By: Jen Russon
A Coral Springs Police sergeant was ordered to undergo 40 hours of racial bias and sensitivity training after posting TikTok videos suggesting Mexicans be sent back to Mexico.
Sgt. Gilbert Monzon, 36, a veteran of the Coral Springs Police Department, created the videos while on duty in May. A two-month-long investigation followed, during which Monzon cited his own Cuban heritage.
Sgt. Monzon’s explanation was he was often mistaken for being Mexican, stating his Venezuelan colleague, Sergeant Bruna, was unwittingly depicted in the two TikTok videos as Mexican and found the recording funny.
Suspended without pay for two weeks, Sgt. Monzon’s story reached the eyes and ears of people outside Coral Springs and Parkland — some of whom said punitive action against the sergeant didn’t go far enough.
Bibich Zabaleta, a firefighter in Miami-Dade of Mexican descent, said he was disappointed to learn Sgt. Monzon would not be demoted to patrol officer, which had been what Chief Clyde Parry recommended.
“Excusing one’s bias or excusing his actions because that bias was shown towards him does not make it acceptable,” said Zabaleta.
After considering Sgt. Monzon’s defense of the videos, Zabaleta said he was particularly incensed by the sergeant’s excuse they were meant to better connect with new hires at Coral Springs Police.
“Where is the disconnect in their hiring process? What kind of people are Coral Springs Police hiring?” Zabaleta wanted to know.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, not all localized law enforcement agreed.
Rod Skirvin, president of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association union, indicated he recognized parts of Sgt. Monzon’s videos from the animated series South Park and didn’t think he was alone finding them merely entertaining.
According to the 21-page police report, two residents expressed otherwise. The man and his girlfriend, who is of Central American descent, sent a complaint via email to Mayor Scott Brook and City Commissioner Joshua Simmons and Vice Mayor Joy Carter.
The complaint detailed the videos and their poster, identifying Sgt. Monzon in full uniform, with a bandaid covering his Coral Springs Police badge.
When questioned if he obscured the badge because he feared it might sully the department’s reputation, Sgt. Monzon said, “No, I think it humanizes the badge. It shows we have an ability to be satirical.”
An internal investigation of the videos followed and have resulted in both of them being taken down from TikTok.
Sgt. Monzon explained that he never intended to make the videos public and that his child must have messed with his phone’s privacy settings.
Coral Springs Police confirmed Sgt. Monzon served his 80-hour suspension in September and October, which included giving presentations during police roll briefings on responsibility in social media use.
The department said, regardless of intent, the videos created by Sgt. Monzon, in no way, reflects their professional values or standards.
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- Jen Russon has been a staff writer for Talk Media since 2018. She is also a novelist, copywriter and editor at the imprint www.swallowpublishing.com. She lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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