FRUITLAND PARK, Fla., July 14 (UPI) — Two police officers in Fruitland Park, Florida are off the force after an FBI investigation exposed the men’s ties to the Ku Klux Klan.
The FBI passed the information contained in their confidential report on Deputy Police Chief David Borst and Officer George Hunnewell on to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who alerted Fruitland Park Police Chief Terry Isaacs, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“It’s a tough situation. He was my assistant,” said Isaacs about Borst, who denied any involvement with the Klan. “I’m not saying I believe him. I’m not saying I don’t believe him. But I’ve read the report, and it’s convincing.”
Because belonging to the KKK is not in itself illegal, officials were not immediately sure how to address the matter.
“It’s not a crime to be a member of the KKK, even if you are the deputy chief. It’s not a crime to be stupid,” said Chief Deputy State Attorney Ric Ridgway. “It’s not a crime to hate people. It may be despicable, it may be immoral, but it’s not a crime.”
According to local outlet WFTV, Isaacs sought and received permission from Fruitland Park’s city manager to dismiss Hunnewell, who had previously been demoted as a result of disciplinary actions, has a record of not meeting department standards and has received five “counseling letters” in the last year addressing his performance.
Borst, who also served as the town’s fire chief, resigned from both positions without comment.
“They’re a good group of people,” Isaacs said of the city’s police force, many of whom had been trained by Borst. “The last thing I was expecting to hear in the year 2014 was for a professional law-enforcement officer to be a member of a subversive organization.”
But this isn’t the first time the town’s law enforcement has had ties to the KKK. In 2009, Fruitland Park Police Officer James Elkins resigned after a photograph of the officer wearing Klan attire over his uniform was anonymously mailed to the Lake County Sherrif’s Office.