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A TOP cop has been demoted for making a 'racist joke' to workmates at a leaving party.

Superintendent Chris Pretty, of West Midlands Police, referred to a BMW toy car as "black man's wheels" during a speech to colleagues.

The former head of training has now been busted down to Chief Inspector following a disciplinary hearing last week.

The well-respected ofYcer had previously headed Operation Ventara for the force, which targeted black-on-black gun crime.

The BMW comments were made at West Midlands Police's Tally Ho! training centre last September, where Mr Pretty was holding a leaving bash before transferring to Coventry.

But two ofYcers complained and he was hauled in front of the misconduct panel.

A source told the Sunday Mercury: "Chris collects model cars and he was given one as a leaving present. "He's quite an unusual character. He was a former captain in the army and is into hunting and shooting, but toy cars are his main hobby.

"When he opened the miniature BMW he joked: 'Oh, black man's wheels'."

West Midlands Police initially referred the complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. But the watchdog said it was satisYed for the force to carry out its own investigation.

The source added: "Personally, I don't think there was anything particularly wrong with what he said as it was just a joke. Cops seem to spend more time investigating each other these days than they do catching criminals.

"It's a complete over-reaction. "They're obviously more interested in political correctness than letting experienced ofYcers get on with the job of tackling crooks."

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: "We can conYrm a misconduct panel has taken place involving a senior of - Ycer in relation to comments made at Tally Ho! training centre on Wednesday 19 September and he has been dealt with in the appropriate manner.

"West Midlands Police expects the highest standards of professionalism and integrity from all its ofYcers and staff and has robust procedures in place to deal with behaviour which falls outside those standards.

"When complaints are made against of - Ycers we carry out robust, thorough and proportionate investigations to ensure the integrity of the organisation.

"The outcome of the hearing was that the ofYcer has been reduced in rank by one rank."

Chief Insp Pretty earned his reputation inside West Midlands Police for his work to combat gun grime among the black community in Birmingham.

He was instrumental in bringing witnesses forward for murder cases, including the 2002 conviction of two gunmen who killed a Rastafarian in front of his nine year-old son.

Levi Tafari Genesis was shot dead at his home in Bordesley Green by a gang of four men. But despite a detailed forensic search of the scene and the recovery of the gang's car, no incriminating DNA or Yngerprints were found.

Yet despite facing a wall of silence from members of the public terriYed of reprisals, Chief Insp Pretty was able to convince witnesses to testify against the killers.


HEARING: Chris Pretty was hauled in front of a misconduct panel for his comments at a leaving party
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jul 27, 2008
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