By Kala Kachmar
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Montgomery Police Chief Kevin Murphy has reinstated an officer who was recorded racing another motorcyclist last week, crediting the officer's willingness to be held accountable for his actions with helping him make the decision.
Officer Carlos Rogers apologized publicly at a news conference MPD held Thursday afternoon.
"I saw the video and I was called in about it, and I decided to resign because I was embarrassed," Rogers said. "I couldn't take the embarrassment that I knew was going to follow that. I never intended to bring a negative view onto the city, to the Montgomery Police Department or myself."
The video shows the motorcycle officer pulling up to a red light on East Boulevard beside a man who was on a red motorcycle and had a camera attached to his helmet.
The man on the red motorcycle asks if the officer wants to race, and the two take off once the light changes. They continue to race their motorcycles through several intersections and over the Interstate 85 bridge.
Rogers, who has been an officer in Montgomery for more than four years and with the traffic division since April, will return to duty today. Murphy said he will be assigned to administrative duties temporarily, and Rogers will have disciplinary action taken against him.
Murphy said Rogers will have to earn his way back onto the streets.
"I am confident in this case that the facts and the evidence support that Officer Rogers deserves a second chance," Murphy told a roomful of news media. "We went down the proper avenues to investigate this matter."
Murphy said the city attorney and municipal prosecutor reviewed the video and said they would not pursue the case because there wasn't enough evidence. After speaking with Rogers and hearing "from his heart the conciliatory regret" he had, Murphy decided to reinstate him.
"He cared so much and felt so bad he hurt us that he decided to step down," Murphy said. "A man like that, in my book, deserves a second chance."
Murphy said had he not considered the evidence, and the fact that Rogers demonstrated a willingness to be held accountable for his behavior, he would not have been a good leader.
"The burden and decision falls on me, and I'm going to accept that responsibility," Murphy said, adding that Rogers is an officer — and a man — worth saving.
"I realize the consequences of my actions, and I know that there will be some recourse and everything — I won't make up any excuse for what I did," Rogers said.
Rogers said during the incident, he was trying to show kinsmanship with a fellow biker and show police officers can be nice and friendly, not always aggressive or combative. But Rogers said he also is viewed as a professional and needs to behave more professionally.
"Since the incident, I've been building up the courage -- even if I wasn't going to get the job back -- to come and at least apologize to the Montgomery Police Department and to everyone that saw the video on YouTube," Rogers said.
Murphy said he's received a lot of emails and phone calls from all over the country about the situation. Rogers has also gotten letters of support from the community, as well as criticism.
Murphy said he told new officers just last week at the police academy graduation ceremony that their generation will be the most scrutinized because of technology and social media. He said it's ironic the city found itself in that situation just a few days after his speech.
"For every cellular phone in the room, there are an equal amount of cameras and also the ability to take video footage," Murphy said. "The point is, the camera is always on. And your actions, no matter what they are, are going to be scrutinized."
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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