Police chief’s top aide on leave over alleged ‘Planet of the Apes’ text message

The top aide of a Connecticut police chief is off the beat after allegedly sending a black colleague a racist text message referencing the science-fiction classic film “Planet of the Apes.”

Bridgeport police Capt. Mark Straubel — who was among a group hailed as “Bridgeport’s finest” during a promotion ceremony in 2016 — was placed on administrative leave Monday after purportedly sending the bigoted message to an unidentified colleague, the Connecticut Post reports.

“I asked [a black officer] if he had seen planet of the apes,” the message allegedly sent by Straubel read. “He said … yes … I asked him if it made him homesick.”

Charles Paris, the department’s police union president, confirmed that Straubel had been placed on paid administrative leave.

“We are waiting to see where this goes,” Paris told the newspaper.

Straubel did not return an email seeking comment from The Post early Tuesday. He was promoted to captain in January 2016 along with three other then-lieutenants who were lauded as “Bridgeport’s finest,” according to the Bridgeport News.

“These outstanding officers represent the highest level of professionalism and put their lives on the line to keep Bridgeport residents safe day in and day out,” Mayor Joseph Ganim told the newspaper two years ago.

More recently, Straubel has taken on a higher profile within the department, with Police Chief Armando Perez often turning to him during interviews for details on ongoing department operations, according to the Connecticut Post.

A spokeswoman for Ganim told the newspaper in a statement that Perez was notified of a citizen’s complaint filed by a retired police officer against Straubel on Thursday. He was later relieved of his duties, she said.

“The matter is currently under investigation with internal affairs,” spokeswoman Rowena White told the newspaper.

If the allegations are proven, Straubel will be “appropriately disciplined,” Perez said, without elaborating.

Ken Kubel, a retired Bridgeport police sergeant, told the newspaper that he filed a complaint against Straubel and turned over texts to internal affairs investigators that he intercepted and that did not pertain to him. He declined to comment further, according to the newspaper.

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