NAACP Clears HFD Captain in Noose Incident

In February a Houston Fire Department Senior Captain was reprimanded for having a noose in his locker. There were angry calls for his resignation and he was labeled "Captain Redneck". Rod Rice reports that today the captain has been exonerated.

Pastor D-Z Cofield is Vice President of the Houston NAACP and was asked to conduct an independent investigation of Sr. Captain Keith Smith and the noose incident.

"It is the belief of the NAACP that Cpt. Smith has been unfairly characterized.  It is our belief that after doing a through investigation that he has been vilified."

Cofield said a lot of people got very worked up without really knowing what happened. He says the fire fighters at Station 41 knew that Cpt. Smith did not deserve what happened to him.

"To a person, and I'm speaking now primarily of the African-American firefighters in that house, they stated unequivocally they are aware of and have experienced on various levels racism in the Houston Fire Department, but to a man they each said, you got the wrong one, he is not that kind of man."

Cpt. Smith said he was sorry for what has happened and was not aware that a noose was an offensive symbol. He said the rope seen on TV was not the rope in question. It was a thin rope about 4-feet long that he was issued in when he entered the fire academy. It was used to learn knots and hitches. Years ago, when being taught difficult knots, the instructor asked if anyone knew how to tie a noose.

"None of us did and we asked why?  We were told that the tying of that knot is somewhat similar to other knots and learned, it would help us with the knots and hitches, and it did."

He's says he's had it in his locker for 15-years to help rookies learn the knots and hitches need fighting fires.  Pastor Cofield says Cpt. Smith deserves an apology and should have his record cleared.

So there's been no official response from HFD.

Bio photo of Rod Rice

Rod Rice

Local Anchor, Morning Edition

Rod Rice became fascinated with radio at an early age, while sitting on his Grandfather’s lap listening to his "programs" on the big Emerson Radio...