butt, argued that the officers never actually discriminated against anyone, and that the texts “did not reflect the officers’ beliefs.”
“It is a little over two years since the officers were told their conduct was going to be the subject of these proceedings,” Yeo said. “In each case, the officers will tell you they are a changed person.”
Yeo added that the messages are “not reflective of their true character as you would find it today” and that they’ve had “plenty of time for them to reflect on their conduct and modify their behavior.”
But that wasn’t enough to stop the disciplinary panel from firing the four officers.
“Public confidence in the police would be wholly undermined by any outcome other than dismissal,” Uddin said.