Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson today expressed his strong disappointment over Sheriff Jim McGettigan?s refusal to apologize for repeating an ethnic slur during a candidate?s forum in Brigantine last Saturday. McGettigan used the term ?wetback? in response to a question on illegal immigration.
?As a law enforcement officer and as an elected official, McGettigan should have known that the term was derogatory and in- appropriate,? Levinson said. ?It is offensive not only to people of Hispanic heritage, but to everyone offended by the increasing lack of civility in our political dialogue. It is astounding that in the year 2007 our Sheriff would not know that such terms are hurtful and degrading and should not be used. If an on duty Sheriff?s officer spoke in the same manner, he would have violated the county?s policy on workplace discrimination and be subject to disciplinary action.?
According to Levinson, the fact that McGettigan refuses to apologize shows a lack of sensitivity to those whom he offended and an arrogance that is unacceptable for someone in an elected position.
?What message does this send to young people and those under his command as Sheriff?? Levinson asked. ?If you make a mistake, you should be big enough to admit it, take responsibility for it and apologize to those you injured.?
Levinson said that the Sheriff?s use of an ethnic slur is one more indication of his lack of fitness to be county executive.
?His whole campaign has been characterized by a series of blunders that show a lack of knowledge and discipline,? he said. ?He didn?t know his own budget when asked. He didn?t know who his own attorney was. He called a reporter and cursed me with the most profane language and then demanded to be quoted. Clearly, he?s not ready for prime time. He is showing us that not only is he unqualified to be county executive, he is unfit to be Sheriff.?