Prince William County officials cannot substantiate a claim that a senior police officer used a racial slur to refer to the head of the local NAACP several years ago.
The county’s Human Resources Department completed its investigation Monday into the claim made by the Rev. Cozy Bailey. Bailey made the accusation during the May 24 meeting of the Racial and Social Justice Commission’s policing subcommittee.
Bailey said several years ago he was invited by then-Police Chief Barry Barnard to address a leadership seminar. Bailey said he entered a room with about 40 people and officers were chatting, but, “All that chatter ceased when the chief introduced me as the president of the NAACP.”
“And as I walked out – even though the chief invited me to stay, it was too cold in there for me – what I heard was, ‘Glad that n-word is done,’” Bailey said.
The county determined the incident would have occurred during the chief's annual meeting in September 2017. The department interviewed 43 people during the investigation, including Bailey and several majors, captains, lieutenants and sergeants. Thirty-nine active and six retired police officials were interviewed, according to a copy of the report obtained by InsideNoVa.
“After a thorough review of the witnesses’ interviews, the Investigator determined there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of an unnamed PWCPD [police department] member making a racial slur,” the report says.
The report says Bailey has had “countless meetings” with other parts of the county government and never encountered a similar situation, noting, “It is undisputed that this was an alleged isolated incident.”
The report says all current and former police officials “adamantly denied” making the statement or hearing anyone making it. It says the officials said they would have taken immediate action if they heard someone make the statement.
The report also found slight inconsistencies with Bailey’s story. He said two other African-Americans were in the room when he entered, but the investigator identified seven. Officials also said they were quiet to “show respect for the guest speaker” rather than the “cold reception” that Bailey described.
Bailey told the investigator he did not report the incident at the time because “I do not think it would have done any good to bring up the comment.” He also indicated he was not seeking any recourse from bringing up the allegation in 2021.