The Leominster Police Department has launched an internal investigation after allegations surfaced that it was one of its officers who directed a racial slur at Red Sox player Carl Crawford last week, said Mayor Dean Mazzarella.
Mazzarella would not reveal the name of the officer, but said he is white and has been with the department for about five years. The officer, who is on vacation until this weekend, will be placed on desk duty when he returns, Mazzarella said.
“I could see how upset Mr. Crawford was, I can see it was bothering him; I could hear it in his voice,” Mazzarella said. “I feel bad, regardless of where it happened.”
Leominster police would not comment on the investigation on Thursday.
Crawford, who is black, said last week that a fan called him a racial slur during a rehab assignment with the Portland Sea Dogs, which were playing at the Fisher Cats’ stadium in Manchester, N.H.
“Of course I took it personally,” Crawford said July 6 in the Red Sox clubhouse before the team’s series opener against the Yankees. “You got to understand I’m from Texas, and I’ve never had to go through that kind of stuff before. It was kind of the first time it was just so much in your face like that. So, it is what it is.”
Crawford said he was signing autographs before his Sea Dogs game when the fan called him a “Monday.” The racial slur is less well-known. Urban Dictionary defines “Monday” as “Another way of saying [the N-word] without getting caught.”
Mazzarella said the Police Department is getting close to the end of its investigation, and he hopes it will be concluded early next week. If it is found that the officer directed a racial slur at Crawford, he may be called for a hearing, Mazzarella said.
Leominster is an ethnically diverse city, with 56 nationalities represented, the mayor said. The Police Department is also racially diverse, and Mazzarella said he thinks this is the first incident of its kind.
“Things like this shouldn’t happen,” he said.
Neither Crawford nor his agent could be reached for comment Thursday.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said that he will not tolerate racist remarks directed at any of his players.
“We’ve talked to Carl about it, and he feels like what’s needed to be done has been done,” Cherington said while attending a Red Sox workout in St. Petersburg, Fla. “Moving forward, he didn’t feel like it was any reflection on baseball fans in Boston or New England. But it’s certainly not something you want to have happen to any of our players and if it happened, it’s not something we’d condone.”
Fisher Cats president Rick Benner said in a statement Thursday that he has been in contact with Manchester police and that he plans to work with any agency that is investigating.
“If, as a result of the investigation, the comments are conclusively attributed to someone, that person will no longer be welcome at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium,” Benner said.
Peter Abraham of the Globe
staff contributed to this report.
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