A 22-year-old English police officer who was fired after blurting out racial slurs at a party more than a year ago has now been given her job back, despite concerns from the police department.
Police Constable Katie Barratt had been fired after she made racist comments about Asian workers at a local fast food restaurant during the holiday bash. At the Northumbria Police Christmas party in 2017, Barratt drunkenly said, “I wish these f—ing p—- would hurry up with my pizza” when referring to employees at Spice of Punjab Indian restaurant, Chronicle Live reported Monday, March 25.
She was also said to have dropped the n-word; reports are contradictory on whether she’s admitted uttering the slur. The Chronicle said she never denied, but The Sun reported she did deny it. The paper also said fellow officers PC Corey Bradley and PC Alex Downs were with her and said at a hearing in 2018 that she was intoxicated, unable to walk properly and slurring her words.
On Monday, a panel overturned the decision to fire Barratt deeming it “unreasonable.” After two hours of deliberating, the three-person board downgraded her termination to a final warning, meaning Barratt won her appeal.
Chair Dorian Lovell-Park said it “roundly condemned” her remarks but he turned around and wished her well in her getting back to her dream job of being a police officer. Upon hearing the news, Barratt and her mother sobbed.
The decision means the department is responsible for giving Barratt at least $19,800 in back pay.
But while that may be so, Northumbria Police worked to stop her return. The department’s attorney, attorney Steven Reid said Barratt’s racist comments could “seriously damage” the police’s reputation.
“Sadly it confirms a stereotype that is unfortunately held in some communities about the police,” Reid added.
For Barratt’s part, her lawyer Guy Ladenburg said since the incident, which saw staff buying Barratt drinks all night, she has “not touched a drop of drink.”
Barratt said through her attorney that she felt she never should have been fired in the first place “because it is not the worst kind of racism.” As such, Ladenburg said his client should have had another chance instead of the “nuclear option” of dismissal, noting it was a one-time incident.
Yet speaking for police, Reid said the department said racism from an officer is never acceptable — even if they are off duty.
“The appellant didn’t go out that night to deliberately racially abuse members of the public,” he said according to the Chronicle Live. “But the fact remains she did.”
Barratt admitted “it was only luck” none of the workers and only her colleagues heard her racial slurs and that “she knew she was being racist”.
She also acknowledged “her prejudice on that evening leaked out.”
In response to the appeal, Detective Superintendent Sav Patsalos, head of Northumbria Police’s professional standards department, said the force acknowledges “the decision of the independent panel and will now take some time to review its findings.”
“It is important to recognize that the decision to dismiss PC Barratt was taken by an independent panel and it was within the officer’s rights to appeal this decision,” he continued in the statement. “A second independent panel has today overturned the decision to dismiss the officer but they agreed the language she used was unacceptable and agreed with the finding of gross misconduct.”