Two high-ranking members of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in Kentucky are leaving the department after they were revealed to have previously been members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Mike Loran, a captain in the department’s criminal division, is set to retire, and Deputy Gary Fischer is resigning after The Louisville Courier-Journal identified them as being part of a KKK faction consisting of law enforcement officers decades ago.
At the time, Loran, now 69, worked for the old Louisville Police Department while Fischer, 70, worked as a Jefferson County police officer.
“This is the first step in the long process of healing for our agency and moving forward to strengthen the respect and trust of all our citizens,” Lt. Col. Carl Yates, of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, told The Courier-Journal.
The pair were revealed to have been members of the Confederate Officers Patriotic Squad [COPS] in a 1985 civil lawsuit filed by a Black couple who had their house burned down in a previously all-white neighborhood.
However, the membership was not made public as a federal judge sealed the depositions in order to protect the officers’, as well as other members of COPS’, rights of freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The KKK group, including Fischer and Loran, were not accused of the arson attack on the Black couple’s home.
The Courier-Journal previously reported in 1986 that Fischer was one of four officers who admitted to being part of the KKK faction. Fischer said in a deposition that he took the KKK oath, but only went to one meeting in the 1970s.
He claimed that he viewed the white supremacist group as “more or less a social organization” at the time.
“I wrote it off as a bad experience and as an error in judgment,” he said.
In a statement to The Courier-Journal, Jefferson County Sheriff John Aubrey said he found the revelations about his officers’ past KKK links “shocking and very disappointing.”
“I have always tried to emphasize that the sheriff’s office has a responsibility to serve all citizens equally, with dignity and respect,” he said. “And it’s very important that our citizens feel they can trust our personnel to do that. For that reason, it was heartbreaking for me.”
Aubrey added both men expressed “sincere remorse” for their affiliations to the KKK.
Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, said the fact the men were members of the KKK decades ago is irrelevant.
“Once you have been a member of an organization founded on hate…you cannot be trusted to be in a position of authority where you are required to protect and serve the rights and lives of all people equally,” Reynolds told The Courier-Journal.
“At a time when fear and concerns about police bias with respect to the Black community could not be higher…this absolutely is unacceptable.”
Loran and Fischer did not provide comment to The Courier-Journal regarding them leaving the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The pair could not be reached for comment by Newsweek.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has been contacted for further comment.