May 19th, 2014
01:54 PM ET
7 years ago

Police commissioner in N.H. town resigns over Obama slur

(CNN) - A small-town police commissioner in New Hampshire, who originally said he wouldn't apologize for calling President Barack Obama the n-word, resigned on Monday.

Joseph Balboni, Police Commission chairman of Wolfeboro, confirmed to CNN that he received a resignation email from Robert Copeland.

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"Dear Commission Chairman Balboni, I resign," wrote Copeland in the email.

Copeland resignation letter 1

Last Thursday, Copeland, 82, sat with his arms crossed at a packed town meeting while a crowd of angry residents in the predominantly white town called for his resignation.

Copeland acknowledged in an email to his fellow police commissioners that he used the racial slur to describe Obama.

Jane O'Toole, who moved to Wolfeboro four months ago, said she overheard Copeland use the word at a restaurant in March.

"It's not like I was eavesdropping. Mr. Copeland was being very loud," O'Toole told CNN affiliate WMUR.

She wrote to the town manager about the incident, and Copeland replied with a letter to O'Toole.

"I believe I did use the 'N' word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse (sic)," Copeland wrote. "For this, I do not apologize - he meets and exceeds my criteria for such."

Copeland was one of three members of the police commission, which hires, fires and disciplines officers and sets their salaries.

Two months ago he ran unopposed for re-election and secured another three-year term.

Wolfeboro, located in the scenic Lakes Region in the central part of New Hampshire, has around 20 African-American residents among its population of 6,300. The town was often a dateline in news reports during the 2012 presidential election, with GOP Mitt Romney spending time with family and campaign aides at his vacation home on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Over the weekend Romney called on Copeland to apologize and resign.

"The vile epithet used and confirmed by the commissioner has no place in our community: He should apologize and resign," Romney said in a statement provided to CNN

CNN's Yon Pomrenze, Stephanie Gallman, Paul Steinhauser and Kevin Bohn contributed to this report

Filed under: Mitt Romney • New Hampshire • President Obama
soundoff (714 Responses)
  1. Justin

    Is it more racist that 60% of white people chose to vote for Romney & McCain (for whatever reason including race), or is it more racist that 93% of black people chose to vote from Obama (for whatever reason including race)? Isnt it time to call this out?

    May 19, 2014 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  2. Ruud

    To the insightful one that referred to the offended restaurant patron as "the epitome of the town snoop." Bully for her. she gets three Hurrah!s from me. If you have ever held an accountable postion at work, you know that we are held for our actions and words regardless of where we happen to be. Especially in this case and for this coffin dodger. In a rural bar in Missouri, I overhead a local redneck rascist talking to my brother in law and father in law, both of whom are natives to the area; one a racist and the other trying to be a better man (father in law). This guy dropped the N word and told N jokes, and it was just a nother day of the week. Come to find out, he is the mayor of my father in law's township, and the majority of the population is black. So he went two counties over to party and tell 'N' jokes.

    May 19, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. momzna

    "he meets and exceeds my criteria for such" – It means that it actually was not a slur.

    May 19, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. Jackson


    The best part about this is that nowhere does it suggest he's ever treated anyone wrong, ever. I guess this area has a replacement, just as competent, who never uses racial slurs in restaurants. Somehow, I feel like this guy got screwed. But if he's willing to resign and stand firm about his specific word usage, I guess he'll die soon anyway. I feel like information about this guy was insufficient for me to take sides.


    Information was insufficient???? Really????

    Should a person appointed to uphold the law be allowed to speak out about a racial bias and get away with it?

    What else do you need to know?

    May 19, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. faboge

    this is private speech, disgusting yes, but we must be brainless in private!

    May 19, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. macster

    so what if he did?.. you libtards adore President Lyndon B. Johnson who was known for throwing the N word around like it was free candy..

    May 19, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  7. Peter

    "We don't need people like him in our communities to teach our children derogatory words like this."

    Huh, I wonder if people in his position teach your child to speak eloquently then? Or to speak politics? I wonder just what the "good ones" teach your children, if anything...... it's not his job to teach your children anything, it's yours.... if your children spoke derogatory words at anytiime in their life, it's your fault, not anyone or anything else's. Remember that.

    May 19, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. TSRVT

    Notice that the old coot didn't have the decency to apologize, but just quit like a coward.

    May 19, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  9. Jackson


    CNN couldn't help but place Mitt Romney's name in this article. Also seen dems claiming this bigot was a republican. Dont see anywhere in this article that refers to this bigot's party affiliation.


    It's an elected office. His name would be on a ballot along with a party affiliation. That is a matter of public record.

    May 19, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  10. smith

    @Jim-How incorrect you are. A real racist would not be Republican, Dem, or Independent because all allow any race to join or accept votes in their parties.

    May 19, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  11. Peter

    It is not like this was a private conversation in his living room.

    He was LOUD in a restaurant, heard by the entire room. He seemed proud of what he said.

    When someone who witnessed this action wrote to him, he (astonishingly) replied:

    "I believe I did use the 'N' word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse (sic)," Copeland wrote. "For this, I do not apologize – he meets and exceeds my criteria for such."

    Racist is bad enough. This guy does not seem to be too bright.

    And he is police commissioner?


    May 19, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. fluffy

    Good riddance. Angry, old racist garbage like him are dying out, thank god.

    May 19, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. Andy McFey

    There is just no place in this good country for hate like this man has displayed. So tired of the haters!!

    May 19, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. sam

    This the face of Teapublican aka Republican Party, angry old white man, isn't it?

    May 19, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  15. @315smw

    Dinosaur Copeland, now go home, sit in your easy chair, take a nap and DON'T WAKE UP!

    May 19, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  16. David Ross

    The "N" word has NO power....the only power it has it as a weapon for people like Sharpton and pals to use to stir things up...its a word. It has NO power.....move on.

    Oh, and the fact that people call it the "N" word like it will ignite the atmosphere if actually spoken out loud is something I might expect from a 2 year old which, apparently, is the emotional maturity of the people ranting and raving about it....

    Move on

    May 19, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  17. Joe

    No where does it say he was in uniform or on official business. If he's out in the evening at dinner, isn't he protected by the right to free speech? Public official, but after hours. It's not like he said it while in uniform.

    I can't wait for the rest of the US to get on board with this! Any time a professional athlete uses ANY kind of slur, they should now be kicked out of whatever league they're in. White, black, or otherwise. Let's see how far everyone is willing to go on this issue. So far I'm sure most think it's just "some old white dude who deserved it". Wait til all major sports implode because the players are all using slurs.

    May 19, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  18. chris

    I can't stand the word, but until you get the rappers and african americans to stop it's use I don't think there is any grounds to condem anyone else.

    May 19, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. S Wood

    Copeland may have been in a restaurant but he was having a private conversation. Ms. O'Toole, who "overheard" his remark and rushed to report it, is the epitome of the town snoop. Bet she's really proud of her snitching.

    In her words "It's not like I was eavesdropping. Mr. Copeland was being very loud," Your point is moot! It sounds more like he was yelling for all to here.

    May 19, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Jackson


    Liberal media can't even find a single wrongdoing from this old man, the only thing they got was just this single word...
    And do you know who use the word the most? aferica american themselves.


    A man appointed to uphold the law equally and judiciously is shown to have a racial bias.

    There is your wrong-doing.

    May 19, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. Rc

    It's ok for the n word to be used by blacks like it's going out of style though. Besides if the shoe fits wear it.

    May 19, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. David Ross

    Ya, I knew that comment would got to "moderation" how silly

    May 19, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  23. joe jude

    Hi. I agree with mbutler91c. I'm African American and I went on Judge mathis and he call me the "N " word as well as an uncle Tom. This was due to the fact that i called him sir and he felt disrepected. They never aired the show, but he was allowed to call me Those words. I think anyone that use those words should not be in position of power.

    May 19, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. David R

    To the right wingers screaming about the hypocrisy that a white guy can't say the 'n' work but a black guy can? Get over it. That's how it is. If you disagree, feel free to wander into a black part of town and start calling them that... go ahead..

    May 19, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  25. tp1776

    oh well...another hero for the Tea Party, Fox News, Limburger and Dreck. They'll all disavow his use of the "n word" but wink and cozy up to him and give him a platform for his racist opinions.

    May 19, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
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