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. Ekras

    You see now THIS is racism – notice the difference?

    May 19, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Last time I checked, I hear black people saying the N-word all the time.

    May 19, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. The other guy

    Swirling, swirling down the politically correct drain. You will never get the utopia you desire, kids. It's all a mirage.

    May 19, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. Sandy Combs

    Just another angry old fossil left over from a bygone era, don't worry he doesn't have much longer in this life.

    May 19, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. R.J.

    I'm curious to know how many people defending him on their keyboards would be his champion sitting at a desk across from a person of color who is glad an unrepentant racist got put in his place.

    May 19, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  6. bhockey47

    To much trash talking coming from the right...mark my word it'll cost them another election.

    May 19, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  7. Gorio

    So true. A better more accurate description would've been incompetent, socialist, elitist, compulsive lying piece of dung.

    May 19, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. luvuamerica

    He will probably run for office with the Tea Party

    May 19, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. John

    The blind ignorant hate being constantly fed by the Right wing media has to stop.

    May 19, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. Jackson


    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.


    That's right, blame the messenger. How typical.

    So, you find nothing wrong with a man whose job it is to uphold the law equally and fairly having an extreme bias towards one segment of the population? I wonder, if that police commissioner was in your town, and had a bias against you, would you feel you were getting a fair shake from him? Lie and tell me you would.

    May 19, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. Jessica Mathews

    Great news! Let's smoke out racists in leadership positions wherever they are and show them the door, so our kids can inherit a more just society. It's our responsibility!

    May 19, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. rl

    Good glad to see it. Most of us know that is the only reason that the President of the United States is so hated.

    May 19, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  13. CLEpost

    He's 82, very old-school and not about to change but certainly he neede to go. No place for this kind of behavior.

    May 19, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  14. scottsdale man

    Good to see the right thing done....America is better than that...

    May 19, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. Michael Marshall

    Life goes on regardless of what this guy said. People should learn from this guy and not apologize so easily because of media intimidation. Its not like he killed somebody.

    May 19, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  16. Tim from the south

    Those claiming freedom of speech refuse to understand, he did HAVE and STILL HAS freedom of speech. After all he is not in jail and is not going to prison. "Freedom of Speech" does not have anything to do with "Freedom of Repercussion". He had and has his rights, but everyone else did as well when they choose to force his resignation.

    May 19, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  17. hmmmmH

    From what I saw and heard of the man on TV, he has dementia– his family should not have let him speak unattended, and I find them at fault here– the man is most likely one of many intolerant American racists, but his age and mental state is causing his words to no longer go through the social filters he may usually apply. He certainly should not be in office, and again, his family has done him, and themselves, a great disservice....

    May 19, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  18. tiz

    Can't wait until these older generations become inactive in our government. Even when Obama lied to the American people.... it still doesn't merit being ignorant and calling someone names.

    May 19, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  19. Josh

    Jonathan, you have to be kidding me. The man himself said, in writing, "Yes, I did call him ni&&er, and for this I do not apologize, as he meets my criteria for such." You feel like he got screwed?? All he had to do was say "She misheard me," and he could have gotten off the hook. Instead he doubled down– in writing!! How can you say he got screwed??

    May 19, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. John

    He just said what a lot of other people have been thinking and continue to think ever since Obama hit the national stage. To convince themselves that they're not racist, they invent excuses to fit their preconceived thoughts on why they don't like him.

    May 19, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  21. david

    massms snitch you are an ass. and since you support racism you are a racist. he called her president a nnnnnn she should have got up and called him out publicly on the spot. it's now a fact that there are old white men that are racist in this country and they are doomed along with ANYONE that supports them. and jonathon I bet if there is an investigation of this guys past more will come out. blacks should be very worried around him and his co workers they must have known and didn't care or feel the same way he does

    May 19, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    I agree with MASSMS I hate Obama and think he hate white American's I think Copeland has the right to freely open has mouth and say any thing he wants about how ever he wants to well he's sitting at a table eating. Mrs. Big mouth oToole is nothing but the town crier. I heard this guy say this I heard this person say this. I'm telling everyone on him. You just cost a 82 yr. old man his job fell good now?

    May 19, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. Patricia

    Good for Romney to step up like that.

    May 19, 2014 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  24. panz4ever

    There will always be people like Robert Copeland and it's not specific to race, color or creed. Bigots/racists exits in all walk of life...unfortunately. Most, however are not elcted officials.

    May 19, 2014 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. agreed

    He should being slurring the "White House Occupant" because he is a terrible president... not because of his pigmentation.

    May 19, 2014 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
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