UPD officer confirms racist remarks by Chief Peterson

Sergeant John Packer, of the Humboldt State University Police Department confirmed with El Leñador that he was subjected to racially-motivated incidents from UPD Chief Donn Peterson.

Sergeant John Packer of the Humboldt State University Police Department confirmed with El Leñador that he was subjected to racially-motivated incidents from UPD Chief Donn Peterson.

In a written statement, provided by the Statewide University Police Association (SUPA) Director for HSU Billy Kijsriopas on Nov. 3, Packer explains his experience with the University’s police department and how he is the only active duty African American serving under Peterson.

In a phone call, Packer said that he felt compelled to share his experience after reading interviews that Peterson gave to the North Coast Journal and Times Standard last month. In those interviews, Peterson said he does not talk about matters of race or politics when in professional settings. Furthermore, Peterson said the reported racial incidents mentioned in the initial press release did not occur the way that officers said they did.

“Chief Peterson’s claim is not true,” Packer said in his statement.

“Everyone had a similar story,” Packer said over the phone. “There were officers who recalled statements that, while not racial statements, made them uncomfortable.”

One such incident allegedly occurred during an evaluation meeting between Packer, Peterson and Lieutenant Melissa Hansen. Packer stated that Peterson became upset and expressed his frustration.

Packer’s statement said: “At the end of the meeting, Lt Hansen stated to me, ‘We’re not friends and we never will be, admit it.’ I agreed with her statement. Chief Peterson followed with, ‘John you know you’re obligated to work as a slave unto his master.’”

Peterson’s quote appears to be a reference of Ephesians 6:5 that says: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ.”

Packer said in his statement that at the beginning of his next shift following the incident, Peterson approached him and said, “John I can say that because we both read the Bible.”

“Chief Peterson has become more emboldened over the past four years, and moved from making private remarks in our meetings, to demonstrating obvious displays of racism and contempt towards me in whatever audience is available,” Packer said in his statement.

Packer said in his phone interview that Peterson continues to blame him for the continued division in the department, both within meetings and openly to other officers. “These things are unacceptable and untenable. Someone who can make statements like this, with other officers as well, that sense of trust is gone.”

While he did reassure students and the community that police officers on campus would still be around and active during the investigations, Packer said, “It’s unfortunate that it came to this, but we have to be able to do our jobs without being hindered and right now that is not the case. This is adding to our workload.”

Chief Peterson has become more emboldened over the past four years, and moved from making private remarks in our meetings, to demonstrating obvious displays of racism and contempt towards me in whatever audience is available.

John Packer

 “This is bigoted, at the least,” Packer said.

In a statement, provided by the Statewide University Police Association (SUPA) Director for HSU Billy Kijsriopas, Packer explains his experience with the University’s police department and how he is the only active duty African American serving under Peterson.

In a phone interview, Packer said that he felt compelled to share his experience after reading interviews that Peterson gave to the North Coast Journal and Times Standard last month.

In those interviews, Peterson said he does not talk about matters of race or politics when in professional settings. Furthermore, Peterson said the reported racial incidents mentioned in the initial press release did not occur the way that officers said they did.

“Chief Peterson’s claim is not true,” Packer said in his statement.

“Everyone had a similar story,” Packer said over the phone. “There were officers who recalled statements that, while not racial statements, made them uncomfortable.”

One such incident allegedly occurred during an evaluation meeting between Packer, Peterson and Lieutenant Melissa Hansen. Packer stated that Peterson became upset and expressed his frustration.

Packer’s statement said: “At the end of the meeting, Lt Hansen stated to me, ‘We’re not friends and we never will be, admit it.’ I agreed with her statement. Chief Peterson followed with, ‘John you know you’re obligated to work as a slave unto his master.’”

Peterson’s quote appears to be a reference of Ephesians 6:5 that says: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ.”

Packer said in his statement that at the beginning of his next shift following the incident, Peterson approached him and said, “John I can say that because we both read the Bible.”

“Chief Peterson has become more emboldened over the past four years, and moved from making private remarks in our meetings, to demonstrating obvious displays of racism and contempt towards me in whatever audience is available,” Packer said, in his statement.

Packer said in his phone interview that Peterson continues to blame him for the continued division in the department, both within meetings and openly to other officers.

“These things are unacceptable and untenable. Someone who can make statements like this, with other officers as well, that sense of trust is gone.”

While he did reassure students and the community that police officers on campus would still be around and active during the investigations, Packer said, “It’s unfortunate that it came to this, but we have to be able to do our jobs without being hindered and right now that is not the case. This is adding to our workload.”

The following statement was released by UPD Sgt. John Packer and distributed by SUPA Director for CSU Humboldt Billy Kijsriopas

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