Marietta officer suspended after investigation reveals racist comment, chief says

Major was cleared in recent probe, but statement from 10 years ago led to punishment
Maj. Patrick Bonito was temporarily suspended after authorities with Marietta police learned he used a racial term about 10 years ago, the chief said.

Credit: Jennifer Brett

Credit: Jennifer Brett

Maj. Patrick Bonito was temporarily suspended after authorities with Marietta police learned he used a racial term about 10 years ago, the chief said.

A veteran Marietta officer was suspended Thursday after a recent internal investigation revealed he used a racial term about 10 years ago, the police chief said.

The investigation began when two officers complained about Maj. Patrick Bonito, who joined the department 27 years ago and was promoted to major in fall of 2022.

“A grievance was filed by two officers roughly one month ago including expressed or implied racism from Major Bonito toward Black officers under his command,” Chief Martin Ferrell said in a statement.

A multiweek investigation, which included interviewing several employees, turned up no evidence of inappropriate actions or comments from Bonito toward employees, according to Ferrell.

But the chief said Bonito ended up admitting that about 10 years ago when he was a sergeant he made a statement that included an “inappropriate derogatory racial term,” but that the statement was “not directed toward any employee.” He also admitted to speaking about the incident and his “regret for it to coworkers” about five years ago.

As a result, Bonito was removed from several leadership positions, transferred to a different shift and suspended for 40 hours without pay, Ferrell said. He will also be required to attend multiple training classes related to the findings of the internal investigation.

A message from Chief Ferrell

Posted by Marietta, Georgia Police Department on Friday, January 20, 2023

The officers who made the complaint were not employed by Marietta police when Bonito originally made the statement, police confirmed.

Ferrell said the police department does not tolerate racism and takes such allegations very seriously. “We appreciate the officers who brought forward their concerns,” he said.

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