The Arctic Sounder

Kotzebue police sergeant resigns after investigation into inflammatory racial comment on social media

A sergeant with the Kotzebue Police Department who posted an inflammatory racial comment on social media resigned this month following an investigation into the post, city officials said.

An investigator with Spartanburg Police Department in South Carolina contacted the Kotzebue Police Department and other city officials on April 30 in regards to a social media post made by the Kotzebue sergeant that contained “a derogatory remark toward a community of color,” city officials said in a statement Friday.

While city officials said Tuesday that they can’t release the name of the sergeant involved, David “Mike” Cox said in a message that he was the police sergeant who resigned from the department.

KOTZ News reported that Cox referred to two Black suspects in a South Carolina murder case using a variation of the N-word. KOTZ shared a screenshot that it said it acquired from the Spartanburg Police Department and that shows Cox’s comment — which appears to now be deleted — on an April 29 Facebook post made by the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. Other screenshots of Cox’s remarks have also circulated on social media among Kotzebue residents.

City officials said Tuesday that the comment in the screenshot was the subject of their investigation.

Police Chief Roger Rouse, Lt. Norman Hughes and Kotzebue Regional Jail Superintendent Christopher Cook arranged a call with the sergeant to learn more about the post, according to the City of Kotzebue. The department launched an investigation into the incident April 30 and placed the sergeant on administrative leave, Rouse said Tuesday.

“The posts made by the Sergeant do not reflect the values of our department or our dedication to serving every member of our community with fairness and respect,” Rouse said in a statement. “We take matters of bias and prejudice very seriously and will continue to ensure that our actions and policies reflect our commitment to equality and justice.”


The police department notified the sergeant that it would present City Manager Tessa Baldwin with a recommendation for his termination, according to the city’s statement. Following the city employee handbook, the sergeant had five business days to respond to the recommendation.

The sergeant chose to resign during the appeal stage of the disciplinary process on May 22, city officials said.

“I resigned after the recommendation for termination was given, after defending myself throughout the entire process,” Cox said Tuesday. He added that he wants to speak about what happened later in the week, after recovering from a hand and wrist surgery.

The Kotzebue Police Department plans to review its social media policies and training to prevent similar incidents in the future, city officials said.

“We are dedicated to learning from this incident and improving our practices to ensure that we maintain the highest level of professionalism and community trust,” Rouse said.

Alena Naiden

Alena Naiden writes about communities in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic regions for the Arctic Sounder and ADN. Previously, she worked at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.