WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - In the current atmosphere of the country, the topic of race has become an everyday conversation. It’s something we all have to deal with and while police officers have received plenty of backlash on the topic, they too are subject to racial slurs.
“You try to develop an immunity to it because, at the end of the day, it may not be you their attacking, it’s the uniform," said Chief Donny Williams, WPD. "But up under that, there are emotions and feelings and people take that home with them.”
Investigators say Matthew Klempa was uncooperative toward a WPD officer when they received a call that he harassed women at a Wilmington restaurant.
Reports say Klempa repeatedly directed racial slurs and threats towards an officer. He was recently convicted of ethnic intimidation.
“Officers have a dangerous and difficult job," said District Attorney Ben David. "They are putting up with more and more animosity all the time. Racial slurs of any kind are absolutely inappropriate whether they’re direct to officers or to anyone in the general public and when they’re done in a threatening manner like this they should be prosecuted.”
Chief Donny Williams says over his 27 years with the WPD, he’s learned to deal with these types of situation, but not everyone can. So, steps might be taken to alleviate the stress or anxiety that comes with the job.
“Sometimes the beratement may come from the assignment the officer is in and we may change the assignment of the officer," said Williams. "It’s not that they’ve done anything wrong, we just want to give them a break.”
Chief Williams believes it’s an occupational hazard and not so much the person behind the badge. He said there are resources for officers affected.
The arresting officer in this case has since left WPD for reasons unrelated to that case, just a personal decision.