“They all knew who we were. They all thought it was fun,” said Wilcox, referring to feedback from partygoers.
“Great costumes. You guys nailed,” the Berlin Heights resident said, quoting what they were told.
The Norwalk Reflector received a screen shot Friday morning of a Facebook photo of Caleb Arp, of Norwalk, Wilcox and Brad Metcalf, of Willard, portraying the main characters — Thorny, Rookie and Farva, respectively. Arp has dark makeup on his face. Wilcox said Arp, who is tan, did that because Thorny “is an Indian” and Arp’s face “looks darker” than it really was during the party in a barn at his residence.
“It’s called Bronser. He wanted to look more like the character,” Wilcox added.
The person who submitted the screen shot wrote one comment: “Milan, Ohio’s newest racist police officer has no problem supporting black face on his Facebook.” Wilcox said he is “the farthest thing” from being a racist, noting he was “tagged in the photo,” but he didn’t post it on his Facebook feed.
On Thursday, Wilcox was sworn in as a part-time Milan officer. He graduated from Norwalk High School in 2011 and from the EHOVE Career Center police academy in 2017.
Wilcox said he, Arp and Metcalf dressed as the “Super Troopers” characters “because people know those three main characters” and there was no racist intent to Arp’s makeup.
Chief Bob Meister, who is familiar with the low-budget 2001 movie, was asked if there appeared to be any racist undertone or intent to the photo.
“None whatsoever,” he said. “There is absolutely nothing racist about the picture. … Johnie Wilcox was not the one wearing face paint.”
Meister said “Super Troopers” is a “very popular” movie among the law-enforcement community and it should be obvious in that photo that the young men are portraying the main characters — and doing so purely for fun.
“He’s just a dark-skinned character,” the chief added, referring to Thorny. “He (Arp) put dark makeup on his face to portray this character.”
Wilcox said he wasn’t familiar with the concept of “black face” until about 10 minutes before his interview with the Reflector.
“To be honest, I didn’t know about it. I didn’t have any knowledge about it,” he added. “Like I said before, I had never heard of that.”
Wilcox said the comedy/sense of humor in the movie is quirky and requires the audience to pay attention. Also he said the troopers/characters often don’t act appropriately or do things “the right way.”
Before hiring any new officer, Meister said he has the person pull up all their social media accounts so he can check to make sure that everything on those feeds fit “the content of the scope on the (department) social media policy.” The chief did the same thing with Wilcox.
“We conducted a thorough background investigation and there was nothing to support anything of the kind” of Wilcox being racist, Meister said. “Nothing came to light that he is racist.”
The chief said he always tells his new officers that now they are in law enforcement, they will live “in a fish bowl” and “all officers are held to a higher standard.”