CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. -- The Camden County deputy who dressed as in inmate with blackface during Halloween will not lose his job. Sheriff Jim Proctor held a news conference on Wednesday to address a controversial photo that shows deputy Chad Palmer in blackface dressed as an inmate.
Proctor was first informed of the image by a lieutenant in his department, then discussed the issue with people within the department and the community.
Proctor said the picture of Palmer was taken at a private costume party. He also said that Palmer is not a racist, and was wearing the costume because he thought it was funny.
"I do not believe that Chad Palmer is a racist," said Proctor during a news conference Wednesday morning . "I've talked to many blacks in the community, two of them are right here, they said don't fire him."
Palmer faces suspension without pay and one year probation.
"Because I'm black, it's hard not to get offended. But my skin is not thin," said Gerri Waters.
Gerri Waters is a former jailer with the Camden County Sheriff's Office. Although she calls the costume extremely insensitive, Waters doesn't believe it's enough to be fired.
"If I call 911 and he has to be dispatched to me, I believe he will be able to take care of me just like if I was a white, 40-year-old woman," said Waters.
Following the social media firestorm sparked by the racially charged picture, Palmer and the entire staff have to complete mandatory sensitivity training focusing on race relations. Sensitivity training for Palmer starts Monday.
The local NAACP president, Eddie Rhone, hopes deputy Palmer learned his lesson.
"That's not going to be tolerated," said Rhone. "That this is no joke. We have no place in our society for this type of portrayal of such a painful part of our history, our country and our community."
Palmer has worked in law enforcement in Camden County for 15 years, and has had a multitude of jobs, including patrol and in the jail, according to Proctor. Palmer also worked for the Kingsland Police Department sometime between 2009 and 2012, before returning to the Camden County Sheriff's Office.